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Over two million spectators and visitors were welcomed to the Royal Parks during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and many joined in the action for free. The summer of 2012 was a fantastic experience for The Royal Parks, which hosted more venues outside of the Olympic Park than anywhere else during the Games.

Visitors from far and wide watched sport in the temporary venues in St James's, Greenwich and Hyde Park and over 400,000 people cheered on competitors for free in the parks during the Road Races, Marathon Swimming competitions and Triathlons. BT London Live in Hyde Park, the largest live site in London and free to access, gave people the opportunity to watch live Games action, try out different sports and listen to live music - 800,000 people came together to soak up the atmosphere.

11 events took place in the parks and 24 medals, including 11 Gold, were won by Team GB and ParalympicsGB. A global audience of billions watched the London 2012 Games and we hope that the beautiful footage will inspire people to visit London and the parks in the future.

Highlights of the London 2012 Games in the Royal Parks

Olympic Rings have been mowed into the grass at Richmond Park

In early July 2012, Giant Olympic Rings mown into the grass by Royal Parks Shire Horses in Richmond Park, were visible from the sky and gave visitors flying into Heathrow airport their first glimpse of the host city.

In the final few days before the opening ceremony, we welcomed the torch relay, first in Greenwich Park, then in St James's Park and Hyde Park where torch bearers and the public enjoyed a celebration concert - before sending it off from Bushy Park for its final journey to the Olympic Park.

The first week of the Olympic Games saw the cycling road races pass through Richmond, Bushy and Green Park and Team GB's first medal of the Games awarded on The Mall in St James's Park to Lizzie Armistead on the second day of competition.

In the Men's Time Trial a few days later, Bushy Park became the focal point for all cycling, sport and GB enthusiasts and thousands came, ate picnics and cheered on Bradley Wiggins and Chirs Froome to gold and bronze medals.

Cycling Time Trial in Bushy Park

Equestrian in Greenwich Park

On 30 July 2012, Greenwich Park held the hotly anticipated Cross Country event - 50,000 spectators were not disappointed as horse and rider rode around a challenging course and negotiated jumps which including the Royal Parks bench. The London 2012 venue in Greenwich Park was widely praised with incredible images of the park and the London skyline beyond.

As the Cross Country course was handed back to the Royal Parks, attention turned to GB successes in the magnificent arena, in both the show jumping and dressage competitions. When the Paralympic athletes returned to Greenwich at the end of August, the ParalympicsGB team also topped the equestrian medal table with appearances on every podium.

"I had never heard of Greenwich Park, and having seen it, I envy the people who have the benefit of being allowed spend time there. For me it was a chance to see some of the best horses and riders in the world. The days I spent in Greenwich Park I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a beautiful park, and the people of Greenwich should be rightly proud, that this park is now known across the world."

Greenwich Park Facebook page, 16 September 2012

Meanwhile on Horse Guards Parade Ground in St James's Park up to three sessions a day of Beach Volleyball were played in the 15,000 seat arena. Locating one of the cheekiest sports of the Olympics in one of the most venerable parts of London was a runaway success of the Games.

"Greenwich Park was a wonderful arena in which to stage the equestrian events, and it was a masterstroke to hold the Olympic beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade, where 18th century elegance and 21st century beachwear proved to be surprisingly compatible."

Sunday Telegraph, 16 September 2012

Aerial shot of the Beach Volleyball Stadium on Horseguards Parade

The Men's 50k Racewalk in St James's Park

Next door on The Mall in St James's Park, the marathon and race walk events took advantage of the most famous finish line in the world, with the flower beds encircling the Queen Victoria Memorial lighting up television screens around the globe.

"Horse Guards Parade was widely considered the best ever venue for Olympic Beach volleyball, Greenwich Park was a memorable showcase for the city's maritime heritage as it hosted the equestrian events, and TV executives purred over images of Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park during the road cycling and open water swimming events."

Matthew Beard, Evening Standard, 10 September 2012

On two glorious days Hyde Park, Green Park and The Mall again hosted gruelling triathlon races with historic success in the form of the Brownlee brothers for the men's competition. No other city could match the style, history and setting of the triathlon route and this was borne out by the crowds who lined The Serpentine, for both this and the 10km marathon swimming competitions a few days.

The Men's Triathlon in Hyde Park

Jess Ennis at BT London Live in Hyde Park

Throughout the Games we had a number of other attractions in our parks. BT London Live in Hyde Park was visited by gold medal winning Team GB athletes and 800,000 members of the public soaked up the atmosphere, participated in sports, watched live coverage and enjoyed music performances for free.

Sochi Park and Africa Village, located either side of the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, provided a great cultural attraction. Africa Village was the first ever Continental Olympic house, and Sochi gave a tantalising glimpse of the winter Olympics in 2014 with an ice rink and exhibition.

A 'transition period' of couple of weeks in which we digested what was being debated as the best Olympic Games ever and prepared for the Paralympics, ended when we proudly hosted the Paralympic Torch Relay in The Regent's Park. After a stop at the zoo, the torch travelled down The Broadwalk flanked by the adapted bikes of the West Euston Partnership.

Paralympic fever swept the nation, dressage captivated audiences in Greenwich Park and The Mall hosted the thrilling conclusion to London 2012 and an historic fourth gold medal for David Weir in the Paralympic Marathon. The following day David and fellow heroes and heroines of Team GB and ParalympicsGB returned to The Mall for one last time for the Athletes Parade, an incredible conclusion to a fantastic summer.

The Greenwich Park Paralympic Venue
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