Discover – Stratford
If you watched the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, then you’ll have seen some of the landmarks that make up Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford: Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre; Anish Kapoor’s twisted helter-skelter, the ArcelorMittal Orbit; and the laurel wreath of the Olympic Stadium. These buildings, and the acres of parkland, now form the centre of a leisure destination. Fifteen minutes from London City Airport on the DLR and 20 minutes from Oxford Circus on the Tube, a day out here should be on your itinerary.
This red tower of twisted metal is the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide. Designed by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, this giant slide will transport you at speeds of about 15mph in 40 seconds. Nervous? Then take the lift to the viewing platforms, which offer unrivalled vistas of London.
For about £5, you can go for a swim in the Olympic pool in this light-filled complex. To nurture your inner child, try one of the Aqua Splash sessions, where the pool is filled with giant inflatables.
Queen Elizabeth Park Boat Tours
A Lee & Stort Boat Co tour is a fantastic way to find out about the park and explore some of the waterways that run through it. Tours leave every hour from noon, seven days a week, up until September, and last for 45 minutes. Look out for some of the 84 species of wildlife that occupy this park’s 560 acres.
Westfield Stratford City
On the edge of the park is the phenomenal Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, which is packed with the UK’s best stores, from high-street to high-end, as well as cinemas, countless restaurants, bowling alleys and the country’s largest casino. A mecca for retail therapy, the centre has extended its opening hours until 9pm, but you’d still need a couple of days to explore every nook and cranny of this vast mall. Head to the ‘Street’ for some nourishment, where restaurants such as The Real Greek serve many different cuisines.
A cinema on top of a multi-storey car park? Of course, this is Stratford. Roof East holds film screenings until September. Grab a hotdog and a deckchair and sit back to enjoy your favourite movie against the urban skyline. The rooftop also has a bar and street food stalls. If it’s raining, you’ll be given an umbrella and a poncho and the show will go on.
Theatre Royal Stratford East
This top-notch theatre is close to numerous independent bars and restaurants that reflect the creative community A dynamic theatre with a tradition of developing new plays and musicals, Theatre Royal Stratford East’s work is always relevant to, and informed by, modern Britain.