So you're searching for the best entertainment in London? Wow, are you in for a proper treat. Here you are, our guide to some of the best-loved, most popular London entertainment venues providing dazzlingly good music, festivals, opera performances, comedy clubs and sporting events. Are you ready to rock 'n' roll? Let's go!
The 02 Arena started life as the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, crested to mark the year 2000. Now, as the 02 Arena, the venue puts on a huge range of cool events, everything from some of the world's best-loved bands and musicians to the world's finest comedy acts. Drake played 10 nights in 2019, following in the footsteps of global artists such as Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Pink Floyd. It has been home to the X Factor arena tour and The Brit Awards. And the upcoming list of events at the 02 is absolutely packed with excitement.
Sporting and musical entertainment in London - Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena
Wembley Stadium is synonymous with brilliant entertainment, having hosted concerts from many of the planet's most popular musicians. Springsteen played here, the Spice Girls played here, and this is where the famous Live Aid concert took place in the 1980s, with fiery Bob Geldof at the helm. There are all sorts of amazing sporting events held there too, and it seats an enormous 90,000 people plus 25,000 more on the pitch for gigs.
Wembley Arena, currently called the SSE Arena, is the sister venue to the Stadium and the capital's biggest indoor arena after the O2. It too has seen a load of classic stage performances over the years including Prince, Britney Spears, Tina Turner and the legendary Abba. In 2006 it had a massive facelift, now it's truly state-of-the-art.
Roll back time and a host of the best British bands played at the Brixton Academy. Now it's called the O2 Academy Brixton and it remains one of the capital's best-loved music venues. It's a beautiful building known worldwide for its amazing atmosphere, brilliant sound system and odd sloping floor. Bands like the Sex Pistols and Foo Fighters played here, as did Coldplay and Radiohead, Eric Clapton and The Clash, Dire Straits and The Police, and total sell-outs are not uncommon.
The first ever high definition TV broadcast came from Ally Pally during the 1930s. It's still hot on entertainment, a venue played by some of the world's greatest bands and singers. Suede and Blur have rocked the rafters there, Bjork has sung her heart out, The White Stripes have delighted audiences, the Stone Roses have caused a stir and Jay-Z has rocked our world. Who's your favourite band, and are they due at the Palace?
The Roundhouse Theatre – A classic London entertainment venue
The Roundhouse theatre is a real creative hub, a place that puts entertainment and music at the heart of everything it does. This is one of North London's coolest venues, a gorgeous Grade 2 listed confection with a strangely lovely conical slate roof. Inside 24 vast columns hold the roof up, and the whole thing feels surprisingly tough and sturdy... great when some of the loudest music you can imagine is played here! The Doors’ only UK gig was held here in 1968, and legends like Paul Weller, Kylie Minogue, Jeff Beck, The Stones, and Led Zep have thrilled their fans at the venue.
The National Theatre
When you're looking for top class arts and entertainment in London don't miss out on the magnificent, enormous National Theatre complex. It opened in 1976, now it's one of the nation's most impressive venues for entertainment with three theatres and a dazzling track record for contemporary theatre, festive family favourites, plays, events, concerts, exhibitions and more, a year-round programme of fun.
The London Palladium
This is home to the famous Royal Variety Performance, and it has hosted more of them than any other venue. The London Palladium has seen some remarkable acts pass through its doors, from Judy Garland to Liza Minnelli, and even the legendary Frank Sinatra. And it has been entertaining us since 1910, more than a century ago. Originally home to a circus, now it is best known for staging smash hit musicals, the place where Jason Donovan played Joseph to wide critical acclaim. Plenty of hit TV shows have been broadcast from the Palladium, and the venue is also hot on innovative comedy acts.
The Lyceum Theatre
You want the best entertainment in London. Head just off the Strand and you'll discover the Lyceum theatre, the place where you can see Disney's The Lion King. The theatre itself is a gorgeous place, partly thanks to a monster £15 million refurbishment project in 1996. Since then it has been the home of the musical theatre hits Jesus Christ Superstar and Oklahoma! The Lion King has been at the Lyceum Theatre for the past 17 years, making it a musical you really won't want to miss.
Hyde Park is one of the capital's favourite outdoor entertainment venues, a huge open space that's also home to an annual Winter Wonderland event, a massive festival dedicated to the Xmas celebrations. Open from 10am to 10pm, you can enjoy the temporary ice rink, have a drink at the ice bar for adults, or even meet 'Santa'. At other times of year, there's the Hyde Park half marathon run, lots of family events, British Summer Time to celebrate and Royal Gun Salutes to marvel at.
The Comedy Store
As top London entertainment places go, the Comedy Store is a classic, a legend in its own time, a highly desirable night out that leaves you helplessly giggling for the rest of your stay. This is the be-all and end-all for UK comedians – you've definitely 'made it' when you play at this amazing venue. It lies between Piccadilly and Leicester Square and is the birthplace of British alternative stand-up comedy. You've laughed at them, they've appeared here: Alexei Sayle, Michael McIntyre and plenty more stars have graced its stage. You can also enjoy comedy in the capital at The TOP Secret Comedy Club and the 99 Club at Leicester Square.
The Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre loves to offer alternative entertainment. When you want more than an ordinary gig, an everyday concert, come here. Alternative acts include magicians, dancers and circus acts, all bringing their unique brand of entertainment to the Centre's three main performance venues. No wonder this is Europe’s largest centre for the arts, and no wonder almost five million people visited in 2018 alone.
A list of the best London entertainment isn't complete without Wimbledon, our very own 'Wimbles', one of the world's most prestigious international tennis tournaments. If you're here in July and you're fortunate enough to grab a ticket, you can watch some of the finest play on the planet from some of the very best players, genuinely legendary sporting action. Even if you don't have a ticket you can enjoy the atmosphere thanks to delicious Wimbledon strawberries and cream, served in and around the grounds with a refreshing glass of Pimms. England at its best!