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What is the West End and How Does It Compare to Broadway?

We're giving you a crash course on all things London theatre.

Broadway might the the ultimate destination for all things theatre in the United States, but across the pond, theatre fans flock to a different mecca. Considered by some as the theatre capital of the world, London is home to the West End. What exactly is West End theatre all about? We have all the details!

Plus, learn even more about how the West End compares to Broadway.

What is the West End and How Does It Compare to Broadway?

What is the West End?

The West End of London, or simply the West End, is an area of London known for being the commercial and entertainment center of the city. The region is known for its tourist attractions, hotels, shopping, nightlife, and theatres.

Where is the West End?

The West End is a loosely defined area of central London. There is no official geographical or municipal definition of the area and there are many interpretations of where the West End starts and ends. Some consider the bounderies to be the Thames (south), Marylebone Road (north), Hyde Park (west) and the City of London (east), while others have a much smaller interpretation of the area, with boundaries being the Strand (south), Oxford Street (north), Regent Street (west) and Chancery Lane (east).

Why is it called the West End?

The region got its name for being the area lying to the west of the historic City of London. The neighborhood was a favorite of the rich because it was positioned upwind of smoke and smells from the more crowded City. The West End has long been considered an affluent and fashionable area of London.

What is the West End and How Does It Compare to Broadway?

What is Theatreland?

Theatreland is the main theatre district within the larger area of the West End, where most West End theaters are located. Major streets include The Strand, Drury Lane, and Shaftesbury Avenue.

Is the West End like Broadway?

Yes. The West End is to London as Broadway is to New York City. West End theatre is considered (along with Broadway) the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

How many West End theatres are there?

There are 39 West End theatres. The oldest is the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which opened in 1663. The newest is @sohoplace, which opened in 2022 and holds the distinction of being the first new West End theatre in over 50 years. Like Broadway, the theatres are mostly owned by several prominant theatre groups, including: Ambassador Theatre Group, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, Nimax Theatres, LW Theatres, and The Nederlander Organization. Several West End theatres are independently owned.

Are all theatres in London considered "West End"?

No. Like New York City, London is home to far more theatres than just those in the West End and many smaller venues are considered off-West End. There are also many significant venues that are not technically West End Theatres, such as The National Theatre, the Old Vic, Shakespeare's Globe, the Barbican Centre, and the Royal Albert Hall.

What is the West End and How Does It Compare to Broadway?

Are there awards for theatre in the West End?

Yes. The Olivier Awards are to the West End as the Tony Awards are to Broadway. Established in 1976 by by the Society of London Theatre, the Olivier Awards are Britain's most prestigious stage honors and are held every Spring.

Plus, check out which London shows were winners of the 2023 BroadwayWorld UK/West End Awards!

How do I use "West End" in a sentence?

To use "West End" in a sentence you should include different prepositions than you would for "Broadway". Examples:

I bought tickets to a show on the West End.
I bought tickets to a show in the West End.
I bought tickets to a West End show.

The musical is opening at the West End.
The musical is opening in the West End.
The musical is opening in London's West End.

What's playing in the West End?

Get the scoop on all the latest West End shows and check out what's coming soon! Learn more about how to get cheap West End tickets.

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