Millennium Dome to O2 Arena: from the Queen to Beyoncé a success story in 20 pictures
The O2 Arena has welcomed artists including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Coldplay.
After a huge dome was built on the Greenwich Peninsula to celebrate the new millennium, it looked for all the world like its fate might be as London’s great boondoggle, sitting empty for the next 1,000 years like so many expo and Olympic sites around the planet.
The Millennium Dome was originally conceived under John Major’s Tory government but the project was vastly expanded by an excitable Tony Blair after Labour’s 1997 election landslide.
The Queen was among the 10,000 guests on New Year’s Eve 1999 to enjoy the fireworks and celebrate the failure of the “Millennium Bug” to bring down human civilisation.
Throughout 2000, the dome was home to the Millennium Dome Show, conceived by Peter Gabriel, and cultural and scientific exhibits in 14 commercially sponsored zones.
The dome was widely seen as a failure, having attracted six million visitors, when 12 million had been projected, and cost hundreds of millions of pounds. The operating company went into liquidation and the government had to find a way to dispose of the property - and shake off the cost of maintaining it.
Ideas were put forward to use it for a business park, a research centre, a housing development, a sports park or a huge casino.
But it eventually housed the O2 Arena, which opened with a performance by Bon Jovi on June 24, 2007.