It's countdown time as action prepares to get underway in London when the Olympic Games are held from July 27 - August 12. If you haven't started getting your place on the sofa ready for some serious television action, then maybe you should think about heading over to see it in real, living colour.

It's a great time to visit the old country given they're also in the middle of celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - that is for the monarch's 60 years on the throne. Even if you're not a royalist at heart, with all the fun and excitement happening in London this summer there's really never been a better time to go. This city knows how to host a good party and we're here to give you the low down!

What's onWhere to stay | Other things to do | VIP tours from London | The Diamond Jubilee

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Obviously the Olympics is primarily all about the sports--athletics, triathlon, football, archery, gymnastics and so on--but it's also a time for performances, music and cultural events.

Olympics and Paralympics
A full list of the sporting schedule is available online at the official website but here's some to watch for:
* Men's 100m 5th August
* Women's 100m 4th August
* Men's Marathon 12th August
* Women's Marathon 5th August
* Men's Football Final 11th August
* Women's Football Final 9th August
* Men's Basketball Final 12th August
* Women's Basketball Final 11th August
* Men's Tennis Final 5th August
* Women's Tennis Final 4th August
* Men's Triathlon 7th August
* Women's Triathlon 4th August

Ticket prices start at just £20. The Paralympics run 29th August - 9th September and ticket prices are just £10 and only £5 for young people and seniors.

London 2012 Festival
Of course the London Olympics isn't just about sport. 12,000 events and performances will be held across the UK from 21 June - 9 September as part of the London Festival with concerts, exhibitions and outdoor spectaculars happening everywhere - some of the events are free. Features include:
* Shakespeare Theatre
* Art installations
* Fireworks blended to music and special effects
* Garden shows
* Concerts from Pixie Lott, Imelda May and Gustavo Dudamel

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Accommodation is definitely something you need to get onto pronto if you're coming during the Olympics. We've reviewed three hostels this month but we have a lot of hostels in London where you'll score a discount as a VIP Backpackers member. So you're aware of all of them here's the full list:

All Star Hostel | Generator Hostel | Smart Camden InnSmart Hyde Park Inn | Journeys Smoking Barrels | Meininger City Hostel & Hotel London | Clink 261 | Smart Hyde Park View | Clink Hostel | Palmers Lodge - Swiss Chalet | Hillspring Lodge - Willesden Green | Zenith Hostel | Journeys London Eye Hostel | Craven Gardens Hotel

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If you're keen to see a bit of London during the Olympics there's plenty to keep you busy. Here are some ideas.

Buckingham Palace guards - www.visitedplanet.comThe big sights:
Hear Big Ben chime, see Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard and where Kate and Will kissed on the balcony, go to 10 Downing Street to the famed abode of Prime Ministers, see London Bridge not falling down, take a ride on the London Eye, marvel at St Paul's Cathedral and its famed spires, visit Westminster Abbey where Kate and Wills wed, and catch a game/match at the amazing stadiums such as Wembley and Twickenham.

The gardens:
Take in a summer concert or just hang out in the enormous Hyde Park, pay your respects at the Diana Memorial Garden at Kensington Gardens, visit the London Zoo at Regent's Park, or simply get some fresh air and sunshine (maybe!) at Green Park or St James's Park.

The museums and galleries:
Go mad on the artefacts at the British Museum, take in the national gallery of British art at Tate Britain, or see some wax look alikes at Madame Tussauds.

London phone box - www.visitedplanet.comIconic sights and experiences:
Bring three friends for your prize shot on the crossing outside the Abbey Road studios a.k.a the Beatles, hail a black cab and meet a London taxi driver, make a phonecall from a red telephone box and hang out in a London pub.

Cultural experiences:
You haven't been to London if you haven't see a West End theatre production, squished in with the commuters on the Tube, listened to buskers at Convent Garden and wandered through Notting Hill.

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We have a whole range of tours and packages operating out of London. Here's a full list:

Stonehenge -

* Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge
The Georgian city of Bath and its famed Roman baths, the famous standing stones of Stonehenge and the majesty of Windsor castle.
* Stratford & Extended visit to Warwick Castle
Shakespeare country in Stratford and the famed Warwick castle.
* Stonehenge and Bath (Late Departure)
The mystic of Stonhenge and the Georgian city of Bath.
* Stratford, Oxford and Cotswolds
Visit Shakespeare country at Stratford-on-Avon, the academic heartland in Oxford and the beautiful cottages of the Cotswalds.
* London Working Holiday Pack
A starter pack to get your working holiday started.
* Launchpad - UK Working Holiday Pack
Kickstart your working holiday with this starter pack.
* The City, Tower of London and River Cruise
Includes all entrances to the famed attractions and photo stops at St Paul's Cathedral.
* OVC The Original London Sightseeing Tour
More than 90 stops on this hop-on hop-off tour of the city.
* Windsor Castle & Hampton Court Gardens
Majestic Windsor Castle and London's fine Hampton Court Gardens plus Runnymede.
* Total London Experience
A full day tour including Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, a cruise on the Thames and more.
* The Original London Sightseeing Tour
See it all on just one tour with the option to jump off wherever you like - 90 stops around London.

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The Queen and Prince Phillip -

The Olympics is not the only celebration going on in London over the summer. While the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations are oficially the first weekend in June, events are taking place around the UK until July.

Some dates include:
2nd - 5th June Central Weekend
13th - 14th June East Midlands and East Anglia
25th June and 25th July South East England
2nd - 6th July Scotland (Holyrood Week)
11th - 12th July West Midlands
18th - 19th July North East England

For a full schedule of events see the official page.

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