Olympic fans arriving on the Eurostar step out into King’s Cross, the hip, urban heart of the Capital. Olympic Houses over here will be able to feed off the energy of London’s young creatives who hang out in trendy night spots in this regenerated part of town. The Irish, Kiwis, Czechs and Latinos have huge fan bases and their houses will be the ultimate party zones.
Czech House is the definition of cool, located in the chic Business Design Centre which jostles with pubs and clubs in Islington’s trendy Upper Street. Visitors will be welcomed by the curious sight of the “London Booster”, a red London Routemaster bus doing push-ups, a stereotype on steroids created by maverick Czech installation artist David Czerny (famous for his controversial sculpture, Entropa, for the Czech Presidency of the EU).
Inside fans will be treated to a ‘mini Czech Glastonbury’ with a mix of the best Czech indie rock and Britpop bands and a series of DJs and VJs. Sports fans can watch the action on the big screen while mingling with some true sporting greats. Guests inspired by the feats of their sporting heroes can also have a workout in the training centre or play a round of 3×3 basketball and then wind down with Czech beer on tap and tasty Czech comfort food.
Using cutting-edge multimedia, the public will be able to paint on a digital canvas which can be projected on to a screen to create a virtual exhibition that will appear beside work by Czech artists, including 30 canvases by Michael Rittstein.
Venue: Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street
Islington, N1 0QH
Opening hours: 10.00-00.00 daily; Sundays 10.00-22.00
Athletic superstar Usain Bolt will drop in and say hi to Czech football aces – Petr Cech, fresh from victory in the Champions League, and Tomás Rosicky´. Other sporting greats will include visits from Lord Sebastian Coe, British hurdling medallist Colin Jackson and Czech athletes, including Bárbora Spotákova, Jaroslav Kulhavy, Ondrej Synek, Lukás Krpálek and others who will join fans after they have competed in their events to sign the Wall of Fame.
On 27 July there will be an opening ceremony, launched by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, with a light show and two A-list bands, Charlie Straight and Toxique as well as Smetana’s Vltava played on laser strings.
Don’t miss performances by famous funk band Monkey Business – who rescheduled their tour to be at Czech House – as well as the Support Lesbiens, Republic of Two, Sunflower Caravan, Please The Trees and Lanugo. DJ Martin Mikulas will also perform his wildly popular show inspired by South America.
Luck of the Irish
The Irish know how to throw a party and their fan zone at The Big Chill is no different with telly comedian Dara O’Briain and Ardal O’Hanlon (best known as the dim-witted Father Dougal in the iconic Father Ted TV series) keeping folks entertained. At the decks is XFM DJ Eoghan McDermott and traditional Irish music, dance and rock bands are also in the line-up. Sing-alongs are mandatory.
Jack’s Bar has been installed in the venue’s basement, named after the reprobate Father Jack of Father Ted. Sponsors Jameson’s Irish Whisky have also created a range of bespoke Olympic Jameson cocktails to complement the Irish stout, cider, wines and spirits on offer at no less than four bars. Fans are able to watch the Olympic action on large screens and grab a bite on the roof terrace BBQ.
Venue: The Big Chill, Pentonville Road, N1 9NL
Opening hours: 10.00-02.00 daily
Admission: £10 until 6pm; £15 from 6pm (VIP packages also available)
Don’t miss The Original Rude Boys, tipped to be Ireland’s ‘next big thing’, who will be playing on 1 August.
Expect to see Irish sporting heroes including Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan and boxing legend Barry McGuigan as well as sporting stars from Team Ireland
Paint it All Black
Sport is a religion in New Zealand and thousands of Kiwi sports fanatics will head to New Zealand House, based at One Granary Square to worship. Action can be watched on the big screen (this will be the only location in the UK to watch the New Zealand Olympic broadcast on SKY) while tucking into the BBQ produced by famous Kiwi chef Peter Gordon (of Providores and Kopapa fame), washed down with a specially imported Moa beer, delicious New Zealand wine or a ‘flat white’ (an Antipodean-style coffee).
New Zealand athletes will stop by to show off their medals at lunchtimes and, in the evenings, visitors can enjoy Kiwi entertainment.
Venue: One Granary Square, N1 1FA
Opening hours: 08.00-00.00 daily
Admission: £5; Gold Pass, £50, gives preferential access for the whole period apart from special ticketed events
Comedian Jarred Christmas performs on 28 July and singer Hollie Smith on 6 August
Musician Tim Walker, son of Olympic legend Sir John Walker
Viva La Revolucion!
For the first time ever, the five ALBA Latin American countries – Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela – have joined together to host an Olympic House and celebrate their people’s cultures. The location is Bolivar Hall, once the meeting place of the heroes of Latin America’s independence revolution. Visitors to Casa ALBA can expect a film festival, a salsa dance marathon, music, photography and great gastronomy, of course.
Venue: Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way, W1 5DL
Venezuelan Guitar (28 July), Bolivian Design (30 July-5 August), Photography from Nicaragua (7-11 August), Bolivia (11-17 August) and Cuba (20-24 August), Salsa Dance Marathon (18 August), Alba Film Festival (28 Aug – 1 Sept) and a special performance of the Larondina Dance Company from the Alessandre Special Needs Dance School to celebrate the Paralympics.
Above and below: Czech House
Above and below: Irish House
Kiwis in King’s Cross
Salsa dance marathon at the Casa ALBA