London is full of world-famous parks, but you’ll find its newest in Stratford: hundreds of acres of green space which were beamed to millions over the glorious summer of 2012. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened to the public a year later, and if you still haven’t visited, this summer is the time to change all that. The IAAF World Championships London 2017 are drawing crowds to Stratford – and here are five more champion reasons to visit.
You can channel the Olympic and Paralympic heroes, five years on
The legacy of London 2012 lives on at the London Aquatics Centre and the Lee Valley VeloPark, two Olympic and Paralympic venues still serving the city. Whether you’re a semi-pro or a first-timer, there’s a session for you to bring out your inner Chris Hoy or Ellie Simmonds. Read more here.
It’s the ideal place to take to the water
As ‘The Wind in the Willows’ puts it, ‘There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’ And with its four miles of lush waterways, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has plenty of opportunities for just that. Whether it’s a swan pedalo, a paddleboard or a canoe, there’s more to explore here than you’d ever imagine in Zone 2/3.
It’s a sight for sore eyes
Once a post-industrial wasteland, the acres between Stratford and Hackney Wick have metamorphosised into a lusciously landscaped oasis only ten minutes from central London. And if all that grass and those daffodils leave you cold, the park’s fountains, playgrounds, giant benches and 26 permanent artworks to discover mean it’s a great place to play for kids and kidults alike.
You can grab an expert cuppa – or a gourmet meal
Fresh air is one way to work up an appetite, but as a rule, this city’s parks don’t have much to offer anyone who’s forgotten to pack their own sandwiches. Not here, though: as well as handy kiosks and the lovely Timber Lodge Café, head to the canalside at HereEast or the East Village for a whole load of independent eateries and great mini-chains like The Breakfast Club. There’s even a pub full of retro arcade games: finally, a place for that after-dinner Pac-Man sesh.
There’s loads happening this summer
Stratford gets all Rio de Janeiro at Beach East until September 2. On August 19 and 20, Barcelona party kings Elrow turn the park into Elrow Town for two days of dance music and madcap fun. And over the August bank holiday you can catch creative workshops at the Living Art Festival, get sporty as part of the Park’s Active August season, and watch a canal flotilla at the East London Waterways Festival. There’s something here to float anyone’s boat.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is free to enter and open seven days a week. For more information, visit www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk.