Looking for your next random activity in London? How does walking over the roof of the O2 sound? That’s right, London’s O2 arena, formerly known as the Millenium Dome offers daytime, sunset, and twilight climbs.
Name: Up at the O2
Duration: 1 hour
How to get there
The O2 is situated a 2 minute walk from North Greenwich tube station. There is a small office outside of the O2 entrance, next to a block of stairs, which you will later climb to reach your starting position.
What is the O2?
The O2 was originally constructed as the Millennium Dome, housing the Millennium Experience; a major exhibition to celebrate the start of the third millennium. The exhibition opened to the public on 1 January 2000 and ran until 31 December 2000, reopening in 2007 as ‘The O2’. It is now a world-class entertainment venue; the second largest arena in the UK and holds up to 20,000 people. With its amazing acoustics and seating plans, it has quickly become a popular venue for some of the world’s biggest artists and bands. A couple of years ago, I attended the Brit Awards there, and saw the likes of Ed Sheeran and Little Mix perform.
It isn’t until you step inside the o2 that you realize just how huge it is. Within the dome, you will find an entire village of restaurants and bars, the arena, a bowling alley, a cinema, and much more! It is definitely a fun place to spend a couple of hours, and we ended up having dinner here after our climb.
Up at The O2 opened in 2012 and has since seen over 300,000 people ascend the roof for 360 panoramic views over London.
Once checked in, you are required to watch a safety briefing which explains how to attach your harness to the rail, and reminds you how to be socially distant whilst climbing. You are then provided with a harness, a pair of trainers, and a jacket with zipped pockets for you to carry your belongings in.
I wasn’t thrilled about wearing rented shoes, especially when you know other people’s feet have been in there, but fortunately I was wearing socks so here is your reminder to do the same! The reason you are required to wear the trainers, is due to the type of material that the dome is made of. It protects the walkway from ripping and assures no dirt/mud gets up there too.
We were placed into a group of 12 and climbed the stairs to our starting point, where professional photos were taken of us at the base of the walkway. One of the tour guides demonstrated how to use the harness and showed us how to attach ourselves to the rail. It is relatively straight forward and once attached, you don’t have to unclip until you are at the viewing platform at the top.
The walkway was a lot steeper than I thought it would be, but the bounciness of the floor made it a really fun climb. After about 15 minutes, we reached the viewing platform at the centre of the dome. It’s crazy to think that directly underneath you is a huge arena where the likes of Beyonce and Ariana Grande have played!
- There are 12 yellow spikes sticking out of the top of the dome, each representing a different month of the year.
- The dome is 52m high to represent the number of weeks in a year
- The O2 is 365m in circumference to represent each day of the year
- It would take 3.8 billion pints of beer to fill up the space inside the O2
The viewing platform is pretty cool as it offers great views of Canary Wharf and surrounding city. I did find that the cranes slightly obscured the view so it wasn’t as impressive as some other places I have visited. Having said that, I would advise you to do your climb during the day, as the view looks a lot better in the light, then it did at evening. You can take as many photos as you want once you are on the platform and the guide allows you a lot of time to soak in the view. Once again, I’d advise you visit during the day for this, as the photos didn’t come out very well on the twilight tour.
The top of the dome isn’t just about the views though. There are also information boards fixed around the railings so you can find out more information about the O2 and its history.
Our group stayed on the platform for about 20 minutes, before reattaching ourselves to the railing and making our way back down the other side. I found the way down lots of fun! It’s very steep, and the path is very bouncy! It almost feels like you’re walking on the moon as you stride down the side of the dome. The steepest decline is 30 degrees so you need to steady yourself as you walk down.
Once we had finished our skywalk, we headed to the gift shop, where you can purchase copies of the photos taken at the beginning, or pick up a souvenir to remember your mini adventure.
You can book your hike here: https://www.theo2.co.uk/up-at-the-o2/climb
This is a gifted experience in exchange for a written review. Views are my own.