In 2000 the Millennium Dome opened as a rather curious aide memoire to the achievements of the human race. After just a few months it was offering half price tickets and, rather than the roaring success that was the London Eye, the dome seemed like the flop of the millennium: more Doom than Dome!
Fast forward a few years and the O2 is now a rather excellent place to be. With its ability to host a huge range of spectacular events and concerts and its iconic shape and position on the Greenwich Peninsula it has finally become the destination that its designer hoped it would be.
But the O2 is much more than a Concert Hall – a venue for Rock Concerts, TV shows and theatrical extravaganzas. The interior mall that encircles the auditorium is full of restaurants, bars and other mini- venues (including the excellent Indigo2) whilst outside there are even more restaurants and some rather intriguing things to do. Because just seeing the O2 is enough for some people: as long as they are upside down, or suspended in mid-air or at 40 knots in a jet boat! It does sound all rather James Bond, but I can assure you that you and I can live this adventure lifestyle: as long as you have the bottle!
O2 Bungee Jump
Every couple of months the guys from UK Bungee Jump Club turn up with their 160 ft high crane, park it next to the O2 and do their thing! If you want to join in you will need to book up well in advance because the idea of the O2 being the last thing that you see, before you plummet head-first towards the ground in the mortal grip of gravity, is apparently very popular!
2013 saw the arrival of the Aquabatics team. A river cruise with a BIG difference. Join City cruises as they take you down stream and past the O2 on the most thrilling ride in London. Your Jet boat will reach speeds of up to 40 knots once it leaves the speed restricted areas up stream of the Tower of London. But beware. But this is no ordinary boat and at any time it could be called into action to fight crime and chase the bad guys up and down the river – in which case your river cruise could turn into a life and death struggle to save the country from international terrorists!
For Olympic year in 2012 a 1 kilometre cable car route was built to take visitors between the Greenwich Peninsular on the South bank and the Royal Docks on the north bank of the river Thames. Reaching heights of up to 90 metres the route gives passengers a spectacular bird’s eye view of the O2 as is crosses the river. The journey takes about 10 minutes and cars are spaced 30 seconds apart.
Up at the O2
If, however, your bucket list includes climbing Mount Everest or Snowdon, maybe you should start with the gentler, but none-the-less visually stimulating, climb at the O2. Branded as “Up at the O2” visitors can use the suspended walkways over the roof to gain a unique vantage point of the river, buildings, jet boats, bungees and cable cars that surround them in South East London. It takes 45 minutes to climb and descend but there is training and a briefing so allow 2 hours.
Author Simon Harding is a travel writer who specialises in London although normally concentrating on the thrill of London’s Theatreland. He runs www.theatrebreaks.co.uk which features short breaks including tickets for a range of events from theatre performances to sporting events like the ATP Tennis Finals and the Olympia Horse show.