Festive Cheer in the Square
With Christmas bearing down on us, here’s some tips on what’s on in Leicester Square – as well as a few fun facts about the place we reckon you didn’t know…
London’s iconic Leicester Square will be buzzing this festive season. Pulling in the crowds since 1670, the Square has a wide programme of yuletide events, special Christmas pop ups, film premieres and, for the first time ever, an abundance of star-shaped Christmas lights.
From November 10th 2017 to January 6th 2018, “Christmas in Leicester Square” will feature an atmospheric European-style Christmas Market, a Santa’s Grotto; plus, an line up of shows with comedy, cabaret and burlesque for the adults and discos plus Dahl-esque shows for the kids – all performed in a Belgian Spiegeltent in the Square’s central gardens.
Home to over 52 star studded red carpet premieres each year, Leicester Square is the ideal backdrop for couples seeking a stylish festive night out
- Get dressed up and tread in the red-carpet footsteps of Hollywood’s finest at one of the Square’s big-screen cinemas.
- Admire the sparkling Christmas lights of the Leicester Square garden from the glamourous surrounds of the new pop-up Champagne bar at the Hampshire Hotel. Be whisked away to the glamour of Belle Epoque Paris and dine in Soho House’s buzzy ‘grand’ Café Monico, where celebrated executive chef Rowley Leigh has created a sumptuous French-style menu
- Finish the night with a cocktail masterclass at one of the casinos, where the roulette spins all night long.
Alternatively, visit some of the new hangouts still under the mainstream radar:
- Tucked just off the main square, the W-Hotel’s new bar launches in November and is set to be the place for some fun cocktails. Its roof top spa is also somewhat of a hidden gem –a pamper hideaway.
- Making its debut on the dining scene, within the Square’s new Victory House Hotel, is the Petit Bistro. It will offer a Parisian street dining experience peppered with New York influences. Leicester Square Kitchen satisfies the current trend for Peruvian and Mexican street food.
- For a theatrical moment enjoy a live performance at the Harold Pinter Theatre, where the intellectual thriller Oslo is set to impress this festive season.
Those looking for an overnight stay can book at room at newest kid on the block: Victory House Hotel. Other stylish alternatives include, the W Hotel, Radisson Blu’s Hampshire Hotel and the Firmdale Group’s Haymarket Hotel.
Some Fun Facts about Leicester Square
- Rocking and Rolling: In the 1960s, the likes of the Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and The Clash played early gigs at the legendary Cavern in the Town – now the Leicester Square Theatre. The Square is also name dropped in several rock group tracks including Jethro Tull’s ‘Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square’ and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Emit Remmus.’
- Family Fun: Leicester Square is home to Europe’s biggest sweet shop, M&M’s World, which is large enough to house 100 double decker buses. Opposite is the largest LEGO Store on the planet, home to a 200,000 brick model of Big Ben and the LEGO Mosaic Maker photo booth – a nifty machine that can create a personalised LEGO portrait.
- What’s in the Name? Leicester Square was named after Leicester House, a mansion owned by local landowner Robert Sidney, the 2nd Earl of Leicester (1595-1677). During the 18th century the house was a London residence of three successive Princes of Wales and served as their political headquarters.
- Shakespeare in the Garden: A statue of William Shakespeare, sculpted by Italian sculptor, Giovanni Fontana, has formed the centre piece of Leicester Square Gardens since 1874.
- My name is Michael Caine: In 1954, during a harried call to his agent in Leicester Square, Maurice Mickewhite was asked to come up with a new name, as an actor with his birth name was already treading the boards. He looked out the telephone box and saw a poster for the Humphrey Bogart naval drama The Caine Mutiny at the nearby Odeon – and Michael Caine was born.
- Famous residents: It’s not just the Hollywood glitterati who bring fame to the Square as plenty of famous people have resided there including:
- The portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 – 1792) was at the height of his fame while living at 47 Leicester Square. The original building was demolished in 1937 but the brown plaque on Fanum House commemorates the site of his former home.
- English Bare-knuckle boxer, Tom Cribb (1781 – 1848) who became a world champion also lived on the Square.
- Other notable residents included: scientist Sir Isaac Newton, surgeon John Hunter, the artist William Hogarth and Karl Marx who lived in the then German Hotel, now Leicester House.
- Famous fights: Throughout the 17th Century, Leicester Square was a notorious duelling location.
- Mind the Gap: The tube journey on the Piccadilly line between Leicester Square and Covent Garden is London’s shortest, travelling only 260 metres. It lasts only 45 seconds and at £29.81 per mile, is one of the worlds’ most expensive rail journeys – enough of an incentive to take the scenic route and walk….