London City Guide: an event-goer's handbook for the UK capital
From the West End to Wembley Arena, there are plenty of events and experiences to get you out on the town. So how do you decide what plans to make?
With a population of 8.8 million fans, London is easily the United Kingdom’s largest city — with a huge selection of sports, spectacles and shows to match. Fortunately, you never have to ask yourself the question, “To be there or not to be there?” again. We have put together this handy London city guide so you can have a capital time in the Capital with the best tickets to the biggest events in London.
What’s happening in London in 2019
- Sports: MLB London, NFL London, ICC Cricket World Cup
- Concerts: Cher, Elton John, Ariana Grande
- Festivals: BST Hyde Park, Wireless Festival, Lovebox - see top UK festivals
- Theatre and Comedy: Jesus Christ Superstar, Mamma Mia, Stephen Fry
A bit about London
London is a thriving cultural hub that annually attracts around 20 million visitors from around the world, making it the planet’s second-most-popular destination. It is a balance of many things — English-speaking and European, international yet undeniably British and Old World charm mixed with the most cutting-edge amenities and attractions. Founded as Londinium nearly two millennia ago, it has grown from a Roman settlement along the Thames River into a thriving epicentre of cultural and sporting events.
Some of the many, many historical events that have shaped London throughout the centuries were the construction of the Tower of London by William the Conqueror in 1078, the Bubonic Plague from the 1300s to the 1600s, the Great Fire of London burning down 70% of it in 1666 and the building of the world’s first Underground in 1863 — now colloquially known as the Tube by locals. It was around this time, between the 1700s and 1800s, when the city became a true metropolis as the heart of the British Empire.
As the British Empire faded, London emerged as a new kind of capital — one of international arts, sports and business.
Among the largest events that happen in London annually are:
- Wimbledon Tennis Championships
- NFL London
- BBC Proms
- London Marathon
- London Fashion Week
- Pride in London
- New Year’s Eve in London
- Capital’s Summertime Ball
London has been the venue for some of the biggest events in history, including the Summer Olympic Games in 1908, 1948 and 2012 — making it the only metropolis to host the modern games three times. The Great Exhibition also took place in the city in 1851, which led to the building of the world-famous The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. One of London’s biggest venues of the 1800s, it was relocated to Sydenham Hill and burned down in 1936.
Fortunately, London has plenty of other major venues for all sorts of events and fans.
What are the major venues in London
London is home to some of the world’s best known and biggest venues, including theatres in the West End, massive sports stadiums and concert arenas, and festival-friendly parks. Among them are:
London’s biggest theatres:
- Royal Albert Hall, capacity: 3,901
- Hammersmith Apollo, capacity: 3,326
- Royal Festival Hall, capacity: 2,900
- London Coliseum, capacity: 2,359
- London Palladium Theatre, capacity: 2,286
London’s largest stadiums:
- Wembley Stadium, capacity: 90,000
- Twickenham Stadium, capacity: 82,000
- London Stadium, capacity: 66,000
- Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, capacity: 62,026
- Emirates Stadium, capacity: 60,260
- Stamford Bridge, capacity: 41,841
- Lord’s Cricket Ground, capacity: 28,000
- The Valley, capacity: 27,111
- Selhurst Park, capacity: 26,309
- Craven Cottage, capacity: 25,700
- The Oval, capacity: 23,500
London’s biggest indoor arenas:
- The O2, capacity: 20,000
- Wembley Arena, capacity: 12,500
What are London's biggest sports teams?
London is home to numerous permanent major sports teams including football, rugby and basketball. Besides the annual Wimbledon Tennis Championships, it will also host numerous international sporting events this year including the first-ever MLB London for baseball, the annual NFL London for American football and some of the matches from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
There are six English Premier League football clubs in London including: Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. It is also home to two Aviva Premiership rugby union teams, Harlequins F.C. and Saracens F.C. London has two basketball teams in the British Basketball League, the London City Royals and the London Lions.
Who are the biggest artists who live in London?
As the epicentre of the United Kingdom’s creative industry, London not only hosts many of the country’s largest concerts and festivals, but is also home to many of its biggest artists. You can see these musicians live on stage and on the street!
Famous musicians who call London home:
What are London’s longest-running West End shows?
When it comes to theatre in London, many of the best stay in the West.
The longest-running theatre shows in London currently playing:
- The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre, 27,672 performances
- The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, 13,450 performances
- The Woman in Black at Fortune Theatre, 12,147 performances
- Mamma Mia! at Novello Theatre, 8,318 performances
- The Lion King at Lyceum Theatre, 8,318 performances