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London Cinemas

To be honest, most of the big cinemas in Central London are crap. They are overpriced, bad seats, huge rooms with small screens, film showings are sporadic at best, and for some ridiculous reason they leave the ceiling lights on at the FRONT of the cinema, above the screen?! Its really quite hard to find a film you want, when you want, and you’re going to pay at least £13 for the privilege.

Most of the UK Premieres are held at one of the Leicester Square cinemas, but there are much better options.

The Prince Charles Cinema is just off Chinatown, showing slightly older releases, classics, art house films and special screenings from £4+ (members).

Curzon Soho is “UK’s busiest Art House Cinema”, usually playing films you’ve never heard of, but sometimes old classics. Ticket prices vary for members and show times, standard is £12.50.

The BFI IMAX is not cheap, at around £22 a ticket, but its a great experience and for films such as The Dark Knight Rises it’s totally worth it.

Cineworld is noted for its £15/month unlimited movie membership, so if your a real film buff and see an average of at least 2 films a month, this deal could be great. However if your seeing only 1 film a month or there isn’t a Cineworld branch near you, it might not be worth it.

Vue Cinemas Westfield, (Shepheards Bush), is probably my favorite cinema for new release films. They are more like the cinemas in Australia, with comfortable chairs, big screens and sound, multiple cinemas for a good selection of start times, and at £10.50 a much better price point. The Finchley Road branch is also not bad, from £11.25.

Prince Charles Cinema

Prince Charles Cinema is nestled right between Chinatown and Leicester Square, showing a range of classic, art house and recent Hollywood films from £4 (members, selected films). They also run double-bills, midnight marathons, even sing-a-long sessions for musicals! In 2007 they promoted environmental causes by screening “An Inconvenient Truth” every week.

Quentin Tarantino has spoken of his support for the cinema and along with Uma Therman made a special introduction for their Double-Kill-Bill showing.

Their salted popcorn contains butter flavouring, but their Sweet popcorn is vegan! (corn, cane sugar & coconut oil).

Its probably the only cinema in London with real charm and loved by film buffs.

Walk from Leicester Square Station.
See website for cinema times.

Prince Charles Cinema - Ninth Wonder of the World

BFI Southbank & IMAX

The BFI (British Film Institute) promotes understanding and appreciation of film and television heritage and culture in the UK. BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre) is not just a cinema, but a film library, cafe, book store and exhibition center. Film Festivals are shown here throughout the year and you can research and watch older films, TV shows & documentaries in the library.

BFI IMAX is just down the road from Southbank, and holds the largest cinema screen in the UK, showing IMAX released films in 2D/3D! Great for epic films worthy of the screen and ticket price, around £22.

Walk from Waterloo Station.

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London West End Theatre

At any one time, there must be 50-100+ shows on in the West End of London, and at least 10+ of those will be great! Like Broadway, New York, seeing a show in London’s West End should be on your list of things to do.

The best way to go about this is by heading to Leicester Square and picking up a few pamphlets and show lists to decide on what you want to see first, then go to one of the theatre booking agents to try your luck.

If its a brand new, popular show, you probably won’t be able to get tickets from any of these guys, and your best trying to book with the theatre directly. Actually, you should always try the theatre directly to see what they have, and then go to one of the agents for comparison.

There are loads of these Box Office stands in Leicester Square. Tickets and prices can vary from agent to agent, but I prefer London Theatre Bookings. They are the biggest independent agent, seem more professional than some of the others, and I have never had a problem with tickets I bought through them. They are honest with their advice and have theatre seating maps to show you exactly what you are buying.

Weekday Matinée sessions are usually the cheapest for all shows, and you can try your luck with same-day tickets for last minute seats.

As for the shows themselves, it depends on what you are looking for. The Lion King is simply amazing, with intricate costumes, puppets, your favourite songs and characters from the film, and pretty much the entire story is covered. If you liked the film (and you should!!) you will love this show.

We Will Rock You was a little disappointing. The Mad Max-esque story line is terrible and barely threads the songs together. Personally I would have preferred a sort of epic tribute act. The entire cast finally does “We Will Rock You” at the end, and its great! But they should have just done that for all the big hits and it would have been much better.

London Theatre Bookings have a booth at the East end of Leicester Square (near the Tube Station), Covent Garden Tube Station, and now at Piccadilly Circus, or you can book online.

Most of the shows are in theatres between Regent Street and Covent Garden, but the odd show will be further out. Ask the agent for the location of the theatre when booking.

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London Gigs

London has a big music scene, with loads of festivals in summer, big acts throughout the year, and live music every week around town.

Star Green Box Office is a good place to start, where you can pick up a monthly gig-guide sheet and buy tickets. It’s just outside Oxford Circus Station’s Argyle Street Exit, opposite Top Shop.

London’s best radio station XFM has a great gig section on their website, with
Time out and All in London also selling tickets

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Hamleys Toy Shop

Hamleys is the coolest Toy Shop in London, with roots going back to 1780! Their flagship store on Regent street is 5 levels of fun, and while it may be (mostly) for kids, I love this store & so do my mates. There are staff standing out the front in costumes with bubble-guns, and inside the shop demonstrating the toys. The floors are divided into age groups, boys and girls to make it easy to find things. They do have toys for grown-ups too, with puzzles, chess boards, video games etc.

There’s also a Build-A-Bear Workshop in-store, where you select your fuzzy, clothing, custom-voice recordings, stuffing etc and build your new friend! Materials are natural or high-quality man made fibres.

Walk South on Regent Street from Oxford Circus, or North from Piccadilly Circus.

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The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon takes the darkest, goriest stories of London’s history, and turns it into a 90min scare-fest. With actors, rides, detailed scenes, sounds and even smells, they will attempt to scare the bejeezus out of you.

Even at £23, this place is incredibly popular. Staff in full costume stand outside London Bridge station to lure people in, and the queue can be 100m down the road! If you plan on going you should book in advance online. There can still be a queue for pre-booked tickets but it is much, much shorter.

There is also the London Bridge Experience, just across the road, which offers a similar thing, but is far less popular. I have rarely seen anyone enter this place, opposed to the massive queues of London Dungeon.

I have never been to either, but if you like getting scared, ghost trains, ghost walks and haunted houses, give The London Dungeon a shot.


Closed Christmas Day.
Opening times vary throughout the year, but are roughly 10:00 ~ 18:00, see the website for more info.

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