The Olympics opening ceremony was just a taster of how London and the UK as a whole approaches entertainment. The city comes alive after dark with fresh British comedy, sultry burlesque performances, underground music and DJ acts and world class opera and theatre productions all on offer. Keep your mind open and head into the big smoke for an incredible night out London-style;
Apollo Victoria Theatre, SW1V; No trip to London is complete without seeing a play. The Apollo has been hosting the play Wicked for nearly 10 years now and it continues to thrill audiences nightly. Just steps from the conveniently located Victoria tube stop in the heart of London’s famous West End theatre district – this is a must see. And students receive huge discounts on tickets.
Royal Albert Hall, SW7; Located in South Kensington and pictured above, this is a classic and much loved London attraction, and probably the most famous concert hall in the UK, featuring everything from concertos to flamenco – and with maybe the best acoustics of any building in the world, you’re guaranteed a great seat. The Royal Albert Hall has also hosts the summer Proms concerts each year since 1941. A breathtaking experience.
Leicester Square, WC2H; Freshly renovated for the opening of the 2012 Olympics, Leicester Square is an exciting, must see London staple. Filled with varied entertainment destinations such as cinemas, trendy restaurants, highstreet shops and pubs, this spot has vibrant energy at every turn. Located in London’s West End, this pedestrianized square pulsates at night.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, SE1; Sitting near its original location on the bank of the Thames after it was rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1613, this is both a trip back into old London and a magnificent theatre experience rolled into one great night. The meticulously authentic recreation of William Shakespeare’s theatre will captivate you, along with world class performances. Visitors can stroll the pathways beside the River Thames afterwards around the Bankside’s cultural quarter.
Drink in a Speakeasy; Harking back to the days of illegal secret boozing in 1920′s America, London is awash with speakeasy inspired pubs and bars that are just too cool for words. 69 Colebrooke Row off the Islington Green end of Essex Road is among the most popular. The Cellar Door at Zero Aldwych in central London is a tiny basement with cabaret & lounge singers.
See a Classic Film at an Arthouse Cinema; London’s eclectic collection of movie houses are completely unique in the film world. Some have sofas and waitresses, others tables and booths; no two are alike. Showing lost classics and modern mega-hits, every possible taste is accommodated. Check out the Riverside and BFI Southbank, each near a ton of great bars and eating spots.
The Comedy Store; This is the unofficial center of comedy for the UK and the originator of a successful entertainment template copied everywhere, but never quite equalled. With performances seven nights a week and located near the Piccadilly Circus tube stop in the heart of London, you really have no excuse to not stop by and yuck it up at a true London classic. The Comedy Store is for over 18s only and performances this summer include stand-up routines from Rufus Hound, an evening with the Jamel Comedy Club troupe and charity night, Laugh Till It Hurts with some up and coming comedians.
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, SE11; The most famous of London’s gay pubs has a wide range of performances and a mixed clientele guaranteed to make anyone feel right at home. Saturday nights are world famous for their performance club and – shall we say – unique puppet shows. The RVT has also been named the 2012 Best London Cabaret Venue and has some unique shows this summer to celebrate. You’ll be talking about this destination for ages!
Live Music Dens; Some of the best live music venues in the world are scattered about London and well worth popping into. Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is still like walking into a 50′s beatnik hangout. The 100 Club can hold 350 people and hosts an indescribably wide variety of musical genres. Live music at night is ingrained in London’s very culture.
Classical Music; Make your way to one of London’s great music venues for a dose of absolutely sublime evensong. Catch Verdi’s last opera Falstaff at the outdoor Holland Park Theatre, the National Symphony Orchestra perform both English and International pieces at the Hays Galleria, SE1 and the BBC Proms series are always popular with various performances throughout the summer such as Davies, Delius and Shostakovich at the Royal Albert Hall.
For those on a budget there are also an abundance of free things to do in London as well, making the capital truly accessible to all!
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By Julie Bowman