20 facts about London’s culture

Hatwalk

Here are 20 of the many reasons why London is one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world.

  1. Three of the top ten museums and galleries in the world are in London and 857 art galleries in total.
  2. London has four UNESCO world heritage sites: Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, Westminster Palace which includes Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church as well as Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
  3. There are more than 300 languages spoken in London, more than in any other city in the world.
  4. There are more than 17,000 music performances a year across London's 300+ venues including The O2 arena - the world's most popular music venue for the last five years running.
  5. 84% of Londoners think that the city's cultural scene is important in ensuring a high quality of life. (GLA/ICM research).
  6. London has over 170 museums with 11 national museums including the British Museum - home to thousands of years of culture including the Rosetta Stone (196 BC).
  7. Around 250 festivals take place in London every year including London’s largest free festival - The Mayor’s Thames Festival and Europe's biggest street festival- The Notting Hill Carnival which attracts near one million people.
  8. The first performance of a Punch and Judy show at Covent Garden was recorded in Samuel Pepys's diary entry for 9 May 1662, and it is believed a similar puppet show has been seen there every year since. (Oh yes there is!)
  9. London presents more live comedy than any other city in the world. From hosting new talent in the backrooms of pubs to the likes of Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock and Steve Coogan performing in major arenas.
  10. London dominates the UK visual arts sector, which accounts for 30% of the global art market.
  11. London has played a major role in countless films from A Clockwork Orange, Harry Potter to Notting Hill and is now the world’s third busiest film production centre with over 14,000 ‘shooting days’ in 2011 including the 23rd Bond film Skyfall.
  12. Over a fifth of all the UK’s cinema screens are based in London. There are more cinema screens in the capital (796) than in any other part of the country.
  13. London Fashion Week 2012 generated over £100m of orders, saw the return of Philip Treacy and was the most socially savvy yet with over 2 million viewers tuning in from more than 100 countries to the live-streamed of Topshop's latest collection.
  14. From the first performance of Shakespeare at The Globe in 1599 there are now at least 200 shows to choose from every day across West End including current hits Matilda and War Horse.
  15. Wilton’s Music Hall in the city is the world’s oldest surviving Music Hall, built in 1743 and still a living piece of London’s musical history.
  16. In the last 5 years, London based artists Adele, Coldplay and Amy Winehouse (RIP) have been the world's best-selling recording artists and have amassed £1.9bn last year in worldwide sales, up from £1.83bn in 2010.
  17. London has more than 800 bookshops and over 380 public libraries including British Library which holds the Magna Carta.
  18. The London Design Festival is now the world’s leading event of its kind, which attracted over 350,000 people in 2012 to innovative projects including the groundbreaking audio-technology, the BE OPEN Sound Portal.
  19. A third of all the UK’s archives are in London including the National Archives which dates back to the 11th century and preserves William the Conqueror's Domesday survey.
  20. London boasts some of the oldest milliners in the world including Lock & Co (est. 1676) famous for creating Lord Nelson's original bicorn hat, as well as a specially commissioned version for Hatwalk as part of the London 2012 Festival.