Sand, fun and sun but no sea in the Olympic Park as thousands flock to the capital’s biggest urban beach

Fun for all the family at Stratford's Beach East

Fun for all the family at the Olympic Park’s Beach East Pic: Oliver Bowley

The seaside has come to Stratford with the opening of Beach East, featuring a funfair, food stalls and a 1,000-tonne sand pit.

Constructed in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park between Hackney and Stratford, the summer holiday feature will remain a fixture from July 11 until August 31.

Organisers Mellors Group have created the UK’s largest artificial beach at the site and are hoping to attract thousands of families over the summer break.

The attraction also features fairground rides, food stalls, water attractions and two bars. Admission to Beach East, which will be open daily from 10am until 10pm, is free but there is a charge for rides.

Stephen Barker, organiser of Beach East   Pic: Oliver Bowley

Stephen Barker, organiser of Beach East Pic: Oliver Bowley

On the opening day beach organiser Stephen Barker said: “We put a few posters up and did a little bit of promotion on Facebook. We’ve only been open 10 minutes and already we’ve got over 1,000 people in here! Word of mouth travels fast in this part of London.”

While the whole beach area can potentially hold up to 8,000 people, Barker is limiting attendance to 3,000.

As well as the regular attractions, the beach will host live music events, sports competitions and a carnival in homage to the Rio 2016 Olympics. The organisers expect the beach to be busy throughout July and August.

Mother-of-two Stephanie Houghton enjoys a day out   Pic: Oliver Bowley

Mother-of-two Stephanie Houghton enjoys a day out Pic: Oliver Bowley

Stephanie Houghton from Stratford, was visiting the beach with her children Sophia, three, and Arthur, 16 months. “The kids love it, they’re having a great time although it’s a bit hard to keep an eye on them when I’m on my own!” she said.

The so-called ‘staycation’ is on the up according to Visit England, the UK’s tourist board, as British people currently take 16 per cent fewer trips abroad than before the recession.

Organisers imported 1,000 tonnes of sand to create the beach   Pic: Oliver Bowley

Organisers imported 1,000 ton of sand to create the beach Pic: Oliver Bowley

In order to meet the demand for domestic days out London is playing host to a variety of urban beaches this summer, with additional offerings at the Southbank centre, Royal Docks, Camden and Brent Cross.

By Oliver Bowley

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