Entertainment

A Guide To Some Of The Best Theatres In London

The West End is London’s theatre district, but the city as a whole celebrates plenty of iconic theatres. These world-class venues play host to musicals, shows, plays, talks and more throughout the year and often feature some huge names from the acting industry.

So whether you’re a theatre buff or you just want to experience one of the staple aspects of London’s culture, you might be thinking about getting yourself some tickets.

But where should you start?

With so many great theatres to choose from, you might be looking for some inspiration, and with tickets in high demand, you don’t want to leave it too late.

That’s where this guide comes in. Below, we’ll take you through some of the best theatres London and what you can see there.

Shakespeare’s Globe

Let’s kick off with a classic and a huge part of British culture, Shakespeare’s Globe. The current theatre is a recreation of the original, sometimes referred to as the Third Globe, and it has a rich a turbulent history as gripping as the plays performed there.

Originally built in 1599, Shakespeare was a writer and part owner of the Globe. After much of his work had been performed there, disaster struck during a performance of Henry VIII in 1613, and it burnt down.

It was rebuilt a year later in 1614 but closed for good in 1642 after the outbreak of the First English Civil War. The theatre was destroyed two years later and the land was sold.

However, the Third Globe was built in 1993 and officially reopened in 1997, and to this day, you can enjoy the classic works of Shakespeare being performed in similar conditions to the original plays all those centuries ago.

National Theatre

The National Theatre, also known as the Royal National Theatre, had a bumpy and slow start in life. The funds for the theatre were not released until 1949, a whole century after the original idea for a national theatre was put to parliament. The foundations were laid in 1951 and construction began.

However, this prominent entertainment venue is not, in fact, one theatre, but three.

There is the Olivier Theatre, which is named after Laurence Olivier, who was the first artistic director there. Then there is the Lyttelton Theatre and the Dorfman, each varying in size and capacity.

Between these three venues you can enjoy a range of concerts, dances, dramas and musicals, screenplays, special events and more. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Royal Opera House

For high-class performance and art, look no further than The Royal Opera House. The theatre was built in 1858 as a dance hall, but after World War II, the decision was made to establish the Royal Opera House on a full-time basis.

This popular theatre regularly hosts operas, plays and ballets by some of the world’s most critically acclaimed performers, and the building itself oozes high society and opulence, though in today’s atmosphere, it is a very welcoming environment with no dress code.

But who doesn’t love an excuse to get dressed up and attend the theatre?

The Barbican

The Barbican is a comprehensive arts centre that is so much more than just a theatre. The organisation aims to push the boundaries of all major art forms, including theatre, dance, film, music, and visual arts, to create something truly masterful.

It is also home to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company, so as you can imagine, many world-class performances and artistic pieces come from within this incredible venue.

As well as being an impressive part of London’s culture and art scene, the theatre has some wonderful bonus features, including restaurants, a library and a conservatory.

The Old Vic

The Old Vic was initially called the Royal Coburg Theatre and opened its doors back in May 1818. It was then redecorated in 1833 and rebranded as the Royal Victoria Theatre. This then became recognised as The Old Vic we know and love today.

The theatre has also been dubbed the birthplace of legends, and it is a theatre famous around the world for having supreme casts in many of its productions. You might even find some of the rich and famous sitting in the crowd alongside you as you watch your chosen show – if you’re really lucky!

Over the decades, the theatre has been host to a wide variety of shows, and to this day, it gets the balance right between classic and contemporary works.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Opened in 1932, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of London’s largest theatres, and perhaps one of its key selling points is that it has the biggest bar of any theatre in the capital, running the entire length of the stalls. That and the fact that it’s a beautiful outdoor theatre, of course.

This is a multi-award-winning venue that can seat as many as 1,200 guests at any one time. And if you love the atmosphere of an outdoor performance on a summer’s evening, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre offers an exciting range of musical concerts and plays for you to enjoy, including Shakespeare and other classics like Peter Pan.

The Royal Albert Hall

Finally, we have the Royal Albert Hall. This is a registered charity, and its main purpose is to promote arts and science and to protect and enhance this special Grade I listed building.

Since it was opened in 1871, some of the world’s leading actors have graced the stage, as well as some of the most important figures in music, dance, sport and politics.

As well as offering a range of exciting productions and events, the venue is open to the public on a daily basis for guided tours and exhibitions, as well as giving access to a virtual tour online.

The Royal Albert Hall hosts everything from major commissions down to smaller-scale showcases that promote the next generation of talent, so you can see something wonderfully unique. There is even a dedicated small-scale performance space called the Elgar Room within the theatre.

Related reading: Traveling With Kids: 5 Safety Tips To Know

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