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London plays and musicals on Shaftesbury Avenue

London plays and musicals on Shaftesbury Avenue

Five ways to enjoy the West End right now

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 6 August 2020, Last Updated 13 August 2020

Theatres might not yet be able to re-open, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the West End, especially with all this sunshine we’ve got coming up!

So plan yourself a little city day-break and check out some ways to visit the West End we all miss so much!

1. Take the Ian McKellen Audio Tour

theatreland tour ian mckellen

Play the starring role in a tour of London’s historic West End with the help of British acting icon Ian McKellen!

You’ll travel back in time to experience Theatreland as it was for actors and audiences 300 years ago, before electric lights and moving sets. You’ll learn the stories of the actors, architects, and managers who turned this part of London into the glittering heart of British theatre.

A theatre that started as a toilet, an ex-banana-ripening depot, spots of salacious murders… you’ll tour all of these while Ian recounts anecdotes from his long and illustrious career on the London stage.

2. Enjoy special offers at restaurants and bars

The West End is one of the best districts not only for its world-famous Theatreland but also for its great offering of restaurants and bars, attractions and cool shops. From classic steakhouses and gelato bars to luxury apothecaries and the iconic National Gallery, there’s plenty that has now reopened, ready for you to enjoy. We’ve pulled together a roundup here, which also includes some brilliant restaurant and bar deals. Check it out!

3. Silent Disco Walking Tours

Silent Disco Walking Tours

The Silent Disco Walking Tours are back in the West End! Trip Advisor’s number 1 ranked walking tour for London is ready to lead musical lovers on an all-singing all-dancing tour around Theatreland, now that restrictions on outdoor entertainment are lifted.

As you visit 20 theatres around the West End, you’ll learn some brand new facts and anecdotes about the exciting history of London theatre. And these historical tidbits will be interspersed with songs from your favourite shows, as you’re walking by their current or former homes.

Tour-goers are encouraged to sing, dance and have all sorts of socially-distanced fun!

4. Visit the venues that are open

The National Theatre and the Southbank

While indoor performances won’t be able to restart quite yet, some theatres are re-opening their summer community programmes, galleries, bars and cafes.

While they’re not *quite* the West End, if you’re looking for a nice, thespian-themed wander round central London, there are a few places you could pop in and support.

While the Barbican Theatre and National Theatre remain closed, The Barbican Centre’s Conservatory and Art Gallery are open and the Southbank Centre has reopened its Among The Trees exhibition. And if you’re feeling tired from your ramble, you could check out the Royal Court‘s new pop-up cafe and bar in Sloane Square!

If you can’t make it in to Central London, don’t forget to check out your local theatre and see if they’ve opened any parts back up.

5. Freestyle it!

Getting Around Theatreland

Take yourself on a little tour! Sometimes it’s lovely to just ditch the tour books and get a little lost around the streets of your city!

Theatreland is full of beautiful old buildings, winding streets and places you’ve probably never seen before. So put on those comfy shoes and just let your feet take you where they want!

From restaurants and cafes to bars and shops, loads of central London is open again. All across the West End, bookshops, steakhouses, galleries and fashion stores are open. Even the m&m store is back! So whether it’s cocktails or a day out at the National Gallery that you’re after, you’ll be able to find something to do. Just make sure you check businesses opening hours and any extra precautions they’ve put in place so you’re not disappointed.


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