Royal Albert Hall, London
The globe-shaped monument that’s hosted historic events, world famous speakers and superstars is a supreme performance venue. Almost entirely circular in shape, it can seat more than 5500 people but preserves a certain majesty usually reserved for smaller London theatres. The suspended plates on the ceiling are a fun conversation piece too.
Nearest Tube Station:
District, Piccadilly, Circle
Directions From Tube:
(15mins) Take Exhibition Road up to Prince Consort Road where you turn left; take the right leading you to Kensington Gore.
(Hyde Park Gate) 9, 10, 52, 70, 360
Night Bus Numbers:
(Hyde Park Gate) 10, 452, N9, N52
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
Imperial College Campus (5mins)
Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP
One of the most famous and diverse venues in London, the Royal Albert Hall was an idea conceived by its namesake, Prince Albert. Following the success of the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, the profits were used to buy up the ‘Gore Estates’ opposite so a “permanent exhibition” could be built. Although Prince Albert never got to see his idea blossom into reality, his wife Queen Victoria attended the opening in 1871, which included a 500-piece orchestra, a 1000-member choir and the largest organ in the world at the time. This glorious space and its facilities were unfortunately plagued for years with terrible acoustics that caused an unpleasant echo – a problem that took roughly 100 years to solve.
But even with this significant obstacle, the extraordinary hall attracted an eclectic mixture of events, ranging from a Wagner-conducted Wagner festival to a display of Greco-Roman wrestling. It also witnessed some of the most historic moments in British history, including suffragette protests, an indoor marathon, 5 years of the Ford Motor Show in the 1930s and an Albert Einstein speech advocating the benefits of freedom.
The diversity of the venue never wavered in the 20th century, with less than forty years separating the last mass baptisms and a Miss World pageant, as well as the first sumo tournament outside of Japan being within 15 years of the 5th Harry Potter book launch. Most famous today for its annual BBC Proms, The Royal Albert Hall recently underwent a total renovation, transforming it into a perfect modern venue that preserves its Victorian roots.
On more than one occasion, records released by artists have been labelled as ‘Live from the Royal Albert Hall’ even when they weren’t – these include Bob Dylan’s concert at the Manchester Free Trade Hall and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s concert at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Beatles reference the Hall twice – in the song "A Day In The Life" and their movie Yellow Submarine.
Eric Clapton has called the Royal Albert Hall his favourite venue to play in the world, and has played there almost every year for 20 years.
During the Blitz, the building was untouched because the German bombers used the structure as a reference point for where they were.
The first UK performances by Wagner, Verdi and Elgar were performed at the Royal Albert Hall.
The hall has witnessed some of the most admired and recognised people in the world speak on its stage, including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, the Dalai Lama and former US President Bill Clinton.
The original conception for the Royal Albert Hall was to hold 30,000 people, but this was curbed for practical and financial constrictions.
Part of the Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much was filmed at the Hall in 1956.
When it hosted the premiere of 101 Dalmatians in 1996, Dalmatian spots were projected onto the exterior of the Hall.