How to Watch the London 2012 Olympics for Free
What You Need to Know
- Line the streets of central London to see sports events such as the road cycling, triathlon and marathon for free.
- Consider heading south of the River Thames to get a good vantage point for the road cycling.
- Avoid prime spots such as the Mall and Trafalgar Square in order to get an unrestricted view of the Olympic marathon.
- The race walking is likely to be much less popular than the marathon, so think about going watching this in Green Park.
- There will be four ‘live sites’ in central London when the Games are on. Here you can watch the action on big screens and enjoy other free entertainment.
- A special live site on Weymouth Beach will also give spectators the chance to watch some Olympics sailing for free.
- Live screens will also be put up in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK.
The London 2012 BMX and Track Cycling events will both take place at the Velodrome, while the Mountain Biking will be held out in Essex, with all of these ticketed and sold out.
However, if you’re still keen to see a bit of two-wheeled action, consider lining the streets to watch the Road Racing.
The 2012 Road Cycling events will take place between Saturday 28 July and Wednesday 1 August, with 212 athletes competing for 12 medals.
The Road Race (250km for men, 140km for women) will start and end on the Mall, with the route heading across Putney Bridge into Surrey and then looping around Box Hill several times.
There will be spots to watch the action free of charge all along the route, with only the key stretch on the Mall ticketed.
However, it’s advisable to get in place early as thousands of people are expected to line the streets of London and Surrey, not least because Team GB’s riders should be in with a shout of winning a medal or two.
Read more about the history of Olympic Road Cycling and the 2012 event in particular on the official website.
The prime viewing spots along the northern edge of the Serpentine in Hyde Park will be closed off to ticket-holders, allowing them to get the best views of the running and the swimming parts of the triathlon.
However, it will be possible to head into Hyde Park itself to see some of the running, while the cycling will follow a course outside of the park, again allowing for free viewing opportunities.
But the cycling will follow a course outside of the park, meaning you can watch the action for free when the men’s and women’s events take place on Saturday 4 August and Tuesday 7 August, respectively.
For more information, check out the Triathlete Europe guide to watching the 2012 Triathlon for free.
The 2012 Race Walking action will take place in St James’s Park and Green Park, with both the men and the women tackling a course that begins and ends mid-way down the Mall.
Again, grandstands will be in place at the start and the finish lines, with these accessible only to ticket holders.
However, if you get there early enough, you’ll also be able to find a spot along the route where you can see the action for free.
The men’s 20km event will take place on Saturday 4 August, while Saturday 11 August will see the men’s 50km and the women’s 20km held at the same location.
For the 2012 London Olympics Marathon, competitors will be required to tackle a course comprised of four laps through the centre of city, passing numerous landmarks and offering ticketless spectators the chance to see some of the world’s finest long-distance runners for free.
As with the Road Cycling events, the only part of the marathon that will only be accessible to spectators with tickets will be the final stretch along the Mall.
Competition for vantage points is likely to be particularly strong in the centre of London, especially at the Wellington Arch and Marble Arch corners of Hyde Park, around Trafalgar Square and along the River Thames.
The women’s marathon will take place on Sunday 5 August, with the men’s event to take place on Sunday 12 August.
For spectators unable to either get tickets or a good spot to watch the above events for free, huge TV screens are to be put up both across London as well as across much of the UK to allow people to watch the action free of charge.
As of the summer of 2011, four ‘Live Sites’ have been confirmed for London, with each of these to boast a huge high-definition screen and to host a range of special events and activities.
These will be located on Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square, as well as in Potters Fields next to Tower Bridge and Victoria Park in Hackney.
However, it is expected that the Hyde Park and Victoria Park Live Sites will be open to ticketholders only for both the opening and closing ceremonies.
Outside of the capital, big screens are to be put up in 60 cities and towns across Britain, enabling tens of thousands of Britons to watch the action from the Games.
These will include screens as the ‘Live Site’ on Weymouth Beach. With only people with tickets to be able to get good first-hand views of the Olympics sailing, this site will offer people the chance to watch the action free of charge.
What You Need to Know
- Book last-minute hotels in London for the 2012 Games with the UK Net Guides travel pages.
- Read Dorset County Council’s guide to watching the 2012 Olympic sailing events here.
- Read our Guide to London’s Olympic Venues for all you need to know about the arena’s hosting the proceedings.