The Home of Culture
Buzzing with the excitement of opera and theatreland, the very DNA of Covent Garden is steeped in theatre and performance, with new experiences to soak up every time you visit.
The iconic Royal Opera House and Theatre Royal Drury Lane are among the many vibrant venues in the neighbourhood, while the Covent Garden’s Piazza itself becomes an open-air theatre every day with music, comedy and entertainment thanks to the world-renowned street performers.
Covent Garden also hosts numerous public art commissions, including Jeff Koons’ giant inflatable rabbit in the Market Building and a live spin-painting day on the Piazza with Damien Hirst. Recent installations include Alex Chinneck’s artistic illusion, magically making part of the building float ten feet in the air, and Charles Pétillon’s ‘Heartbeat’, filling the Market Building with 100,000 glowing white balloons which represented Covent Garden as the beating heart of London.
For centuries, culture vultures have swooped in on Covent Garden.
They obviously relished the area’s eclectic, ever-changing mix of opera, ballet, theatre and drama, from highbrow to mainstream, fringe and beyond; all tastes are catered for and all emotions are stirred. No other urban quarter in the world is home to two esteemed artistic companies – The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet – in addition to more than twenty thriving theatres in the vicinity.
In 2015, Charles Pétillon filled the Market Building with over 100,000 balloons.
The words ‘Covent Garden’ have long been used as a synonym for British opera thanks to this beautiful and deeply historic venue which is home to two world-famous companies - The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet.
Originally built in 1858, the current Royal Opera House is the third incarnation of this high culture hub, and legends including Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn, Luciano Pavarotti and Rudolf Nureyev have graced its stage.
Covent Garden is surrounded by esteemed establishments boasting some of the most exquisite collections in London.
Lovers of art can enjoy the nearby exhibits at the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery or simply stroll across the Strand to Somerset House, where the Courtauld Gallery exhibits a collection of famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces.
Since the 1660s Covent Garden has never missed a chance to put on a performance. The first record of Covent Garden street entertainment came in 1662, when Samuel Pepys’ diary notes that a marionette show featuring a character named Punch took place on the Piazza. Today, the custom continues.