The Southbank Centre is a classic example of brutal 60's concrete architecture. Everyone has an opinion (usually negative) on its distinctive design - famous detractors include Prince Charles, who once described it as a 'monstrous carbuncle'. Yet, if the West End is the centre of popular culture in London, it is the South Bank Centre that is the centre of true excellence in the arts. Comprising the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Saison Poetry Library and the Purcell Room, the complex is the largest single-run arts centre in the world and consistently produces plays, classical and world music events and fine art exhibitions of high renown. Primarily a classical music venue, it is home to the London Philharmonic Orchestra and three resident associate ensembles. The Southbank programme also includes the London Jazz Festival, widely acknowledged for annually delivering world-class music to the capital, whilst the Hayward Gallery continues to host imaginative and influential exhibitions since its opening by Her Majesty The Queen in 1968. A happy architectural accident has also made this complex the best spot for skateboarding and BMXing in the capital, meaning it is loved by London's counter-culture as much as by its highbrow elite. In recent years, the building of Tate Modern and the London Eye adjacent to the centre has been the final step in making the South Bank of the Thames into the beating heart of a thousand years of British culture.
London Entertainment Venues
Thriving riverside arts complex
Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX
Events at Southbank Centre
Monday 27th February 2017 - 7.30pm | £10-£50
Marin Alsop conducts the orchestra, with violinist Renaud Capucon, for Aaron Copland's Fanfare For The Common Man, Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No 7 In C, Leningrad.
16th December 2016 to 23rd April 2017 | Peak - £16.50/£13.50 (supporter ticket), £15/£12 (non-supporter ticket), Off peak - £13.50/£11.50 (supporter ticket), £12/£10 (non-supporter ticket)
2nd October 2016 to 25th June 2017 | £45, £35, £25, £20 | Premium £55
14th September 2016 to 20th July 2017 - 9.30am-5.30pm | per group £195
16th January to 17th December 2017 | Various, Free to £45 | Day pass £15, Weekend pass £25
13th January to 31st December 2017 - 10am-11pm | Free
12th January 2017 to 31st March 2018 - 10am | Free
Huge, multifaceted arts and entertainment hub
Silk Street, City, London, EC2Y 8DS
Described by the Queen as 'one of the wonders of the modern world', the Barbican Centre has also been voted 'London's ugliest building'. Ugly or not, this multi-faceted performance and arts venue is truly wondrous. Open 363 days a year, it offers the most diverse program of any London venue. As well as being home to the London Symphony Orchestra, the centre's giant 1,949 seat Barbican Hall attracts a host of international classical, jazz, rock, and world music stars. Two theatres offer a year-round program of some of the finest in international performing arts, while the 286 seat curve cinema mixes mainstream films with specialist seasons. The Barbican Art Gallery and The Curve Gallery present a diverse mix of design, architecture, fashion and photography from internationally acclaimed artists. The sprawling space also includes several smaller exhibition spaces, a Lakeside Terrace, a roof-top conservatory and three restaurants and a host of talks, signings, and events for children and live music in the foyer are also on offer. The building itself is a labyrinth and finding your route from the station or car park is an adventure in itself. Staircases twist around each other, directing lost patrons into mysteriously empty mezzanines, where odd snatches of music are the only guide back to the main lobby. The joy of coming across exhibitions, live music, or talks from a major arts celebrity in some odd corner of the building is a unique feature of this remarkable concentration of artistic talent.
Events at Barbican Centre
Sunday 26th March 2017 | £5 (Under 18s), £10 (Adults)
Presented in a fun and informative way, the London Symphony Orchestra's Family Concerts feature music based on a theme and offer the chance for everyone to get involved. Magic, mystery and mirage sets the theme ...more
22nd to 28th Feb 2017 | £13.50-£15
Taking place in the midst of award season, The Craft of Film at the Barbican explores nine cinematic crafts that are key to a film's success. From directing and acting to cinematography and costume design, ...more
15th February to 23rd April 2017 | Free
15th February to 23rd April 2017 - Various Times | Free
21st February to 1st May 2017 | Free
26th October 2016 to 16th April 2017 - Various Times | Free
14th September 2016 to 18th April 2017 | Free
Architecturally stunning home of The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera
Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
Home of the Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera, this impressive building in the heart of Covent Garden has been playing host to every major star of the classical music world since 1858. The third theatre to be located on this site, most of the existing venue - with the exception of the auditorium, facade and foyer which are originals from 1858 - is the result of a detailed reconstruction in the 1990s. It claims to be the most modern theatre facility in Europe, and it is certainly among the most spectacular. If you're serious about ballet and opera then this is the place to come for some of the best in the world. If you're not, and just want to explore the building itself (we recommend the dramatic glass atrium, a magnificently restored former flower market that now functions as a fine dining restaurant and champagne bar), you can wander around for free during the day. An esteemed, iconic and architecturally stunning venue.
Events at Royal Opera House
Saturday 11th - Friday 31st March 2017 | Last few tickets £216-£242
Kasper Holten ends his tenure as The Royal Opera's Director of Opera with this new production of Wagner's opera about a shoemaker and poet starring Bryn Terfel. In his interpretation of the story of the ...more
Monday 27th February and Thursday 2nd March 2017 - 7pm | £9-£175
David McVicar's production of Francesco Cilea's four act opera to an Italian libretto by Arturo Colautti, based on the 1849 play by Eugene Scribe and Ernest Legouve, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Hrachuhi Bassenz. Sung in ...
21st December 2016 to 14th March 2017 | £5-£122, phone for availability
19th June 2012 to 19th June 2017 | Free
21st December 2016 to 14th March 2017 - Various Times | Dec 21 £17-£28, Dec 23 1.30pm £9-£53, 7pm £7-£130, Dec 29, 30, Jan 3, Feb 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 28, Mar 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 14 phone for availability £7-£130, Feb 16, 25, Mar 4 1.30pm £5-£100, Feb 18 1.30pm £1-£100, Feb 15 7.15pm £7-£130
State-of-the-art concert arena on the Greenwich peninsula
Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0BB
Tube: North Greenwich Station
The centrepiece of the redeveloped Millennium Dome is the O2 Arena, the first purpose-built music venue in London. With a capacity of 20,000, it offers the slightly soulless Wembley Arena some serious competition and has attracted some of the world’s biggest names in rock and pop in recent years, in fact this South-East London arena has seen everyone from The Rolling Stones and AC/DC to Beyonce and Britney Spears take to its stage. The 02 Arena also hosts classical music concerts, live comedy and tons of sporting events including the Barclays ATP World Tour tennis finals. From the debacle that was New Labour's Millennium Dome, something quite special has sprung.
Events at The O2 Arena
Saturday 25th - Sunday 26th November 2017 | £29.25-£49.25, VIP ticket £116.75
Since becoming the first ever group to win the X Factor in 2011, Little Mix have been working hard to ensure they don't fall under the same umbrella as many previous unsuccessful winners. Perrie Edwards, ...more
Sunday 26th and Monday 27th February 2017 - 7pm | £62.50-£75, rescheduled from Nov 25 & 26, original tickets remain valid
The platinum-selling pop and rock vocalist, formerly the singer for The Jeff Beck Group and Faces, performs his hits including Maggie May, Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? and You Wear It Well.
18th November 2016 to 3rd September 2017 | £20, under 5s Free
18th November 2016 to 3rd September 2017 - 10am-7.30pm | £20 & £25, child £10 & £15, concs £15 & £18, family £48 & £60
Wednesday 1st March 2017 - 6.30pm | £19.50-£39.50
The indie-rock group originally from Leeds performs material from the sixth album Stay Together, along with their classic indie hits.
Magnificent sports venue and the home of English football
Wembley, London, HA9 0WS
Tube: Wembley Park Station
The world-famous football stadium was first built for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, its first turf cut by King George V. Beneath the twin towers England internationals and FA Cup Finals were played for 70 years, including the 'White Horse Final' when over 240,000 spectators squeezed their way in. In the eighties, it played host to a number of legendary rock gigs including 'Live Aid' and the Nelson Mandela birthday concert. In 2002, the stadium, always intended to be a temporary structure, was demolished. The rebuilt Wembley, completed in 2007, has replaced the towers with an incredible arch, visible from anywhere in North West London. They've retained the same steeply banked seats, almost on top of the pitch, that help create the 'Wembley roar', and once again the English team has a spiritual home.
Events at Wembley Stadium
Saturday 17th June 2017 | phone for availability £35-£85
Four years ago The Stone Roses played their first official London concerts since the band split in 1996. Now the Mancunian indie-rockers are back for a very special gig, at Wembley Stadium. The Manchester-based group ...more
Saturday 24th June 2017 - 7pm | £35-£110
Songs from the group's first album of new music in 15 years, Alone In The Universe; plus classic rock/pop tunes from the 1970s and 1980s.
29th Jun, 30th Jun, 1st Jul and 2nd Jul 2017 | £45-£95, Golden Circle £175, phone for availability, tickets for Jun 28, Jul 2 on sale Dec 9, 10am
The global superstar with an impressive 10 Grammy awards and an Oscar to her name caps off a sell-out world tour with four home town gigs at Wembley Stadium. Despite the massive size of the ...more
The West End's oldest and most spectacular theatre
Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5JF
The first theatre on this site was built in 1662 on the orders of Charles II. It has been rebuilt a number of times since then, but the current auditorium, completed in 1922, incorporates many elements from as long ago as 1820. As a result, this vision in cream and gold possesses an elegance unmatched in the West End. Its broad staircases, its chandeliered salon, its statuary and panels speak of an older, more glamorous theatrical age than the weighty grandeur of much of the West End. The performance history here is the history of popular theatre in Britain. From Nell Gwynne's debut, when Charles II fell in love with the 15-year-old actress, through the great Colley Cibber, to a three decade stint by David Garrick, London's greatest stars have appeared beneath the Theatre Royal's gorgeously decorated arch. Noel Coward's 'Cavalcade' (1931), with a 250-strong chorus, brought audiences to their feet every night, before Ivor Novello took the theatre up to the Second World War with a series of shows which he scored, wrote and starred in. After the war, the Theatre Royal blazed a trail into the modern world of long-running musicals, with a series of hits including 'Oklahoma', 'South Pacific', '42nd Street' and 'Miss Saigon', which ran for 4,236 performances.
Events at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
20th March to 22nd July 2017 | £25-£125
Sunday 4th June 2017 | £36-£76, VIP tickets £129, phone for availability
When Simple Minds announced they were taking their new album, Simple Minds Acoustic, on the road the first London gig, at the London Palladium on Saturday 27th May, sold out and a second date had ...more
Sunday 25th June 2017 - 7pm | phone for prices, tickets on sale Friday Jan 27th, 10am
The soulful singer-songwriter and producer performs her pop hits.
Superb music venue in a lively area of London
211 Stockwell Road, Brixton, London, SW9 9SL
Tube: Brixton Station
This former cinema with its art deco interior, proscenium arch and 140ft dome is London's most celebrated venue for live music, winning Best Live Venue at the NME awards at least a dozen times since 1994 . The famous sloping floor means there are great views wherever you're standing, though keeping your feet can be a problem at the more raucous rock gigs. Most of the biggest bands in the world have played here, and it also holds some of Britain's hardest club nights. Located in one of the hardest-partying areas of London, with a capacity of 4,700, excellent sound, a 6am licence, and one of the biggest dance floors in the capital, this is the only place to watch your favourite bands and DJs.
Events at O2 Academy Brixton
Thursday 2nd March 2017 - 7pm | £26.25
Frontman Deryck Whibley leads the Canadian punk-pop and alt rock combo in a performance of their latest and greatest hits.
Saturday 4th March 2017 - 8pm | £31.25
The ultimate trance destination celebrating the best in all of trance's subgenres, from progressive and uplifting to psytrance.
8th to 11th and 13th to 15th Mar 2017 - 7pm | £30.75, phone for availability
The critically acclaimed trio return with more of their emotive indie-folk and synth-infused alt rock originals, in promotion of the 2017 album I See You.
Thursday 16th March 2017 - 7pm | £22.50
The indie-rock outfit performs in support of its album How To Be A Human Being.
Friday 17th March 2017 - 7pm | £19
The alt-rock outfit from Hertfordshire performs in support of its latest album.
Riverside reconstruction of Shakespeare's original theatre
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT
Tube: Mansion House Station
Set against the historical background of Bankside this is one of the finest spaces in the world for watching theatre, and also one of the most astonishing buildings in London. Opened in 1997 - thanks to the campaigning efforts of actor Sam Wanamaker - this painstaking, piece-by-piece reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is located just 200 yards from the original playhouse on the banks of the river Thames. With stunning wooden timbers and a fantastic thatched roof there is little to separate it from the original. The stage and seating are outdoors and though the seats are covered, if you really want to experience the true Elizabethan theatrical experience, you can buy a ticket as a 'groundling' and watch the production standing up in the pit in front of the stage. It can get pretty tiring and you do run the risk of being rained on and bumped into by marauding actors, but experiencing the play in this way is much more authentic and really quite fun. The season runs from May to September or October each year and usually mixes Shakespearian classics with works by other Renaissance playwrights. The standard of performance is consistently high and reassuringly traditional in its approach. It is also quite astoundingly cheap.
Events at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
24th February to 22nd April 2017 - Various Times | £15-£48, Premium Seats £62, standing £10
Director Ellen McDougall's staging of the emotionally wrought tragedy, about a lifelong friendship poisoned by envy and mistrust, considers how Shakespeare's 400-year-old play is uncomfortably relevant to the world we live in today.
4th, 11th, 18th and 25th Mar 2017 - Various Times | seated £10-£15, yard £5
A full-scale, fast-paced 90 minute performance of the story of sibling rivalry, perceptions and expectations of women and the power of fathers and husbands.
26th January to 16th April 2017 - Various Times | £15-£48, Premium Seats £62, standing £10
22nd April to 9th July 2017 - Various Times | £20-£45, under 8s £17-£42, standing £5
2nd to 13th May 2017 - Various Times | £20-£45, under 18s £17-£42, standing £5
Jessica Swale's warm-hearted, bawdy comedy, which won the 2016 Olivier Award, tells the story of an unlikely heroine, who went from lowly orange seller to winning the adoration of the public and the heart of ...
Modern contemporary dance and music performance space
Rosebery Avenue, Islington, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 4TN
Tube: Angel Station
Occupying a site with a long tradition of entertaining Londoners, Sadler's Wells exists to bring the best of national and international dance, ballet, opera and music theatre to the capital. Now a strikingly modern building with flexible performance and auditorium spaces, the original Sadler's Wells opened in 1683. Six Sadler's Wells later and sleek steel and glass have replaced the crumbling brick edifice of previous centuries. Originally a music hall, the venue now boasts a resoundingly contemporary but extremely accessible programme - with an emphasis on dance and movement - supported by innovative visual arts exhibitions in its public spaces. Sadler's really came into its own when Lilian Baylis took charge in the 1920s. Since then many of the world's best dancers have performed on this Islington stage. In 1995, Matthew Bourne premiered his magnificent 'Swan Lake' here which went on to become the West End's longest running ballet. Sadler's Wells continues to have close associations with the centrally located Peacock Theatre, its home during periods of renovation, while the Lilian Baylis Theatre - now a highly regarded venue in itself - is located within the Sadler's Well Islington complex. Ranging from the cutting-edge to the mainstream, some truly landmark productions have taken place here over the years.
Events at Sadler's Wells
Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd March 2017 - 8pm | £17, concs £8.50
Lucy Bennett's physical dance piece which portrays a relationship between a father and a daughter who are trying to deal with grief.
4th to 11th March 2017 | £12-£45
The "spectacular multimedia event" (The Guardian) created for the 2015 Manchester international festival combines the talents of choreographer Wayne McGregor, set against Olafur Eliasson's clever "hall-of-mirrors designs" (Telegraph) to music by Jamie XX. An adaptation ...more
Thursday 9th and Friday 10th March 2017 - 8pm | £17
Soloist Aakash Odedra performs two contemporary works: Echoes and I Imagine.
14th to 18th Mar 2017 | £12-£60
His solo dance performance to Hozier's Take Me to Church, made with director David LaChapelle, has had over 17 million views on YouTube. Now Ukrainian ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin performs a triple bill at Sadler's ...more
15th, 16th and 17th March 2017 - 8pm | £17
The Australian dancer and choreographer performs a work that plays with the conventions of communication through text, movement and sound.
IMAX Cinema with the largest screen in the UK
1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, South Bank, South Bank, London, SE1 8XR
Tube: Waterloo Station
With a screen the height of five double decker buses, a 12,000 watt digital surround sound-system, and the special multi-dimensional technology of the iMax format, the BFI Imax is, without doubt, the most technically impressive modern cinema in the country. Watching a film here is more like taking part in the action - travel from the depths of the ocean up to the far reaches of outer space via a series of spectacular 3D and 2D films. A large proportion of their 3D programme is dedicated to children's films, but by virtue of their technical brilliance many of these are just as fascinating for adults to watch. 3D documentaries and mainstream movies also add to the portfolio and the 2D films are also impressive on this, the largest screen in the UK. Even the fact that it currently acts as a kind of roundabout and can only be accessed via a series of illuminated tunnels is quite a coup. As you navigate the tunnels with their space-age blue lights on your way to the cinema you feel that the 'living cinema experience' has already begun. Don't let the kids have all the fun.
A creative hub in the heart of Kings Cross
90 York Way, King's Cross, London, N1 9AG
Tube: King's Cross Station
Just 150 metres from King's Cross and St Pancras stations and with a waterside setting, the Dixon-Jones designed Kings Place combines the offices of The Guardian newspaper with a concert hall and two art galleries. As you'd expect from the architects behind the improvements to the Royal Opera House and National Portrait Gallery it's a well designed complex of curvaceous surfaces and appealing public spaces. The concert hall, London's first to be purpose-built since the Barbican Concert Hall in 1982, includes a stunning wood-lined 420-seat auditorium. The Kings Place Music Foundation is a registered charity which provides a platform for artists and musicians to meet and share ideas. This dynamic venue is also home to a charming waterside restaurant and a homely cafe.
Events at Kings Place
Wednesday 8th March 2017 - 7.30pm | £16.50-£34.50, concs £9.50
The soprano celebrates International Women's Day with a programme of rare arias by 17th century female composers with those featuring tragic heroines. Lute and theorbo player Jonas Nordberg and cellist Mime Yamahiro-Brinkmann join Hughes for ...
Wednesday 8th March 2017 - 8pm | £9.50 & £12.50
Contemporary folk from the South Africa-born singer-songwriter who is now based in Brighton. Support from Emma Gatrill.
Thursday 9th March 2017 - 8pm | £9.50 & £14.50
The Americana duo from New York performs alongside a screening of their film Rattle The Hocks, about the band's music, the rails and the land and towns they visited.
Thursday 9th March 2017 - 8pm | £16.50-£26.50, concs £9.50
Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Berit Opheim are joined by trumpeter Arve Henriksen to perform traditional Icelandic and Norwegian love songs, religious hymns and psalms and fiddle tunes.
Friday 10th March 2017 - 7.30pm | £9.50-£49.50
The group performs Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango, Ginastera's Pampeana No 2 and Stravinsky's Tango, plus works by Satie, Kagel and Marcelo Nisinman with improvisations.
Iconic oval venue which annually hosts the world-famous Proms
Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP
Tube: South Kensington Station
Classical music, rock, pop and jazz, sporting events, galas, banquets and balls and the world-famous Proms series all take place within the Royal Albert Hall's iconic oval walls. One of London's most versatile venues, it is a favourite of performers from Jose Carreras to Kylie Minogue. The Hall also plays host to the Seniors' tennis circuit. The likes of Becker and McEnroe can be seen bouncing balls off the famous mushrooms on the ceiling. The brainchild of Prince Albert, inspired by the success of the Great Exhibition, the hall first opened in 1871, ten years after the Prince's death. Heavily influenced by ancient amphitheatres and notions of the 'Empire and the arts, the oval structure's terracotta walls are decorated on the outside with a frieze dedicated to "The Triumph of Arts and Sciences". Gas lighting, poor acoustics and old pipe organs have been replaced over the years and the awe-inspiring venue now exists as a testimony to both the architectural and aesthetic achievements of the past and the technological developments of the present - it now features the largest pipe organ in the British Isles. A Grade I listed building, the hall has a capacity of over 5000 and is most consistently packed out during the summer when the Promenade concerts take over. First held here in 1941 when their original venue - the Queen's Hall - was bombed, the Proms remain fantastically popular.
Events at Royal Albert Hall
Sunday 4th - Friday 9th June 2017 | see website for availability £55-£175
Phil Collins is Not Dead Yet. Far from it. The Grammy award winning singer and former Genesis frontman is playing live for the first time in 10 years with five nights at the Royal Albert ...more
1st to 10th March 2017 | £27.50-£32.50
Part of his biggest world tour to date, Round the World, Russell Howard is stopping by the Royal Albert Hall for a mammoth ten-night run. One of the best-selling acts in British stand-up and host ...more
Friday 3rd March 2017 - 11.30am | Free
Top-line writer, musician and a versatile vocalist.
Friday 3rd March 2017 - 7.30pm | Free
A performance by the in-demand London-based jazz pianist.
Saturday 4th March 2017 - 2.30pm | £39.76
A live performance from one of the UK's most promising soprano talents.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Royal Opera House
The O2 Arena
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
The O2 Academy Brixton
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Sadler's Wells Theatre
BFI IMAX Cinema
Royal Albert Hall
Top London Venues
London Museums and Galleries
London Entertainment Venues
Historic Houses in London
Sport Venues in London
London Exhibition Centres
Best Spas in London
Dance Venues in London
London Zoos and City Farms
Best London Comedy Clubs
Best Luxury Cinemas in London
London Museums: Late Openings
- London Museums and Galleries
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