West End Guide: Royal Festival Hall London

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Located on the South Bank of the Thames, the Royal Festival Hall is an iconic concert, dance, and talks venue. Inaugurated in 1951, the performance venue is Grade 1 listed, making it the first post-war building to receive that honour. The hall was constructed to be a part of the Festival of Britain for London County Council. In 1986, when the Greater London Council was abolished, the Festival Hall was acquired by the Arts Council. The Southbank Centre assumed ownership of the venue in 1988 and holds it to date. The performance hall is home to the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philharmonic Orchestra.

Apart from the auditorium, the hall also features reception rooms, restaurants and bars, and even a ballroom. In 1951, the hall featured a seating capacity of 2901 which came down to 2788 after several renovations. A major renovation happened in 2007 with the intention of improving the venue's poor acoustics and layout. The renovation was led by architects Allies and Morrison and sought to achieve a more rectangular form in the stage canopy and interior walls.

The Royal Festival Hall has hosted some truly iconic shows and performances in its 70 years of existence. Some of the stars who have performed at the venue include Patti Smith, Alfred Brendel, Anderson and Birtwistle, Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Daniel Barenboim, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Grace Jones, Alban Berg Quartet, and more recently, Daniel Barenboim.

Venue Details

Address: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX, UK

Construction started: 1948

Seating Capacity: 2800 approx.
Front Stalls : 663
Rear Stalls: 993
Balcony: 616
Others: 528 approx.

Seating Chart
Check out the Royal Festival Hall Seating Plan here.

Now Playing at Royal Festival Hall

Good to Know

Section Accessibility

All five levels of the Royal Festival Hall are accessible via lift. There are 6 lifts in total, namely lift 1, lift 2, lift 3, lift 4, lift 5 and JCB glass lift. To learn about the exact route of these lifts, check with the theatre staff upon arrival and they'll guide you on the most optimum way to reach the level of your choice.

Available Facilities

Wheelchair Accessible: Given the availability of many lifts, all the levels of the theatre are wheelchair accessible. There are designated seats for wheelchair users in the last row of the front stalls and the last row of the rear stalls. One box seat on either side of the hall is also wheelchair accessible.

Restrooms: All the levels of the Royal Festival Hall are equipped with accessible toilets. A changing places toilet is located next to the JCB glass lift on level 2.

Bars: The Royal Festival Hall is a part of the Southbank Centre complex and features tons of restaurants and bars to make your experience delightful. You can choose from Spiritland, Topolski, Central Bar, Skylon, and many others.

Assistive Listening System: For patrons with a hearing disability, sound enhancement systems are available in the Royal Festival Hall. Please contact the Welcome Desk on Level 2 to collect one. Make sure to reach the help desk on time since there are limited devices available.

Cloakroom: The cloakroom in the Royal Festival Hall is located on level 1. The cloakroom opens 60 minutes before the start of the show and remains open for 15 minutes after. There's a charge of £1 per item.

Handy Tips

  • Guide/assistance dogs are welcome to the venue. Please let the staff know beforehand if you would be bringing a guide dog along so that the necessary arrangements can be made.
  • For blind and visually impaired patrons, complete assistance is available including guiding and narration. Reach out to the venue staff to learn more about the facilities.
  • All the public toilets in the venue are equipped with baby changing facilities and the site is completely accessible to pushchair and wheelchair users.
  • The Green Side Foyers in level 2 of the Royal Festival Hall feature a multi-faith prayer room which can be used by patrons.
  • Outside food and soft drinks are allowed in the Royal Festival Hall foyers but only alcoholic drinks purchased at the Southbank Centre can be consumed.
  • Patrons who need to bring in special food or medicines to manage a medical condition are free to do so.

Getting There

Located in Belvedere Road, the Royal Festival Hall is quite easily accessible with tons of great public transport options to choose from. Here are some of the best options:

Tube: You can reach the Royal Festival Hall by alighting at the Waterloo station which is serviced by the Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo and City lines. You can also get off at Embankment station, serviced by the District and Circle lines.

Bus: Route RV1 stops on Belvedere Road which is less than a minute’s walk from the venue. There are buses in routes 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 139, 168, 171, 176, 188, 243, and 521 which stop on Waterloo Bridge, a two-minute walk away.

Vehicle: If you're bringing your own vehicle, you can park it at one of the four Blue Badge parking spaces available on Queen Elizabeth Hall slip road.

Restaurants near Royal Festival Hall London

1. Cote Brasserie: This contemporary, all-day French brasserie chain serves regional specialities and traditional classics.

2. Skylon: Enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the river at this airy Modern European restaurant with 1950s design touches.

3. Wagamama: Dine at this Asian inspired and Japanese chain restaurant where the food is served at long communal tables.

4. Yo Sushi: At this colourful chain eatery, Japanese dishes are taken from the belt or ordered from the open kitchen.

5. Pizza Express: This chain pizzeria is famous for its chef wearing striped t-shirts tossing handmade pizzas in a comfortable space.

6. Giraffe South Bank: Visit this funky, colourful, and child-friendly chain for their international favourites including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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