Home London Theatre & Cinema

Theatre and Cinema in London

Early Theatres

London's first public playhouse, known at the time as 'The Theatre', was constructed in 1576 in the area now known as Shoreditch. The first West End theatre, the 'Theatre Royal' in Bridges Street, was designed by Thomas Killigrew and built on the site of the present Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It opened on 7 May 1663 and was destroyed by a fire nine years later. It was replaced by a new structure designed by Christopher Wren and renamed Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.Her Majestys: the theatre changes name from his to hers and vice versa, depending on the monarch's gender.

The original Sadler's Wells Theatre opened in Islington in June 1683. Taking its name from founder Richard Sadler and monastic springs that were discovered on the property. Haymarket Theatre opened on 29 December 1720 on a site just north of its current location, and the Royal Opera House opened in Covent Garden on 7 December 1732.

Total theatre attendance figures surpassed 13 million in 2007, setting a new record for the West End.

Buying tickets

The 'tkts' ticket booth in Leicester Square is one of the best methods of acquiring last minute bargain tickets for many of London’s top shows, especially if you want to see the top shows which command the highest prices.

Founded in 1980, tkts is the only official half price and discount theatre ticket booth in London. You’ll find it in the clock tower building on the south side of Leicester Square. There's a continual queue (usually short, though), so it's not difficult to find. (There is now a second booth in Brent Cross shopping centre.)

tkts - cheap tickets can bought here on the day of performance.The tkts booth is open every day (except on Christmas Day) Monday to Saturday. 10:00 - 19:00 for matinee and evening performances and Sunday 12:00 - 15:30 for matinee performances only.
Be wary that the geatest savings are on the most expensive tickets, with lower cost tickets offering very little in the way of savings. The most popular shows also generally offer limited reductions, but if these mainstream shows are not your cup of tea and thespians treading the boards is what you seek, you can get tickets at up to 75% off the face price.

London Cinema

With a range of cinemas to suit every pocket showing popcorn blockbusters to arthouse and world cinema, London has much to offer the cinephile. As well as the feed, there's also a guide to cinemas worth seeking out (Notable Cinemas). Either because they offer something the others don't, they're aesthetically pleasing or they go the extra mile.

Not all cinemas are created equal, so if several screens are showing the film you want to see, check to see if one is a special listing covered in Notable Cinemas.

Distinguished Theatres Link.

Notable Cinemas Link.


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