Olympics an inspiration to see more of the country

The London 2012 Olympics seems to have generated far greater interest around the country than many people anticipated. There was a high level of community participation in the preparatory events before the actual start of the games. And the successes of Team GB have been greeted with much celebration and national pride.

Indeed, the celebration kicked into high gear with the arrival of the Olympic torch in Britain back in May when the Torch Relay began the epic trek from Land's End towards John O'Groats and eventually back to London. The journey across the length and breadth of the country served to inspire goodwill and a sense of participation. It is estimated that over 13 million lined up on the streets of the UK or turned up at public events to see the torch.

As we pointed out in an earlier post, one by product of the Olympic Torch relay has been the showcasing of an amazing array of places to visit across the country: city centres, historical monuments, old castles and palaces, special gardens, sports grounds, business centres, beaches, tourists attractions and many more. Some of the photos of where the torch visited were stunning and must surely have inspired adding a few must-see places to your visitor attractions list.

Next came the spectacular opening of the games, which caught the public imagination with its dramatic staging, spectacular fireworks and colourful parade of the athletes and participants. Despite the complaints about tickets and empty seats in the opening days of the games, the stadiums soon got filled up.

All the Olympic venues have proved to be popular attractions, with the main stadium at the Olympic village drawing the biggest crowds.The sailing centre at Weymouth and Portsmouth, rowing venue at Eton Dorney and other venues outside London have also attracted huge crowds, mostly in a festive and celebratory mood.

The main games draw to a close on Sunday 12 August, but it's not over yet: the Paralympic Games will follow from 29 August to 9 September.

For people who are not into sports, the London 2012 Festival, also dubbed the Cultural Olympiad, has been an opportunity to savour a wide range of cultural events, from opera to carnivals, video installations, poetry and story telling, street dance and art exhibitions. These events are still going on all over the country till 9 September, with artists from all over the world participating. It's not too late to catch up on some of the events. The listings are on the London 2012 Festival site.

Only time will tell exactly what the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics will be, but the theme of "inspiring a generation" seems to have been a well chosen one. Hopefully, many youngsters will be inspired to take up sports or other pursuits which require the sort of mastery, dedication, guts and prowess displayed by Olympic sports people.

For now, we hope the Olympics have inspired you to want to see more and more of British towns and cities. Many of the venues and places graced by the Olympic events and celebrations – the sports as well as the community and cultural events – are well worth a visit.

City pics