Distance 3.3 miles (5.3 km) Duration 1.5 hrs Calories 450 (est.) Audio: No
This three-mile Tour of London’s West End and South Bank starts in world-famous Leicester Square, which is where the red carpet is rolled out for film premieres. These cinemas were originally theatres and music halls or were built on the site of theatrical establishments long gone. But fear not, there are still plenty of working theatres to discover on the Theatrical London walk, many with intriguing stories to tell, some haunted by ghosts and others moving with the times, from music halls to 21st-century multimedia venues.
Walk on cobbled streets where celebrities, performers and artists mix with tourists, office workers, journalists, TV personalities and language students. We will also be walking through the ages, from the glorious Elizabethan Age, when Shakespeare and his company performed to rowdy crowds, to the modern day, when musicals tend to monopolise central London’s cultural offerings.
Theatres were noisy places in Shakespeare’s times. People would meet there, talk during the play and even interact with the actors. Shakespeare introduced jokey references to amuse and captivate his audience. For instance, the ‘romantic’ line in Romeo and Juliet “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” would have provoked huge hilarity – this was an inside joke because of nearby Rose Alley, which had an open sewer running to the Thames.
The Theatrical London walk starts by the statue of William Shakespeare often simply referred to as “the Bard”, the Father of English Language and the most celebrated English writer of all times. You will also have a chance to visit The Globe Theatre on the South Bank and step back into the 16th Century as a visitor or spectator. Plays are performed in the summer months at the Globe and you might want to take this chance to buy a ticket for the next production. If you are on a budget, check out the half-price booth in Leicester Square.
And let’s not forget pub theatres! While we haven’t been able to include any on this tour a number still exist to this day offering plays and cutting-edge comedy nights wherever space can be found upstairs or sometimes downstairs. This is a great-value night out in less formal settings, a bit more like Shakespeare’s companionable performances.
Complimentary drink with every meal at the Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe
Handheld Tours customers who have purchased this tour will be offered a complimentary drink (glass of house wine, bottled beer or soft drink) with every main meal purchased in the bar at the Swan. Just show the Swan stop page when placing your order to be eligible for this offer. So why not treat yourself to a well-deserved meal to finish off your tour.
Not sure you’re ready to go paper-free? Here’s the London Street Atlas we recommend:
London A-Z Buy Now at Amazon
Images from the tour
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