London’s West End is home to the best of Britain’s theatres.
The area between Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, and Piccadilly Circus is the golden triangle for London’s theatre-land. On our West End walking tour, you could see the Leicester Square, the Gielgud, the Apollo, the Queen’s, the Garrick, the Criterion, the Lyric, the Piccadilly, and the Prince of Wales theatres. You could also wander up to the world-famous London Palladium, where Royal Variety Shows are staged, in Argyll Street, or to the nearby Donmar Warehouse, Phoenix, Ambassador, Prince Edward, and Palace theatres.
The beauty of our tours is that you can spend as much time as you like stopping off at each attraction. That means you could catch a matinee performance in one of the theatres as you travel around. Or you could use your walking tour as inspiration for your evening’s entertainment.
You’ll discover some fascinating history. The Gielgud was built as part of a pair with the nearby Queen’s Theatre, but at the height of the Blitz in 1940 a German bomb destroyed the entrance at the Queen’s.
The Lyric is the oldest surviving theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, staging light operettas when it opened in 1888. It was built for impressario Henry J Leslie and its first star was Marie Tempest. In 1926, it staged The Gold Diggers starring American stage and screen actress Tallulah Bankhead, famed for her one-liners and her husky voice.
The Grade II listed Prince of Wales theatre in Coventry Street opened in 1884 with a revival of WS Gilbert’s The Palace of Truth. Lillie Langtry played there in Princess George and The School for Scandal in 1885, and it staged Ivor Novello’s first play The Rat in 1924. It was rebuilt in 1937, and film star Gracie Fields sang to the works as she laid the foundation stone. Other stars who have played its stage include Bob Hope and Peter Sellers.
The Garrick in Charing Cross Road opened in 1889. Its Grade II listed building saw Laurence Olivier direct Jack Buchanan in Born Yesterday in 1947, and was home to British comedies in the 1960s and 1970s.
Our West End tour also takes in the entertainment districts of China Town and Covent Garden, alongside historic attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Horse Guards.