A trip to London is never complete without experiencing the magic, enchantment and history of the West End – arguably the most famous and popular theatre district in the world. London’s West End ‘Theatreland’ welcomes around 15 million people every year – entertaining them with everything from musicals and comedy to drama, opera and dance.
The West End has become such an integral part of London’s tourism industry that London theatre breaks and packages are now one of the most popular options for tourists – enabling them to sample all the various delights of Theatreland with ease.
Central to the ever-growing popularity of the West End is the wide range of historic and famous theatres that make up the ‘Theatreland’ area. Here is a quick guide to some of the must-visit theatres in London’s West End:
One of the biggest theatres in London, at full capacity the London Palladium can seat 2,298 theatre-lovers. ‘The Palladium’ was built in 1910 (the ‘London’ was added in 1934) and originally had various uses – as a circus, ice rink and cinema to name a few – before it was established as THE home for musical theatre after the Second World War.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Really Useful Group’ took over the London Palladium in 2000 and have overseen a host of successful musicals like ‘The King and I’, ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
If you’re looking for history, then not many current West End theatres can rival the Lyceum. Originally built in 1771, the Lyceum Theatre has been redesigned by famous architect Samuel Beazley twice after it was damaged by fire. Making its name as a live music venue and hosting bands like The Who, The Clash and The Kinks, the Lyceum is now established as one of the leading lights of London’s West End with a string of successful shows including ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘The Lion King’
The Apollo Theatre can only seat 755 people at a time, but don’t let its relatively small size put you off – this is one of the most charismatic and atmospheric theatres in London, boasting more than a century of top class theatre production.
Queen’s Theatre is currently the proud home of the UK’s favourite and now longest running musical ‘Les Miserables’. It is also the setting to the West End’s most enduring ghost stories – making it perfect for spooky theatre tours! Queen’s Theatre was built in 1907 and is now very much part of the fabric of London’s West End.
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Another of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatres, the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is steeped in history – having been built in 1663. It has hosted some of the most famous shows in theatre history, like ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’ and ‘My Fair Lady’, amongst others, and is now home to the smash-hit ‘Shrek: The Musical’ adaptation.