Among the thousands of attractions London has to offer, visiting Emirates Stadium offers a modern and refreshing change of scenery. Situated in north London, more specifically the Islington borough, Emirates Stadium is a 60,000 seat, state of the art football stadium (soccer for us colonials) that boasts some of the best amenities and exciting action the sport has to offer. It is home to Arsenal football club, who played at the historic Highbury from 1913 until the opening of Emirates Stadium in 2006.
Visiting Emirates Stadium
You can take a self-guided tour complete with audio commentary (earbuds), or you can opt to shell out a bit more for one of the guided “Legends” tours, led by a former Arsenal player. We opted for the self-guided tour (£20 each) since the the Legends tour costs twice as much. Either way, the tour is pricey, but it was very comprehensive and the self-guided option allowed us to go at our own pace.
I began following Arsenal after becoming a soccer fan in 2010, not long after visiting London for several weeks on a short study abroad trip. I was drawn to the club by their history, by the electrifying highlight footage of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, and by their massive worldwide fan base. I found a local supporter’s club in San Diego and have made some incredible friendships rooted in this team. Having watched many matches on TV, it was breathtaking to step out into the stands and see the panorama of all the seats and the pitch with my own eyes.
Except for one
minor major detail… in 2016, the pitch was being torn up and replaced. This maintenance happens once in ten years. Our timing was… less than ideal. However, it was still really cool to walk around the club level and take in the views, including the historic clock end—a holdover from the old Highbury stadium.
Perhaps the highlight of the entire tour was being inside the dressing room. You can see where all the current stars get prepared for a big match and wind down after a tough battle. Sitting in the spots where the likes of Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Giroud lace up their boots before a match definitely had me geeking out!
We ended the tour by walking through the press area, where players and coaches are interviewed. It was a really cool behind-the-scenes look at how the post-game TV productions go down.
Getting to Emirates Stadium couldn’t be easier for the tube-savy tourist. It is a short walk away from the appropriately named Arsenal tube station on the Piccadilly line, about 7 stops north of central London. After walking around the stadium admiring the amazing façade and visiting some statues of Arsenal’s most famous stars, head into the gift shop for a tour.
For an Arsenal fan this tour is a must, but I think that even an average sports enthusiast would really enjoy a tour of Emirates Stadium. It provides a nice contrast to the heavy dose of history and art that London culture is known for. Perhaps it is another take on history and art: intertwined within one of England’s most beloved sports!
Guest post written by Doug Jackson. All photos by Staci and Doug Jackson for The Voyageer.