The O2 – Review for families

The Millennium Dome-turned-O2 Arena is one of London's biggest entertainment venues, but is it any good for families? We've got everything you need to know

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What is it?

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The Millennium Dome was an attraction opened in 2000 displaying an exhibition that marked the beginning of the third millennium. It is now home to a large entertainment district known as The O2 on the Greenwich Peninsula in South East London. It is serviced by North Greenwich tube station on the Jubilee line and by bus routes.

Best for:

9 – 12 / 12+

Ok for:

Babies / Toddlers & Preschool / 5 – 8

Cost

Free entry to the dome but any entertainment and events are subject to costs.

What’s on offer

The O2 is a huge entertainment district with restaurants, a Cineworld cinema and 12 bowling lanes on offer at the Brooklyn Bowl restaurant, bar and music venue.

The O2 is also home to the O2 Arena where a wide variety of music, comedy and children’s shows are on offer throughout the year. Recent family-friendly shows include Disney on Ice.

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Up at The O2

You can climb the iconic roof of the Dome at the Up at The O2 experience. The 90-minute climb is something of an expedition as you don full explorer attire to clime the 350m walkway over the dome. You’re completely strapped in with a harness for the duration of the climb and a trained guide will take you up to the viewing platform 52m from ground level. Once you reach the viewing platform on top of the dome, you’re allowed to unclip your harness to take advantage of the 360 degree panoramic views across the capital and take photos. The experience is only suitable for children aged over 10 – and is not for the faint-hearted! Prices for Up at The O2 start at £26 each and you can book in advance on the website.

If your child is under 10 or doesn’t fancy the climb, you can admire the Dome’s architectural structure and revolutionary design from ground level before enjoying a film at the cinema or grabbing a bite to eat.

Facilities-wise, there is an accessible toilet equipped for baby-changing by Block 106 on Level 1. There’s also an accessible toilet for disabled users by the escalator at the Cineworld Cinema. There are lots of lifts and the main concourses are level and step-free – perfect for buggies.

Highlights

The Dome itself is an excellent place to view a music or comedy show. Even if you’re sat far away (in the 400 ticket zone, for example) you’ll be able to see the show through the big TV screens, which keep children engaged. It’s right by the tube, clean and as crowd-controlled as a huge venue like this can be.

What to watch out for

– It’s very crowded at events, which isn’t suitable for nervous children or children with anxiety.

– Food, drink and merchandise are usually incredibly expensive at events held here. You can’t take any food or drink, even water, into the arena with you.

– There are not enough public toilets in the whole arena, so the queues do get busy. If you have a young child, make sure they tell you as soon as they think they need the bathroom, so there’s no discomfort or accidents.

– The O2 doesn’t have the world’s greatest air conditioning, so hot summer nights at a gig may end up being uncomfortable.

– Once you’ve had your ticket checked, you can’t leave and re-enter the arena. 

MFM tip:

– If you’re watching your child’s favourite pop star or entertainer, consider leaving the arena before the encore, especially if you’re in a high seating position. You’ll make it to the tube or your car without shuffling through the crowds for 30 minutes.

– If you want to eat at a restaurant before an event, arrive 2 hours before the doors open to avoid queuing for a table.

What the owners say

“See the world’s most popular eventsPrince. Peter Kay. The Rolling Stones. The BRITs. ATP tennis. Led Zeppelin. The list goes on. We can host up to 20,000 people for the world’s biggest live events.

Enjoy the best live experiencePick a seat. It doesn’t matter where. The arena is designed so you’ll always feel part of the action. And hear everything clearly.

Choose from a range of food and drink. Champagne. Burgers. And a whole load in between. Grab a bite at any point in the show.”

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Visit The O2 website

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