Top 10 Olympic Hot Spots

London Olympics Logo

The Olympic Games will be in town soon and everybody is starting to get excited. But don't assume that if you're not in London your only option for watching the Games is on the telly. The spirit of the Olympics will be crossing county lines throughout the nation, and this month we're counting down the top 10 Olympic Hot Spots and places to watch it all take place - in and outside London.

In writing up this list, an immense sense of pride has been felt by all who've thrown in suggestions. We spend so much time writing about locations and venues outside the UK, it's sometimes easy to forget what a wonderful place we live in.

10. Weymouth and Portland for Sailing

Weymouth Beach

Possibly one of the most naturally beautiful screen sites for this year's Olympic Games is the Weymouth Beach venue. Not only will you have a prime view of the bay and all the sailing action, but the massive screen gives you the opportunity to watch replays. This is a free venue too, so you can expect a decent crowd to show up and make a day of it.

For more information, visit the official Weymouth tourist information site and the Olympic live site.

9. London Cycle Route for Cycling

The grandstands at The Mall (the cycling start and finish line) are for ticket holders only, but it won't cost you a penny to watch the cyclists from the streets of London. Pick your spot along the 156 mile course, and set up camp at a pub with a view of the road – lunch and a few cheeky pints are your only cost there.

8. Dorney Lake in Windsor for Rowing/Canoeing/Kayaking

All the rowing, kayaking and canoeing events are taking place at Dorney Lake, the purpose-built rowing facility for Eton College. Set on 450 acres of protected land, the venue itself is a British institution for rowers.

For more info visit www.dorneylake.co.uk

7. Millennium Square in Leeds

Civic Hall in Leeds

Millennium Square in Leeds has a history of hosting big, successful and well-attended events. First opened in 2001 by the great Nelson Mandela, the venue has spent the last eleven years being used as a live venue for concerts, celebrations, community events and markets. This year the newly upgraded big screen in Millennium Square will be showing all the Olympic and Paralympic action. This is a free urban venue, you won't find a more lively and spectacular place to watch the Games.

For more info visit www.bbc.co.uk/bigscreens/leeds

6. Hadleigh Farm in Essex for Mountain Biking

Mountain biking remains one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with a swelling level of interest showing in all corners of the world. Hadleigh Farm, a beautiful 700 acre piece of land with a stunning view of the Thames Estuary, will host the highly anticipated mountain biking events. The grassland and shrub hills have been pampered and shaped by the course designers to provide a track that will be challenging and exciting for both the athletes and spectators.

5. Chapelfield Plain in Norwich

Chapelfield Plain is a fantastic venue for one of the BBC's big screens, being the shopping, dining and pre-clubbing hub of Norfolk's biggest city. Norwich is an impressive city that offers a soothing blend of riverside views and chic architecture. On top of showing the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the screen in Chapelfield Plain will be showing Radio 1's Hackney Weekend, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Wimbledon amongst others.

For more info visit www.norwich.gov.uk

4. Hyde Park for the Triathletes

Hyde Park in London

One of London's most loved and well known public parks is also the centre stage for the triathlon events. The main grandstands at Hyde Park are for ticket holders, but there are various spots throughout the park that offer prime views of the triathletes as they mentally and physically plod on along the stunning course.

3. The Official Olympic Village in London

It's not every year that the Olympics is held in your backyard, so we've got to take advantage of the opportunity. The official Olympic Village is an experience that will be worth it to visit at least once. Yes, it does cost a tenner to get in, but if you take your own snacks and spend the whole day there, it’s really not that excessive.

For more info visit www.london2012.com

2. Your Own Couch

Okay, we know we mentioned the telly in the beginning, but there are few seats as comfortable as the one you sit in every day. You, along with millions of people throughout the UK and across the world, can watch three weeks of live Olympic action 24/7 from the comfort of your own home - either on the telly or via live webcast. It might not be the finest venue in the UK, but the company at home is second-to-none and you can scream till your lungs burn without feeling the tiniest bit embarrassed.

1. Millennium Square in Bristol

Millennium Square in Bristol

Bristol's Millennium Square is one of the finest public areas in the UK, showcasing a modern blend of architecture and art, right alongside its harbour. On a week-to-week basis it's the place to be, especially given the city's student population. But you can expect a lively turnout for the Olympic screening, making it our choice for the best live, free venue this year.

For more info visit www.bbc.co.uk/bigscreens/bristol

Last Updated: April 2012

Clayton Truscott

Clayton Truscott

Clayton is a comfortable traveller, having grown up in a small city that was far away from everything. He spent lots of time in the car as a child, driving up and down the coast of South Africa on surfing trips with his family. After studying abroad in the United States and spending a year working in London, he moved to Cape Town, where he completed a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. He now works as a freelance writer for various travel, surfing and action sports publications.