Concerts, exhibitions, bars, movies – under one large roof
October 17, 2007
LONDON — It was heralded as England’s major step into the 21st century when it opened in time for the millennium, but the Millennium Dome, said to be visible from space, soon became one of those fixtures that planners here didn’t know what to do with.
Then a development company bought it and revamped it. And this summer, the Millennium Dome morphed into The O2, a one-stop entertainment experience in East London that took four years to renovate.
Situated off a Jubilee Line stop on the Underground, The O2 is much more than a massive arena for concerts and other events.
It features a more intimate and state-of-the-art music club, indigO2; an 11-screen cinema; an exhibition center; and an entire indoor street of bars, clubs and restaurants known as Entertainment Avenue. Think a combination of the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Mall of America in Minnesota, replete with faux palm trees.
According The O2’s Web site, www.theo2.co.uk, the venue is the first purpose-built music venue since the Royal Albert Hall in 1871.
In fact, the floor plan equals 13 Albert Halls or 10 St. Paul Cathedrals.
Familiar restaurant names include the chicken joint Nando’s, the Slug and Lettuce pub and a variety of other British chains.
But the size of the place is really the story here. Getting off the Tube stop, visitors are instantly in a gleaming world of steel, lights and glass.
The place is so large that it would take 15 minutes for the Niagara Falls to fill it if the arena was turned upside down, the Web site states. Alternatively, you could fill it with 3.8 billion pints of beer or the contents of 1,100 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The Eiffel Tower could fit sideways in there, as could 12 football pitches or 72 tennis courts.
In addition to concerts and sporting events, The O2 also will play host to “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” a massive exhibit on ancient Egypt starting next month.
And if you’re looking to catch any major musical acts coming through the U.K., they’ll likely stop at The O2.
Through this year, the arena is hosting everyone from Kanye West to My Chemical Romance and the Foo Fighters.
The arena will host the Spice Girls reunion later this year, as well as Olympic events in 2012.
Most arenas aren’t worth mentioning in and of themselves. But if you’re able to get there for any reason, it’s quite the experience, no matter your reason for going.
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