London 2012 Olympics begin

The London 2012 Olympic Games kick-off this weekend

On your marks, get set... Go! The London 2012 Olympic Games will officially kick-off at tonight's opening ceremony in Stratford.

Technically some Olympic events, such as team archery and women's football, have already started. But symbolically the Games will properly begin this evening as the world is invited to behold Britain's take on an Olympic unveiling.

The details of the Olympic opening ceremony, directed by film-maker Danny Boyle, have been kept tightly under wraps in the build-up to London 2012. It is believed that the ceremony will pay homage to the UK's green countryside heritage, but other than that little information has been made available.

The Olympic torch has travelled the UK

This week saw full dress rehearsals of the 2012 ceremony at the Olympic Park Stadium in East London, with more than 10,000 volunteers putting the finishing touches to the spectacle.

Great Britain, or ‘Team GB' as they are commonly known, will be hoping to equal or surpass their haul of 47 medals from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Brits are pinning their hopes on stars such as Dai Greene, Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy, Hannah England, Mo Farah and Tom Daley to keep as many gold medals on UK soil as possible. 

The Olympic Park is ready and waiting

For gap year backpackers and travellers in the UK, the Olympics are a massive bonus to the UK's usual attractions and experiences. For many UK citizens and residents, the Games represent a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see live, up close Olympic competition.

But not everyone is looking forward to the Games. The Olympics are expected to cause huge increases in traffic and congestion on trains and roads in and around London, and the Tube is expected to be extremely busy causing headaches for commuters.

Many are tipping Jessica Ennis to shine at London 2012

Additionally, the Olympics are likely to saturate TV and radios schedules and dominate news coverage for the next three weeks. Basically, between transport and media, there will be no escape.

London 2012 has also generated its fair share of controversy. From accusations of poor budget management, inappropriate sponsorship, brand control overkill, badly handled anti-terrorist measures, security shortage concerns and even country flag mix-ups, the Olympics has produced plenty of unwanted headlines before the event has even officially got under way.

But despite all these concerns and a little bad press, at gapyear.com we hope London 2012 is a huge success, and that Team GB tops the medal table come the closing ceremony.

Let the Games begin...

Photo of London Bridge by Gonzolito, Olympic Torch by Shigang Yang, Olympic Stadium by Matt Deegan and Jessica Ennis by Erik van Leeuwen all via Creative Commons.