Back in the year 2000, London gained two new attractions, the Millennium Wheel (London Eye) and the Millennium Dome, which has been known as The O2 Arena since 2005! The Millennium Dome started life as a giant museum, I visited when I was 11 and all I remember is a Royal Mint press making £5 coins, a giant body with an escalator that went up it’s leg (?? or arm?) and a relaxation room full of people laying all over the place (me and my dad found it hilarious). It’s now a large music and entertainment venue with shops, restaurants, a cinema, Up At The O2 climb and a few other things.
Up At The O2 opened in 2012. This adventurous London attraction lets visitors walk up and over the roof of the Dome. The O2 is located in Greenwich, to get nerdy, you may have heard of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), it’s the ‘Prime Meridian’ where all other time zones in the world are calculated from. The original architecture of the O2 also has a ‘time’ reference. The diameter of the building is 365m, 1 metre for every day of the year, there are also 12 yellow towers, 1 representing every month of the year! The roof is then a giant white tent, creating the dome shape.
Climb The O2
The walk way is made of a springy rubber that sits a metre or so above the roof. It has a safety wire in the centre but there’s no other hand rails, the idea being that it gives you the sense of walking on the roof of a tent, WITHOUT actually walking on the roof. Some parts of the walkway are smooth, but other parts have grooves to help with the climb.
The climb operates in MOST weathers…however I got 10ft up on my first attempt and had to turn around and come back down due to heavy rain and strong winds. I returned a couple of months later with similar conditions but not enough to stop it going ahead. The surface can get a little slippery too when it’s wet!
Like any adrenaline attraction, you have to fill out a waiver before you climb and then you get suited up. You are given a climb suit, hiking boots/shoes (make sure you wear or at least take socks!) and a harness that looks a little like Pacman on the end of a rope, which attaches you to a wire system. I believe if it’s warm enough, you don’t have to wear the climb suit, but it’s still worth dressing accordingly depending on what the weather is like! All other belongings and bags are stored in a small locker.
(Up At The O2 digital photos for purchase)
A good thing about wearing the climb suit, is that they have a zip pocket in the sleeve that’s just about big enough for a SMALL digital camera or a phone. It’s a nice touch but you can only use them once at the top, GoPros and larger cameras aren’t allowed. However they do have cameras the whole way through the climb, that are set off by an electronic tag you wear on your harness. They aren’t badly priced either, but then they are sent directly to an email address or a smart phone phone number so you don’t actually receive a hard copy unless you print them yourself.
Once at the top, you’re let off the safety rope and can wander round and take as many photos etc as you like! The floor is also solid, so you get a little break from the bouncy walkway! To be honest, the view from the top isn’t great. Greenwich is pretty much factories and building sites. The view of Canary Wharf is probably your best bet! There’s also a display board around the whole 360 degree viewing platform, which points out various landmarks and points of interest.
Bon Jovi were the first band to perform on this observation platform on the roof. Thirty Seconds of Mars have also performed up there too!
After a little breather you connect back up to the safety wire and make your way down the other side of the roof. It’s a lot steeper going down compared to the upwards journey. When I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the guides say more people actually struggle with downward climbs as you have no choice but to look out at the height you’re at, or to see the floor sloping away at your feet! On the way up, you’re always facing what you’re climbing and often don’t realise how high you are until you get to the top or take a break!
The whole climb takes around 90 minutes to complete. Up at the O2 offer climbs all year round, with a wide range of time slots including daytime sunset and twilight climbs. I did mine during October half term and was given a free bag of Halloween Haribo sweets!
Depending on whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, the price of the climb differs. A weekday daytime adult climb is £30, the sunset and twilight ones are both £36. On a weekend, all adult climbs are £39.
When I did my climb, we were given a free climbers certificate. There was a large gift shop at the bottom, back inside the main O2 dome, and as mentioned, you could purchase digital climb photos.
(Up At The O2 digital photos for purchase)
Walking over the O2 is definitely worth doing it at least once, it’s different and strange to think of all the famous people that have performed in the arena below you and it makes for a unique experience to have in London! It a great attraction to pair with a concert or a show on the same day. The Emirates cable car across the River Thames is just a short walk from The O2 which is another fun thing to do, as well as a stay in the Sunborn Yacht Hotel!
For more information and to book climbs, visit The O2 website.
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