Don’t be confused; Piccadilly Circus London is not a circus in the entertainment and performance sense. You won’t find a trapeze act, acrobats, or jugglers in Piccadilly Circus. (Except that one time on September 2 of ’12. Piccadilly Circus Circus, hah.)
What you will instead find are the following: The Tube station, and a lot of people.
No, seriously. We mean a lot. The expression “it’s like Piccadilly Circus” is a common comparison from Brits who observe somewhere filled with people. British wisdom has it that, if you stay long enough there, you’ll eventually run into everyone you know.
For those wondering, ‘circus’ as used here comes from Latin, meaning ‘circle’ or ‘ring’. Piccadilly Circus is, surprisingly enough, reasonably circular. Hence the name fits the place. Like a lot of things in Britain, it’s got a fair few years on it, having been built in 1819.
What To Do In The Circus That Isn’t A Circus
You could sit at the Memorial Fountain and watch the people going by. In a place like this, your bound to see a lot of people to just plain watch.
Of course, there’s the Fountain itself. It’s not quite at the center of Piccadilly Circus (it’s actually on the southwestern side) but it’s where a whole lot of the pedestrian traffic goes past. Statue enthusiasts should note the winged nude archer on top of the fountain: it’s the first one in the world to be cast in aluminum. (The fountain itself is bronze, for anyone curious.)
The Signs at Night
At night, the statue isn’t nearly as attention-grabbing as the signs. There’s only one building that carries them now: the one on the north side, on the corner between Shaftesbury Avenue and Glasshouse Street. There are six separate signs on that building alone – worth a watch.
Theatre nuts would do well to visit the Criterion Theatre, which seats 588. It’s been showing ‘The 39 Steps’ ever since 2006, and it doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. It’s not the only thing to see in the Criterion, though; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what Criterion Presents will give the audience.
For those who prefer shopping to watching, the most prominent store in Piccadilly Circus is Lilywhites, a sporting goods retailer on Regent Street and right next to the fountain. You won’t be the first tourist to visit it and certainly not the last, as it’s rather popular, offering items on sale quite regularly.
Underground Tube Station
Those interested in the London Underground will want to visit Piccadilly Circus tube station to tick off one more station that’s fully underground. And there’s worse places for first-timers to start their Tube experience.