London’s Best Concert Halls
The capital certainly isn’t short of cultural spots to get a taste of live music. In fact, London is peppered with awesome concert halls catering to every music taste, leaving you spoilt for choice for live gigs and orchestras.
Here are our favourites:
Seconds away from the Mandeville, you will find Wigmore Hall, an intimate venue dating from 1901 that hosts a variety of chamber music recitals. Around 545 concerts span Wigmore’s annual calendar which, interestingly, is the same number of seats it holds. Its these little details that we love about the Renaissance revival music hall and its absolutely perfect, internationally-praised acoustics complete the experience. If you can only squeeze in one musical performance while in the city, make sure it’s here.
Royal Albert Hall
Undoubtedly the capital’s most famous live music venue. And for good reason, The Royal Albert Hall is an achingly beautiful building set right on the edge of Hyde Park. Built in honour of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, the RAH has become one of the UK’s most recognisable buildings and an important figure of the country’s musical heritage.
A diverse selection of acts perform here thought the year, but the most anticipated is The Proms, set over an 8-week summer season of critically-acclaimed orchestral performances of both international and home-grown talent with a rousing finale of British songs and anthems of national pride. Seating an incredible 5,500 people, the atmosphere is absolutely incomparable and any performance here will have you leaving on a high.
Now for something a little different: this Grade II listed former railway engine shed has a long history of playing host to the coolest new talents across the rock, pop and alternative spheres. Converted into a performing arts venue in 1964, its circular shape built around a railway turntable was perfect for sound to reverberate around, and it remains a favourite for famous acts - who made their name here - to come back to play. In fact, in the 1960’s it hosted a legendary all night rave where a little known band called Pink Floyd played.
This neighbourhood has produced such famous names as Coldplay, Madness and Amy Winehouse, so a trip to this quirky quarter wouldn’t be complete without attending a gig at the Roundhouse.
Royal Festival Hall
World class acoustics, boldly brutalist architecture and a prime place on the river Thames make Royal Festival Hall an unmissable venue on a trip to London. RHF makes up part of the Southbank Centre complex, the UK’s largest and liveliest arts and entertainment venue.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are all resident here, and with proximity to the sensational Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the National Theatre and the National Poetry Library, no doubt culture vultures will revel in a day spent on the Southbank.
The Royal Opera House
The nation’s principal opera house, this illustrious building in the heart of Covent Garden is one of the UK’s finest examples of Baroque revival architecture and is home to the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet.
Built on the site of the former convent from which Covent Garden gets its name, this area is packed with history, culture and intrigue. In 2000, the concert hall underwent a renovation to the tune of £178million, completely restoring the magnificent, gilded interior, which now emphasises the thrilling acts that perform here.
Home to the English National Opera and the English National Ballet, and located just around the corner from the Royal Opera House, the London Coliseum is a principal establishment in the West End theatre district. It opened on Christmas Eve in 1904 and was designated as a ‘family’ venue of the arts - one of the first in England to dedicate a programme that would appeal to all ages.
Its interior is simply stunning, with elaborate white and gold plasterwork and a super high dome that crowns the auditorium, meaning your eyes and ears will be well occupied all evening!
A triumph of 1960’s brutalism, the Barbican complex is one of London’s most divisive arts venues - but whether you love or hate the complicated concrete maze, there no doubting how impressive the Barbican Theatre and its catalogue of contemporary performances is. Catch a show of dramatic arts, dance or contemporary music or see the London Symphony Orchestra who perform around 90 concerts a year here.
St Martin in the Fields
This 18th century church is a beautifully calm and light-filled space to visit in the day, that transforms into a superb classical music venue in the evening with an especially packed schedule during the summer months.
Here you can enjoy a range of performances, from classic late nighters, free lunchtime gigs, educational concerts and family-friendly music, all of which magically reverberates around the pristine white colonnades. For those looking for an unexpected ‘underground’ scene, head down the crypt where they host evening jazz concerts.
Part of the extensive redevelopment that surrounds the illustrious King’s Cross and St. Pancras railway stations, King’s Place is a super contemporary hub for music, art, talks and events. Its main hall, a vast, cuboid shape quite unlike any other concert hall in London, will leave your mouth agape with its super high ceiling and bare wood panelling - said to all have come from a single 500-year-old oak - which allows for world-class acoustics.
Saving the grandest ’til last, Ally Pally is pretty breathtaking. This monolith sits atop a hill in north London, providing sumptuous views over the city from its banked lawns at the front. Inside, it comprises numerous concert halls, theatres and a palm court and has a history of being a BBC venue and long running exhibition and alternative arts space. The building has even survived two catastrophic fires - quite the symbol of British stoicism.