Leisure and entertainment
Bond Street, one of Mayfair's main shopping streets.Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West End has its focus around Leicester Square, where London film premieres are held, and Piccadilly Circus, with its giant electronic advertisements. London's theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city's Chinatown district, whilst just to the east is Covent Garden, an area housing speciality shops and London's "Avenue of Stars" which honours achievers in the entertainment industry.
London's busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, a mainstream shopping street nearly 2 km long. The adjoining Bond Street in Mayfair is a more upmarket location along with the Knightsbridge area - home to the Harrods department store - to the southwest. The districts of Knightsbridge (Sloane Street), Mayfair (Bond Street, Brook Street), and Chelsea (King's Road) represent London's prestigious role in the world of fashion, being an international centre of fashion alongside Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo. Furthermore, London has a number of markets, including Camden Market for fashions, Portobello Road for antiques and Borough Market for foods.
London offers a huge variety of cuisines as a result of its ethnically diverse population. Well-known gastronomic centres include the Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lane and the Chinese food of Chinatown. Soho offers a variety of relatively cheap international restaurants, whilst more upmarket restaurants are scattered around central London, with concentrations in Mayfair. Across the city, areas home to particular ethnic groups are often recognisable by restaurants, food shops and market stalls offering their local fare, and even the large supermarkets stock such items in areas with sizeable ethnic groups.
The Caribbean-descended community in Notting Hill in West London organises the colourful Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's biggest street carnival, every summer. The beginning of the year is celebrated with the relatively new New Year's Day Parade, whilst traditional parades include November's Lord Mayor's Show, a centuries-old event celebrating the annual appointment of a new Lord Mayor of the City of London with a procession along the streets of the City, and June's Trooping the Colour, a very formal military pageant to celebrate the (official) Queen's Birthday.
Literature and film
Charles Dickens (1812-1870), whose works formed a pervasive image of Victorian LondonLondon has been the setting for many works of literature. Two writers closely associated with the city are the diarist Samuel Pepys, famous among other things for his eyewitness account of the Great Fire, and Charles Dickens, whose representation of a foggy, snowy, grimy London of street sweepers and pickpockets is a major influence on people's vision of early Victorian London. James Boswell's biographical Life of Johnson mostly takes place in London, and is the source of Johnson's famous aphorism: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." The earlier (1722) A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is a fictionalisation of the events of the 1665 Great Plague. William Shakespeare spent a large part of his life living and working in London; his contemporary Ben Jonson was also based in London, and some of his work -- most notably his play The Alchemist -- was set in the city. Later important depictions of London from the 19th and early 20th centuries are the afore-mentioned Dickens novels, and Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes stories. The 1933 novel Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell describes life in poverty in both cities. A modern writer pervasively influenced by the city is Peter Ackroyd, in works such as London: The Biography, The Lambs of London and Hawksmoor. Along with Bloomsbury, the hilly area of Hampstead has traditionally been the literary heartland of London.
Traditionally, London has played a significant role in the film industry, and boasts major studios at Pinewood and Shepperton, both just outside West London, as well as an important special effects and post-production community. Many films have also used London as a location and have done much to shape international perceptions of the city. See main article London in film.
The city also hosts a number of performing arts schools, including the Central School of Speech and Drama, whose past students include Judi Dench and Laurence Olivier, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (educators of Jim Broadbent and Donald Sutherland amongst others) and the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (past students including Joan Collins and Roger Moore).
The London Film Festival is held in the city each October.
London is one of the major music capitals in the world and is home to one of the five major global music corporations EMI. London and its surrounding Home Counties have spawned iconic and popular artists through the years, including The Who, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Cream, Iron Maiden, The Yardbirds, Genesis, Elton John, Yes, Queen, The Clash,The Sex Pistols, Radiohead, Keane, Coldplay, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Robbie Williams or Bernard Butler. London's current scene for local live bands can be found in Camden and the West End. London is also home to the first and original Hard Rock Cafe and EMI's Abbey Road Studios. More recently, London has been the centre for the UK's thriving urban music scene, with artists like Dillinja (Drum 'n' Bass / Jungle), So Solid Crew (UK Garage), Dizzee Rascal (Grime) and Roots Manuva (UK Hip Hop) becoming popular.
Main article: Sport in London
An artist's impression of London's Olympic Stadium, to be constructed in Stratford.
No. 1 Court at the All England Club in WimbledonLondon has hosted the Summer Olympics twice, in 1908 and 1948. In July 2005 London was chosen to host the Games in 2012, which will make it the first city in the world to host the Summer Olympics three times. London was also the host of the British Empire Games in 1934.
London's most popular sport (for both participants and spectators) is football. London has 12 League Football clubs, including six in the Premiership (Arsenal, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United) and a further six in the remaining three divisions (Barnet, Brentford, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient, Millwall and Queens Park Rangers), plus countless non-league and amateur football teams.
London has a unique place in the history of football. First, in the sixteenth century headmaster of St Paul's School Richard Mulcaster is credited with taking mob football and transforming it into organised and refereed team football in order to be beneficial for schoolboys. Second, London was home to Ebenezer Cobb Morley who was a founding member of the Football Association in 1862. In 1863, he wrote to Bell's Life newspaper proposing a governing body for football that led to the first meeting at the Freemason's Tavern in central London that created the Football Association, the English governing body of soccer and the first of its kind anywhere in the world. He wrote at his house in Barnes the first set of rules of true modern soccer that were adopted by the FA and spread all over the world. It is, therefore, true to say that Association football (soccer) was invented in London
London also has four rugby union teams in the Guinness Premiership (London Irish, Saracens, Wasps and NEC Harlequins), although only the Harlequins play in London (all the other three now play outside Greater London), as well as a rugby league Super League club in Harlequins RL. London also has many famous other rugby union clubs in lower leagues, including Richmond F.C., Blackheath R.C., Rosslyn Park F.C. and Barnes R.F.C.
Wembley Stadium (which is currently being rebuilt) has traditionally been the home of the English national football team, and serves as the venue for the FA Cup final as well as rugby league's Challenge Cup final. Twickenham Stadium in west London is the national rugby union stadium.
Cricket in London centres on its two Test cricket grounds at Lord's (home of Middlesex CC) in St John's Wood, and The Oval (home of Surrey CC) in Kennington.
One of London's most well-known annual sports competitions is the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, held at the All England Club in the south-western suburb of Wimbledon. Other key events are the annual mass-participation London Marathon which sees some 35,000 runners attempt a 42 km course around the city, and the Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames between Putney and Mortlake.