10 Things to do Around Leicester Square

[Updated 2020]

Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the centre of London’s West End and is known for being the cultural and entertainment hub of the capital. There are so many fun things to do in Leicester Square to easily keep you busy for an entire day.

Here are a few of my favourite things to do around Leicester Square:

 

Watch Out for Red Carpet Premieres at Leicester Square’s Cinemas

Something I learnt working close to Leicester Square is that you never know when you might wander through and spot a celebrity. There are a number of large cinemas in Leicester Square, including Odeon Leicester Square, Vue Leicester Square and Cineworld Leicester Square. Throughout the year there are regular film premieres where you’ll be able to spot a celeb strutting down the red carpet.

Over the last several years I’ve spotted Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth attending the last Hunger Games premiere, as well as Matt Damon attending the Martian premiere. Check online for upcoming dates, and in order to spot the celebs walking the red carpet, you’ll probably want to be there between 5-7pm.

Alternatively, if there’s no premiere on, then head inside to see a film yourself!

Leicester Square, London

 

BONUS: Take Photos with Movie Icons at the Leicester Square Sculpture Trail [Temporary for 2020]

Also known as the “Scenes in the Square” trail, Leicester Square has recently added a number of new bronze statues of some of the nation’s best-loved characters and iconic film scenes. Another must-see in Leicester Square for movie buffs and one of the best free things to do in Leicester Square.

You can hang from the lamppost next to Gene Kelly from Singin’ in the Rain, seek shelter under Mary Poppins’ umbrella, eat sandwiches next to Paddington Bear and sit on a bench alongside Mr Bean.

Other characters in the trail include early 1900’s movie icons Laurel and Hardy, Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny, and DC heroes Batman and Wonderwoman.

 

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Buy Last Minute Theatre Tickets from TXTS Leicester Square Ticket Booth

Located in the centre of Leicester Square, TXTS is a great place to pick up last minute theatre tickets for a bargain price. There are many stalls around the West End selling discounted tickets, however, TXTs is the official ticket booth run by the Society of London Theatre.

The Leicester Square ticket booth only sells tickets at the booth itself (no online or over the phone purchases) and only sells seats 2 days in advance. The wide variety of shows on offer and the bargain prices you can pick up definitely make the trip worth it!

The booth is also ideally located in the centre of the West End, so if you’re picking up tickets for the same day it’ll be an easy walk to most of the theatres near Leicester Square.

 

Be Entertained by the Street Performers

There are always talented performers entertaining the crowds on Leicester Square. Make sure to stop and watch for a while, with anything from singing and dancing, to bike tricks and many other strange and wonderful talents, you never know what you might stumble upon.

 

Explore London’s Chinatown

On the northern side of Leicester Square, you will find the collection of streets known as London’s Chinatown. Here you can admire the rows of red lanterns whilst sipping on bubble tea, pop into an all you can eat buffet, pick up exotic produce from the traditional supermarkets or even stop for a spot of karaoke.

Chinatown in London is heaven for those with a sweet tooth and love of Asian desserts.

Make sure you go to Bake Chinatown Bakery and try their delicious creme-filled Taiyaki (fish-shaped waffles) or their matcha ice-cream in a Taiyaki cone.

Bubblewrap Waffle is the best spot for bubble waffles, while Happy Lemon has loads of different flavours of refreshing bubble tea.

Ichinbuns is a cool restaurant in Chinatown which combines the produce of Japan’s idyllic Hokkaido island with American diner culture. Serving Wagyu burgers, udon noodles, funky fries, gyoza, sushi and Japanese tacos, Ichibuns is one of the most unique and tasty food spots in London.

 

Make Some Money (Hopefully!) in one of Leicester Square’s Casinos

With the Empire Casino and Grosvenor Casino directly on the square and the Hippodrome Casino close to the station, Leicester Square is the perfect place for a spot of gambling.

There’s no need to dress like Bond or have thousands of pounds to play with as the West End casinos offer a casual but fun environment where you can also enjoy dinner at one of their several restaurants, a few cocktails at the bar and regular live music.

Remember to check out the Balcony Bar in the Empire which has beautiful views of the square.

Empire Casino, London

Photo from LondonTown.com

 

See a Show inside the Hippodrome Casino

Did you know that the Hippodrome Casino Leicester Square has its own theatre hidden inside?

The small theatre hosts a series of intimate and interactive shows throughout the year, including recent performances of wartime cabaret Miss Nightingale and currently playing home to Channing Tatum’s live Magic Mike show.

Miss Nightingale Hippodrome London

 

Indulge your Sweet Tooth at M&M World

Pig out on pick’n’mix from the worlds biggest candy wall at M&M World, where you can create your own bag of whichever flavours and colours you want. There is also the option to have personalised messages, and even a picture of your face, printed onto your M&M’s.

As well as the sweets you can pretty much pick up M&M branded anything, such as kitchenware, clothing, towels and stationery, and see the M&M characters recreating famous London scenes.

M&M World, London

 

Go Sightseeing at the Lego Store Leicester Square

The hugely impressive Lego Shop Leicester Square is a fun place to visit whether you have the intention of buying anything or not.

You can sit in a full-size lego tube carriage next to a Royal Guard and Shakespeare, check out the interactive underground map or marvel at the 2 story high lego Elisabeth Tower.

The work and talent which has gone into creating the lego models in this shop is truly mindblowing!

 

Grab Lunch at a Near-by Street Food Market

When it comes to finding places to eat, Leicester Square has it all. You have the classic eateries such as McDonald’s, Bella Italia, Angus Steakhouse and TGI Fridays on the main square, luxury restaurants LIMA Floral and Dishoom near the Leicester Square station, as well as the many haunts of Chinatown nearby (as noted above).

If you’re visiting on a weekday and want to stay away from the more mainstream restaurants in Leicester Square, Berwick Street Market and Street Food Union street food markets are my favourite workday lunch spot in London and located just a short walk away. Walking out of Leicester Square towards Piccadilly Circus (past M&M World), take the second right onto Rupert Street and continue straight on towards Soho.

First, you will come across Street Food Union, open Wednesday to Saturday 11-3.30, then through a small alleyway called Walkers Court, you will find Berwick Street, with stalls from Monday to Saturday 9-6.

Both markets have a wide variety of high-quality street food which makes deciding which dish to try extremely difficult, however, my favourites have to be the falafel wrap from Jerusalem Falafel and the Chicken Po’Boy from Dixie Union.

 

Stop for a Pint in a Proper English Pub

End your trip to Leicester Square in proper British fashion by stopping in the pub for a pint or two. Try The Moon Under Water which is located on the main square with a heated outdoor seating area perfect for people watching. Being a Wetherspoons you can also guarantee much cheaper drinks than many of the other bars around the area.

There are numerous other pubs near Leicester Square too. Waxy O’Connors is a cool Irish pub not far from the main square which is spread over 6 floors and has regular live music and a lively atmosphere. The Garrick Arms and The Salisbury are other great options for enjoying a pint in a chilled out environment.

 

BONUS: Leicester Square Hotels

Staying in a hotel in Leicester Square is a reasonably pricey option, but if you can afford it the hotels are very luxurious and it is a great location for basing yourself in central London. Here are a few options for staying in Leicester Square…

  • W London – a vibrant and contemporary hotel in Leicester Square, with an on-site cocktail bar, large spa and beauty boutique.
  • Hotel Indigo – 4* hotel offering a rooftop bar with spectacular London views.
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire – luxury and elegant 5* hotel with all the amenities you could possibly need. On-site restaurant Leicester Square Kitchen serves a selection of contemporary Mexican and Peruvian small plates, plus The Hampshire Lounge Bar and al fresco terrace also offers afternoon tea and light snacks.

Trying to decide where to base yourself in London? Check out my post:

‘Where to Stay in London – The Best Areas of London to Stay and Hotel Recommendations’.

 

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