London Entertainment Guide
Entertainment in London Comedy Clubs
After a long day of seeing museums and cultural attractions, the comedy clubs are a fine way of unwinding and ending the night in high, happy spirits. To see further details of Comedy clubs in London , please see our guide to comedy clubs in London.
While most tourists associate London with historical sites, shopping and the Buckingham Palace guards, there’s another side to the city that often gets left out of its travel brochures: the comedy clubs.
After a long day of seeing museums and the requisite historical and cultural attractions, the comedy clubs are a fine way of unwinding and ending the night in high, happy spirits. These clubs are a good way of tasting the British’s own brand of humor, and can add color and spice to one’s tour of the city. Among the well known spots are the Comedy Store, Banana Cabaret and the Canal Café Theatre.
The Comedy Store
This popular gathering place attracts both tourists and locals, who are willing to brave the long lines to listen to both well known and up and coming stand up comedians. It has gained a reputation as one of London ‘s most enjoyable hangouts and promises a night of side-splitting laughter. Be sure to come early to get a good table.
The Banana Cabaret
This venue has a lot of top class acts, reflecting management’s efforts to continuously improve the lineup to give patrons their money’s worth. It’s best to make prior reservations or come very early, as the place is often packed. Still, the performances are worth the discomfort of standing in the aisles throughout the show.
Canal Café Theatre
One of London ‘s most popular comedy clubs, the Canal Café Theatre can be packed. It’s best to come early and have dinner (food is served until around 9 pm ) while you wait for the show to start, just to guarantee that you have a table. The place is particularly packed on weekends, when the best acts are scheduled. Of course, try to finish your drink before the performance starts, as you’re likely to choke on your water while laughing.
Jazz Clubs in London
If jazz is your thing why not check out our guide to the major jazz venues, acts and artists?
No trip to London would be complete without experiencing the London music scene. In the mood for pop? Ready to rock and roll? Or all set to sing the blues and jam with the jazz greats? London ‘s got it—and since many of the music venues are conveniently located near hotels, it’ll be easy to squeeze in a concert (or two) before retiring to your accommodations.
Major Music Venues in London
Precisely because London has such a thriving music scene, there is a huge variety of cafes and restaurants that also feature musical performances by local artists. Some of the more famous clubs are the 606 Club, the Jazz Café, and the Pizza Express Club. They are frequented by both locals and tourists, and because they are so popular, you can get directions to these places from practically anybody. The only caveat is that these clubs can get very packed, especially during Friday and Saturday nights, so be sure to come early so you can get seats. In fact, it’s best to come for dinner and enjoy a good meal while waiting for the performance to start.
Scheduled Artists and Acts
If you want to catch a particular act—a visiting international artist, or an up and coming band that’s been getting good reviews—you should check the schedule of artists and acts. This is available from the customer service desk of your hotel accommodations, newspapers and magazines, or from your travel agencies.
Again, seats may be difficult to come by, especially if it’s a very popular group or important musical event. It’s best to make reservations, come early, or (if the performance will be running over several days) avoid the opening and final night. Be sure to dress accordingly, too! You don’t want to stick out in the crowd. Ask the locals what the “vibe” of the establishment is.
Find out more about where some of the biggest theatre productions in London are performed.
The London Coliseum is one of the city’s cultural centres. It is the stage of some of the biggest musical and theatrical events and is considered to be one of the most prestigious venues. Artists dream of performing in the London Coliseum, and once they have earned this privilege, put their heart and soul into putting together an excellent show. And the audience senses it. Any event held at the London Coliseum is believed to be of the highest possible standards, and is met with great excitement.
England has a thriving tradition of theatre and music. It is, after all, the birthplace of Shakespeare, the greatest playwright the world has seen. But aside from the classic Hamlet and Macbeth, the London Coliseum also showcases the work of modern and contemporary artists: Madame Butterfly, Xerxes, Billy Bud. It is also a favorite venue for concerts, operas and ballet. Through this, the London Coliseum helps promote London ‘s culture and the arts.
The coliseum’s excellent acoustics and interiors all help contribute to creating an unforgettable experience. It is comfortable, elegant, and fitted with the latest sound systems and lighting mechanisms to allow the audience to fully appreciate the nuances and details of each performance.
London Coliseum is one of the city’s largest monuments and has a seating capacity of 2,358 over 4 levels. During major events, the place is packed, and traffic and parking can become problematic. That is why it is best to get hotel accommodations near London Coliseum if you want to include a theatre or musical performance in your travel itinerary. Because of the difficulty of getting tickets or even rooms, it is also important to make reservations through your travel agency. You can also procure the calendar of events ahead of time so you can schedule your vacation accordingly.
Royal Opera House
If you want to plan something a little more cultured for your evening entertainment, why not see what’s going on at the Royal Opera House? See our guide for details.
The London Opera House is one of London ‘s premiere performing arts venues. Sometimes called Royal Opera and of the Royal Ballet.
The London Opera House first started as the Theatre Royal, which opened on December 7, 1732 . It primarily was a playhouse, and Charles II gave it almost exclusive rights for performance of spoken drama.
In 1735, the London Opera House held its first musical performance, the operas of Handel. From 1735 until his death in 1759 he gave regular seasons there, and in fact he composed many of his operas and oratorios specifically to be premiered in that venue. When Handel died, he bequeathed his organ to the London Opera House’s operator, John Rich, and it was placed in a prominent position on the stage. Unfortunately, it was among many valuable items lost in a fire that destroyed the theatre in 1808.
After the fire, the London Opera House was again rebuilt, and reopened on September 18, 1809 . Another fire ravaged the building in 1856, and the third—and present—theatre was designed by Edward Middleton Barry. It opened with a performance of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. Since then the opera house has seen many renovations, the most extensive beginning in 1975 when the government donated land and funds for modernisation, refurbishment and extension. The cost was over £220 million, £78 million of which controversially came from the National Lottery. The new venue had the same traditional horseshoe shaped auditorium as before, but greatly improved technical, rehearsal, office and educational facilities, a new studio theatre called the Linbury Theatre, and much more public space.
The Royal Opera is the only British opera company which regularly features the world’s most famous opera singers, and often performs the pieces in their original languages, inviting guest artists to play the principal roles. The Royal Opera also has a permanent orchestra, a permanent chorus with 45 singers, a troupe of singers, and an ongoing training programme that not only enhances its stable of artists but helps promote the development of UK arts and culture.
The West end of London is one of the most famous areas of Britain for Theatre and musicals, and affordable way of passing an evening. Find out more about the West End and what’s on in our guide to London ‘s Musicals
The West End theatre is one of London ‘s biggest tourist attractions. In 1997, 11.5 million seats were sold, making it the Theatre Capital of the World. With 41,000 jobs depending on the West End theatre, generating millions of pounds of tourist and industry spending whilst creating significant tax yields, the total economic impact of West End theatre in 1997 was estimated at £1,075 million.
While in London , check out London ‘s top ten musicals playing in the Lyceum Theatre or Aldwych Theatre near Covent Garden tube, the Prince Edward Theatre , Palace Theatre, or Theatre Royal near Leicester Square tube. Other popular locations include Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket close to Piccadilly Circus tube, The Adelphi Theatre near Charing Cross tube or Victoria Palace Theatre in South West London.
Ranging from the classic Phantom of the Opera (18 years running, played in 110 cities to over 70 million people) and Les Miserables, to the stage adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King, and the contemporary Billy Elliot (one of the best-loved British films of recent years, this is the modern British classic story of a young boy’s quest to be a ballet dancer), the London musicals provide an exciting, thrilling or hugely entertaining experience.
The ideal way to travel to London theatres is by public transport. The quickest way is to take the London Underground to the tube station nearest the theatre. The London buses would deliver you within a five-minute walk of most West End theatres. Daytime buses nearly all run to around midnight , while most late night buses run at intervals all night long. Buses are safe while licensed London taxis (black cabs) offer convenience.
Ticket price ranges from £10- £15 to as much as £59 for choice seats. Tickets can be bought in person from the theatre, online, or from any ticket agent selling London theatre tickets. The best way to snap up last minute bargain tickets is to queue at TKTS ticket booths in Leicester Square for half the price on the day of the performance.
The London Music Scene
Between The Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, Earl’s Court and Hammersmith Apollo visitors to London are spoilt for choice in terms of music venues. To find out more about what’s available, why don’t you have a look at our London Music Guide?
After a long day of touring London , there’s no better way to unwind then to sample the London music scene.
London has a long tradition of music and the arts. From the medieval ballads to the foot-tapping music of the breakthrough pop band The Beatles, it has been the birthplace of many great musical artists.
It is no surprise, then, that London is home to many musical venues. You will find many of them conveniently located near your hotel, making it easy to enjoy a concert before heading back to your accommodations.
With so many music venues, the biggest dilemma of a tourist is to decide which one to attend. The most famous ones are Earl’s Court, Hammersmith Apollo, or the Royal Albert Hall—but of course, it all depends on what kind of music you want to listen to. There’s contemporary music, jazz, rhythm and blues, pop or even rock. And then there’s the price range. Some of the ritzier places not only have tickets or entrance fees, but may charge a lot for food and drinks. Others set a minimum consumable amount for food, supposedly waiving the ticket but requiring you, nonetheless, to spend a certain amount of money. Others are hole in the walls that may lack ambience but are known for fantastic musical acts.
To get this information, it’s best to ask the locals—perhaps someone at the customer service desk of your hotel accommodations, or forums of London music aficionados on the Internet.
Considered one of the wonders of the modern world, the Barbican has hosted 52,000 events with over 27 million patrons. The Barbican presents a unique programme of world-class performing and visual arts, together with various forms of classical and contemporary music. International theatre and dance, visual arts and design, and a cinema program are also part of its outstanding features.
South Bank Centre
The South Bank Centre is home to many cutting edge cultural and artistic performances. Find out more about the South Bank Centre.
Many people have already hard of South Bank Centre, famous worldwide for its unique and alluring music and arts performances. As the home of many classical music plays, and the stage for concerts by internationally renowned artists, this thriving cultural district is a must-see for any tourist who wants to get a feel for London ‘s creative vibe.
Because of South Bank Centre’s popularity, especially during peak seasons, it is very important to book ahead of schedule. Ask your travel agency or hotel receptionist for more information.
One of the treasures of the South Bank Centre is the Royal National Theatre, which is the venue of ballets, plays and other musical performances—from the classic Swan Lake to modern pieces developed by London’s up and coming choreographers. Because of its prestige, it is almost every artist’s dream to perform in the Royal National Theatre. It is synonymous to the highest level of professionalism and artistic excellence, and the opportunity to perform there is considered to be a career milestone.
Just as the Royal National Theatre seeks to preserve performance arts, the National Film Theatre promotes excellence in cinema. Many international art house films are shown here, and draw both tourists and locals.
Because of the South Bank Centre’s popularity, not just as a tourist centre but a venue for much-anticipated performances and cultural events, the area has several conveniently located restaurants and souvenir shops. This allows visitors to enjoy a delicious dinner before proceeding to a play, shop for unique items as mementos or gifts for loved ones back home, or enjoy coffee and drinks after a show. No need to worry about how to get back to the hotel: public transportation is very easy and is accessible even late at night.
Do you feel like dancing the night away when you come down to London ? If you want to join in with London ‘s thriving clubbing scene, why not check out the Ashlee House guide to London nightclubs for somewhere good to go.
After seeing the museums, the historical sites, and even the zoos and shopping centers, what’s next on a London tourist’s typic agenda? The London nightlife, of course! Sharing a few drinks, exchanging pleasantries, dancing (even speed dating)—there’s no better way to end the day.
Located at Charterhouse street on Smithfields Market, if you want to party hard and all night then this is the place to go to. From Hip Hop to the most banging Drum ‘n Bass in the capital. Open till 6am on Friday and Saturday nights, and a sister bar Fabric meet to go to warm up. Be warned it will be very busy at the weekend and long queues will form later on after many of the London bars are shut.
While primarily known as a stylish and modern bar, The Albany isn’t just for those who are looking for a good drink. Non-alcoholic attractions include two of the best specialty menus in the city: a low fat, low carb menu for the health conscious patrons, as well as vegetarian dishes. Situated in the area of Marylebone, it is near the Greatest Portland Street . Prices are a little higher than usual, because of its prime location in Central London , but some would argue that the food and ambience are worth it.
The Kashmir Klub
Located at Nottingham Place , London , the Kashmir Klub provides the tourists with a wide selection of Italian wines and meals such as pasta and pizza. Because of its location, it is a good place for tourists to get refreshments after exploring the Baker Street area.
Located at the heart of Central London near the Piccadilly Circus , the Bar Rumba has a basement capacity of 455, plus two fully equipped bars. It is ideal for young tourists looking for good music, great alcohol, and a modern vibe. Party on, and don’t worry about the hangover—nothing an aspirin can’t fix!
London’s casinos offer a wide variety of games, often under one roof. It’s an excellent chance to unwind, catch a few thrills, and tempt Lady Luck into awarding a little extra shopping money. For more details of where to find recommended casinos in London , have a look at our guide to London Casinos.
After a day of touring London , tourists can head for the numerous casinos for a fun and exciting night of recreational gambling. It’s an excellent chance to unwind, catch a few thrills, and tempt Lady Luck into awarding a little extra shopping money.
London’s casinos offer a wide variety of games, often under one roof. From poker to slot machines, craps to roulette, visitors are sure to find one that is appropriate for their particular mood or level of skill.
While London has numerous casinos, there are two that consistently get good reviews: the Gala Casino, and the Napoleons Casino and Restaurant. Both are easily accessible, and are so popular that most hotels will be able to provide directions to the area.
One of London’s most famous casinos, this establishment has the full array of gambling options. There are six slot machines and fifteen different kinds of table games, including American Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Casino Stud Poker and Craps, The operating hours are from 2 pm to 4 am —which gives plenty of time for visitors to try their luck at all the games if they choose.
The casino features twenty-one slot machines and seventeen table games. Since the establishment also runs a restaurant, visitors have the option to enjoy an excellent dinner before proceeding to the casino proper, or stopping for a cup of coffee between games. This is an excellent option for people who may want to try their hand at a few games but are not interested in spending a lot of time (or risking much of their money) at its different gambling amenities. The casino also has a wide variety of games, from the simple pull-and-pray slot machines to the more strategic table games like Poker and Blackjack.