What you need to know about London Coliseum:
London Coliseum is the home of the English National Opera (ENO). The company began their association with the venue in 1968, when they were known as Sadler’s Wells Opera. They changed name to the ENO in 1974. In 1968, the theatre had just reopened following seven years of being used as a cinema and was home to a new pit area big enough to accommodate a large orchestra.
Along with opera, London Coliseum is also frequently used to stage ballets, both from the English National Ballet (ENB) and visiting companies.
London Coliseum opened in 1904. Sir Oswald Stoll designed the venue. The architect’s wanted to create one of the most impressive entertainment venues in existence. He certainly succeeded. London Coliseum is one of the most ornate and intricately decorated theatres around. From the triumphant horses near the domed roof to the deep purple stage curtain, it is a triumphant celebration of theatre. There are also some interesting semi-hidden parts too, such as areas of beautiful tiling that can be spotted through the windows on the back wall as you head up the stairs to the Dress Circle.
Between 2000 and 2004, the London Coliseum underwent a period of restoration. In 2015, they also announced that work would be carried out to develop the front of house spaces, in part so visitors can explore more of its unique Edwardian interior.
Top facts about London Coliseum:
- London Coliseum is the largest theatre in London, although you might not guess that from the size of its façade on St Martin’s Lane. It seats 2,359 visitors. Despite this, it genuinely feels like an intimate space when you’re seated in the auditorium.
- It’s not just the audience space that’s large. The stage boasts the widest proscenium arch in London (55 feet wide and 34 feet high).
- During the Second World War, London Coliseum (at the time called the Coliseum Theatre) was used as a canteen for Air Raid Precaution wardens.
- Along with Selfridges, London Coliseum was one of the first two places to sell Coca-Cola in Great Britain.
Key information about London Coliseum
Tube: The closest tube station is Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo lines), which is a five minute walk from the venue, or Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines), which is also just under five minutes walk.
Train: Charing Cross train station on The Strand is served by Southeastern trains and is a five minute walk from London Coliseum.
Bus: Bus numbers 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 88, 91, 139, 159 and also 176 all travel close London Coliseum. Check the Transport for London website to plan your journey in more detail.
Q-Park car parks can be found at:
Chinatown – 20 Newport Place, WC2H 7PR
Soho – Poland Street, W1F 7NQ
Trafalgar Square– Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS
Leicester Square – Whitcomb Street, WC2H 7DT
Q-Park offers discounted parking for ticket-holders visiting participating West End theatres. London Coliseum is part of the Q-Park Theatreland Parking Scheme.
NCP car parks can be found at:
Shaftesbury – Selkirk House, Museum Street, WC1A 1JR
Covent Garden – Parker Street, WC2B 5NT
The closest car park to the theatre is: NCP Chinatown.
For blue badge holders, there are a minimal amount of disabled bays on St Martin’s Lane.
London Coliseum is accessible for wheelchair users. They have a number of spaces for visitors who want to stay in their wheelchair during the performance in the Stalls, the Dress Circle and in the Stalls boxes. Alternately, you can arrange to transfer to a seat during the show. Please book either option with the access team on the number given below.
Accessible toilets are available at the venue.
Working dogs are welcome in the theatre. Visitors can either arrange to take them into the auditorium or have them looked after by a friendly member of the front of house team, who will provide water bowls and even take the dog for a walk.
An enhanced sound system via headphones is available, and the headphones can be picked up from the London Coliseum foyer.
Cast lists in Braille and large print are also available on the night of ENO performances.
To discuss access arrangements and to book tickets, please contact the access team on the number below, or phone the box office and ask to be directed to the access team.
As part of the ENO’s access scheme, disabled visitors can buy tickets for half the normal cost and get priority booking for certain events. For more information, call 020 7845 9300 or email [email protected].
The ENO schedules BSL interpreted performances for the majority of its shows, although these won’t necessarily be available for all shows at London Coliseum. You can find details of upcoming BSL performances on the ENO website.
There is also an audio introduction for each opera for visitors with visual impairments. It is made available 15 minutes before the show starts. This is delivered via a headset that you can collect from the foyer or you can contact the access line (number and email address above) and have it sent to you.
Unlike the majority of West End theatres, the ENO does offer in-house dining options. Visitors can book to eat in the American Bar restaurant, which is run by Benugo. They specialise in local, seasonal produce and evolve the menu to reflect this. They open two hours before a performance starts. The best part is you can have two courses before a performance, then return at the interval for pudding.
If you’re looking for something lighter, the four bars also serve sandwiches, snacks and sharing boards (which need to be pre-ordered), along with the normal range of alcoholic and soft drinks.
The bars open 60-90 minutes before the performances start. You can also download an app to pre-order interval drinks from your smart phone (details on the ENO website).
If you’re looking for alternative dining options, head towards Leicester Square and Covent Garden, where a number of places do special pre-theatre menus, or try one of the restaurants on St Martin’s Lane.