2012 London Olympics: A View for the People

London's Olympic fans who can't get into the official venues can still enjoy the 2012 Summer Games at a series of free outdoor sites.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

It’s the final weekend of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, and this is as crowded and lively as this grand city has been at any time during this exciting fortnight.

With major draws like Track and Field, Men’s Basketball, Soccer and boxing winding down to their final medal winners, London is flush with a mix of fans who intentionally waited for the closing rounds and an additional slathering of visitors hoping to catch one last whiff of Olympic spirit before the city calms down a bit – before hosting the Paralympic Games at the end of August.

The tickets are already sold out not every event, but there are ticket services and scalpers desperate fans can try. There were £10 tickets available for people who simply wanted to visit The Olympic Park in Stratford without getting into any of the venues or attending any of the events. But even those are gone now.

Fortunately, there are still ways to watch the Games in the British capital without having to sit at home in front of the telly.

The London Olympic organizers saw the sellout problem coming an Olympics ago and set up additional venues around the city where fans can gather and watch the competition in an exciting crowd environment.

The top attraction is Hyde Park and BT London Live. A partnership between the Mayor of London, The Royal Parks and The London Borough of Tower Hamlets put up giant video screens where park visitors could coalesce over their picnic blankets to watch the top event of the day. It’s expected that more than 40,000 visits will pile into Hyde Park this weekend for final competition and Closing Ceremonies.

In between competitions, live concerts and other entertainment keeps the Hyde Park fans entertained. I swung through the park on foot, and it’s a massive party with music, dancing food vendors, friendly jingoistic trash talking and everything you’d hope to see in the park. But, the Hyde Park masses manage to keep the uniquely British warmth and civility that’s marked these Olympics throughout their run.

Across London, on the River Thames near St. Katherine’s Docks, a private venue offers ticketless enthusiasts a chance to watch the Games in shaded comfort. The House of Nations private entertainment venues set up large tents within the ground of The Tower of London – in what used to be the moat in centuries passed.

The House of Nations Pavilion at the Tower offers big screen video of every event transpiring at the Olympic Park and elsewhere. Daily themed entertainment from around the world forges more of a club atmosphere than you’ll find at Hyde Park – with a big selection of drinks on hand to add the final touch. There’s a full menu of food, including scheduled Hog Roasts in honor of the tent’s medieval home base.

House of Nations also set up another tent at King’s Cross with all of the same amenities.

Unlike Hyde Park, there are admission charges for both House of Nations venues. If you splurge for a Gold ticket, you get the VIP treatment of admission, Champagne, food and reserved seating.