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This is a mecca for street performers and has a cool flea market at the weekend. A great place to just hang out on a suny day but there's also plenty of shelter if it's raining. The London Transport Museum is here, good shopping along Longacre and Neal Street. The area is part of "Theatreland" and many restaurants in this area have a "pre-theatre" menu at a very reasonable cost in the early evening. Not only is this a cheap way to eat, you often get much faster service if you mention you have theatre seats at a certain time (no need to prove this).
Neal Street, to the West of the tube station is a particularly cool area with a surfer/hippy feel to it. To the south of the tube station, towards the piazza and market square is a bit more quirky. At Christmas there is a huge Christmas tree erected in the piazza and usually a Santa's Grotto and mulled wine stall too! Obviously this isn't a cheap experience, but it's lovely to soak up the atmosphere even if you choose not to take out a small mortgage for the traditional beverage!
Covent Garden is a huge meeting place and lots of people tend to hang around outside the station, so it's always busy. A good place to star spot too. It's a vibrant, arty and very trendy place to just wander round and explore.
- Theater Travel
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Inigo Jones designed the Italianate arcaded square along with the church of St Paul's (not the St Pauls) opposite the square in the 1500s and around 1654 a fruit and vegetable market opened in a corner of the square but in the main the square became an area of taverns and coffee houses and it was in 1830 the area became London's principal fruit and vegetable market. It stayed like this until 1974 when traffic congestion caused it to be no longer suitable as a traders market. In 1980 it opened as we see it today - an area of shops, cafes, bars - an area with something for everyone.
There are street entertainers, changing displays of for example new cars or fashion displays and it is never boring here.
The tube station can be very busy and Leicester Square is a good alternative. The public toilets in the square are not Londons best. However a good central attraction in the heart of the west end.
- Theater Travel
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time for a coffee break!
Ok, the area is touristic too but I like to come here when I want to meet a friend and have a coffee or tea.
There are some nice colorful cafes and dozens of street artists etc.
Walk along Neal Street and buy superb tea flavors at TEAHOUSE(at number15A, pic2), the weird ASTROLOGY SHOP at number 78 and many other nice little stores for small gifts. At the intersection with Earlham Street is the THOMAS NEAL mall, full of modern clothes etc At Neil’s Yard you can find several food stores with great cheese, yogurt and other healthy things but kind of expensive. I liked the free samples outside though :)
At SEVEN DIALS square where 7 roads meet you can see a column that has 7 sun clocks on it(pic3). You can drink a coffee at NERO café at the corner (cappuccino 2.10pounds, tea 1.55, chocolate 2.15) and go back towards the central market for more. My favorite street artist is usually in front of St Paul (pic4) opposite the Covent Market. A juggler standing on a stair(pic5) and doing his things with knifes!! If you want to visit St.Paul have in mind that the entrance is from the other side where the garden of the church is.
Try not to miss the STANFORDS bookstore along the way or some small art galleries on New Row Street.
What's more, on saturdays there is a market on Covent Garden.
I have no links with the Freemasons organisation but I include this tip because presumably there will be VT members (or people reading these pages ) who will be members - the building in the West End is also a very classical building and worth seeing.
Freemasons’ Hall is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and the principal meeting place for Masonic Lodges in London. Grand Lodge has been in Great Queen Street since 1775, the present Hall being the third building on the site.
Built between 1927–1932 as a memorial to the Freemasons who died in the First World War, it is one of the finest Art Deco buildings in England, and is now Grade II* listed internally and externally. In addition to the Grand Temple (seating 1700) there are 21 Lodge Rooms, a Library and Museum, Board and Committee Rooms and administrative offices. The building is fully open to the public.
- Historical Travel
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So much more than a market
Covent Garden is throbbing with life at all times. Don't think it just a market, because it's so much more: the street artists around the market building, the singers and musicians inside the building. The incredible amount of colours, smells and flavours. All this make spending some time at Covent Garden a true must. Be sure to visit all the shops and speak with the owners. It's a great experience.
- Arts and Culture
Free entertainment at Covent Garden
This place is always busy may it be shopping, free entertainment at the Covent Garden ground. There is always a street performers entertaining the audience which composes of tourists coming to London. The feeling is that you're in an old market sorrounded by restaurant, pubs, shops, opera theatre.
The history of Covent Garden (or better Convent Garden) goes back to the 12th Century.
Nowadays Covent Garden offers you a variety of things like the Market building itself with it's internal stalls with art sellers, the specialties shop. the fruit stand, the Punch and Judy Pub and more.
Around you'll find the London Transport Museum, The Royal Opera House, St. Paul's Church, the Jubilee Market, terraces, street performers and restaurants.
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Covent Garden was once run down area but now it is an area filled with entertainers, shops and café’s.
At its centre is a piazza, which was a sheltered wholesale market until 1974.
Street entertainers, dancers, human statues and buskers vie for spare change from tourists and passers by.
The original idea was by 17th century architect Inigo Jones who envisaged this area to be an elegant residential square modelled on the piazza at Livorno, northern Italy. Today the buildings around the piazza are mainly Victorian. Charles fowler designed the covered central market in 1833 for a fruit and vegetable wholesale market. It now houses shops selling designer clothes and arts and crafts.
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House (ROH) in Covent Garden, home to the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet companies, is worth a visit even if you do not plan to see a show. The original building was constructed in 1732 but was destroyed by fire in the 19th century (twice). The current building dates from 1858 (when it was called the Royal Italian Opera), though most of it was extensively updated in the 1990s. It is a handsome building, both inside and outside. Pop into the Paul Hamlyn Hall (I prefer its old name, the Floral Hall), an ornate glass-and-steel enclosed space, for drinks or nibbles. The amphitheatre dates from Victorian times but to view it you will have to catch a show. There is also an exhibition of costumes featured in past shows. The main entrance of the ROH is on Bow Street, and there is also an entrance by Covent Garden Piazza (opposite the Market).
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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Covent Garden Market and Piazza
Covent Garden was the site of a 40-acre kitchen garden of the Convent of St Peter, Westminster, which was a major source of fruit and vegetables for Londoners in the 12th to 15th centuries. Later, it became the site of a major fruit and vegetable market, and acquired an arcaded piazza designed by Inigo Jones in the 17th century. Following the Great Fire of 1666, Covent Garden Market became the most important market in the country, attracting Londoners not just for shopping but for its street entertainers. By the 1970s, local traffic had become so bad that the fruit and vegetable market was moved to a new site (called New Covent Garden Market), and the old arcaded piazza was redeveloped as shops and stalls. Today's Covent Garden Market and Piazza are constantly bustling with activity. This is a good place for a leisurely stroll, watching some of the street entertainers (from musicians to illusionists), browsing for gifts at some of the shops and stalls, and refuelling at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Covent Garden (Pronunciation: kɒvʌnt) is a district in London, England, located on the easternmost parts of the City of Westminster and the southwest corner of the London Borough of Camden. The area is dominated by shopping, street performers and entertainment facilities and contains an entrance to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, which is also widely known simply as "Covent Garden", and the bustling Seven Dials area.
The area is bounded by High Holborn to the north, Kingsway to the east, the Strand to the south and Charing Cross Road to the west. Covent Garden Piazza is located in the geographical centre of the area and was the site of a flower, fruit and vegetable market from the 1500s until 1974, when the wholesale market relocated to New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms. Nearby areas include Soho, St James's, Bloomsbury and Holborn.
- Family Travel
Covent Garden is a London district located near Soho. It is limited by Charing Cross Road, The Strand, Kingsway and High Holborn. Covent Garden's most notable landmarks are the Covent Garden Market and the Royal Opera House. The market opens from 10am to 7pm during the week days and on Saturday and from 11am to 6pm on Sunday. It is very lively, with numerous cafés, and one can easily find street entertainment in the area, such as in the Courtyard, dedicated to classical music only, in the West Piazza, in the North Hall or in the South Hall. The Royal Opera House is located in Bow Street next to Covent Garden Market and was built on a stunning pearly white, Neoclassical, absolutely gorgeous building, commonly referred simply as Covent Garden. It is also the home of the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera Chorus. It is possible to visit the Royal Opera House interior although some areas may be temporarily unavaiable if events are taking place.
Best street performers
Covent Garden is a district of London, located to the east of Leicester Square. It's best known for the covered market, shopping, street performances, Royal Opera House and the Royal Drury Lane theater (where I saw an excellent musical - Lord of the Rings).
I recommend going inside the covered markets and having a coffee up or downstairs, and watch the musicants playing inside. I don't like street performers in general, especially the boring human statues, but Covent Garden's clients rate them if they don't like something they boo them :) When I was inside there were a group of musicants playing string instruments (violins and violas), and they performed great. The best ones (like this one) had their music on the CD too and they sell also the CD, beside the money from the audience.
Free Entertainers at Covent Garden
Always something going on outside this former vegetable market, now full of trendy shops.
Many of the entertainers are pros who are 'resting' and they are always fun . Audience involvement to be expected, especially for the kids.
Yes they are free but please put something in the hat, everyone has to eat.
Speaking of eating lots of places here but not always the best value, shop around or see my places to eat tip for Bistro 1.
Interesting and free
The scenery is beautiful and there are street performers (some which are better than others) which give performances for tips. You could spend an entire afternoon just watching the performers. Probably my favorite place in London.
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