The ArcelorMittal Orbit – the perfect day out for daredevils and not-so-daredevils
As well as being one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of London, did you know that Stratford is home to the UK’s largest piece of public art, which also doubles as the tallest sculpture in the country? Not only that, but the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford is also home to the world’s longest and tallest slide, which takes you from the top to the bottom in 40 seconds.
Designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the sculpture was completed in 2011 and quickly became an iconic symbol of the London 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympics, creating a permanent lasting legacy of the Games as a focal point of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The Orbit slide is a feat of engineering, an enclosed tunnel featuring 12 twists along its 178m length. It was designed by German artist Carsten Höller and opened in 2016.
Perfect for the thrillseekers among us, you twist and turn your way through transparent sections of the slide, seeing the structure from an entirely new perspective and catching glimpses of the London skyline. Once the heart is racing you’re plunged into darkness, before reaching the final exhiliarating corkscrew section named the ‘Bettfeder’ - the German word for ‘bedspring’.
And if sliding down the UK’s tallest sculpture doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping quite as much as you’d like, why not take on the UK’s highest freefall abseil instead?
Professional instructors will provide you with all the information and equipment you need before escorting you to the upper viewing platform. As you make your descent, you’ll be treated to breathtaking view across Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, IQL, Stratford, and much further beyond. With those types of views, there really is no better place to go abseiling in London.
But don’t worry if you’re not the daredevil type. If you would like to simply enjoy the spectacular vista, then you can enjoy the 34 second ride in the lift to the indoor observation platforms at the top of the steel structure. Once you’ve taken in the views of the Gherkin, St Paul’s, Canary Wharf, and many other iconic buildings that make up London’s skyline, you can return to the ground via the lift or down the 455 stairs.
Once you’ve finished your visit to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Stratford and the surrounding area has plenty more to offer. It’s always worth a wander around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Why not take a few moments to catch your breath in the newly opened London Blossom Garden after such an adrenaline-fuelled day, or head off for some tasty food in one of the many fantastic restaurants in East London.