A Brief Guide To The O2 Arena

A Brief Guide To The O2 Arena

From the stunning landmarks along the South Bank to the City of London’s cathedrals, there are many historic sightseeing opportunities that guests of the Montcalm at the Brewery can enjoy during their London trip. Outside the centre of the city though, are a wealth of often overlooked landmarks that may be overlooked by first time visitors. One of these is the O2 Arena.

This unique dome has a 22 year history and may be comparatively new to the London skyline, but has a lot to offer guests of spa breaks in London. This blog will outline the many activities, events of the O2 Arena as well as its fascinating, ever-evolving history.

What Is The O2 Arena?

The O2 Arena is an entertainment and shopping complex close to North Greenwich Tube Station on the Jubilee Line. One of the largest music arenas in the UK, the O2 has a capacity of 20,000 people and regularly programmes some of the most famous musicians in the world today.

History Of The O2 Arena

Originally built as the “Millennium Experience”, the O2 Arena was the passion project of former Conservative Prime Minister John Major. The experience was planned to be a celebration and exploration of the cultural innovations of the late 20th and future 21st centuries, showcasing everything from early robotics to the internet revolution. The Millennium Experience was created as an exhibition hall, a response to World Fair type events that were popular in the USA. 

However, the fair only lasted a year due to poor attendance and bad organisation. Deemed a failure, many of the attractions and artworks created for the exhibition were auctioned off to buyers such as Chessington World of Adventures. With many contemporary British artists having been commissioned to create art, installations and sculptures for the exhibition, the failure of the Millennium Dome led to these works being auctioned off to private buyers.

A company named Delta Meridian rented the dome a year after its closure. In 2003, construction was started on what Delta Meridian planned as an entertainment and shopping complex. They also built structures around the dome that connect directly into it. These included a concourse and several other buildings that are now used to house retailers and restaurants.

Architecture Of The O2 Arena

The O2 Arena was built on the preexisting site of the Millenium Dome. The large canvas sheet was lifted so that work could commence within and around it. Essentially, the dome was created from the outside in. The 12 yellow support beams that can be seen around the dome are an iconic attribute that marks it out against the regenerating skyline of Southeast London. These 12 yellow beams were not only used for supporting the canvas, but as a symbol of the importance of Greenwich and “Greenwich Mean Time”. 

Greenwich Mean Time is measured from the Greenwich Observatory in Greenwich Park and provides the time for the whole of England. It is also the navigational line from which time across the world is measured as plus or minus the GMT. The importance of the Greenwich Meridian is celebrated as part of the O2 Arena’s very structure.


The O2 Arena has played host to many of the world’s most famous musicians. These include Kanye West, Beyonce and C2C, the world’s biggest country music festival. The layout of the O2 Arena is flexible, meaning that not just music events but sports events can also take place here. These have included the 2012 Olympics, where the venue was known as the North Greenwich Arena. 


ShoppingThe ICON Outlet is the shopping complex built into the O2 Arena. Brands and shops you’ll find at ICON include Build-A-Bear, Nike and Adidas. The outlet has many of its products priced at up to 70% off its high street pricing, making it a great value alternative to other London shopping hubs.


The O2 Arena’s music events are not the only source of entertainment available in the complex. Guests of the Montcalm Hotel can enjoy a wealth of other exciting opportunities available within the O2 Arena complex. 


The O2 Arena’s surrounding entertainment complex is home to a one of a kind Cineworld movie theatre. With 4 unique screens, Cineworld is open every day of the week and includes a 4DX screen that elevates the 4D multisensory cinema experience, as well as a 270 degree curved screen of ScreenX. The other two screens at Cineworld are the Superscreen, which has enhanced surround sound for a truly immersive cinema experience as well as the private hire and members-only VIP Screen, which includes extra comfy seating and extra bar and food options.

Hollywood Bowl

Head to the upper floors of the Icon Outlet and you can visit everyone’s favourite afternoon out. Perfect for child and adult birthdays alike, the Hollywood Bowl includes 12 lanes of 10 pin bowling excitement. The endless possibilities are enhanced even further by an arcade area for that authentic American shopping mall experience. 

Climbing The O2

There’s nothing quite like seeing the iconic views of London. The O2 Arena rivals even the nearby Greenwich Observatory in terms of views over the Thames. The fact of the matter is that most tourists won’t get as far as the O2 when it comes to seeing those scenic cityscapes, but those who do can not only enjoy the views over the eastern bends of the Thames and the glittering Canary Wharf area, but a climbing and walking experience like no other. Visitors will be guided by a professional O2 climber using harnesses and hard hats, and will learn about the construction and design of the stunning structure as they do.

Boom Battle Bar

With food stalls to rival the tastes of the Montcalm restaurant, Boom Battle Bar is the perfect evening out for friends and family. Here you’ll find a wealth of pub games such as digital darts and crazy golf, alongside curated food stalls and cocktail bars. Whether you’re competitive by nature or not, there’s plenty to enjoy at the Boom Battle Bar.