Cities around the world planned special events and monuments to celebrate the arrival of the new millennium. London was no exception and this led to the creation of one of the most iconic buildings on the capital’s skyline.
The dome was designed to symbolise hope for the new century and was one of the highlights of the worldwide celebrations.
Architect Richard Rogers was behind the creation of the 12 100-metre towers supporting a fabric roof measuring 365 metres – with each metre representing a day of the year.
The total cost of the project was £789 million and it remains one of the largest dome-shaped structures in the world.
The public were able to explore the Dome on the first day of 2000 with a special event called the Millennium Experience.
Each zone was then further divided up into smaller exhibits to explore various meanings and ideas behind the general areas.
As well as exploring the various zones, there was also a performance area for the Millennium Dome Show, which featured music by Peter Gabriel and told the story of star-crossed lovers hoping to create a better future for mankind.
It was initially thought the Dome would extract around 12 million people during the first year of opening, but in the end it proved less successful, although six million visitors attended.
The O2 Arena
After the closure of the Millennium Exhibition, the Dome was sold to Meridian Delta with the intention of transforming it into one of the world’s leading live music venues.
The O2 Arena officially opened to the public on May 5th 2005 and over the past decade or so has welcomed some of the biggest names in music.
As one of the largest covered arenas in Europe, the re-named O2 Arena can accommodate up to 20,000 people and has been used in a number of ways, including the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games.
There is also a smaller music venue on the site, indigo at The O2 is a 2,750 capacity live music club designed to host intimate music events, club events, after shows, corporate and private events.
In addition to music, the O2 is also home to various other attractions including Up – a 360-degree viewing platform on top of the Dome that allows people to get a fabulous, and unique, view of the surrounding city.
There is also a bowling alley, a 11-screen cinema and around 25 different bars and restaurants.
Visitors may also be attracted to the O2 bubble. This large exhibition space features a host of different events, with part shows looking at the life of Michael Jackson, the human body and Tutankhamen.
Currently it is home to the British Music Experience which looks back at the last six decades of pop music in the UK.
How to get to the O2
The placement of the O2 Arena makes it easier for people to travel from all across London and other UK cities.
Located on the Greenwich Peninsula in south-east London on the River Thames, the iconic structure dominates the skyline and is easy to spot.
The nearest London Underground station is North Greenwich, which is just minutes from the O2. North Greenwich station is connected to the rest of the city via the Jubilee line. In addition, regular bus services also stop at North Greenwich station: 108, 129, 132, 161, 188, 422, 472 or 486.
For anyone planning to drive to the venue, the O2 is clearly signposted from the M25, the A2 and A20 for visitors entering the capital from the south-east and on the M11 for those travelling from the north.
Visitors who prefer a more unique way of arriving to see their favourite performer should consider the MBNA Thames Clippers river bus express. The river service runs directly from the London Eye pier to the arena via the River Thames, with boats leaving every 30 minutes.
The journey takes around 35 minutes to complete and provides a great opportunity to get a great close-up look at the River Thames, as well as the numerous historic buildings that can be found along the famous waterway.
Finally, the Emirates Air Line is London’s only cable car experience and provides great views. The cable car runs between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. It is then just a five minute walk to the O2.