Address: Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0ES
Completed in 2007, London’s Peninsula Square was designed to act as a gateway to the Millennium Dome after it became the O2 Arena.
The dome, which is the largest construct of its kind in the world, was built in 1999 to celebrate the third millennium. It was open to visitors from January 1st to December 31st 2000.
Inside was the ‘Millennium Experience’, which was a space divided into 14 zones that contained exhibits and attractions, called Body, Mind, Faith, Work, Learning, Rest, Play, Talk, Money, Journey, Shared Ground, Living Island and Home Planet.
Each contained unique attractions, for example the Body zone contained a giant human body with a huge pumping heart that visitors could travel through. Back in 2000, dome chief executive PY Gerbeau described it as an emotional journey and an exploration of who we are. The Home Planet zone contained sights, sounds, places and phenomena that make the planet unique.
Despite being unveiled to a big fanfare, the project was an enormous flop that failed to attract as many visitors as originally projected. It also sparked controversy, given that it cost £789 million and wasn’t successful. When it closed, money still had to be spent to maintain the building itself, costing around £1 million per month.
Most of the exhibitions were dismantled and auctioned off, many going for much less than their value. For example, a piece by Gavin Turk was sold for the reserve, but the artist wasn’t offended as he felt that it had never really worked.
Surrey-based theme park Chessington World of Adventures purchased the ‘Timekeepers of the Millennium’ attraction, while many other of the pieces were acquired by a private collector in the US. A large proportion of the fixtures and fittings were snapped up by the chairman of the Gillingham FC, for the club’s stadium.
Reopenings and rebranding
After the closure of the Millennium Experience, there was some debate about the future of the dome and whether or not the whole structure should be demolished. However, in 2003 it opened temporarily as a Winter Wonderland, which featured a funfair and ice rink, as well as a laser and firework display to welcome in the new year.
Plans were then put together to turn the space into a sports and entertainment centre, with backing of American billionaire Philip Anschutz, who is involved in several industries, including oil, rail and telecommunications.
In 2005, the dome was officially renamed as the O2 Arena, under a deal worth £6 million with the telecommunications company. A redevelopment of the interior quickly followed, turning the space into an indoor area, music club, cinema and exhibition centre. Several restaurants and bars were also built inside the structure.
Since then, the dome has been a venue for some of the biggest names in rock and pop, such as Bon Jovi, AC/DC and Beyonce, as well as providing a stage to the world’s best known comedians, including Chris Rock, Russell Brand and Michael Mcintyre. It also hosted sporting events, most notably the 2012 Summer Olympics.
London’s Peninsula Square lies between the O2 Arena and North Greenwich tube station, meaning it’s the first thing visitors see when they emerge from the Underground, which is why it was regenerated under the £5 billion, 15-year Greenwich Peninsula renovation plan.
The project – which was completed in 2008 – saw the space fitted with granite paving stones that tell the story of the Greenwich Meridian and springs that bubble, mist and send plumes of water up to ten metres high.
Vibrant lighting illuminates the surrounding architecture during the evening, ensuring visitors can rake in the spectacular scenery no matter what time of day it is. The focal point of the square is the Peninsula Spire, which is the UK’s tallest stainless steel structure, measuring 45 metres high.
The feature lighting installed by the architects have been programmed to coordinate with some of the events being held at the O2 Arena, helping the square to become a colourful and kinetic environment that operates in harmony with the media wall and water features.
Surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars and art exhibition, Peninsula Square is a stunning feat of design and is a must visit when making a trip to London.
Opening hours and admission
The cost of the tube is the only price that visitors have to pay to get into the square. Anyone heading there should check the opening hours of the businesses they wish to visit, as the shops, bars, galleries and restaurants operate on their own schedule.
Underground travel options
As with most things in London, Peninsula Square can be reached via the Underground and this is probably the easiest way to travel there. The nearest station is North Greenwich, which is on the Jubilee Line. From London Bridge, the journey takes around 12 minutes and from Bond Street it is approximately a 25 minute commute.
The square is 0.3 miles away from the tube stop, which is just a five minute walk away.
Overground travel options
It can also be reached by train, taking just 11 minutes from Cannon Street station and ten minutes from London Bridge. Visitors taking the latter route should keep in mind that London Bridge is currently undergoing a renovation, which will affect passengers at certain times until the project is completed in 2018.
Travelling by car
If you’re planning to drive to Peninsula Square, you can take the M25, which is outside the Congestion Zone, and follow the signs to the O2 Arena. The venue is signposted from the M25, A2, A20 (from the south-east) and the M11 (from the north). There are several car parks in the surrounding areas, here are a few of the closest:
- The O2 Arena itself has parking
- North Greenwich Station Car Park (0.4 miles, seven minutes on foot)
- Meridian Gardens Car Park (0.6 miles, 11 miles)
Nearby attractions for Peninsula Square visitors
Just like pretty much anywhere in London, there are plenty of other attractions close by to Peninsula Square, other than the obvious O2 Arena.
Here is just a selection of what’s on offer nearby:
- Up at the O2 (325 feet, one minutes on foot)
- Emirates Air Line (0.2 miles, three minutes on foot)
- Meantime Brewing Company Tours (0.9 miles, 18 minutes on foot)
- Museum of London Docklands (4.5 miles, 16 minutes on public transport)
- National Maritime Museum (2 miles, 25 minutes on public transport)
- Mudchute Park and Farm (2.6 miles, 24 minutes public transport)
- Tower of London (6.2 miles, 25 minutes on public transport)
- Coca-Cola London Eye (7.6 miles, 21 minutes on public transport)
- Trafalgar Square (8.1 miles, 20 minutes on public transport)