Covent Garden is famous for its street entertainment, and we like it so much we've put it on our list of Top 10 things to do for free. The best acts (clowns, acrobats, magicians, fire-eaters etc) tend to site themselves on the open piece of ground between the piazza and St. Paul's Church.
The best place to watch them is from the balcony of the Punch & Judy pub, but it gets incredibly crowded during the afternoons so it might not be worth the hassle. The entrance to the pub is inside the Piazza, but trust us: it gets extremely busy. You'll lose your place every time you go back to the bar. So you might just want to stand downstairs instead.
We prefer listening to the classical musicians and opera singers inside the Piazza. They usually stand by the stairs in the basement level, which you can overlook from the ground-level balcony (just walk round the shops inside the Piazza, and you will see another level below). They have a few cafes down there, too, so you can sit on an outside table and enjoy a cup of coffee whilst listening to the music.
The whole area around Covent Garden is full of posh little shops and stalls, cafes and restaurants, so it's a great place to have a spot of lunch and people-watch.
Craig has written a big review of Covent Garden to show you what its like, and has included a few photos of where the singers congregate. Feel free to ask him some questions before you go, or post a question in the forum.
Guest – “what time do street performers finish on a saturday night and is it safe for children at night”
Admin – “They are basically buskers, (but auditioned ones), so there is no real schedule. It's a very busy area, and there are lots of pubs around. I've never known any trouble there, but it's a very busy nightlife area, packed with tourists and drinkers. As long as you keep hold of them then I'm sure you will be fine (it would be very easy to lose them in the crowd)”
Craig’s review – “Covent Garden used to be a big fruit and vegetable market. If you wanted some fish you'd go to Billingsgate. If you wanted some meat you'd go to Smithfield. If you wanted a carrot you'd come here. For three hundred years this went on, but then the 1970s came along and that was the end of that. The surrounding businesses got sick of all the early morning traffic cloggi… continued”
School of Rock – 22 Oct 2016 to 20 Oct 2019 – The Jack Black movie 'School of Rock' has been turned into a West End mind-blowing musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes.
Dreamgirls — soul music from 1960s America – 19 Nov 2016 to 12 Jan 2019 – The Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls is about a struggling soul group from 1960s America.
Princess Diana — Her Fashion Story – 24 Feb 2017 to 17 Feb 2019 – Diana's Fashion Story at Kensington Palace is an exhibition of iconic dresses that show the evolution of her style
42nd Street — High-kicking Broadway hit – 20 Mar 2017 to 5 Jan 2019 – 42nd Street tells the story of a Broadway dancer who gets her shot at stardom when the leading lady gets injured.
Poster Girls — A century of art and design – 13 Oct 2017 to 1 Jan 2019 – Poster Girls celebrates the work of female designers who worked for London Transport over the last 100 years
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – 6 Nov 2017 to 6 Apr 2019 – 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' is all about overcoming prejudice, with songs by The Feeling's Dan Gillespie Sells.
Superbugs — The Fight For Our Lives – 9 Nov 2017 to 10 Mar 2019 – Learn how scientists are fighting back against the bacteria that are growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
If you enjoy Covent Garden then you might like to visit Leicester Square (you can walk it in 7 mins), London Transport Museum (you can walk it in less than 2 mins), Royal Opera House (you can walk there in less than 1 min), St. Paul’s Church (you can walk it in less than 2 mins) and Trafalgar Square (you can walk it in 7 mins)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans