The Olympic Torch Relay is an Olympic tradition that stems from Ancient Greece. Before every Olympic Games, a flame is passed around the host country to spread a message of peace and unity. This year the flame will be passed among 8,000 Torchbearers as it zig-zags through England and parts of Scotland and Ireland before arriving in London to signify the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
If you're studying abroad in England or hope to visit England one day, it might be interesting to take the same path as the 2012 Olympic Torch. This 70-day journey would lead you through 1,019 communities, most of which hold celebrations on the day the Torch enters their town. Click here to map out the Torch's entire journey.
Sound intriguing? Take a look at this weekly breakdown of ten cities the Torch has passed through or will pass through and find out what is worth visiting within each city:
Land's End May 19
The torch relay began in Land's End on May 19. Located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Land's End is the most westerly city in mainland England. The wild landscape of Land's End makes it the perfect area to explore nature. You can see granite cliffs along the coastline as well as Enys Dodman, a well-known arched rock formation that juts off the coast. Pay for an all day parking pass and go explore!
Worcester May 25
One of the most iconic sights in Worcester is the Worcester Cathedral. The cathedral was founded during the Seventh Century and holds the tombs of King John and Prince Arthur. Having been continuously rebuilt and added onto for several centuries, Worcester Cathedral is a magnificent piece of history; nearly every type of English architecture can be seen within the cathedral's design.
Liverpool June 1
Liverpool and the Beatles go hand-in-hand, so it'd be hard for you to visit this city without experiencing some Beatles history. From the Magical Mystery Tour to Hard Day's Night Hotel, this city is a dream come true for Beatles fanatics. If you're a Beatles fan traveling to Liverpool this year, you're in luck. 2012 marks the 50 year anniversary of the Beatles' first performance, and Liverpool is holding celebrations throughout the year to honor this influential band.
Glasgow June 8
Glasgow, which is located in Scotland, is best known for its art and music scene. If you stop in Glasgow, make sure to visit Kelvingrove Museum. This museum has 22 themed galleries, including natural history, arms and armor, art from a variety of movements and more. And the best part? Entry to the museum is free!
Newcastle upon Tyne June 15
Newcastle upon Tyne, or Newcastle, is a city known for its many theaters and music venues, so you should see a play or a concert if you decide to visit. One of the city's "must-sees" is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which extends over the River Tyne. The relatively new pedestrian bridge has a unique architectural design that makes it look like a blinking eye when it opens for boats to pass underneath.
Blackpool June 22
If you're tired of visiting theaters and historic landmarks, Blackpool is the perfect city to release your inner child. Located on the northwestern coast of England, Blackpool is filled with theme parks and other family friendly attractions to guarantee fun for all ages. Pleasure Beach is one of Blackpool's most notable amusement parks and is located along the shoreline of the Irish Sea. For 25 pounds you can spend your entire day taking on thrill rides.
Derby June 29
Derby is located in the center of mainland England and is home to over 100 real ale pubs and several microbreweries, making it an ideal city for brewery tours. The city is also said to be one of the most haunted cities in England, so once you've finished exploring the pubs you should take one of Derby's famous ghost tours. For those of you feeling extra daring, you can spend the night in the Derby Gaol, one of the five gaols in Derby where hundreds of treasonous criminals were hanged and beheaded.
Cambridge July 7
Cambridge is famous for Cambridge University and the 31 other colleges located within the city, including the university Charles Darwin attended. If you visit Cambridge, you should take the time to see these colleges for their beautiful architecture and garden spaces. Architecture nuts will love Cambridge, as the city features dramatically modern buildings alongside breathtaking traditional architectural designs.
Southampton July 14
Located southwest of London, Southampton is unique in that it houses a National Park within a heavily populated part of
England. New Forest National Park is 219 square miles of wild landscape just outside of Southampton. The park contains wetlands, thick deciduous forests and rolling pastures along with an abundance of wildlife. You may be surprised to find wild ponies grazing alongside deer and local farm animals out to pasture.
Waltham Forest July 21
Waltham Forest is on the outskirts of northeast London and is one of four host boroughs for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Athletes will train in one of the three Olympic-sized pools that will be stationed in Waltham Forest during the Games. Waltham Forest will also house one synchronized swimming pool and one water polo pool for Olympic athletes to use for training. This area of London is also home to Walthamstow Market, the longest street market in England. Venders sell food, books, bags, clothes and more at bargain prices.
On July 27 the torch will enter the Olympic Stadium in London. Be sure to watch the opening ceremonies that day to get a glimpse of England's culture and welcome the competing nations!