Located in the heart of London, Soho is a thriving hub of entertainment of all kinds. Historically, the area has had something of a shady past, but in recent times the district has become a major draw for Londoners and tourists alike, seeking theatrical entertainment and some of the city’s finest entertainment.
The growth of Soho
Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Soho was famous for all the wrong reasons. Rather than the kind of above-board entertainment for which the area is now rightly well-known, Soho was a notorious destination for people seeking entertainment of an altogether less family friendly variety. Brothels and other accoutrements of the skin trade were plied from the many shops and bars in the area while bawdy shows took place in a number of the theatres and music halls in the area.
While the Palace Theatre is the jewel in the crown of the performance venues in Soho itself, there are plenty of other ways in which visitors can find entertainment in the district while visiting. The area has become well-known as a destination for drinkers and diners, offering up-market restaurants and bars for the well-heeled visitor. The area makes the perfect place to stop for a pre-theatre drink or dinner.
As a centre for media and the arts, the area is often thronging with media types enjoying long lunches or post-work drinks. Soho is the home of many film and television companies and is served by Sohonet, a super-fast fibre optic communication system that connects the visual effects and post-production companies that have sprung up in the area with the UK’s biggest film and television studios in Shepperton and Pinewood as well as production centres across the globe, allowing work to be done on the product of filming done out of town without the need to transport film from one location to another.
The area is also well-known for its gay-friendly atmosphere. As London’s unofficial gay village, Soho has a range of gay bars and clubs that offer an experience for just about every taste. Wherever a gay couple may choose to eat or drink in the area, they will be welcomed openly without as much as a raised eyebrow.
Visiting the theatre
Although the Palace is the main theatre actually situated within Soho, London’s West End surrounds Soho and is easily accessed from any of the bars and restaurants in the district. Nearby Covent Garden has a large number of big-name theatres with popular plays and musicals on offer throughout the year.
For something with a little more variety, the Soho Theatre offers a varied programme of cabaret and comedy as well as theatrical productions. On the fringes of Soho you will also find the Prince Edward Theatre, arguably the most stylish of Soho’s venues with its art deco styling, which shows a programme of hit musicals throughout the year and is currently hosting Jersey Boys before taking on Miss Saigon in May 2014.
A thriving destination for entertainment of all kinds, Soho is a vibrant and exciting place to visit during any stay in London. All kinds of tastes in theatre, music and dining are catered for, and you could not hope to find anywhere in London that is more laid back and easy going. Whether you’re going out in Soho or starting out here before heading further up west, it’s a great place to get any London party started.