Ways to Experience Shakespeare’s London

Shakespeares LondonFriends, Romans, countrymen heading to — lend us your ears. This year marks the 450th anniversary of ’s birth, and in his honor, the Bard-happy town is offering even more ways to be or not to be.

Here are five ways to get to know the world’s greatest English writer.

Go to the Globe

What was it was like to be in the audience of the Elizabethan-era Globe, where Shakespeare staged his plays (until it burned down in 1613, during a performance of “Henry VIII”)? Not terribly different from the Globe of today.

Built in 1997, the theater — which sits on almost the exact spot along the Thames as its 1599 ancestor — is, like the original, crafted entirely of wood, open to elements and retains the motley, standing-room-only floor admission (a mere $8.40). Among the Shakespearean works being performed until the season ends in mid-October: “Antony & Cleopatra” (through Aug. 24), “Julius Caesar” (June 20-Oct. 11) and “The Comedy of Errors” (Aug. 30-Oct. 12).

Take a walking

To frequent the same spots as the Bard himself — who moved to London from his native Stratford around 1583 — would seem improbable, given the ravages of time (as well as the Great London Fire and the Blitz).

But vestiges can be found in the Old City — such as the remains of a church Shakespeare likely attended (St. Olav’s) to a half-timber-fronted 1597 gatehouse that he most definitely passed through to bring his plays to the Master of the Revels. Guides on this two-hour London Walks tour (which also includes Dickens’ haunts) keep things lively — even quoting several tasty morsels from the great authors’ writings. (Wednesdays and Sundays, $15)

(Left) Boots worn by Henry Irving in Richard III in the 1877s located in the Victoria and Albert Museum. (Right) Promotional poster for Hamlet from 1894. (Photos: (Left) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, (right) Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Desmond Banks)

Stop by the Victoria and Albert Museum

A human skull used in a 1980 production of “Hamlet,” an enormous bed that Shakespeare referenced in “Twelfth Night,” an 1882 costume worn by famed actor Sir Henry Irving in “Much Ado About Nothing.” These are just a few of the items in the small-but-well-curated exhibition “Shakespeare: Our Greatest Living Playwright,” which also include paintings, posters, models, and, most important, the first folio of the Bard’s plays.

Along with these historic items, there is an “audio-visual constellation” of actors, directors, and theater folks (including Julie Taymor) discussing Shakespeare’s enduring legacy. (Through Sept. 28, free admission)

The most hotly anticipated show coming to the West End is this adaptation by Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) of the Oscar-winning film. And while it’s technically not a true story — young Will Shakespeare falls for Viola de Lesseps, who inspires him to write “Romeo and Juliet” — the play (like the movie) does stay true to the era.

That means lots of faithfully reproduced Elizabethan period costumes and settings, along with a few real historical figures, namely Queen Elizabeth. (Starts July 2 at the Noel Coward Theatre)

Stay at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower

This famed Kensington/Chelsea-area hotel is offering a special “Midsummer Night’s Dream” package to get you in the spirit of Shakespeare, good through July 31.

Upon check-in, Oberon, King of the Fairies (in actuality, a costumed desk clerk) will present you with a basket of treats; then head downstairs to enjoy two speciality cocktails at the Rib Room Bar (Shakespeare Sip and Midsummer Martini). The one-night package also includes a Shakespeare walking tour (see #2), continental breakfast for two and late checkout. (From $450)

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