One of London’s most important popular cultural items is certainly football. While many visitors and locals alike aspire to watch a Premier League game in London, many never get a chance to – especially visitors in the summer when it is off season. But one choice often ignored is the stadium tour – which gives a great experience without the crowds and provides some historical perspective on the role of football in London. As home to one of London’s oldest clubs (founded in 1886), a visit to Arsenal’s stadium is an excellent choice regardless of your own team preference. The tour allows for a behind the scenes (and close up) look at the inner workings of a Football Club and to experience one of the newest purpose built stadiums in England. In addition to the tour of the stadium, the tour price includes access to the Arsenal museum located just to the north of the stadium which documents the team’s history. Arsenal offers both a self-guided tour and a tour led by a retired player from Arsenal FC – what they call the ‘Legends Tour’.
Self-guided Audio Tour: With entry just to the side of the shop at the south end of the stadium, the audio guide takes you into all the key places within the stadium. You can to got into the changing rooms (both Arsenal’s and the visitors), sit where the players hear the pre-game speeches, see the fitness facilities, walk down the tunnel and sit in the coach’s and substitutes’ seats, go into the luxury restaurant overlooking the pitch, the interview rooms and the press briefing room. The Stadium is open for tours daily from 10 am – 5 pm. Audio tour ticket prices are £17.50 (£9 if under 16) though there are various discounts for families and groups. The audio is well done and lines up with various way markers on the well signed tour.
Legend’s Tour: At 1pm each day, you can pay extra to be guided in person by a hero from the team’s past who will reveal his thoughts on the current team, his playing days and any news from the inner sanctum of Arsenal Football Club. You will also receive a personalised signed photo from the guide and a gift. Legends tours are double the cost.
For all tour options, or to prebuy tour tickets, see their website: http://www.arsenal.com/emirates/emirates-stadium-tours
Arsenal Museum: All tours include a trip to the Arsenal Museum where the team’s archives, trophies, gear, accessories and old uniforms are on display. Much of the museum provides a historical perspective to the team – including its foundation at Woolwich Arsenal, its time at Highbury, and the building of the new stadium. As a point of interest, just east of the museum, across a footbridge, you can walk by the old Highbury stadium, which was originally built in 1913. It was here during the 1948 Olympics that football matches were held. Museum entry daily 10 am – 5:30 pm.
NOTE: No tours operate on any match days.
Located at: 75 Drayton Park, N5 1BU
Closest tube: Holloway Road