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Despite being one of most well-known places in London, as a local I do not spend too much time in Leicester Square. I have always opted to go somewhere slightly quieter with less tourists or used it as a cut through to Covent Garden.
But recently, Leicester Square has had an overhaul, new businesses have popped up and the focus has been shifted to show it is not just a stomping ground for tourists. I spent an evening in the area last week and was presently surprised to see there are now plenty of things to in Leicester square.
The closest tube stops to Leicester Square
Leicester Square: Northern Line and Piccadilly Line
Oxford Circus: Bakerloo Line, Central Line and Victoria Line
The history of Leicester Square
Leicester Square was named after Leicester House, a mansion owned by local landowner Robert Sidney, the 2nd Earl of Leicester. During the 18th century, the house was a London residence of three successive Princes of Wales and served as their political headquarters.
Today, Leicester Square is the home of film in London. Each year Leicester Square’s cinemas’ host over 52 star-studded film premieres using over 7.5 miles of red carpet.
Looking to explore more parts of London?
Top things to do in Leicester Square, London
Take in a theatre show
Leicester Square and the Westend are home of the theatre in the UK and you will be spoilt for choice when choosing a show to take in. The closest theatre to Leicester Square is the Lyric theatre, which at present is home to Thriller Live. Now in its record-breaking 10th year in London’s West End, Thriller Live is a spectacular concert created to celebrate the career of the world’s greatest entertainer.
‘Taking you on an electrifying visual and audio journey through the magic of Michael’s 45-year musical history, you’ll experience over two hours of non-stop hits from pop to rock, soul to disco. Paying homage to Jackson’s legendary live performances and innovative dance moves executed with flair, precision and passion this is a show that you will never forget.’
Advanced booking is generally advised with all London Theatre Shows to avoid disappointment, however, last-minute theatre tickets can often be purchased at one of the many discount theatre stores dotted throughout Leicester Square.
Enjoy the London skyline with a cocktail
Take the elevator to the 9th floor of the Hotel Indigo for a killer view of London’s skyline. The Indigo Bar boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a wrap-around balcony which overlooks Leicester Square and beyond. Canary Wharf, The Shard and The London Eye are visible from the Indigo Bar inside the Hotel Indigo, making it not only a hidden gem but also one of best views in London at night and during the day.
Furthermore, if you are a fan of the movies it is a great place to hang out with a gin cocktail while watching the stars arrive during one of the many world premieres hosted in the square.
Take the kids to the Lego Store
The flagship Lego Store in Leicester Square is the biggest in the world and spans over 914 square metres. The store is a favourite with children and adults alike and even features a 6.5-metre replica Big Ben at the centre.
Due to the popularity of the store, it often reaches full capacity and queuing is required, therefore if a trip to the Lego Store is on the top of your things to go in Leicester Square list then arrive early prevent waiting for a long time to shop.
Create your own pizza at Mod Pizza
If you are looking for somewhere affordable to eat in Leicester Square then head to Mod Pizza. Mod Pizza offers made to order fresh dough pizzas where you can choose unlimited toppings and watch your pizza be made in front of you. At present, there are over 30 toppings to choose from and as the price remains the same regardless of the number of toppings you choose, you will be able to create a pizza masterpiece.
For a fast-food chain, I was extremely impressed with the quality and the taste of Mod Pizza, with almost tasting as authentic as true Italian pizza. The restaurant also has a wide selection for vegetarians and vegans making it suitable for everyone.
A girl’s night out to Magic Mike Live
Leicester Square’s newest hit show is Magic Mike Live, co-directed by Channing Tatum the all-action stage show based on the hit film Magic Mike.
‘Audience members will enter Magic Mike’s mythical club and marvel as a group of extraordinary artists perform a 360-degree dance and acrobatic spectacular in front of, behind, and above them. Sexy dance routines intertwined with one-of-a-kind acts, will be presented by a diverse cast of performers from around the world for this hot new production.’
An interesting and educational visit to Body World
Journey through the human body and discover the magic and mysteries that lie underneath the skin. The Body World’s exhibition, which only features real human specimens (all of which have been donated), aims to educate people on how truly wonderful and incredible their bodies are, but also to show how easily we can damage them.
Body World aims to be an educational insight into our bodies and how we need to be looking after them more.
Sit in the seats of the stars (and take in a movie)
As previously mentioned Leicester Square is home to the film premiere in the UK. Therefore, naturally, one of the top things to do in Leicester Square is going to the cinema – including the I-Max inside Cineworld. You never know you may end up sitting in a seat once sat in by a world-famous movie star.
Things to do in Leicester Square at Christmas
If you are visiting Leicester Square between November 9th – January 5th, you can visit one of London’s top Christmas Markets, as the centre gardens is transformed into a Christmas haven. Over twenty European style market stalls plus a huge line up of festive shows will make the area of Leicester square one of the top places to visit in London over Christmas 2018.
Shows will include a comedy, burlesque and cabaret for the adults while the Brat Kids Carnival will be on hand to entertain the kids. Oh, and of course, the big man himself will be there until Christmas eve to ensure everyone gets their Christmas wish. Children will have three different opportunities to meet Santa in Leicester Square as he passes between The North Pole Experience, Fortnum and Mason, and the Rainforest Cafe.
If you are a fan of classic Christmas films then book yourself a ticket at The Prince Charles cinema. Over the winter period, they will be showing a variety of Christmas movies including a sing-a-long version of The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This special showing features a hosted pre-show, costume contest, and more brilliant surprises. This event has all you need for the perfect holiday cinema experience.
Other fun things to do in the Leicester Square area
Aside from the many things to do in Leicester Square, the area also borders onto some other great areas of the city, making it a great area of London to spend a day.
In close proximity to Leicester square, you will find China Town, where you will find a plethora of authentic East Asian cuisine in the heart of London. For shopping head towards Covent Garden where you will find a huge selection of high street and boutique stores as well as many bars and cafes. I prefer spending time in Covent Garden during the summer months when there are more opportunities to dine outside. For nightlife, head towards Soho where you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to bars, pubs and night clubs.
With the recent opening of new restaurants and attractions, Leicester Square has received a new lease of life. A renovation of an area of London which once only attracted tourists, to now a place where Londoners are drawn back to. In Leicester Square, you will find plenty of things to do and in my opinion, like the Indigo Bar, some of London’s best-hidden gems.
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This post is in collaboration with Discover Leicester Square but, as always, all opinions are my own.