| By London Theatre Direct
London Theatreland or also known as the West End, is the area of central London containing many of London's commercial Theatres. The term originated in the early 19th century to describe the fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross including Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street.
The West End is London's alternative to New York's Broadway Theatre and represents the highest level of commercial theatre one can reach in the UK. Visiting a London theatre show is a very popular tourist activity as well as for locals and school groups alike. A rough estimate of total attendances were over 12 million in 2002 and 13 million in 2007.
The London Theatreland district contains approximately forty venues and is defined by The Strand to the South, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west and Kingsway to the east. The majority of the theatres are privately owned and have great character of Victorian or Edwardian construction. The three largest theatres in London Theatreland are the Coliseum Theatre, The Apollo Victoria Theatre and the London Palladium followed closely by the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the Royal Opera House.
To get to London Theatreland it's best to travel by public transport due to its location right in central London. Traffic can be a nightmare in this area. The London Underground is the ideal method of transportation into the West End as there are many stations throughout London Theatreland and you will be dropped off no more than 5 minutes walking distance to your chosen theatre.
London Theatreland also has many long-running shows including the longest running show in the entire world! Agatha Christi's play The Mousetrap has been running since 1952 and is currently in its 59th year. It originally opened in the Ambassadors Theatre and ran there until 1974 where it transferred to the St Martin's Theatre and immediately continued to run until this day. It's now nearly 60 years later and there's no sign of it closing any time soon.
Musicals tend to last longer than the plays, except the extraordinary case of The Mousetrap, so the next three places on the list belong to Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre currently in its 26th year, The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre currently in its 25th year and Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre currently in its 22nd year.
London Theatreland is an amazing place to see so if you are in London and looking for something to do, then head on over to the West End and pay a visit to some of the magnificent old theatres only found in London Theatreland.