London 2012: Where to watch the Games without a ticket

If you don't have a ticket to any events at the London Olympics and you still want a piece of the action, don't panic as there's still plenty to see.

Certain parts of the marathon, triathlon, race walk and cycle road race routes are not ticketed, so there's a chance you could catch an athlete whizzing past.

Be warned though, the streets and parks will be extremely busy during these times.

Cycling Road Race

On 28 July (men) and 29 July (women) cyclists will race from the Mall to Box Hill and back. You need a ticket to watch it at The Mall, Box Hill and Hampton Court, but everywhere else on the 120 km route is free to watch.

Constitution Hill (between Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park Corner), Richmond Park or Fulham Road are likely to be good spots to see the racing.

Men's and Women's 20km Race Walk

On 4 August (men's 20km) and 11 August (women's 20km and men's 50km) is a 2km circuit along The Mall up to Hyde Park Corner and back. Depending on the race, the athletes will do up to 25 laps.

The Mall is ticketed, but you can still watch for free on Constitution Hill or Buckingham Palace. You will need to get there early and plan your journey.


The triathlon on 4 August (women) and 7 August (men) mostly takes place in Hyde Park, with the cycling route extending down to Buckingham Palace.

The athletes will swim round the Serpentine and run four laps of a part of Hyde Park. The north side of the Serpentine will be ticketed but you could always try watching from the south side of the lake.

This will be a very popular event so if you want to be at the front of the crowds you'll have to get there early.

There's more scope to watch the cycle route. You could gather on South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park, in front of Buckingham Palace, along Constitution Hill or at Hyde Park Corner. The cyclists will do seven laps of the circuit.

The marathon swim

The marathon swim on 9 August (women) and 10 August (men) also takes place in the Serpentine where swimmers will do six laps of the lake.

A part of the north side of the lake is ticketed but the rest is not. You could try getting a place on the south side of the lake near the Feeding Pontoon. This is where coaches hand the competitors food and drinks on the end of long poles as they swim past.

The marathon

The marathon on 5 August (women) and 12 August (men) takes in most of London's most iconic landmarks.

It starts on the Mall, which is a ticketed area, along with Horseguards Parade. But you could position yourself at Trafalgar Square, Victoria Embankment, Buckingham Palace or Lower Thames Street. The runners make three circuits of the route so you will have more than one chance to see them.

Live sites

Another option if you do not have a ticket is to watch the events on big screens that will be set up at the Live Sites across the capital.

The two biggest sites are in Hyde Park and Victoria Park. During the Paralympics these will move to Trafalgar Square.

Access to these sites is free, except for Hyde Park on the 27 July and 12 August.

If you want to be sure to get in you can reserve tickets in advance. At Victoria Park every sporting event will be streamed live. There will be family activities like water zorbing and a zip line.

At Hyde Park you can watch artists and bands performing and members of Team GB will be there too.

The three other Live Sites in London are at Potters Fields Park (next to Tower Bridge), Walthamstow Town Square and Woolwich. There are also two community live sites in Newham and Lewisham.

You can just turn up and watch the events unfold on the big screens.

It's also worth checking if your local authority has any plans for watching or celebrating the Olympic Games.

And if you don't want to leave home, the BBC's Red Button service for the Olympics on Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat will offer audiences access to up to 24 live streams while there will be an additional 24-hour channel of extra BBC Olympics content available via the BBC Red Button for audiences with Freeview and BT Vision.

To find out more about how to make the most of the Games watch London Olympics - The Essential Guide on Monday 2 July 23.05 BST on BBC One (in the London region only) and on BBC iPlayer.

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