If you are visiting London then you really should visit the West End.  The West End can be taken to mean a few different things – some refer to the area around Convent Garden and Leicester Square, while others consider it to be Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street.  Some people when talking about the West End are referring to the whole part of central London which lies to the west of the city.

The area does hold the financial base of the city and the government aspect of Westminister, but the most important characteristic (as far as we are concerned!) of the West End is entertainment and the theatres.  Theatres include: Adelphi Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, Apollo Theatre, the Victoria, Arts Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Comedy Theatre, Coliseum, The Criterion, The Dominian, the Theatre Royal, Duchess Theatre, the Duke of York, the Fortune Theatre, Garrick Theatre, the London Palladium, the National, the Novello, the Noel Coward, The Old Vic, the Playhouse, Wyndhams Theatre….. and the list could go on and on even further!

It is due to the sheer numbers of theatres and tourist attractions that the name ‘West End’ has become synonymous with London theatre. You could say truthfully that it ‘all goes on’ in the West End!

The City of West was built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and was built for the rich to include palaces, expensive shops, the grandest of houses and lots of entertainment.  It is thought that the rich took up residence because it was upwind of the smoke that drifted from the City.   Originally places such as Convent Garden, Seven Dials and Halborn, even though they are much closer to the City, were where the poorer folks lived until the areas were regenerated in the 19th century.

Every musical you could ever think of has been performed at the West End.  Andrew Lloyd Webber’s roller-skating extravaganza Starlight Express was seen by more than eight million people over 17 years at the West End, notched up over 7,000 performances, and took in over £140 million.

Other famous productions include Oliver, Cats, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, Dirty Dancing, the Lion King, Chicago, Hairspray, Blood Brothers, Sister Act and Grease, to name but a few.

As well as being able to go and see a show you can also get a backstage tour, go on a guided walk – for example the Shakespeare City Walk which brings you on a 90 minute tour of little known monuments and locations in the City of London with connections to Shakespeare’s life , his friends, and his work.  Another interesting walk is the Theatreland Walking Tour which spans a wide and varied area covering the history of some of the West End’s best loved theatres including The London Palladium, The Theatre Royal Haymarket and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  Along the way you will hear stories of controversial playwrights, variety artistes, theatre ghosts, the first theatrical knight and a royal mistress or two!

The West End really is a great place to go visit when in London – both to go to the theatre, and see the sights.