London has long been the beating heart of the world of English sport. While those from outside the M25 could make a strong case that it might be time to direct some attention elsewhere, it’s hard to argue with the glut of iconic sports venues here in the capital. Yes, there are some incredible sports venues elsewhere that have been home to some incredible moments in sporting history such as Old Trafford and Headingly Stadium, but it’s almost embarrassing how many amazing sports grounds London has crammed into a relatively small area. We’re going to take a whirlwind tour of five of the most iconic sports venues in the world – Wembley, Lords Cricket Ground, Twickenham, Wimbledon and O2 Arena.


O2 Arena

The O2 Arena, of course, isn’t only famous for its prominence as a sports venue, but having hosted some of the most famous music acts in the world doesn’t exactly hurt its reputation (and neither does its location in the heart of London by the Thames just east of the capital’s business area). The centrepiece of the redeveloped Millennium Dome, the arena is the first indoor arena purpose-built for sports and concerts and it really gives the Wembley Arena a run for its money.

The arena has hosted everything from MMA to darts to NBA games to the ATP World Tour tennis finals, but arguably the moment that really put it in the limelight was the London 2012 Olympic Games, when the O2 Arena played host to the basketball finals, artistic gymnastics and trampolining.

Wimbledon: The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

The O2 Arena is second only to the Arthur Ashe Stadium for size when it comes to tennis, but the crowning glory of English tennis (and probably the world) is inarguably Wimbledon. The grounds have been home to the world’s oldest tennis tournament since 1877, and for two weeks a year the entire world descends on it to enjoy (or bemoan) the English summer with strawberries, pimms and world class sportsmanship.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament to be played on grass and for many pros and fans alike it’s a high point of the tennis calendar. While it’s certainly a venue that knows and celebrates its past, however, it isn’t stuck there. In 2009 its retractable roof, part of a £100 million renovation, was unveiled and fans the nation over breathed a sigh of relief that they were no longer hostage to British weather.

Twickenham Stadium

‘The Cabbage Patch’ is the second largest stadium in England, fourth largest in Europe and the unassailable home to English rugby. It opened in 1909, hosting a game between Harlequins and Richmond, and had its first international game a year later. Back then it held 20,000 people, but not its steep banks hold 82,000 and create a powerful sonic effect when the chants get going. It’s presence exerts a kind of gravity over the surrounding areas, and Twickenham pubs are the only ones that will show rugby over football.

The ground hosts the World Series Sevens, the Aviva Premiership final, LV Cup and Heineken Cup matches, the rugby league Challenge Cup final, Harlequins’ annual Big Game and many of the Barbarians international matches, if you are fan of betting on these big games be sure to  check the pay out with betting calculator before you place them whether you are at the stadium or not!

Lord’s Cricket Ground

While Twickenham and Wimbledon can both claim plenty of history, it’s hard to match the long traditions of Lords. Over 200 years old, Lords is seen as the spiritual home of cricket and houses iconic historic features such as grade II listed Pavillion and ‘Old Father Time’, a weather vane that signifies the traditions and laws of the sport.

Wembley Stadium

One of the most famous sports grounds in the world, Wembley Stadium is the home of national English football. It was first opened in 1923, but knocked down and rebuilt from scratch in 2007. It now holds up to 90,000 fans and plays host to domestic cup finals and international games. Its most famous moment, of course, was the incredible 1966 World Cup final when England beat West Germany, but it also gets the crown for having the most toilets of any sports stadium in the world at a whopping 2618. It’s not all about football!