Hyde Park London Live: an Olympic disappointment

It seems when men plan, God laughs – and London 2012 Olympic Games event organisers are left red-faced.

I’m not about to join the chorus bemoaning the empty seats fiasco that’s quickly becoming a national embarrassment; instead, I’m going to warn you about BT London Live in Hyde Park.

Me not so happy to be at BT London Live

A partnership between the Mayor of London, The Royal Parks and The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the BT London Live programme has been billed as a family-friendly opportunity to catch Olympic sporting action live on big screens – for free!

It sounds like an easy sell – and it certainly worked on me, because my plan was to hang out in Hyde Park for the length of the London 2012 Olympic Games or as much as the weather permitted.

However, BT London Live was not at all what I expected and to say that I was disappointed when I went there today – picnic packed and ready – would be an understatement. I was forced to gobble down my food outside the gates and even when I made it in, I left less than half an hour later.

But rather than bitch and moan about it (Man vs World is a beacon of positivity, don’t you know!) I’m going to manage your expectations and tell you what you should and should not pack for BT London Live in Hyde Park…

Security is strict at London Live in Hyde Park

Dos and don’ts at London Live

Don’t bring a picnic because the fun police will check your bags on the way in and organisers want you to spend a fortune inside the grounds and not out of it.

Don’t bring food or liquids unless you want to feed it to the rubbish bins on the way in. (You can bring food and drink to Wimbledon – so why not here?)

Don’t bring deodorant – I don’t know why you would want to but it’s against the rules for some reason.

Do bring a lot of money because food and drink inside the ground is expensive.

People sit on the ground at London Live in Hyde Park

Do bring a blanket, towel or something to sit on because there’s no grass inside the grounds – it’s covered in tree bark – and there aren’t a great number of seats.

Do plan your journey there and back because the London Underground stations at Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch will be exit only until 12 August.

Do be patient because it may take a while to get through security – a long while if you’re visiting on the weekend. The queues here are worse than at Heathrow (in truth, I’d never been through Heathrow faster than I did just before the Olympics).

Do bring an umbrella and sunblock. This is London, remember? And the powers that be do at least permit you to bring in sunscreen.

The crowd at London Live in Hyde Park

BT London Live Hyde Park will be free to access between 28 July and 11 August from 11am. Check out the official website for details of free concerts and cultural events taking place each day.

While I’ve got your attention, you might also enjoy cheap and cheerful things to do in London and Man vs World’s sister website Antipodean London.

About Simon Petersen 316 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.

13 Comments

  1. I went and had to surrender my perfume on the way in. Not sure what exactly they thought I was going to do with it, but that was £30 down the swanny. Not happy!

  2. I’m hopefully going tomorrow , Iv tried all week to get tickets but unfortunately had mo luck. So thought the park would be next best thing, have you smy idea what time id need to get there for? Thanx for the do s an# donts by the way, big help….I was plamning to tale s picnic. X

    • Definitely get there early because it’ll be a bit busier in the weekend – I believe it opens at 11am? No worries – just trying to save any disappointment because I wanted to bring a picnic in too! If you have any troubles, there’s a screen at Potters Field near London Bridge where you can bring a picnic. Have a great day!

    • Hi Elaine – unfortunately I don’t know the answer to your first question. But yes, you can stay in at BT London Live all day, or at least until it finishes late at night.

  3. Yes the food and drink is pricey, well beer is no more than central London pub prices, but its a festival site. It’s the norm. Not only do you get the Olympics you get some fantastic live bands. Currently there is a enjoyable unsigned band at the band stand. Later today are two fantastic bands. The Beat and The Levellers. Seeing the Levs is the reason I’m here now, plus the weather is lovely.

    • There’s less security at a central London pub – and they’re not billed as free family entertainment 😉 Have fun!

      • Just as a head’s up to everybody: there’s a big screen up at Potters Fields near Tower Bridge with heaps of room for picnics! It’s grassy and you don’t have to queue up for an hour to get in!

  4. Shit that doesn’t even sound like fun at all. Sounds more like a military check point than anything else. I’d avoid it all together and watch the Olympics from the comfort of my home. I hate when events like these turn into money grabbing spectacles. It’s just sad, and shows how greedy corporations are.

    • Cheers mate. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to bring food in, unless the event is just a shameless cash grab. If you can find a pub with a TV in its beer garden you’ll be better off – or just stay at home!

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