The Southbank Centre is one of the world’s most famous art complexes. The 5 iconic venues which make up the centre are host to classical, pop, jazz, and modern music, poetry, literature, and the visual arts.
With multiple eating and drinking facilities and 100's of free events each year the Southbank Centre is one of London's top visitor attractions.
The Royal Festival Hall
The Royal Festival Hall was built as part of the Festival of Britain celebration in 1951. The 2,900 seat concert hall holds a wide range of performances including music concerts, dance and talks.
This modernist Grade 1 listed building was designed to be a 'visual representation of sound in an abstract form'. The interior has wide staircases and views of London from every level. For both visitors and locals the foyers are a popular meeting place with free lunch time music in the Central Bar on Fridays and Sundays and fantastic Thames views from the terraces’ bars and restaurants.
The Hayward Gallery, opened by the Queen in 1968, holds serveral major modern and contemporary art exhibitions each year. The controversial building which, has been listed for protection by the World Heritage Fund, is a fine example of brutalist architecture in exposed concrete.
With five gallery spaces, two indoor levels and three outdoor sculpture courts, it provides an interesting space for a wide ranging selection of temporary art exhibitions. Works by Leaonardo da Vinci to Anthony Gormley, whose figures were displayed on the outside terraces and tops of surrounding buildings.
Queen Elizabeth Hall
and Purcell Room
In the same building as the Hayward Gallery, these concert halls holds daily music and dance performances.
The 920 seat Queen Elizabeth Hall was designed to maximise its interior space and holds major orchestral, choral, and operatic concerts. The more intimate 360 seat Purcell Room is suited to chamber music, quartets and spoken word events; literature, mime and solo recitals.
On level 5 of the Royal Festival Hall is the Saison Poetry Library. It has made the English Arts Council's collection of modern poetry accessible to the public.
It includes works since 1914 from Britain, Irelend and other English speaking countries from around the world. Poetry in translation, poetry written by and for children, rap and visual (concrete) poetry, where the visual elements are as important as the text. Membership is free and there are many readings and related events.