London prepares for a big summer

With Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking place just before the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the city is looking to have its busiest tourism season yet.

The Queen’s 60 year reign will be celebrated in royal fashion with an one thousand boat, 24 kilometer flotilla taking place on June 3rd in Thames. She will be seen waving from a nearby barge among 180 oarsman during the tribute.

An assortment of events are planned to celebrate the Queen including a televised royal family appearance on the palace balcony, an exhibit at Windsor Castle with 60 historic photos of the Queen (which has already opened), and a prominent concert on June 4th featuring Elton John, Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox.

Special items such as $78 celebratory porcelain teacups and saucers are being prepared for the palace gift shop, but that’s only a tiny glimpse at the preperations that have been made for the event.

Kensington Palace, former home of both Queen Victoria and Princess Diana – and soon to be home of her son Prince William and his bride Catherine –  will reopen to the public after extensive renovations.

The two year, 18.9 million dollar makeover highlights four centuries of the royal family’s time spent in the 407 year old palace.

Five of Princess Diana’s most famous dresses will be on display while a small room filled with photos will serve as a tribute to the fallen “people’s princess.” Soundscape effects such as “whispering curtains” have been installed to evoke the unfortunate presence of gossip that has surrounded the family through the ages.

The palace is hoping to attract 380,000 visitors a year – 100,000 more than they captured before the renovations.

Following the Jubilee celebrations are the summer Olympics, which run from July 27th until August 12th within 24 venues inside and outside of London. The Paralympic Games follow from August 29th until September 9th. The city is currently finishing up preparations for the big event with Olympic Park – home to many sporting venues, a new aquatic center, and an 80,000 seat stadium – receiving its finishing touches this week.

Are you planning on traveling to London this summer? If so, here are a few tips:

-When looking for a flight, use sites like Travel Supermarket to compare prices from hundreds of companies to find the best price.

– Rather than staying in expensive London hotels (that will cost around $400 a night), opt for accommodations just outside the city where hotels are offering early deals. Websites like Home Away and Home Exchange are great for finding affordable options within the city, if you prefer to stay close to the action.

– While scoring tickets to the Olympic events may prove to be a challenge at this point, don’t let that keep you from visiting. Several events such as marathons and road cycling races are free to watch, and there will be huge screens displaying the action at all the major parks. A variety of free art and music festivals have been scheduled all summer long as an additional bonus.

-Make use of the helpful London 2012 journey planner tool to find the best route available to get from place to place once you’re there.

Watch the official London Olympics 2012 short film Sport at Heart:

Sources:, Time, Wikitravel, Business Travel

Photo © Steer


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