We recently visited the iconic O2, London, for a major sporting event and were bowled over by what a great venue it is and how much there is to do there! The arena itself certainly has the wow factor, even though it only fills part of the dome. With capacity for 20,000 yet feeling surprisingly intimate, we were close to the action but if you wanted to nip out for a moment it was easy and getting in and out was easy, thanks to the clever design of the arena with its many entrances. For concerts, sporting events and exhibitions in London, the O2 has a huge range on offer.

SPORTING EVENTS

We attended the World Cup of Gymastics, which was being held at the O2 for the first time. A capacity crowd of gymnastic fans enjoyed world class competition from 8 countries, as well as entertainment from supporting acts and guest appearances from some of Britain’s best gymnasts.  As we entered the O2, Britain’s Got Talent stars Boogie Storm were on hand to greet the kids whilst a drumming band performed acrobatics. The event was off to a great start! Three hours of international women’s gymnastics sped by and the home crowd celebrated as British Olympic medal winner Amy Tinkler took the bronze medal.

This was a fantastic event to take my children to and really brought home the power of sporting inspiration to kids. My mini gymnasts loved it, especially when they spotted themselves waving their flags on the big screen!

Forthcoming sporting events are very varied, from darts to football, basketball to wrestling, tennis and boxing.

The arena before it fills up. Despite the vast size, it never felt crowded.

CONCERTS

As well as the main arena there is a smaller venue for more intimate concerts.  In 2008 the O2 Arena was the world’s busiest music venue, beating even Madison Square Gardens in New York. This year alone sees Lady Gaga, Iron Maiden, Ariana Grande, Kiss, Ed Sheeran and Take That perform at the arena.  Certainly an eclectic mix!

COMEDY

Peter Kay famously became the first comedian ever to sell out 15 nights at the O2. Jimmy Carr, Mrs Brown and John Bishop will all be bringing laughs to the arena this year.

UP @THE O2

Yes you can walk on top of the O2 – with the appropriate safety gear and a climb guide of course! It takes 90 minutes to cross over the O2, stopping at the observation platform for stunning views of London on the way. If you love views and don’t mind heights, this is a unique way to visit the O2 and see London from above. There are age restrictions (no under 10s) as well as height and weight restrictions, so check out the details on the website to book.

CINEMA

There’s a multiplex inside the O2. Normally multiplexes are huge venues on their own, but this massive 11 screen cinema just slots into a small part of the dome.

RESTAURANTS & BARS

There are 26 restaurants and bars at the O2. Advance warning – they get extremely busy, with long queues, when shows or sporting events end and most don’t take bookings.  There are also other restaurants and bars just outside the venue.

There are food and drink counters arena-side as well. My dd made a beeline for the candy stand.

One small thing that I wasn’t a fan of at the O2 was that on entry to the arena itself you cannot take any water through security, like an airport. That would be fine but they charge £4 for small bottle of water on the other side! You can ask for tap water at any drinks outlet so my tip is to do that or be prepared to pay £16 for the whole family to have a water #outrageous!

 

 

    

EXHIBITIONS

Currently showing the Star Wars Identities Exhibition, which looked amazing. Exhibitions vary throughout the year but are usually crowd-pullers.

NISSAN INNOVATION STATION

Free to enter, this Nissan sponsored exhibit has a range of activities for adults and children alike and is a good place to pop in before or after a show for a few minutes. My children enjoyed the virtual reality experience.

 

SKY STUDIOS

Similar to the Nissan experience, Sky Studios is a small area when you enter the arena where you can pose for pictures with TV superheroes or pretend to read the news. You wouldn’t head for the O2 just for this free activity but whilst you are there it’s fun to drop by for a few minutes.

EMIRATES AIRLINE

Not at the O2 but right next door is the Emirates Airline Cable Car that goes from the O2 over the River Thames. Spectacular views of London and if you don’t fancy the Up@O2 experience or have people in your group whom it wouldn’t suit, this is a good alternative.  My children also enjoyed the small exhibition you can visit at the end and pretend to fly a plane.

Photo: deepstereo CC

 

As entertainment centres go, the O2 pretty much has something for all tastes.  I’d love to know what you’ve seen at the O2!

 

PIN FOR LATER

Where Jo Goes London Reviews

Things to do Greenwich/HMS Belfast/British Library/World’s Biggest Lego Store/

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre/Ham House (National Trust)/Royal Albert Hall

Hotels 4*  Pullman London St Pancras/ Hotels Budget Premier Inn Kensington

Family friendly Restaurants Pizza Pilgrims/Snog Frozen Yoghurt

Days out from London Legoland Top Tips/Legoland Top 10 Rides/Oxford

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