Places to watch and celebrate the London 2012 Olympics in Kent
If you haven’t been able to get your hands on tickets for London 2012 then don’t worry, Kent has an array of events guaranteed to get you in the Olympic spirit.
From a torch relay party in Dover, to big screens in Gravesham and the Paralympic road cycling competition at Brands Hatch, every corner of the county is holding some kind of celebration.
If you are feeling athletic you can take part in the Medway Mile at Rochester Castle Gardens or if you prefer sitting back in a comfy seat why not check out Olympic-themed musical comedy The Games at Maidstone’s Hazlitt Theatre.
The town is also holding a double celebration of music, dance and fireworks to welcome the Olympic flame on July 19.
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Of all the different areas of the county, few are doing more to mark the occasion than Gravesham.
Between July 27 and August 12 the borough is holding nine different big screen events starting and finishing in Gravesend’s Community Square.
Gravesham Borough Council’s London 2012 officer Finola Mullligan said: “It’s about bringing communities together and giving them an opportunity to be involved in the Olympics even if they haven’t been able to get tickets. All the events are free so it they are completely inclusive and they should be a lot of fun.
“Although each event will have the big screen, every place is doing something slightly different. A lot of them will have a village fete feel with live entertainment, games, hog roasts, barbecues and that sort of thing. One of the most interesting ones is at Riverview Junior School on August 10 where they have 1940s-themed games in celebration of the last time the Olympics came to this country.”
Other events include a Guinness World Record attempt for the biggest Zumba class at St George's school – in aid of the Ellenor Lions Hospice – on July 28, and a silent disco during the screening of the opening ceremony in Gravesend on July 27.
Finola said: “They are very popular at the moment and it also means we can have a disco going on at the same time as the opening ceremony without people complaining about the noise. It should work really well.”
For more information on the Gravesham big screen events and our pick of the other top places to watch and celebrate the Olympics in Kent, check out our list below.
1. Olympic Torch Relay, Various locations including Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Dover, Deal, Maidstone, Medway and Sevenoaks.
Highlights: The torch will pass through 34 towns and villages.
When: July 17-20.
Starting in Tunbridge Wells on July 17 the Olympic Torch will be blazing a trail through the county.
Thousands of people are expected to turn out to see the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle as the flame is carried through 34 different towns and villages.
The torch will stay overnight in Dover on July 18 and Maidstone on July 19 before finally leaving the county via Medway, Gravesend and Sevenoaks.
2. Dover Olympic Torch Relay Celebration – Song For Dover, Dover Seafront.
Highlights: Live music and entertainment including top pop act Rizzle Kicks and a firework display.
When: July 18 from 5.30pm (gates from 2pm).
Price: Free (tickets by ballot).
A fantastic firework display over Dover Seafront will mark the end of a spectacular evening of celebrations when the Olympic torch comes to town on July 18.
Earlier in the day the flame will pass by Dover Castle and the Channel Tunnel before the party gets underway from 5.30pm.
As well as the fireworks there will also be live music, dance and entertainment including a set from chart toppers Rizzle Kicks.
There will also be performances from the Snowdown Colliery Male Choir, local cheerleaders the Vista Twisters and a rendition of ‘Pass The Passion’ a song written by local schoolchildren to mark the event.
3. The Games, Hazlitt Arts Centre, Earl Street, Maidstone, ME14 1PL, 01622 758611.
Highlights: Olympic-themed Greek comedy incorporating sporting equipment, music, clowns and shadow puppetry.
When: July 18, 8pm.
Price: Adults £12, concessions £10.
For an Olympic-themed event with a slightly different flavour, head to the Hazlitt Arts Centre on July 18.
The theatre is hosting “undiscovered” Greek comedy The Games incorporating sporting equipment with a thousand uses, an original musical score, clowns and shadow puppetry.
The production tells the story of three Greek nobodies caught up in a celestial bet between Zeus, Hera and Hercules. The unwitting heroes; Stanzas (a terrible poet), Darius (the runt of the litter) and Hermaphrodite (born a girl) travel to compete in the ancient Olympics and take on the heroes of the sporting world.
4. Parallel Olympic Torch Relay Celebrations, Leeds Castle and Mote Park, Maidstone.
Highlights: Live music from Rizzle Kicks at Leeds Castle, community concert at Mote Park.
When: July 19, from 5pm.
Price: Free (Leeds Castle tickets by ballot).
Maidstone is pulling out all the stops to mark the arrival of the Olympic torch with a parallel celebration across two different venues.
Leeds Castle is hosting the official party which features the lighting of the Olympic cauldron and live music from Rizzle Kicks. There will also be a performance of ‘The River Runs Through’ a new song telling the story of the town.
The events from Leeds Castle will be beamed live onto big screens at Mote Park where those not able to get a ticket for the main celebrations can enjoy a community concert, the final of Maidstone’s Got Talent and a firework display.
5. Olympics Opening Ceremony Silent Disco, Community Square, Gravesend.
Highlights: Silent open-air disco with 1000 revellers and free big screen.
When: July 27.
Price: £5 advance, £8 on night (plus £5 headphone deposit). Tickets available on 01474 337774.
Kicking-off a series of big screen events in Gravesham comes an Olympic celebration with a difference.
To mark the opening ceremony of London 2012 Gravesend Community Square is offering a choice of events including a silent disco.
The disco, which will feature 1000 revellers in headphones will take place at the top part of the square near the Woodville Theatre. In the lower part of the square a big screen will show free live coverage of the opening ceremony from Stratford.
6. Gravesham Big Screen Events, Various locations including St Georges School, Cyclopark, Ebbsfleet Utd FC and Cascades Leisure Centre.
Highlights: Big screen coverage of London 2012.
When: Various days between July 27 and August 12.
People in Gravesham can take advantage of some of the best views of London 2012 outside of the Olympic Park thanks to a series of big screen events.
The screens will be in action at various locations across the borough throughout the duration of the Games.
The events will come to a close on the final day of the Olympics with a Rio-style carnival in Community Square, Gravesend.
7. Dover Big Screen, Market Square, Dover, CT16 1NX.
Highlights: Big screen coverage of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
When: July 27 to September 9.
If you haven’t been able to get tickets for London 2012 then Dover’s Market Square is the next best place to catch the pick of the action.
Thousands of people are set to flock to the free 25metre square screen throughout the games, creating a real festival atmosphere.
The screen will be showing both the Olympics and Paralympics kicking off with the opening ceremony on July 27.
8. The Medway Mile and Opening Ceremony Celebrations, Rochester Castle Gardens, Rochester, ME1 1SW, 01634 338764.
Highlights: Fun run, arts and crafts, big screen and fun fair.
When: July 27 to September 9.
People in and around Rochester are being invited to enter into the Olympic spirit by taking part in a fun run.
Thousands of runners are expected to head to the Castle Gardens for the Medway Mile and the London 2012 opening ceremony celebrations that follow.
These include art and craft activities, a fun fair and big screen coverage of the spectacular Danny Boyle-curated show live from the Olympic Park.
9. Paralympic Roadshow, Various locations including Adizone Gravesend, Ashford Retail Outlet, Dover Leisure Centre, Maidstone FC and Tunbridge Wells own centre.
Highlights: Chance to try out Paralympic sports and meet current Kent Paralympians.
When: August 14 to 23 (except August 19).
Kent is offering people a chance to find out more about the Paralympics with a special nine day roadshow.
Stopping off at various locations around the county a double-decker bus will be on hand with Paralympic sports equipment, sports wheelchairs and information leaflets about Kent’s Paralympic athletes – some of whom will be at the events.
10. Paralympic Road Cycling, starting at Brands Hatch, Longfield, DA3 8NQ, 0870 950 9000.
Highlights: Watch the live Paralympic road cycling competitions.
When: September 5-8.
Price: Free for certain parts of the route.
Sports fans in Kent can watch some of the world’s biggest sporting event without leaving the county as the Paralympic road cycling competition comes to Brands Hatch.
The event will start at the iconic racing circuit before heading out onto the roads where people can watch for free. It is the biggest Paralympic cycling discipline with more than 225 athletes from over 50 countries.