Arts & Leisure


Arts & Leisure

For lovers of music, theatre, dance and cinema, London is a dream destination. The capital’s vast range of venues mean that most major and minor bands end up playing in the city at some point. The best of the country’s performing arts scene is also here, with theatre and dance groups from abroad paying regular visits. And film buffs are in the right place, whether in search of Tom Cruise or Tarkovsky.


Barbican Centre

  • Silk Street, City

The Barbican’s amazing array of spaces host theatre, dance, film and music. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the excellent London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).

  • Barbican

Eventim Apollo

  • Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith

The Apollo serves as a 3,600-capacity all-seater theatre (popular with big comedy acts and kid’s shows) or a 5,000-capacity standing-room-only gig space.

  • Hammersmith

Jazz Café

  • 5 Parkway, Camden

There’s some jazz on the schedule here, but this two-floor club deals more is soul, R&B and hip hop these days. It’s become the first port of call for soon-to-be-huge US acts, such as Mary J Blige, John Legend and the Roots.

  • Camden Town

Ronnie Scott’s

  • 47 Frith Street, Soho

Opened by the British saxophonist Ronnie Scott in 1959, this legendary institution was completely refurbished in 2006. The bookings are now less interesting, with jazzers joined by pop acts, but there are still some good shows.

  • Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road

Royal Albert Hall

  • Kensington Gore, South Kensington

The Royal Albert Hall is the world’s most famous stage. Commemorating its 150th anniversary in 2021, it has hosted the A-Z of names from Albert Einstein to Zucchero. It usually hosts almost 400 events even year – from rock, pop and classical music, to dance, films, Cirque du Soleil and even tennis.

  • South Kensington

Royal Opera House

  • Covent Garden

This is one of the world’s great opera houses. The discreetly air-conditioned auditorium and comfortable seating make a night here an appetising prospect, whatever the performance.

  • Covent Garden

Shepherd’s Bush Empire

  • Shepherd’s Bush Green, Shepherd’s Bush

This former BBC theatre is a great mid-sized concert venue, holding 2,000 standing or 1,300 seated. The sound is decent (with the exception of the alcove behind the stalls bar) and the staff are lovely.

  • Shepherd’s Bush Market

Southbank Centre

  • Belvedere Road, South Back

The 3,000-capacity Royal Festival Hall reopened in 2007 after a £90m acoustic renovation. Next door is the smaller Queen Elizabeth Hall, a broad theatrical space that also houses pop and jazz gigs, and the 250-capacity Purcell Room, which hosts everything form chamber concerts to poetry readings.

The O2 arena

  • Peninsula Square

The O2 arena is home to the world’s most popular music, sport and entertainment events, and so much more. The O2 arena opened in 2007 and in 2019 celebrated it’s 25 millionth ticket sold, alongside being awarded by Billboard as the Venue of the Decade.

  • North Greenwich

indigo at The O2

  • 205 Peninsula Square

Indigo at The O2 is one of London’s most sought after venues. Originally designed for music concerts it has now opened its doors to the corporate, sport and comedy world. Established as a large well known stand-alone venue it has the flexibility to change from a standing gig venue into a private dining space for 540 or a conference space seating over 1000 delegates.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

  • 782 High Road, Tottenham, London

The 62,850 capacity stadium opened in April 2019 and is a major landmark for the city and local area.  As well as being the home to the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, this world-class venue is set to have an exciting year, hosting its first music concerts and welcoming the like of Lady Gaga and Guns N’ Roses.

Theatre & Dance

National Theatre

  • South Bank

The much-admired National Theatre is a cultural landmark: no theatrical tour is complete without a visit to this modernist building. The three auditoriums offer a choice of several productions in a single week.

Old Vic

  • The Cut, Waterloo

The Old Vic is London’s independent not-for-profit theatre, a world leader in creativity and entertainment. Today, Artistic Director Matthew Warchus is building on 201 years of creative adventure, with The Old Vic recently being hailed as ‘London’s most eclectic and frequently electrifying theatre’.

Sadler’s Wells

  • Rosebery Avenue, Islington

Purpose-built in 1998 on the site of the original 17th-century theatre of the same name, this dazzling complex is home to an impressive line-up of local and international performances. In addition to the main theatre, the smaller Lilian Baylis Studio offers smaller-scale new works and works-in-progress.

Shakespeare’s Globe

  • 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside

For years, the late Sam Wanamaker campaigned to recreate the open-air theatre where Shakespeare first stages many of his plays. The result, which is open for tours as wells as for theatrical productions, was well worth the wait. The season runs from April/May to October; the free-standing Pit tickets are excellent value.

Adelphi Theatre

  • Strand

This art deco theatre has a rich musical theatre history, having hosted Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard and Love Never Dies and more recently Kinky Boots and Waitress. It is currently home to Back to the Future: The Musical.

  • Covent Garden

Cambridge Theatre

  • Earlham St

The Cambridge Theatre is home to Matilda The Musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company. With original songs by Tim Minchin, this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel has won seven Olivier Awards and over 90 international awards.

  • Covent Garden

Gillian Lynne Theatre

  • Drury Lane

The Gillian Lynne Theatre made history in 2018 when it became the first West End venue to be named after a woman, Dame Gillian Lynne. Home to smash-hit sensations including Cats, War Horse, School of Rock the Musical and is home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, Cinderella.

Her Majesty’s Theatre

  • Haymarket

Renamed, rebuilt and refurbished numerous times since 1705, Her Majesty’s Theatre is at the beating heart of London’s live performance scene. It is home to one of the world-renowned The Phantom of the Opera, seen by over 140 million people Worldwide

The London Palladium

  • Argyll Street

The London Palladium has been the home of variety for over a century, and to this day delights audiences with its array of acts. Michael McIntyre, Madonna and Dita Von Teese have all graced this world famous stage as well as blockbuster musicals and the annual Pantomime.

Theatre Royal Drury Lane

  • Catherine Street

Sitting on the oldest theatre site in the World, Theatre Royal Drury Lane reopens this year after a £60million restoration and refurbishment project to reinstate its former 1812 glory. With unforgettable experiences including afternoon tea, historic theatre tours and Disney’s Frozen the Musical.

The Other Palace

  • Palace Street

The Other Palace is a lively, inventive place; one where bold new ideas are explored, imaginations fired, and the talents of our next-generation of theatre-makers are encouraged, nurtured and celebrated.

Woolwich Works

  • The Fireworks Factory, Royal Arsenal

Woolwich Works is London’s new landmark creative district. Due to open in 2021, it is a multi-million pound project to restore five heritage buildings in the Royal Arsenal to create large-scale, flexible performance and event spaces, rehearsal studios, bars and a café,. The site will be home to local, national and internationally renowned resident artistic companies.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

  • King Charles Court

London’s creative conservatoire, Trinity Laban is a world-leading organisation for music and contemporary dance education, and the only one of its kind in the UK. Based in the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich and the Laban building in Deptford, the talented students give regular public performances and recitals.

  • New Cross

The Turbine Theatre

  • Arches Ln, Nine Elms

An independently owned theatre on the banks of the Thames next to the iconic Battersea Power Station, founded and led by Artistic Director Paul Taylor-Mills. Nestled under the arches, this unique location puts on a number of great shows and musicals throughout the year.

  • Battersea Power Station


Curzon Soho

  • 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho

Expect a superb range of shorts, rarities, double bills and seasons alongside new international releases at this great cinema, which also has a buzzing café, and a decent basement bar.

  • Leicester Square

Electric Cinema

  • 191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill

A legend among London filmgoers, the Electric is one of the city’s oldest cinemas. It’s now gone from old fleapit to luxury destination, with leather seats and sofas plus a bar inside the auditorium.

  •  Ladbroke Grove

Cineworld at The O2

  • The O2, Peninsula Square

Cineworld at The O2 is London’s biggest cinema (on the number of seats) with a number of exciting ways to watch a movie. From extreme cinema in 4DX, to a whole night out in one with VIP, the huge Superscreen, or 270-degree ScreenX – you can choose how you want to watch your favourite films.

Archlight Cinema

  • 22 Arches Lane

A bespoke cinema experience located on Arches Lane at Battersea Power Station showing the latest releases and much-loved classics. Purpose built for comfort with a sound-proofed design, state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos surround sound and a selection of fine wine, craft beer and delicious homemade treats to choose from.

  • Battersea Power Station

London Hack

Central London shops open late (7pm or 8pm) on one night a week – Thursday in the West End, Wednesday in Chelsea and Knightsbridge

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When it comes to sightseeing, you’re spoiled for choice. Indoors or outdoors, underground or overground, traditional English heritage or modern European attitude – all are on offer here. But be sure to pace yourself: some of the venues detailed in these pages, such as the British Museum, may take more than a morning.

British Museum

  • Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury

This neoclassical gem was built in 1847, but Lord Norman Foster’s glass-roofed Great Court wasn’t added until 2000. Star exhibits at the museum include ancient Egyptian artefacts – the Rosetta Stone on the ground floor, mummies upstairs – and Greek antiquities, including the Pantheon sculptures and objects from all world cultures.

  • Tottenham Court Road

Kew Gardens

  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond

Breathtaking natural beauty, world-class science, and over 260 years of history combine at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Founded in 1759, today Kew’s plant and fungal science and conservation research are tackling some of the world’s most urgent challenges.
Get swept up in the wonder of nature as you explore the largest and most diverse collection of living plants in the world – it is just one of the reasons Kew has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stunning landscapes, iconic buildings, and inspirational art make this the perfect day out for groups of all ages.

  • Kew Gardens

London Eye

  • Riverside Building, next to County Hall

This neoclassical gem was built in 1847, but Lord Norman Foster’s glass-roofed Great Court wasn’t added until 2000. Star exhibits at the museum include ancient Egyptian artefacts – the Rosetta Stone on the ground floor, mummies upstairs – and Greek antiquities, including the Pantheon sculptures and objects from all world cultures.

  • Waterloo Tube or London Eye (Waterloo) Pier

Madame Tussauds

  • Marylebone Road, Marylebone

Step through the world-famous doors of Madame Tussauds London and join your favourite celebs at the ULTIMATE Awards party, strut your stuff on the catwalk or join the Royal Family in the most regal of settings. Hail a cab for a journey through history before joining the Marvel Super Heroes, then use the force with the greats of the Star Wars universe. With new and exciting figures and experience additions every year, there is always a reason to visit. So what are you waiting for?

  • Baker Street

London Transport Museum

  • Covent Garden Piazza

The Museum tells the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years. 19th century horse-drawn buses, the world’s first Underground railway, early red double-decker buses and famous designs of the Tube map form part of its collection.Exhibitions and galleries look at the link between transport and the growth of modern London, while the Hidden London in-person and virtual tours let visitors discover a secret side of the London transport system and its disused Tube stations.

  • Covent Garden Tube or Embankment Pier

National Gallery

  • Trafalgar Square

From Leonardo, van Eyck, Raphael and Holbein, to Turner, Constable, Monet and Van Gogh, the National Gallery is home to the world’s most famous paintings. With so many masterpieces gathered in one place, you can explore European art one painting at a time; from glistening 13th-century adorations to colourful Impressionist landscapes.

Natural History Museum

  • Cromwell Road, South Kensington

A cathedral to the Victoria passion for knowledge. As well as the fabled dinosaurs, there are millions of plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals. To enter the dramatic Earth Galleries, you pass a giant suspended globe and twinkling image of the star system.

  • South Kensington

Science Museum

  • Exhibition Road, South Kensington

This museum tells the stories of the extraordinary human achievement and technological advances that have helped humanity overcome challenges throughout history. From Amy Johnson’s marvellous Gipsy Moth aeroplane and the iconic Apollo 10 command module to the world’s most significant medical collection, these incredible stories help ignite curiosity, encourage scientific endeavour and spark the imagination.

  • South Kensington

St Paul’s Cathedral

  • Ludgate Hill, City

St Paul’s Cathedral, with its iconic dome, is England’s architectural masterpiece and place of national celebration. Enter and explore the Cathedral Floor, Crypt and the famous Whispering, Stone and Golden Galleries with their breathtaking views. Included are touch-screen multimedia guides and scheduled guided tours to join.

  • St Pauls Tube or Blackfriars Pier

Tate Britain

  • Millbank, Pimlico

Tate Britain showcases the true breadth and brilliance of art in Britain. Displays span five centuries of British art from the 16th century, taking in Hogarth, Gainsborough, Beale and Turner. More recent artists such Hockney,  Emin and Hatoum are also represented.

  • Pimlico Tube or Millbank Pier

Tate Modern

  • Bankside

Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall is used to jaw-dropping effect for large scale, temporary installations. The permanent collection draws from a deep reservoir of modern and contemporary art and features works from Matisse,  Kapoor, Bourgeois, Shonibare and the Guerrilla Girls’.

  • Blackfriars Tube/Rail or Bankside Pier

Tower of London

  • Tower Hill, City

Discover London’s castle – a secure fortress, royal palace, infamous prison and execution site where you can explore 1,000 years of history. Prepare to be dazzled by the breathtaking, world famous Crown Jewels. Take a Yeoman Warder tour and hear captivating stories of pain, passion, treachery and torture. Meet the famous ravens and discover why they are known as the guardians of the Tower and marvel at the iconic White Tower, a magnificent example of Norman architecture at the heart of the Tower of London.

  • Tower Hill Tube or Tower Pier

Victoria & Albert Museum

  • Cromwell Road, South Kensington

The V&A’s grand galleries contain four million pieces of furniture, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, posters, jewellery and metalwork from across the world. There’s an incredible collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture, along with home-grown treasures such as the Great Bed of Ware, Canova’s Three Graces and Henry VIII’s writing desk.

  • South Kensington

ZSL London Zoo

  • Outer Circle, Regent’s Park

Opened in 1828, this was the world’s first scientific zoo and is now one of London’s most historic, iconic and loved attractions. Discover over 500 species, with opportunities to get really up close to lemurs and monkeys in amazing walk-through exhibits, and favourites including tigers, lions giraffes, gorillas and penguins. It’s the perfect day trip.

  • Camden Town or Chalk Farm

Hampton Court Palace

  • Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey

Experience the public dramas and private lives of Henry Vlll, his wives and children with a day immersed in the Tudor world at Hampton Court Palace. Admire Henry’s Great Hall, explore the infamous Haunted Gallery and Tudor kitchens. Discover the spectacular baroque State Apartments built for William lll and Mary that rival the great palaces of Europe and enjoy the never-ending vistas, courtyards, ornamental gardens and parkland designed to impress all those that visit.

  • Hampton Court Station

Kensington Palace

  • Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens

Explore the birthplace of Queen Victoria and home to young royals for over 300 years. Walk in the footsteps of royalty in Victoria’s re-imagined childhood rooms, the magnificent State Apartments, the famous Sunken Garden, and explore the beautiful private rooms where Mary ll once took her meals, relaxed and entertained. More recently, it has been the official residence of Princess Margaret, Diana Princess of Wales, and is currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children

  • High Street Kensington or Queensway

Kew Palace

  • Kew Palace, Kew, Richmond

Experience the intimate Kew Palace, home of George lll and Queen Charlotte. Explore Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a rustic country retreat in the grounds of the gardens and admire the spectacular view from the 163ft tall Great Pagoda. Kew reflects the personal and domestic life of the Georgian kings and queens for much of the 18th century. Today, the interior of this atmospheric palace tells the powerful story of George lll, his mental illness and the members of his family who lived and died there.

  • Kew Gardens

Up at the O2

  • Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula

Up at The O2 is a guided 90 minute walk over the top of one of the world’s most iconic venues, The O2. Choose from Daytime, Sunset and Twilight Climbs to discover a different side of London with a 360 degree view of Historic Greenwich, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Canary Wharf.

  • North Greenwich or North Greenwich Pier

Cutty Sark

  • King William Walk, Greenwich Peninsula

The Cutty Sark is the world’s sole-surviving tea clipper, celebrated for her record-breaking passages around the globe. Guests can come aboard and experience what it was like to sail this much-loved national icon. A new audio guide at Cutty Sark has been added to enhance the visitor experience by bringing the story of the ship to life. The guide is available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese and Russian. The audio guide is included in the cost of entry and takes about an hour to explore all levels of the ship.

  • Cutty Sark Gardens or Greenwich Pier

The Queen’s House

  • Romney Rd, Greenwich Peninsula

This beautiful royal villa was designed by Inigo Jones and is Britain’s first classical building and a pioneering masterpiece of 17th-century architecture. Today you can enjoy the spectacular art, architecture and royal history of the Queen’s House. The House is free to visit with the exception of guided tours.

  • Cutty Sark Gardens or Greenwich Pier

National Maritime Museum

  • Romney Rd, Greenwich Peninsula

The National Maritime Museum is the largest museum of its kind in the world. It appeals to visitors of all ages and is a great addition to any itinerary in Greenwich. The museum is free to visit with the exception of guided tours and special exhibitions.

  • Cutty Sark Gardens or Greenwich Pier

Royal Observatory Greenwich

  • Blackheath Ave, Greenwich Peninsula

Explore time and space at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and stand on the Meridian line at the home of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Discover the site’s rich history, from its royal heritage to its awe-inspiring Peter Harrison Planetarium, all set within Greenwich’s beautiful park.

  • Cutty Sark Gardens or Greenwich Pier

Buckingham Palace

  • Westminster, London

Buckingham Palace is recognised around the world as the home of His Majesty The King, the focus of national and royal celebrations. Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to rule from Buckingham Palace in 1837 and transformed what was a relatively minor royal residence into a grand stage for state occasions, a symbol of the British monarchy and a national monument. She introduced a number of innovations to the Palace and added the iconic East Front with its famous balcony, which visitors to London love to see and take a photo in front of.

  • Victoria, St James’s Park, Green Park

SEA LIFE London Aquarium, The London Dungeon and Shrek’s Adventure! London

  • Riverside Building, County Hall

London’s South Bank is always buzzing and there’s plenty to do. Alongside The London Eye, there are three other Merlin attractions in County Hall, just across from Big Ben and Westminster Bridge. SEA LIFE London Aquarium is home to one of Europe’s largest collections of global marine life, The London Dungeon allows you to live and breathe the city’s darkest history while Shrek’s Adventure! London lets you step into and star in your own hilarious misadventure with Shrek and his DreamWorks® friends.

London Hack

During the annual Open House in September (, many of the city’s iconic buildings open to the public. For major sights such as the Lloyd’s of London building and the Bank of England, get there early or expect big queues.

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