Things to do near Leicester Square
Catch some theatre
Leicester Square is in Theatreland, the area of a thousand theatres (alright, maybe less…only maybe). There really is no need to list the theatre names here, because you will be tripping over rolls of red carpet as soon as you get off the train. Here’s a tip though: opt for a musical and buy your tickets from the TKTS booth in the middle of Leicester Square. It will save you a bunch off the ticket price and with world-famous names to choose from, you are bound to have a memorable evening. Also, remember that theatre is not just for theatre (what?). Stand-up comedy, musical numbers, cabaret and all-sorts await those who are not in the mood for Les Miserables.
Visit the National Gallery
If you have lived in London your whole life and never once went to the London Eye, you will be forgiven. However, not so with the National Gallery. Whenever I am nearby and have time to kill, I pop in for another visit. Cezanne, Monet, Rubens…the National Gallery has it all. Evening visits are somehow particularly enjoyable, so remember that the gallery is open until 9pm on Fridays. You can shoot two birds with one stone and visit the National Portrait Gallery as well, the entrance is to the right side of the National Gallery building.
Discover new cinema releases (and rediscover some good oldies!)
Leicester square is (almost) as much about film as it is about theatre. In a narrow street called Leicester Place, you will find the quaint little Prince Charles Cinema. It’s cosy, iconic and has a dedicated following. They screen old Hollywood classics, arthouse film, intense movie marathons and sing-a-longs. In the square itself, there are a few large movie theatres (Cineworld, I am looking at you), as well as an outdoor cinema in summer. You might find yourself bumping into famous actors if you happen to chance on a large premiere. If you start wondering why a bunch of people are pitching tents and camping out in Leicester Square, it’s because there is something big happening. Possibly in some way connected with Harry Potter.
Visit China Town
There’s a China Town in every metropolis, right? But somehow it’s always an exciting place to visit. This one is just to the side of Leicester Square, and looks its best in the evening – with lanterns, arches and fried duck in full splendour. If you haven’t been to East Asia much, visit the grocery store just to marvel at the curious foods on display. Or pop into the little Chinese bakery and pick up small, round flaky pastries made with lard (diets be damned). Of course, if you haven’t dined yet, you’re in the luck, as there are some excellent restaurants around. Look for a queue of Asian patrons outside and you’ll know you’ve found something good.