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You are in: London > Features > 2012 Olympic Games > 2012 Features > Olympic Torch Relay in London

Sir Steve Redgrave in 2004

Sir Steve Redgrave with torch in 2004

Olympic Torch Relay in London

London welcomes the Olympic Flame on Sunday 6 April 2008, as part of the global Olympic Torch Relay in the run up to the Beijing Olympic Games.

The capital's leg of the Torch Relay will include a number of boroughs, taking in diverse communities and historic and modern locations.

The Olympic flame will be carried through London by 80 torchbearers leading to a major community event which will include the lighting of a cauldron by the final torchbearer.

Olympic Torchbearers

Torchbearers will include public figures such as Arsenal footballer, Theo Walcott, TV presenter Konnie Huq, violinist Vanessa Mae and veteran newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald. Aspiring British athletes hoping to take part in the London 2012 Games and young people nominated for personal achievements will also be part of the torch-carrying team.

Celebrity torchbearers taking part:

  • Tim Henman
  • Denise Van Outen
  • Sir Steven Redgrave
  • Ellen MacArthur
  • Zoe Salmon
  • Denise Lewis

It is hoped there will be many opportunities for Londoners and visitors to view the Relay and participate in the occasion at different events along the route.

2008 Torch Relay - London

The London Route of the 2008 Torch Relay


Spectators can cheer on the torchbearers as they carry the Olympic Flame through Notting Hill, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square, the South Bank, the City and East London before it reaches North Greenwich and the day ends with a free, ticketed event.

Download a larger PDF version of the route

Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to open the file (download link on the right of this page)

Route Schedule

The Olympic Flame will be lit in London at 10.30am at Wembley Stadium before passing through 10 London boroughs and past iconic landmarks to reach a grand finale at Greenwich Peninsula featuring the Sugababes.

There will be a few closures in Central London of Engineers Way, Lancaster Road, Bloomsbury Square East, Great Russell Street, Gerrard Place and Wardour Street.

Key route timings are as follows:

  • 10:30 Wembley
    International dancers on stage at Arena Square in Brent, outside Wembley Stadium
  • 11:00 Ladbroke Grove
    A mini-carnival will be held with entertainers in Carnival Masquerade costumes performing to SOCA music
  • 11:20 Notting Hill Gate
    Carnival del Pueblo - a Latino Carnival band evoking the carnival feeling
  • 12:00 Oxford Street
    Open-top bus along Oxford Street featuring celebrity torchbearer
  • 12:20 British Museum
    A fanfare will be re-constructed with ancient Greek trumpets in the iconic Great Court
  • 12:30 China Town
    Performances will include costumed dragons and lions under Chinese decorations and lanterns on Gerrard Street
  • 12:40 Piccadilly Circus
    Convoy passes
  • 12:50 Trafalgar Square 
    A dance spectacular will take place in front of Nelson’s column to the accompaniment of a brass fanfare
  • 13:30 Southbank Centre
    A spectacular welcome for the torch along the front terraces of the Royal Festival Hall with a choir of 600, Kathak, poetry, circus, hip-hop and beatboxing
  • 14:15 Somerset House
    Aletta Collins has been commissioned to choreograph a unique dance piece that will be accompanied by music from the Bollywood Brass Band
  • 14.30 St Paul’s Cathedral
    On the steps the Band of the Scots Guards will welcome the flame with fanfares and music.
  • 15:00 Potter’s Field / More London
    Rhythms of the City and live drumming sessions will raise the atmosphere and continue the carnival spirit.
  • 15:30 Whitechapel Road
    Performances from Kinetika, spectacular and flamboyant street theatre, storytelling, costumes and dance.
  • 16:00 Stratford
    A world-themed carnival will unfurl with 300 school children, 50 spectacular carnival costumes and nine music floats. An aerial performance will take place at Theatre Square.
  • 17:00 Canary Wharf
    A carnival themed entertainment including acrobats, jugglers, stilt-walkers, street theatre, music shows, dance performances, face painters,  children’s workshops and treasure hunts.
  • 18:00 Greenwich
    The grand finale - a free, ticketed event will be a fusion of East meets West, the contemporary and traditional, in a dynamic and theatrical display of Chinese ribbon dancers, an exciting electro-acoustic music act, gymnasts, pyro displays and a special performance from the Sugababes.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London said: 'Following the outstanding success of the Athens Olympic Torch Relay in London in 2004, it is a great honour for our city to participate in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay and once again carry the Olympic spirit of friendship and co-operation between nations across the world.

"In the year that will see the handover from Beijing to London, it is a unique opportunity to generate interest and excitement across the capital as London itself prepares for the Olympic Games in 2012.'

Map of the Olympic Torch Relay 2008

World Map of the Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic flame for the Beijing Games will be lit in Olympia, Greece, on March 31. With the theme of “Journey of Harmony” and the slogan of “Light the Passion, Share the Dream”, the Olympic flame will travel along the historic Silk Road, and visit 22 cities, including London, on the five inhabited continents from April 2008 onwards.


After travelling throughout the mainland of China, a country with 1.3 billion people, and reaching the summit of the world – Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) – the Olympic flame will finally arrive at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and light the main cauldron on 8 August 2008.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay, with the participation of more than 20,000 Torchbearers, the duration of 130 days, and the distance of 137,000 km, will be remembered as the one that covers the longest distance and the widest geographical expanse, and that involves the largest number of participants in the history of the modern Olympic Movement.


The Torch Relay is an Olympic symbol of peace, brotherhood and enlightenment and represents a summons to the Olympic Games.

The modern-day Torch Relay is derived from ceremonies once a part of the ancient Games of Olympia, Greece. Torch and relay races were important elements of the cultural festivals surrounding the Games, and travelled throughout Greece to announce the Games of Olympia, declaring a sacred truce for the duration of the Games.

These events carried a deep ritual significance – a significance that is still respected in the modern-day Olympic Torch Relay.

Carl Diem, an Olympic historian and philosopher, initiated the first modern-day Olympic Torch Relay for the Berlin 1936 Olympic Summer Games.

Since that time, the Torch Relay has been a significant part of the Games, with each relay reflecting the culture of its host country.

last updated: 03/04/2008 at 16:05
created: 04/03/2008

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