Last year's free two-day festival attracted 130,000 people over the course of the weekend, with guest appearances from West End stars Bonnie Langford and Tom Conti. This year West End Live looks set to attract just as many visitors eager to catch the showbiz buzz, when Leicester Square is transformed into a huge open-air venue with a giant stage showcasing the best of Theatreland.
The event, organised by Westminster City Council, also features musical and dance acts, live broadcasts, arts workshops and interactive exhibitions from the Science Museum, the London Dungeon, the Wallace Collection and the National Gallery, with exhibitions by comic megastore Forbidden Planet, Film London, the Serpentine Gallery and BAFTA.
The What’s On Stage team will be alive and kicking in Leicester Square too – manning our stand and, with a team of volunteers (thank you!), distributing 15,000 free copies of our monthly print magazine – alongside a variety of other major companies and organisations, including the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), Capital FM, Visit London, British Land, Heart of London, Odeon, Trocadero and the New West End Company. Other attractions include performances by the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a Chinatown exhibition, Bollywood dancers and a hip-hop showcase.
Theatreland has certainly got plenty to celebrate, off stage as well as on. Attracting 12 million visitors each year and contributing £1 billion to the UK economy, the West End has the highest concentration of theatres of anywhere in the world. Westminster Council is working with SOLT to protect and promote the area, with plans to enhance the appearance of individual theatres, improve the area’s lighting and create new streetscapes. The council has already spent £1 million on transforming Coventry Street, with Shaftesbury Avenue and St Martin's Lane next in line for a theatrical makeover.
Councillor Robert Davis, Westminster’s Cabinet Member for Special Events, said: “We’re thrilled to have so many top acts confirm their appearance at West End Live. There is no other free event like it in London. From the very best that Theatreland has to offer to the latest children's shows, there really is something for everyone.”