Travel Report: The Bird’s Nest, Beijing.
September 2018. My first visit to The Bird’s Nest, 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. The football pitch had been transformed into a giant snow and ice park that day. It was an amazing sight, with hundreds of people skating, sledding and building snowmen. The stadium’s stunning design came from controversial Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei in partnership with the Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron.
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 Nest again, its near-deserted silence leaving plenty of space for a flood of old memories. Today you can grab a ticket and go wandering around inside. Furthermore, if you come on a weekday morning like I did, you’ll hardly have to share it with anyone.
Built at a cost of two hundred and forty eight million US Dollars, the stadium hosted 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. However, for the most part the stadium sits empty, welcoming a slow but steady trickle of curious tourists.
The Bird’s Nest, Beijing.
You can grab your entry tickets at one of the booths on The Olympic Green for 60RMB (£6.60/€7.50/$8.80).
This gives you access to the 1st and 5th floor stands, with some low-key exhibits on the 2008 Olympics spread around the concourses in between. There’s also an in-stadium McDonald’s should you find yourself peckish!
The National Stadium.
I’d recommend paying the extra 50RMB (£5.50/€6.20/$7.30) for the VIP Top Wonder Air Corridor experience. This allows you to take the elevator up onto the stadium roof where a very cool skywalk awaits. Just take the stairs up to the 5th floor and follow the signs.
The Bird’s Nest sits within Beijing’s Olympic Green. The zone is free to enter and you can reach it via the subway’s shiny Olympic Line 8. Jump off at Olympic Sports Center, Olympic Green or South Gate of Forest Park. Wherever you get off, consult one of the many board maps outside the station.
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