In the heart of central London, close to the Prime Minister’s house at Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade provides a stunning historic setting for the London 2012 Beach Volleyball competition.
One of the most modern Olympic events will be therefore be enjoyed by spectators and television viewers against a backdrop which dates back several hundred years.
Once the Palace of Whitehall's arena for tournaments and jousting — in King Henry VIII's era — Horse Guards Parade has been used as a parade ground and for military ceremonies since 1745, with the Trooping the Colour (to mark the monarch's official birthday in June) taking place here annually.
The site is named after the 12 mounted soldiers from the Queen's Household Cavalry who protect the traditional entrance to the Royal Palaces and whose daily changing is a popular tourist attraction.
For the London 2012 Games, the parade ground will be flooded with 3,000 tonnes of sand and three temporary courts will be constructed — the main competition arena, which will also have seating for 15,000, four floodlight towers, and two practice courts.
A full test event took place in August 2011 when the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International was hosted by Horse Guards Parade. On that occasion the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) donated more than 2,000 tonnes of sand - imported to create the temporary courts - to sports venues across London.
The test event sand from a quarry in Surrey eventually made its way onto seven new courts at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, the Score Sports Centre in Waltham Forest and Westminster Academy Sports Centre. The initiative aims to increase participation in the growing sport, with similar plans in place for sand donation after London 2012.
Olympic Beach Volleyball made its debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta – another city which of course has no beach.
Public facilities: There is a plentiful supply of cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and sandwich shops in the area. The Games Mobility service will be present, plus there is a London 2012 Shop. There will also be London 2012 information points for venue and sports information, transport updates, lost and found services and pushchair and wheelchair storage.
History: Horse Guards Parade has been a parade ground and for military ceremonies since 1745, with the Trooping the Colour taking place here annually.
What’s on?: Beach volleyball (July 28-August 9).
How do you get there? By virtually any method of transport except car. As the parade ground is situated right in the heart of central London, it is within walking distance of three National Rail stations — Charing Cross, Victoria and Waterloo — although Charing Cross is the closest at about 600 yards. The venue is also within easy reach of four London Underground stations — Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines), Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo) and Victoria (Victoria, Circle and District) — while many bus routes run nearby. In addition, as the site is close to the River Thames, it is accessible by river bus, with Embankment and Westminster the nearest piers.
Location – in relation to other venues: In the heart of central London, Horse Guards Parade is roughly seven miles from the Olympic Park.
Location – on the tube: Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines), Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo) or Victoria (Victoria, Circle and District)
Find it on the map: here.