Guests at the London City Suites Hotels might be visiting East London for a variety of reasons. From work trips and conferences at our meeting rooms City of London to our proximity to the city centre for families of tourists, there are boundless motivations for staying in one of our comfy, spacious and luxurious rooms. Whatever the reason for your Barbican and East London stay, one aspect that is always enjoyed by guests is how thriving East London is for entertainment and the arts. Whether you’re a night owl looking for the top clubbing spots or you’re a family of tourists exploring the broad range child-friendly shows, East London is never short of options.
Below is a definitive guide to the best entertainment venues in East London, and the kind of performances, content and opportunities that it hosts.
Whilst some London visitors might be interested in visiting late-night venues and adult shows, there are plenty of entertainment options that are accessible for family audiences. Whilst many of the venues we’ll mention are known for putting on child-friendly events, the two below are especially active in their child-friendly programming.
The Hackney Empire is a community-focused theatre on Mare Street in East London. With easy access via the nearby Hackney Central, this theatre runs a broad variety of family-focused programming including workshops and pantomimes, making for a unique theatre and performance venue with a real local Hackney spirit.
Stratford East Theatre Royal
Another community theatre and this time in the heart of Stratford, this East London crown jewel is a must for theatre lovers of all ages. With an inclusive feel and a diverse programme of musicals and shows, the Stratford East is the perfect choice for a family on a rainy East London day.
Alongside the above-mentioned family theatres, you can find a broad variety of Off West End shows in East London. From international tours to homegrown productions, the below two theatres are some of the best for the next big things.
Based just off of Kingsland High Street, the Arcola Theatre is a Dalston based theatre that offers it all. With a range of new writing nights and revivals from often overlooked classics, this high profile London theatre is even kitted out with a night club, intimate cafe area and two different stages.
Shoreditch Town Hall
Shoreditch Town Hall has a lot of history to it. Before it was a multimedia performance space with 8 different theatre and events spaces, the Shoreditch town Hall had a life as a boxing ring, music hall and civic centre for the Shoreditch community. Also hosting art exhibitions and other forms of performance, Shoreditch Town Hall has a history dating back to the 1860s’.
Cinemas of East London
If you’re making the most of London City breaks package deals and find yourself listless on one of London’s worse weather days, there’s plenty of exciting independent cinemas across the districts to ensure some shelter from the storm. Below are just two of the standout cinemas in East London, and some of the reasons they are so close to the heart of cinephile city folk.
Rich Mix in Shoreditch may be best known for its magnificent cinema screens, but it’s also a unique live performance and music venue. With 3 screens in its boutique spaces, the Rich Mix hosts screens blockbuster and independent films, alongside festivals and high profile events such as the London Film Festival, East London Film Festival and London Short Film Festival.
The Rio in Dalston is a unique and exciting independent cinema on Kingsland Road. Hosting regular Q&A’s with filmmakers alongside late-night movie events, the Rio Dalston is the perfect example of a community-led cinema that promises everything from international releases and one-off screenings.
Music Venues and Clubs of East London
East London is home to some of the most vibrant nightclubs and music venues in not only the city but the country. With a variety of cultures hosting late-night parties and atmospheric music events, East London definitely has something for all tastes.
Based in London Fields, Oval Space is a warehouse venue with a beautiful terrace view over East London and a glasshouse (literally) menagerie of amazing international talent. From world-class DJ’s playing into the early hours to more intimate live music acts, Oval Space is truly a must-visit venue for music connoisseurs who want a taste of something a little different.
Another all-rounder venue, Oslo is a glitzy and atmospheric nightclub and music venue that hosts a restaurant, bar and beautiful upstairs venue. Right outside Hackney Central Station, this venue is easily reachable and promises lively DJ’s late into the night on weekends.
One of the hidden gems of East London, Shoreditch’s Village Underground is a cavernous and atmospheric space that hosts everything from house music DJ’s to minimalist composers. Sitting below a repurposed Bakerloo Line rail carriage, this venue is certainly much more than meets the eye.
Rough Trade East
For music lovers and record collectors, Rough Trade Music represents one of the best shops in the city for unique music finds. Kitted out with its own small bar and social space, the venue is also home to its own stage, bringing a range of intimate live performances from some of the best up and coming musicians in not only the city but the world. With record signings, Q&A’s from those in the music business and much much more, this Brick Lane based venue is a gift box of sonic delights.
As an all-rounder, the Barbican Centre has it all. From the beautiful cinema hosting independent and mainstream movies to the unique Curve art gallery space, the Barbican is one of the largest and most important arts venues in not only the city but the world.
Easily reachable from the Barbican Rooms Hotel, the Centre is home to theatre, music and dance events, alongside art gallery exhibitions and workshops. With its magnificent brutalist design and several restaurants to choose from, the building truly stands out as one of the iconic high points of East London.