Leicester Square boasts some of the most famous cinemas in the world, including the luxuriously grand Odeon, the Empire with its vast auditorium and the cult favourite Prince Charles Cinema. The majority of red carpet premieres in the UK take place here, and all the biggest stars from Hollywood have, at one time or another, appeared here in person.
Now, to mark the rich cinematic heritage of the area, as well as acknowledging the 350-year anniversary of the square itself, a series of eight bronze statues have been unveiled as the Scenes in the Square trail to enhance the visitor experience. The statues mark significant eras and personalities in the history of British cinema over the last 100 years.
Leicester Square was established in 1670, earning its name after the Second Earl of Leicester, who built himself a house on the land. Today there are retail spaces, hotels and several cinemas around the central garden space. It has become an essential stop on any trip to London, with nearly 100 million visitors each year posing for pictures in every corner they can find. The square is also the main hub for the annual London Film Festival, which explains why authorities are keen to leave a permanent mark to the film world with these statues. Leicester Square’s first cinema opened in 1930, and it hosted its first premiere seven years later.
“Scenes in the Square is an exciting tribute to Leicester Square’s 350th birthday. Nowhere else in the world can you stop for lunch on a bench with Mr Bean or Paddington, dance alongside Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain or hold your umbrella aloft next to Mary Poppins. Scenes in the Square is a first of its kind, and we hope it will put London on the movie map like the Walk of Fame has in Hollywood,” explains Ros Morgan, chief executive of Heart of London Business Alliance.
Fans can follow the trail via an app that also unlocks special features such as a playlist, interactive map and scannable clips. The statues themselves all have a link to the UK and the square, but you’ll have to discover those for yourself. Keep your eyes peeled throughout Leicester Square as some statues are hidden in unlikely spots, such as rooftops and flower beds, although some are much easier to spy.
The bronze film icons will be in place until at least the summer, although there are hopes that the statues will be here for many years to come.