Jugglers, acrobats and singers crowd the pavement in front of London’s Southbank Centre most days of the week. This is one of London’s most popular destinations even if you’re not taking in a show at this riverside arts centre.
Southbank Centre is the world’s largest single-run arts body in the world . The Southbank area, today one of London’s most popular destinations, has grown up from the original Royal Festival Hall, built in the 1950s as part of a post-war celebration fair. Thousands of people converge each day just to enjoy the riverside scene.
Southbank Centre is also home to two other performance halls: Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room. Both are closed for renovations till Spring 2018. There’s also the Hayward Gallery of modern art and the Poetry Library, which is the largest collection of poetry in Britain.
The Royal Festival Hall is the largest theatre on site and was the first new concert hall to be built in post-war Europe. The interior is intentionally evocative of a ship’s prow looking out to the river. When you visit, be sure to ride the elevators for a melodic ascent and descent.
The frequent free productions make this a popular meeting point; you can enjoy jazz in the lobby or just hang out in the public seating area with your laptop.
In addition to four resident orchestras, the Festival Hall hosts regular themed events throughout the year. Poetry readings, plays, concerts, dance productions, debates – virtually every form of entertainment possible is staged here. The London Literary Festival features big name authors every year.