Barely has the hubbub of the 2012 Olympic Games died down, and London is deep in the throes of preparing for another major sporting event.
The 2012 Paralympic Games, which kicks off on
29 August, will be the second largest sporting event ever held in the UK --
runner up only to the 2012 Olympics, which ended with the Closing Ceremonies on
12 August. Though 9 September, more than 4,200 Paralympics competitors will
take part in 503 events that span 21 sports, including track-and-field
favourite the 100m
sprint and wheelchair events such as fencing, rugby and basketball.
While some of the cultural events that were
launched in time for the Olympic Games will continue, there is also a host of
other events taking place especially for visitors to the Paralympic Games.
get a ticket?
Some 2.3m of the 2.5m Paralympics competition tickets
have already sold, but there is still
availability for key events like the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. There
are also large
screens set up around London where
you can watch all the action, just like visitors could for the Olympic Games
Some of the most anticipated events this year will
be when South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius – who also competed in the
Summer Olympics – competes in the T44
100m final on 6 September, and when Irish sprinter Jason Smyth -- the fastest Paralympian on the planet – takes
part in the T13 100m event for visually
impaired athletes on 1 September. In the pool, Britain’s Ellie Simmonds – who
won two golds in Beijing in 2008 at age 13 – will attempt to defend her titles
in the S6 100m freestyle, but will face fierce competition from Dutch swimmer Mirjam
crowded will London be?
Some 2.5 million people are expected to watch the Paralympics
events, compared to the seven million tickets sold for Olympics events, but London’s
public transport system is expected to be just
as busy. As such, the Transport
for London organisation has
warned people to add extra time to their journeys because of the sheer number
of people getting to and from the Olympic Park. Add to that the city’s many
students, who are returning to class after the summer holidays, and a host of
other annual autumn events, including Proms In
The Park (8 September), a classical music favourite,
and the Thames
Festival (8 to 9 September), London’s largest outdoor
arts event -- and those Tube carriages are going to feel extra cosy.
else is on apart from the sports?
London saw a wealth of artistic and cultural events
during the Olympics, and that will continue during the Paralympic Games. Unlimited, which
runs until 9 September, is described as the UK’s largest programme celebrating
arts, culture and sport by deaf and disabled people. Its free roster of dance,
theatre, music and visual art performances includes the
Garden, a gravity-defying piece of outdoor theatre
from the British disabled theatre company Graeae and the
Australia-based company Strange Fruit.
London’s annual deaf and disabled arts
festival, the free Liberty
Festival, will also take place during the Paralympics
(1 to 3 September), and this year the one-day programme of music, theatre and
film screenings has been expanded to three days.
This year’s Thames Festival, an annual
September highlight, includes a choral event held on HMS Belfast (the WWII-era ship
moored near the Globe Theatre) and a
Brazilian-style float (moored near the Oxo
Tower on South Bank), decorated in homage to the
next summer Olympic city, Rio de Janeiro. On 9 September, a massive free
fireworks display will take place along a stretch of the river between
Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges – a fitting companion to the Paralympics Closing
Ceremony taking place the same night.
Music fans – be they classical or pop – will
have much to choose from during the Paralympic Games. The world famous BBC Proms classical concert
season continues until 8 September, with recitals of
Bach (1 September), Beethoven (6 September) and Strauss (7 September) taking
place during the Paralympics.
This year’s iTunes festival, which
normally takes place in July at London’s historic Roundhouse venue in Camden,
was delayed because of the Olympics. Tickets to the shows, taking place between
1 and 30 September, are still available on a first-come, first-served
basis. Acts taking part include R&B diva Jessie
J, Oasis lynchpin Noel Gallagher, acoustic favourite Ed Sheeran and former
White Stripe leader Jack White. Those who miss out can console themselves with
a free outdoor gig on 9 September hosted by BBC Radio 2 Live in
London’s Hyde Park, with soul singer Emeli Sande, leather-lunged Paloma Faith
and rock dinosaurs Status Quo.
Shakespeare fans can also see Royal Shakespeare
Company's new production of Julius Caesar at London's
Noel Coward Theatre (through 15
September) while the National Theatre
performs the Bard’s Timon of Athens (through 1 November), both during
wheelchair-friendly are London’s tourist sites?
Many wheelchair users and other disabled
visitors are expected in London during the Paralympics. Transport can be
tricky, but most modern buses are wheelchair-friendly, and there are a number
of Tube stations accessible to wheelchairs. Find out how the city has been
making strides with extra
services and facilities.