Britain is going Olympic bonkers, nutty for medals and facts about athletes, and running on overdrive for two weeks until The Games end on the 12th of August. But does it mean anything to you? Do you care one iota?
For some, the Olympics are a wonderful chance to celebrate human endeavour and sporting achievement. For others, the end can’t come soon enough.
It’s a bit like being a republican during a royal wedding; you simply can’t get away from it, with reminders of how everyone’s getting into the ‘spirit’ at every turn. But fear not, there are plenty of alternative forms of entertainment to help you escape the mass media overkill and boring conversations about athletics. Here are a few ideas:
The great outdoors
Walking in the Scottish Highlands
There are miles and miles of fantastic walking in the remote and beautiful Highlands. You won’t get much further from the Olympics, both physically and emotionally, within the UK.
Cycling in Wales
Cycling is becoming more and more popular in the UK, and Wales is a cycling paradise, with 331 miles of traffic-free, organised routes (of course, there’s plenty of off-road as well, but you risk the potential wrath of the farmer or landowner, the choice is yours!).
Visitwales.co.uk has great info and maps to help you pick out routes.
For those who don’t want to go to the lengths of going somewhere wild and remote, or simply can’t afford to, spending your days quietly lounging around and swimming at a local outdoor pool might do the trick.
There’s been something of a renaissance in city and town Lidos in recent years. London has plenty, as well as the famous Hampstead ponds of course. And here’s a list of the Daily Telegraph’s top ten in the whole of the country.
Or you can simply Google the name of your local city or town and the words ‘outdoor pool’ or ‘lido’ to see if it has one.
If you’re brave enough, there’s always the sea and rivers. The Guardian has a very good map and info source here. Many people become obsessed with ‘wild’ swimming, and it could help fill your days in a very non-Olympic way.
Festivals and events
The Edinburgh festival, Edinburgh
This huge international festival is comedy and theatre focussed, but with amazing choice also in music, dance and art.
If you’re after something a little more sedate, with fewer people who are less likely to be talking about or trying to watch the Olympics on mobile gadgets, then try one (or a few!) of these smaller, intriguing arts and music festivals happening over the two Olympic weeks:
Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire
The mood is sedate, with a small crowd and eclectic music roster. There’s also Mercury Rev and Daniel Johnson headlining, and a lake to swim in.
Standon Calling, Hertfordshire
Famed for fancy dress themes, interactive art installations and great set designs, Standon Calling is very much a boutique, relaxed, and easily loveable festival.
The Holifair, Cornwall
Cheap and family friendly, set on a beautiful farm in the middle of nowhere in Cornwall.
Kendal Calling, Lake District
For one of the ultimate rural, out-of-the-way fests, get yourself to Kendal Calling in the Lake District.
Global Gathering, Worcestershire
OK, so Global Gathering’s not such a small festival, but if dance music’s your thing, you can certainly lose yourself and leave the ‘real’ world behind for a few nights.
As an alternative to arts and music festivals try these:
The Bristol International Balloon Festival, Bristol
The Bristol Balloon Festival offers something different to many music and arts festivals, and is one of the most family-friendly.
The Great British Beer Festival, Olympia
This beer festival will definitely help you forget all about the Olympics! Booze it up on some of the finest ales (and wines!) in the land then merrily wind your way home without an Olympic care in the world
Exhibitions & Museums
The Tate in St Ives, Cornwall – Alex Katz
The Tate in St Ives is celebrating the work of Alex Katz, one of the greatest living modern American artists.
The exhibition provides a great excuse to go to Cornwall, which has the most beautiful beaches in the country and a far-away feel.
Birmingham Museum – Pharaoh, King of Egypt
If history’s more your thing, travel thousands of years back in time (yes, that’s going quite far to escape Olympic mania, but worth it…) at the Pharaoh: King of Egypt exhibition at the Birmingham Museum.
Museum of Liverpool and the Riverside Museum of Glasgow
More museum information:
The Visit Britain website has a good list of the UK’s most popular museums and what’s going on at them.
If you can’t afford to go away, why not divert yourself with a series of days out?
Walks near where you live
If you live in London, for example, it’s easy to get out into glorious countryside with lots of train routes taking you to the rolling hills of the Chilterns or South Downs, even wetlands of Norfolk for some bird watching, or the lovely countryside an hour from Paddington around Pewsey.
There are a number of cracking walks within easy reach of London suggested by Time Out.
And for those of you outside the capital Walking Britain is a great online resource, with hundreds of suggested walks, broken down by area.
Another means of Olympic escape could be to simply head to one of our amazing national parks, and plunge on into it for the day. There are plenty to choose from, such as those in the Lake District, West Country, Brecon Beacons and Northumbria.
This is a day celebrating and encouraging children to play outdoors and events are planned all over the country on the 1st August. Check out what’s happening near you.
National trust events for families
The National Trust, with its fantastic selection of properties and gardens to see throughout the country, is planning a series of free family-orientated events, many happening during the Olympics.
Go on, you know you want to! Another great way of escaping the Olympics is to head to a spa. There’ll (almost) certainly be no TV or radio blaring out latest medal tallies and commentary, so you can unwind and let it all drift away.
Spas are generally not cheap, but worth it if you truly need some special pampering.
Lastminute.com have somewhat cornered the market in Spa days out and break offers with UK-wide availability and a good selection on offer.
Cinema for less
Hiding away in a cinema is also a good place to escape Olympic fever.
Make a day of it by seeing one film in the afternoon and then treating yourself to a second in the evening?
Food, glorious food!
Eat your way to avoiding the Olympics! Britain has become a nation of foodies, with cooks such as Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver now pretty much national treasures and food programmes, articles and events everywhere.
The Clitheroe food festival in Lancashire and the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival in Yorkshire are on during the Olympics, offering a huge variety of food to taste and foody activities. What better excuse do you need to get to one (or both!) and stuff yourself silly?
Absorbing yourself in learning a new skill or subject is another great way of avoiding Olympic ‘noise’.
During the summer, universities and colleges around the country offer classes in everything from pottery and fencing, to poetry and drama.
Although it’s getting late in the day, hotcourses.com is a great website for finding classes going on near you, and you should still be able to find something suitable to do during the Olympic weeks.