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The bright lights of Leicester Square London are a constant calling card for the capital and the heart and soul of London’s West End.
From the beautiful Leicester Square lawns bedecked with deckchairs in the summer months to the Bavarian Christmas village in Leicester Square that pops up in the winter, there are so many things to do in Leicester Square, London.
Culture vultures can enjoy theater and cinema whilst there are dozens of bars and restaurants to indulge in, many of which have pre theatre dining deals. Kids will love the Leicester Square Lego store too.
London Leicester Square’s Scenes from the Square, a free movie trail comprising of huge statues of characters like Batman and Harry Potter is also one of our best free things to in London.
On the cusp of Chinatown, Leicester Square in London is a perfect place to spend a summer’s day or enjoy a winter walk.
Here is our updated 2023 guide to the top things to do in Leicester Square, London:
Table of Contents
Things to do in Leicester Square
1. Leicester Square Cinemas
Perhaps best known for its red carpet premieres and glitzy Hollywood parties, London Leicester Square has several cinemas dotted around its edges including Odeon Leicester Square (the largest), a Cineworld Leicester Square and Vue Leicester Square.
As you’d expect being smack bang in the centre of London, Leicester Square Cinemas aren’t the cheapest cinemas in London – expect very little change from £30 if you are also buying popcorn and drinks.
That said, you can often pick up free tickets to some of London Leicester Square biggest film premieres.
We’ve managed to bag tickets to big Leicester Square film premieres for free and rubbed shoulders (well glanced across a long crowded room) with such Hollywood stars as Hugh Jackman and Bruce Willis – find out how to get London Leicester Square film premiere tickets here >
Also, budget conscious London cinema goers may want to visit The Prince Charles Cinema on nearby Leicester Place (just off Leicester Square London), which is more arthouse and shows lots of classics. Screenings at the Prince Charles Cinema start from £1 if you become a member.
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2. Leicester Square Film Statues – Scenes in the Square
Befitting for the all the film premiere it hosts, Leicester Square in London recently unveiled its Leicester Square Scenes from the Square statue trail, a series of bronze statues representing different decades in the cinema from Mary Poppins and Laurel & Hardy to Mr Bean and Bugs Bunny.
Originally intended to be a temporary installation, due to popular demand, Leicester Square Scenes from the Square has now been extended for the foreseeable future (as at 2023) and an audio tour can now be also downloaded via a QR code – these can be found all over Leicester Square.
Read our dedicated blog about London’s Leicester Square’s Scenes from the Square, including pictures of all the film statues including the latest additions, Harry Potter and Wonder Woman.
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3. Chinatown (one of the best free things to do in Leicester Square)
As you sit in or walk around Leicester Square park, you’ll occasionally catch a glimpse of Chinese lanterns or the huge, iconic Chinatown gate (next to W Hotel), denoting the start of Chinatown London.
Surprisingly, this area of London didn’t have a Chinatown until the 1970s so it isn’t historic. What it lacks in legacy is made up by the sheer number of and restaurants and Chinese supermarkets.
Chinese New Year in London is a particularly wonderful time to visit. Apart from the Chinatown Gate, our favourite bit of Chinatown to visit is the alleyway known as Newport Court – there are several authentic bakeries around here and as the area is so enclosed, it often smells delicious.
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4. Leicester Square Casinos
You ‘bet’ you wanna go to a London Leicester Square casino whilst in the West End. Open 24 hours and often why Leicester Square can be so busy at night, the assorted Leicester Square casinos can be fun to visit (and all have lots of security which is also reassuring).
It should also be noted that the Leicester Square casinos are some of the biggest in London and close to so many good 24 hour eateries (handy after some late night roulette or blackjack).
Our favourite Leicester Square casino has to be the classic Hippodrome casino, which opened in 1900 and is based over several floors, including nightclubs, restaurants and numerous gaming tables.
Years ago, you had to register 24 hours in advance to gamble at Leicester Square casinos (and all UK casinos) but now you can turn up without being a member and gamble / dance the night away.
It isn’t just about gaming in the London Leicester Square casinos as they often have very good drinks offers and entertainment to get you in.
Other casinos that are located directly around London Leicester Square park square include the Empire Casino and Grosvenor Casino Leicester Square.
5. Japan Centre Leicester Square
A little piece of Japan in central London, Japan Centre Leicester Square is a basement food hall and purveyor of Japanese goods is a nice diversion and just a short two minute walk away from London Leicester Square (in nearby Panton Street).
As well as a comic book and gift section, Japan Centre Leicester Square London has a small but perfectly formed Japanese food court here selling fresh sushi and oodles of noodle dishes, plus interesting Japanese Kit Kat flavours.
Check out our guide to the best Japanese shops in London over at our sister site Plan My Japan.
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6. Leicester Square discounted theatre tickets
What is better than a London theatre ticket? A discounted London theatre ticket! Did you know you can visit a discount London theatre ticket shop in Leicester Square?
If you are willing to take the chance and leave it to the last minute to get a theatre ticket, try the London Leicester Square ‘Tkts’ booth (their spelling, not ours!).
Be prepared for long lines though that sometimes snake all the way around the park in Leicester Square. If you do get stuck in the queue, look out for the Laurel and Hardy film statues on the roof of the ticket booth, part of the Scenes from the Square trail.
You can see what discount London theatre tickets in Leicester Square are on offer that night by looking at the digital screens above the ‘Tkts’ booth.
Be advised though that sometimes not everything is a bargain and some of the discounts advertised in Leicester Square may be a little inflated.
There is a lot of good theatre you can see in London for less than £20, if you don’t mind sitting towards the back. For instance in 2022, we saw the Back to the Future musical for £15 and the Only Fools and Horses musical for £10 by booking online.
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7. Piccadilly Circus
A short stroll from Leicester Square brings you to the world famous Piccadilly Circus near Soho, one of the main thoroughfares in London (and not actually home to any animals!).
This is best visited at night, as the neon lights and brightly lit advertising boards kick in.
Whilst it is no Times Square, it is home to the Eros statue, installed in 1892 and said to be the most famous meeting point in London for courting couples (and also seemingly school exchange schemes these days!).
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8. The Comedy Store, Leicester Square
One of Leicester Square’s most famous comedy clubs, The Comedy Store Leicester Square.
Is actually located a quick walk away in Oxendon Street (no joke!) and was founded in the late seventies, originally making its name as the home of ‘alternative comedy’.
The Comedy Store, Leicester Square launched the careers of many popular British TV personalities such as Rik Mayall, Jennifer Saunders and Ben Elton, and popular stand up shows are held here seven nights a week. Check out the line-up at thecomedystore.co.uk.
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9. LSQ Rooftop bar
Perched on the 9th floor atop of the four-star Leicester Square Hotel Indigo is LSQ Rooftop bar – a 1920s art deco themed bar with a sweeping panorama view of the London skyline.
The bar is not just for hotel guests, so drop by for a pre or post theatre drink at the bar, or lunch/dinner at the restaurant. Make a reservation at LSQ Rooftop bar >
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10. National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery
Two world class art galleries are within a short walking distance of Leicester Square tube station.
The National Gallery houses some of the greatest collections of paintings in the world dating from the mid-13th century to the year 1900, whilst the National Portrait Gallery showcases portraits of historically important and famous British people.
11. LEGO store Leicester Square London
You know you’ve arrived at the Lego store in Leicester Square when you see the large queue snaking around the sides of Leicester Square.
Incredibly popular and the nearest we have to a Legoland in London (the proper Lego theme park is actually in Windsor), this is fantastic plastic if you’re a London Lego lover.
Comprising merchandise over two floors, Lego London Leicester Square also has various brick recreations of famous London landmarks like Big Ben (The Houses of Parliament) and huge London Underground train carriage model, plus Harry Potter and James Bond.
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12. Leicester Square Gardens
You don’t actually have to do anything in Leicester Square – it is quite a nice place to just laze around in the park, and sit on the benches or deckchairs (the latter in Summer only) and stare at the fountain or fend off pigeons from your food.
There are lots of places nearby (mainly chains) Leicester Square gardens to grab takeaway food like Jollibees, Pizza Hut, Shakeshack, McDonalds or Burger King (you are bang out of luck if you want something healthy).
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13. M&M’s World Leicester Square London
Chocolate heaven – depending on your point of view, M&M’s World Leicester Square London is likely a sweet treat or tacky tourist trap.
Other than the ubiquitous Primark clothing store, M&M’s World Leicester Square London is the place we get asked about most often for directions in central London.
We unfortunately don’t really understand the lustre of London M&M’s World – it certainly isn’t one of our favourite things to do in Leicester Square but we know we probably aren’t the target audience (although we do love eating M&Ms!).
M&Ms are delicious but this is a glorified sweet shop where the price hike is huge and the hygiene around the pick and mix section is questionable (best avoided by neat-freaks).
There are so many better places to spend time in Leicester Square than London M&M World (rant over).
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14. Jollibee Leicester Square
Founded in 1978 in the Philippines, this fast food chain is absolutely massive in Asia with 1,200 locations worldwide.
Jollibee is famous for it’s signature crispy fried ‘Chickenjoy’, Filipino style spaghetti and juicy chicken burgers.
The Leicester Square Jollibee branch opened in 2021 to much fan-fare (the 4th UK Jollibee branch to open) and is a nice alternative to KFC!
15. Greggs Leicester Square
Britain’s best loved bakery, Greggs Leicester Square is the flagship Greggs London branch – and possibly the cheapest eats in Leicester Square too!
Greggs Leicester Square is a superb place to sooth your savoury tooth with sausage rolls and steak bakes galore (both of which also come in vegan varieties).
Open until 2am on certain nights (although a request to open 24 hours a day was recently declined by Westminster Council), Greggs in Leicester Square is inexpensive with most bakery items around the £1 to £2 mark, and sandwiches and baguettes around the £2 to £3 mark.
Greggs Leicester Square also do a nice line in sweet treats like doughnuts and vanilla slices.
The Greggs Bakery phenomenon is huge in the UK with over 2000 branches in the UK (over 30 in London, including drive-throughs and discount outlets – really!).
Such is the adulation; you can also buy Greggs branded clothing in Primark – someone is making a lot of ‘dough’.
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16. Leicester Square London Christmas market 2023
From late November every year, Leicester Square is transformed into a Winter Wonderland and Christmas Market (like a very small scale version of the one you’d find in Hyde Park).
Here, you’ll find Santa’s grotto, a couple of alpine themed bars selling Czech lager and mulled wine plus all manner of gift shops selling Christmas decorations and very strongly perfumed soaps, and the largest hot dog you’ll see (probably). Festive as!
17. Leicester Square street performers
Some of the best free* street entertainment in London’s West End can be found in Leicester Square (and some of the worst too!).
Generally located in front of the Empire cinema and nearby cinema, a steady stream of buskers, artists and beatboxers go through their crowd pleasing routines daily.
*Free to watch but donations are appreciated as this is often their main job.
18. The Leicester Square Theatre
One of London’s best loved and longest running theatres and performing arts centres, the Leicester Square Theatre is a recently restored 400 seater venue that hosts hundreds of live acts a year, from stand-up and comedy musical through to podcast recordings and dance shows.
Over the years, The Leicester Square Theatre has played host to such comedy icons as Joan Rivers, Michael McIntrye, Stewart Lee and Bill Bailey.
19. Magic Mike Leicester Square
Want to go (XX) large in London? Then Magic Mike and his mystical loins might be the perfect night out in Leicester Square for you.
Based on the hit movie series conceived by (and starring) Channing Tatum, take a walk on the wild side with this in the round stage show at the Hippodrome Casino, in the heart of Leicester Square.
If you’re in search of ultimate girls’ night out or for boys that just wanna have fun, MAGIC MIKE LIVE delivers (only 18 years old + can be admitted).
Alas whilst Channing does not appear live in this stage performance, it is still a riotous romp and sweaty spectacle. So stop looking and just get booking…
20. Bars and pubs in Leicester Square, London
Leicester Square itself is surrounded by dozens of bars and pubs, many of which have terraces or beer gardens that look out directly onto the small park.
Many of the hotels in Leicester Square have lobby bars too that offer afternoon tea.
Some of the bars and pubs in Leicester Square itself include:
All Bar One Leicester Square
A plush chain bar with an extensive terrace (possibly the best beer garden in Leicester Square) and all manner of cocktails, hearty pub grub and a comprehensive cocktail list – not exactly chic but an affordable way to enjoy a drink in Leicester Square.
8 at The Londoner
A high end Japanese style izakaya bar on the roof of the Londoner hotel renowned for its extensive whiskey and sake collections. Indulge in this rooftop bar in Leicester Square.
The Moon Under Water – JD Wetherspoon
Certainly not the best pub in Leicester Square but if you are on a tight budget or just want a simple place for a pint, the Moon Under Water is part of the JD Wetherspoon pub group, a huge British pub chain famous for its happy hours, pub grub deals and cheap craft beers.
They also have a small outdoor beer garden in Leceister Square and this is quite a good place to try inexpensive traditional english food favorites like a ‘Full English Fried breakfast’.
21. Comedy Carnival at Leicester Square
Leicester Square is renowned for its live comedy shows and one of the longest running is the Comedy Carnival hosted every week at O’ Neill’s pub (they also have other Comedy Carnival locations in Camden and Covent Garden).
Comedy Carnival features comedians from around the world and usually takes place a few nights a month.
Other activities and things to in Leicester Square
- Taste a traditional cup of english tea at TWG Tea Leicester Square or take some tea-bags home as a lasting reminder of London.
- Look for historic blue plaques showing where historical figures lived such as one commemorating portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds near to the All Bar One pub.
Safety / Crime in Leicester Square London
A word of caution – Leicester Square is fairly safe to visit, particularly during the daytime but it can be a little sketchy at night, especially after the pubs close so always keep an eye on your belongings and watch out for pickpockets.
The bars that overlook Leicester Square are often targeted by bag snatchers, so do keep an eye out.
Getting to Leicester Square London
The nearest London Underground Tube stations to the Leicester Square Film Statues are Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus, or it is a 6 minute walk from Charing Cross train station.
Where to stay near Leicester Square London
Astor Museum Inn
Award winning hostel for 18-40 years old, located in the heart of central London with dorm rooms, Kitchen and common areas.
Check out this more detailed list of affordable and highly rated hostels in central London >
Citadines Trafalgar Square
Modern and spacious self-catering apartments with kitchenettes and satellite TV.
Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel
Stylish boutique hotel located in Covent Garden’s Seven Dials quarter, with onsite bar and restaurant serving Italian and Peruvian dishes.
Covent Garden Hotel
Contemporary boutique hotel, with wood-panelled lounge, onsite bar, all-day brasserie, gym, film screening room and a day spa.
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