September 2018. My first visit to Beijing’s National Stadium came on a freezing cold morning back in January 2010. S and I had come to see The Olympic Green’s famous winter wonderland park, located in and around the stadium itself. The football pitch had been transformed into a giant snow and ice park that day, with hundreds of people skating, sledding and building snowmen. Architecturally I was really impressed with The Bird’s Nest, designed by controversial Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei in partnership with the Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron. I remember S and I making plans to explore the rest of the Olympic zone but for one reason or another, among our subsequent flurry of travel plans, we never got round to it.
September 2018. Over eight and a half years later I finally made it back to The Olympic Park. It was weird to be face to face with The Bird’s Nest again, its near-deserted quietness leaving plenty of space for a flood of old memories. Today you can grab a ticket and go wandering around inside. Come on a weekday morning or afternoon as I did and you’ll hardly have to share it with anyone.
September 2018. Built at a cost of two hundred and forty eight million US Dollars, The Bird’s Nest was used to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics. Since then it has staged a number of big events, such as the 2009 Italian Super Cup Final between Inter and Lazio and the 2015 World Athletics Championships. But for the most part the stadium sits empty, welcoming a slow but steady trickle of curious tourists.
September 2018. A ‘standard’ entry ticket can be bought from one of the booths on The Olympic Green for (£6.60/€7.50/$8.80). This gives you access to the 1stand 5thfloor stands, with some low-key exhibits on the 2008 Olympics scattered around the concourses in between. There’s also an in-stadium McDonald’s should you find yourself peckish!
September 2018. I’d recommend shelling out the extra 50RMB (£5.50/€6.20/$) 7.30 for the VIP Top Wonder Air Corridor experience, which allows you to take the elevator up onto the stadium roof where a cool skywalk awaits. Just take the stairs up to the 5thfloor and follow the signs. The Bird’s Nest is located within Beijing’s Olympic Green. The zone is free to enter and is best accessed via the subway’s still-shiny Olympic Line 8. Jump off at Olympic Sports Center, Olympic Green or South Gate of Forest Park and consult one of the many board maps.
To read about my first visit to The Bird’s Nest back in 2009, have a read of my short story Sub Zero Adventures.
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