Britain’s theatres a top tourist attraction

VisitBritain, the official British tourism authority, has released figures that show that the nation’s theatres are a major draw for overseas visitors.

A survey conducted by VisitBritain has revealed that the UK’s theatres, famous for their musical offerings and star-studded dramatic presentations, are high on the itineraries of visiting tourists, with far more of them purchasing tickets for such productions then for sporting events.

According to the survey, of the 20 million foreign visitors to the UK’s shores, 2.8 million, or 14 percent, purchased theatre tickets during their stay, while only 1.3 million, or four percent, attended a sporting event. This equated to a spend of £2.7 billion at theatres, compared to £1.1billion spent at sports stadiums. And of the theatre entertainment on offer, musicals proved to be the most popular, accounting for well over half of ticket sales at 64 percent.

In the Daily Mail, a spokesperson for VisitBritain said: ‘With Sheffield Theatres leading the wins at the recent 2013 UK Theatre Awards, and its production of The Full Monty heading to London following a hit tour of the UK, and the award-winning Wicked heading to Southampton, the popularity and diversity of regional theatre is clear.’

But despite these regional hotspots, it is still London’s theatres that are proving to be the biggest attraction, with 24 percent of holiday visitors to the capital including a theatre visit in their itinerary, while only nine percent of holiday visitors to the Midlands and the North found their way in to a local production.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, told the Daily Mail: ‘The vitality of our theatre – whether the London West End, or our major regional centres – provides a great holiday experience for our international visitors.

‘In Britain you can see cutting-edge theatre by new writers, big blockbuster musicals and plenty of Shakespeare with actors that are known across the globe. If you like the theatre, Britain is a great place to enjoy it.’

Luxury London on a budget

London is one of the world’s greatest cities, but like Paris, New York and Rome, can be hard on the wallet. While you can see all the stunning major attractions from the outside at no charge other than your travel, some do have entrance fees and if you want to cram in as many as possible, the costs are going to mount up. Choose the ones you want to see inside carefully, and make the most of them.

If you want to see the luxurious side of London but lack the financial wherewithal to splurge, it is possible, it just needs a bit of know-how and some planning.

One of the greatest attractions of London is Theatreland. Some say it outshines Broadway but unless you try, you can’t judge. A family outing to the theatre in the West End can be a pricey affair, but there are ways to make it a comparative bargain. Check out special offers for combined hotel and theatre packages on sites like Show and Stay, or visit the half price ticket booth on Leicester Square. Luxuriate in the opulence of antique theatres and enjoy the best drama, comedy or dramas in the world.

London has more than its fair share of luxury hotels – The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Savoy, and Claridges, to name just a few. A stay in one of their amazing suites may be out of the question, but there are some delightful boutique hotels dotted around the city. Also, look for little budget hotels in the areas away from the main tourist drag – public transport makes it easy to get around so you needn’t feel isolated. Book a budget hotel, get hold of an Oyster card for travelling, and you can afford some extra treats.

As you have saved on your travel and accommodation, you can afford some of the extra special attractions. Since the Millennium, the London Eye has firmly established itself as one of the must-do things in the capital. Make it extra special by taking a champagne flight for two. You have an entire capsule to yourselves and a bottle of champagne to sip, as you view some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

This next one may well surprise you. It is shopping. But, we’re not talking about the overpriced stores in Oxford Street or the upmarket designer boutiques of Bond Street. For luxury shopping on a budget, eschew the shopping malls and brightly lit streets and head for the charity shops, but not just any one. The Oxfam in Notting Hill not only has designer label cast-offs from its well-heeled residents, but also great unique pieces by the students of the London College of Fashion. Alternatively, try the Chelsea British Red Cross shop for some true designer bargains.

It’s been a while now since the UK has put its legacy of warm beer and terrible food behind it. The London food scene actually sets the trends and has an amazing collection of restaurants. Of course, these come at a price so unless you happen to find a daily deal site with a very special offer, they are best avoided. Instead, head to ethnic restaurants in their own ethnic enclaves. Fancy something Greek? Find a restaurant in Palmers Green. Need kosher? The only place is Golders Green, and for Chinese, of course it is Chinatown, but avoid pricey Gerrard Street. There is such a vast selection of cuisines on offer in London, it is a real opportunity to sample something new. You could be eating Lebanese on the Marylebone Road, Bangladeshi in Tooting, or Somalian in Bethnal Green, and all at a fraction of the cost of a Michelin star meal in tourist central.

This guest post is from Show and Stay, the UK’s provider of cheap theatre breaks.

Take Advantage of Olympic Deals with a Visit to London’s West End

Some of the best loved musicals are being staged in London’s West End right now, as well as some dramatic adaptations of the most popular books and films of recent years. From the beautiful new performance of Ghost, featuring music from the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and every bit living up to the original 1990 movie starring Demi Moore and the late great Patrick Swayze; to the first West End staging of childrens’ favourite Shrek.

The Theatre Royal Drury Lane imagining of Dreamworks’ 2001 kids’ classic is proving to be just as popular as the big screen version on websites vending West End theatre tickets such as Ticket.com, which is unsurprising considering the performance is embellished with a star-studded cast including Nigel Lindsay and Nigel Harman; Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh; and rapper Richard Blackwood as Donkey.

Another big hit with the younger generation is the West End adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much loved book Matilda, with music this time coming from Aussie comic Tim Minchin; the team behind the performance are non-other than the  Royal Shakespeare Company.

With so much to see for all the family; along with the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner; this summer is the perfect time to take a trip to the theatre district of London. Thanks to the Olympic Games many London hotels are offering special prices that can easily be taken advantage of when you’re taking a trip to the theatre instead; not only that, but rail operators such as National Rail are providing cut price tickets for the next few months.

London Kids Week to be Held in August 2012

The Society of London Theatre, an association of producers, theatre owners and managers of commercial and aided theatres in central London, has announced that it is hosting this year’s London Kids Week in the month of August.

For the entire month, the theatres in London’s West End are offering numerous complimentary tickets for children, as well as complimentary theatre workshops and backstage tours.

London’s Kids Week offers children around 38 London shows to choose from, in addition to around 1,500 workshop places. The programmes are designed to encourage awareness in young people, below 16 years of age, of theatre and its relationship with the nation’s culture, by offering them complimentary passes, when they are accompanied by paying adults.

UrbanExplorer, an online guide that helps children to search for the best entertainment venues in London, is launching a special edition of its Top Ten Guide to Kids Week 2012, to help the young people and their guardians to decide on the events they would most like to attend in August.

Tickets for Kids Week are currently offered on sale from June 12, 2012, at www.kidsweek.co.uk website.

The 2012 Kids Week is part of the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week nationwide celebration in the UK, which is running from June 21 to September 9, 2012, and claiming to offer the best of UK entertainment for international visitors that are expected to throng the capital city for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games. The programmes will include presentations of dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovations.