One of the best things to do in London
is to go to the theater. Be it a musical or a dramatic play, the theater is in London's blood. Many of the world's finest thespians got their start here. Even the legendary William Shakespeare produced his plays in the city. And of course, let's not forget about the iconic West End too! Beyond Broadway in New York, London deserves to be recognized for its fine performing arts. You'll get to watch the finest performances in theaters like the London Coliseum, the National Theatre, and The Old Vic to name a few.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Aurelien Guichard
Located on London's South Bank, the National Theatre is made up of three amazing auditoriums that host all sorts of shows. There's the Olivier Theatre, Lyttleton Theatre, and Dorfman Theatre. Although it's technically not part of the West End, the National Theatre is still a popular place to watch all sorts of shows. The performances they set up here range from classic Shakespearian plays to international musicals on tour. As such, the National Theatre has been central to the creative scene both in London and the rest of the UK ever since it first opened back in 1963.
Speaking of London's West End, the biggest of them all is the London Coliseum on St. Martin's Lane. The place has a seating capacity of 2,359 and has three tiers of balcony seating. You can tell by its grandeur alone that this is no ordinary theater. Beyond its sheer size, the London Coliseum is also home to both the English National Opera and the English National Ballet. So you can expect both of these talented groups to perform here regularly. The former hosts concerts here every season while the latter puts on a variety of performances.
Source: © User-Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
The Royal Opera House
Want to watch more opera or ballet? Then look no further than The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, one of the central neighborhoods in London
. A historic building in its own right, the theater serves as the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. So you can expect a ton of world-class performances here. It's not even far-fetched to expect that members of the British Royal Family would also watch some performances here. While it's not a common occurrence, English nobility have gone to the place to enjoy their fair share of performing arts before.
Source: The Royal Opera House Facebook Page
The Old Vic
The Old Vic is perhaps among the most iconic old-school theaters in London. Located in the Waterloo district, the theater has hosted all sorts of performances since it was established in 1818. It's even become a staple stop for countless legendary Briths thespians on their way to superstardom. No less than the likes of Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Peter O'Toole, and Judi Dench have all performed here. Some of them even still do! The theater is known for its dramatic plays, ranging from Shakespearian classics to modern works. You might even spot the next big British star here too!
Source: The Old Vic
In contrast to The Old Vic, the Young Vic theater is more daring and out-of-the-box. They still perform the classics and standard dramatic plays, sure, but those aren't the only things to expect here. More often than not, the Young Vic features works from new and emerging artists, some of which you might not have even heard of before. Other times, they'd even host avant-garde exhibitions, the kind you'd commonly expect in London art galleries
than traditional theaters. Ultimately, the Young Vic is the place for going above and beyond performing arts. Hence, it's the most exciting theater on this list.
Source: Young Vic Theatre Facebook Page
The Globe Theatre
If you think you've heard about The Globe Theatre before, chances are you have! You've either heard about it when you studied British history or historic literature. But why did this London theater come up in these subjects? Because The Globe Theatre is where the legendary William Shakespeare introduced his now classic works. From “Romeo & Juliet” to “Macbeth,” this is the exact same theater where he debuted his most beloved plays. Even Queen Elizabeth I sat in this exact theater as she enjoyed the writer's works. And while The Globe Theatre today is far from how it was back in the 16th and 17th centuries, you can't deny its massive history!
Source: Shakespeare's Globe Facebook Page
Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre
Finally, there's the Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre in Central London. Unlike most of the London theaters on this list, this one is known for its open-air ambiance. And it's comparatively more open than The Globe Theater too, so much so that the farthest audience members can already hear what's going on in other parts of the park. So is the Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre still worth checking out? You bet it is! This outdoor theater spectacle is how they did it back in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries and beyond. It's a nice throwback to old-school (and old-world) British culture!
Source: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Facebook Page
Do you know where to watch the best London theatre shows? If not, this list will help you out! From historic hotspots to groundbreaking venues, these are the best places to truly experience British fine performing arts firsthand!