In 2005, O2 takes over, deciding to make of it the super-sized concert hall it is now. An absolute must-stop for the biggest stars. The dome also hosts temporary exhibitions (one on Elvis at the moment), an incredible number of restaurants, a cinema. Oh, and you can go up onto its roof too!
You’ve already tried… the big wheel on Southbank, St Paul, The Monument, The Shard, Big Ben, various rooftops, Sushisamba… Yet, this is a different experience. No lift – the slope is a 30 deg angle so you will climb it. Much more fun than stairs!
A quick presentation video and you are given proper trainers, a jacket and a harness. Cameras are not allowed, unless they can fit in the zipped jacket on the side. Memories and selfies are likely to be on your mobile phone. A few stairs and you reach a first platform. In front of you is a blue path – the aerial equivalent to the yellow brick road. In the middle is a railing to which your harness will be clipped for security. The group goes on the left, your guide on the right to check or help anyone who has questions. The “carpet” under your feet is close to the floor of a trampoline – slightly bouncy. The first few steps surprised me so much you I could not help laughing, like a child who has found a new toy… Regular ridges replace the steps – although it is not particularly hard to walk up, it still takes a bit more effort than expected. No worries though – kids can join as long as they are 10 years old and will have no problem at all following. Teenagers should love this.
There is no rush. We advance in a line, but quietly, to the observation platform where you are unclicked from the railing and can move around freely. What a view! Unlike the centre of London, the O2 is not stuck in a super-urban area. Meaning your 360 deg view is brilliant and gives you a real sense of freedom, as if you were on a ship. The Thames slaloms beautifully towards the South of Greenwich, Canary Wharf’s spectacular buildings tower high, you can even see The Orbit and The Thames Barrier in the distance. Impossible to tire of that panorama – 20 minutes up there will feel like seconds. On a sunny day, it is actually quite hot up there by the way so do apply a little sunscreen beforehand!
Going down, you get to see the other side of the dome. Still at a 30 degree angle – you thought you’d be running down? You’ll find it takes a little thinking. But back on the ground… you just want to do it all over again. There is a sunset and twilight tour too if you are interested!