These are some of the best gay theatres in London. As well as putting on a range of excellent shows they remain a bastion of our LGBTQ community.
There's no business like show business!!!
We can never resist seeing a show when we're in London. We think it's one of the highlights for gay travellers in London. It's basically the theatre capital of Europe, with hundreds of performances taking place across the city at any one time. From musicals to showcases, dramatic performances to stand-up comedy, and dance spectacles to operas, there is too much to choose from.
But if you, like us, fancy something a little bit campy, or with an LGBTQ theme, then you need to get yourself over to one of these gay theatres, most of which are nicely located in and around the Soho gay scene of London.
We've included both purely queer theatres and comedy clubs, as well as ones that are very inclusive and while they aren't ‘gay theatres' per se, they do regularly centre LGBTQ+ stories and voices.
Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is one of the oldest theatres in London and one that's very dedicated to being a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. This is where gay men and women would meet in secret before the legislation of homosexuality in the UK and it's even believed that Freddie Mercury snuck Princess Diana in here dressed in male drag during the 90s!
While there are many theatre shows to enjoy here, the RVT has also been synonymous with drag since the 80s and the theatre even became the first venue to be given Grade II listed building status for its contribution to LGBTQ+ history. This is where Paul O'Grady kicked off his career in drag, becoming the legendary Lily Savage. Other famous performers who have appeared here include the late Dame Edna Everage and Myra DuBois.
This venue hosts various events and shows every day of the week, so even if drag is not your cup of tea you're sure to find something to interest you. The event line-up features everything from panto to live music, musicals to stand-up comedy, and dance performances. Artists that have previously performed here include the likes of Bucks Fizz, Belinda Carlisle, Liberty X and S Club 7!
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is located at 372 Kennington Lane in Vauxhall (right by the Vauxhall station) and is open seven days a week. On weekdays it's open from 7pm until midnight, on Friday there's an early show from 6pm – 9pm and then a club night from 10pm until 4am, on Saturday it's open 9pm – 4am and on Sunday from 4pm until 11pm.
The Glory is one of the coolest gay bars in London, but it's also a fabulous performance space! It's a totally queer venue, run by queer people and there's something on basically every night of the week, whether it's a cabaret performance, a comedy show, a club night or a queer art club.
Iconic London drag queens Johnny Woo and John Sizzle are the proud owners of The Glory, along with legendary party starter Colin Rothbart. As well as regular drag and disco nights, The Glory is also home to two amazing drag competitions: LIPSYNC1000 and MAN UP – a drag king battle! LIPSYNC1000 is, of course, a fierce drag lip sync competition, one of the biggest and most talked about in London.
You can head to The Glory any night of the week for a warm queer atmosphere, party on the weekends and enjoy live performances, but they also take their shows on the road all around the UK. Glory performances can be enjoyed at the Edinburgh Fringe, Glastonbury and Sink the Pink's Mighty Hoopla festival.
The Glory is located at 281 Kingsland Road, near the Haggerston overground station. It's open seven days a week from 5pm – 11pm on Mondays, 5pm – midnight Tuesday to Thursday, 5pm – 3am on Friday and Saturday, and from 2pm – 11pm on Sunday.
King's Head Theatre
First opened in 1970, the King's Head Theatre is one of the oldest pub theatres in London, housed in an old boxing room and pool hall in the back room of the King's Head Pub. The pub itself is cosy and traditional, especially in winter with the backdrop of a roaring fire to meet up with friends for a beer.
The theatre's artistic policy is joyful, irreverent, colourful and queer, meaning there are many types of performances to enjoy that encompass the full spectrum of experiences symbolised by the rainbow flag. From plays to musicals, opera to cabaret, drag and comedy, you're sure to find something entertaining no matter what you enjoy.
The annual Queer Season takes place in summer, with so many fabulous choices that you might find it hard to pick just a few to see. Our advice? Go see as many as possible!
The King's Head Theatre is located at 115 Upper Street, about a ten-minute walk from Angel tube station. Check out the What's On page on their website for dates and times of specific performances.
Situated in the heart of gay Soho, the Soho Theatre is one of the busiest venues in London, with three different stages presenting six different shows a night! This is a very gay-friendly theatre, with plenty of queer content to enjoy, like the View Upstairs, which was basically a love letter to the queer community set in a gay bar.
With three different spaces, there are a lot of different genres and performers to catch here, with a year-round festival program of theatre, comedy, and cabaret. The Soho Theatre is all about championing new works and giving upcoming artists a place to debut their work. There's a bit of a queer, punk, counter-culture flavour to everything at the Soho Theatre, which we love!
Along with the three main stages, there's also a fun bar at the Soho Theatre for a drink before or after seeing a show. A new offshoot Soho Theatre is also set to open in Walthamstow, East London, plus you can often catch performances presented by the Soho Theatre as far away as the Edinburgh Fringe or Melbourne International Comedy Festival in Australia.
The main Soho Theatre is located at 21 Dean Street in Soho (there's also a new venue opening in Walthamstow soon). The Soho Theatre Bar is open Monday to Friday from 10 am until 1am and on Saturday from midday. Check out the What's On page to see times and dates for upcoming shows!
The Queer Comedy Club
As of 2023, there's also a new permanent LGBTQ+ comedy club in London, where you can have a laugh with some of the best queer comedians from the community. The Queer Comedy Club is the creation of David Ian, Jeremy Topp, and Kate Dale, three queer comedians who recognised the need for a dedicated, permanent space for queer audiences and performers in the London comedy scene.
The Queer Comedy Club seeks to highlight both established comedians and provide a safe space for emerging acts to hone their craft. It's also a straight-friendly venue, with the “Not Totally Queer Comedy Club” on Tuesdays. Additionally, there are queer improv shows and nights of poetry and spoken word performances, in case you want a palate cleanser between hilarious comedy nights!
Along with regular shows, many queer comedians also book the venue to work on new routines that they are planning to take to Edinburgh Fringe, on tour or film for TV, so it's a great way to see new material and help the comedian figure out what works. Many performances at the Queer Comedy Club are often free or very low cost, so it's an excellent choice for a budget night out as well.
The Queer Comedy Club is located downstairs at 114 Junction Road in Archway, about a five-minute walk from Tufnell Park or Archway tube stations. There are different shows on nearly every night of the week, so check out the What's On page to see what you want to attend.
Brixton House Theatre
Originally known as Ovalhouse Theatre, in 2022 a new purpose-built space in the middle of Brixton opened up as Brixton House. In the 1960s, Ovalhouse was a groundbreaking and inclusive theatre space for local young people, community members and traditionally marginalised artists, writers and performers. It was central to the emergence of gay, lesbian and women’s theatre throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Today, Brixton House aims to continue building on that legacy, providing safe spaces for “artists across the LGBTQI+ community and beyond, to authentically create and fearlessly share their voices with audiences keen to hear their stories.” The new theatre space is fully accessible, including two stages, seven studios, as well as a café and bar that also serves as an area for exhibitions.
Along with plenty of interesting performances to attend, you can also take part in a variety of workshops, classes or even backstage tours at Brixton House. We also love how many community programs they run for local young people to get involved with the creative arts or learn skills for creative careers.
Brixton House is located in the heart of Brixton at 385 Coldharbour Lane which is a short walk from Brixton tube and train station. They're open weekdays from 8am – 10.30pm, Saturday from 9am until 10.30pm and Sunday from 9am until 6pm. Check out the What's On page for details of upcoming performances!
The Vaults are definitely one of the coolest alternative arts venues in London, located in a maze of (formerly) disused railway arches underneath Waterloo Station. As a home for ‘alternative arts', you can regularly find LGBTQ+ focused shows here, as their aim is to collaborate and conspire, embracing artists from all walks of life.
It even says on the website that they strive to champion “unsung voices, especially those of the LGBTQ+ community,” which is great to see. Located next door to the famous graffiti tunnel of Leake Street, the Vaults regularly host comedy performances, immersive dining experiences and theatre shows in all sorts of genres.
There's also a very cool bar connected to The Vaults, called Vaulty Towers which also hosts a variety of fun events including comedy shows, pub quiz nights and DJs. Of course, there's always good food and drinks to enjoy here too, whether or not you've been to (or are about to go to) a performance in The Vaults!
The Vaults are located on Leake Street underneath the railway just a few steps from Waterloo Station. The bar is open daily from midday until 10pm – midnight but check the What's On page to see details of upcoming performances.
Located in a converted warehouse in Hackney Wick, The Yard is an award-winning theatre in London that's dedicated to staging new plays, often including those by and featuring queer artists. As well as theatre, The Yard hosts regular music events for the queer community like the T-Boys Club and Nite Dykez along with creative programs for local young people.
The work they do with and for young people is outstanding here, with a varied program of theatre and art programs, along with the Black Excellence at Nighttime group and the fact that under 26-year-olds can nab any unsold tickets to shows for just £5. They also provide a programme for 18-25-year-olds looking to develop careers in theatre and Events Technician management.
There's a cool bar attached to The Yard, and while it's only open when there are performances on it's a lovely spot to socialise and have a drink before or after seeing a show. If you can manage it, try and see the annual NOW festival, which shows five weeks of new writing and always has a heavy LGBTQ+ slant.
The Yard is located at Unit 2a Queen's Yard, just a few minutes walk from Hackney Wick tube station. Check out the What's On page for opening times of shows and specific events.
The Arcola Theatre is located in the borough of Hackney, inside a former paint factory and is home to a number of community theatre companies including the Queer Collective. Arcola is dedicated to producing daring, diverse and contemporary theatre in the heart of East London – and we are here for it! The Queer Collective focuses on exploring queer identity and how to present it theatrically, so if you've ever wanted to dip your toe into the world of theatre, this is where you can do so.
Other community theatre groups based at the Arcola Theatre include groups focusing on mental health, residents over 50, women and Turkish/Kurdish voices. The theatre is also where the annual Grimeborn Opera Festival takes place, with new and experimental works showcased alongside radical productions of classic opera.
The Arcola Theatre has gained a reputation for showcasing works that explore important social and political issues, and for its commitment to sustainability. In fact, the theatre has implemented several environmentally friendly initiatives, such as using renewable energy sources, recycling materials, and promoting sustainable transportation options for staff and audiences. We love to see it!
The Arcola Theatre can be found at 24 Ashwin Street, halfway between the Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction train stations. Check out the What's On page for details about upcoming performances.
Camden People's Theatre
The Camden People's Theatre (CPT) is a renowned small-scale theatre located in the heart of Camden that's dedicated to showcasing innovative and experimental works, particularly those created by emerging artists.
The programming at Camden People's Theatre often explores social and political themes, focusing on issues that resonate with contemporary society. Many productions tackle topics such as identity, diversity, gender, sexuality, and activism. In 2017, their Come As You Are festival celebrated trans and gender-queer work, plus they continue to host plenty of queer and feminist theatre.
In addition to its mainstage performances, Camden People's Theatre also hosts regular events and festivals throughout the year. These include scratch nights, work-in-progress showings, panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities. The theatre actively supports artists in the development and testing of their work through these platforms.
Camden People's Theatre is located at 58-60 Hampstead Road, a short walk from Warren Street tube station. Check out their What's On page for details of upcoming shows.
The Pleasance Theatre London
The Pleasance is a combination of a Festival Organisation, a London theatre and a development centre, with three permanent performance spaces in London and Edinburgh. The Pleasance Theatre is known for its diverse and vibrant programming. It hosts a wide range of shows, including new works, revivals, stand-up comedy, improv, dance, and physical theatre. The Pleasance has a particular focus on supporting and showcasing emerging talent, and it actively encourages artists to take risks and experiment with their work.
In addition to its regular performance program, the Pleasance Theatre is also associated with the annual Pleasance Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which takes place during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. The Pleasance venues in Edinburgh host a multitude of shows, attracting artists and audiences from around the world. But you don't need to go to Edinburgh to experience a taste of the Fringe magic, as many performers work on their shows at the London theatre in preparation for the Fringe season.
Pleasance London has three performance spaces – the Cabaret Main House, The Studio, and Downstairs – as well as a buzzing bar and outdoor courtyard to enjoy before or after shows.
The Pleasance Theatre in London is located in Islington at the Carpenter Mews, North Road, near the Caledonian Road tube station. Check out the What's On page to see what's coming up.
Park Theatre London
If it's good enough for Sir Ian then it's definitely good enough for us!
Park Theatre is a prominent theatre located in Finsbury Park. It opened its doors in 2013 (with the support of both Sir Ian McKellen and the late Alan Rickman) and has quickly become an important cultural hub in the city's theatre scene. The theatre was founded by Jez Bond and Melli Bond with the aim of providing a platform for diverse and high-quality theatrical productions.
And in that wish they have definitely succeeded as the Park Theatre is known for its diverse and eclectic programming. It presents a mix of classic and contemporary plays, as well as new works by emerging and established playwrights. The theatre's repertoire covers a wide range of genres and themes, including drama, comedy, musicals, and socially engaged pieces that explore important social and political issues.
Previous queer productions have included a run of Animal, about a gay disabled man looking for love, and currently showing is Papercut, about a gay American soldier returning home from Afghanistan.
Park Theatre is located at 13 Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park. The closest train station is either Arsenal or Finsbury Park, both a short-ish walk from the theatre. Have a look at their What's On page to plan your own visit.
The Other Palace Theatre
The Other Palace Theatre is not advertised as a ‘queer theatre' but they often feature queer shows or performances with an LGBTQ+ slant – like Heathers The Musical! While this isn't a gay musical, it is very camp and there is one big gay moment when two murdered football players are framed as gay lovers. At their funeral, their respective fathers berate each other for having acted homophobic whilst their children were alive. This leads to them confessing their own love for one another – and singing a song about how much they love their dead gay sons. Trust us, it’s way funnier than it sounds!
Other upcoming queer performances include “Fury and Elysium” – a queer and Jewish musical about transgression, revolution and decadence in Berlin, a musical biography of Alan Turing, a play about historical LGBTQ+ icon Julie D’Aubigny and some great queer Edinburgh Fringe preview shows. All this, and there's a fabulous bar attached called The Other Gin Palace, which is one of the most fashionable spots in Victoria.
While The Other Palace Theatre might not be a specifically queer space, it is dedicated to musical theatre, and most of us gays are big fans of campy musicals, right? It's also won numerous awards, including Best Off-West End Theatre in 2022 and Most Accessible Theatre in the 2019 BroadwayWorld UK Awards.
The Other Palace Theatre is located just around the corner from Buckingham Palace (hence the name!) at 12 Palace Street. The Other Gin Palace is open Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10am until 11pm (11.30pm on Saturday nights), on Sundays between 11am – 6pm and on Mondays two hours before any scheduled performances. You can see What's On here.
Bonus: The Peacock Theatre for Everybody's Talking About Jamie!
The Peacock Theatre is part of the Sadler's Wells group of theatres and is where the fabulous queer musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie is currently showing.
Jamie New is a sixteen-year-old schoolboy who fantasizes about becoming a drag queen. Whilst all of his schoolmates dream about becoming models, footballers, or TV stars, Jamie has his eyes set on donning a pair of lashes, high heels, and a wig, then performing in front of a crowd.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie follows his journey, as he tries to break out of his Northern English town, and leave behind the bullies and naysayers, to become the next drag superstar. It's a beautifully touching piece of theatre that is all about being yourself and finding a place where you belong.
We went along to see Everybody's Talking About Jamie to celebrate Seb's birthday and got to see the incredible Bianca Del Rio play the role of Loco Chanelle (a drag mentor to Jamie), and Faye from Steps (who plays Jamie's teacher). It was such a fun evening, and the crowd was on fire! We laughed. We cried. We danced. We had one of the best nights at the theatre. Plus, we've not been able to stop listening to the soundtrack on Spotify since!
The Peacock Theatre is located on Portugal Street, near the Holborn tube station. Check out the What's On page for more details.
For more inspiration:
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- Have a look at our choices for the best gay pride events in the world while you're at it
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- If you're heading up North(!) be sure to check out our gay guide to Manchester
- Budget travellers will love our guide to the best gay hostels in Europe