Royal Albert Hall is one of the world’s most famous performance venues. For over 150 years now, this legendary concert hall has hosted a who’s-who of artists, politicians, and public figures from all over the planet. In addition to staging nearly 400 live events each year, visitors to Royal Albert Hall today can take a 60-minute guided tour of the attraction, stroll through free exhibitions, dine at one of numerous on-site bars, restaurants, and cafes, and savor a cup of afternoon tea.
History of Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall opened to the public in March of 1871. It was named in honor of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Although he died in 1861 and never even saw construction on the project begin, Prince Albert did much to champion the development of South Kensington as one of London’s primary cultural districts. Two prominent royal engineers, Francis Fowke and Henry Y.D. Scott, designed the hall, giving it a distinctive red-brick-and-terracotta exterior; the building’s iconic dome was the handiwork of the civil engineer Rowland Mason Ordish.
As famous as Royal Albert Hall has become, for decades it was plagued by major acoustic issues. On account of its striking dome, performers complained of experiencing a tremendous echo within the auditorium. To try and alleviate this undesirable effect, numerous methods would be tried; it wasn’t until nearly a century later, however, when fiberglass acoustic diffusing discs were installed just below the ceiling, that this problem was solved. Today these remarkable saucer-like objects are one of the venue’s most visually striking elements.
Royal Albert Hall Highlights
Outside of catching a live performance—which, if you have the opportunity to do so, by all means go for it—the best way to experience Royal Albert Hall firsthand is by taking a guided tour. Royal Albert Hall operates an hour-long guided tour that not only enables visitors to see the fabled auditorium and stage where some of the world’s most famous performers in a number of fields have wowed crowds for 150 years, but it also takes you behind the scenes to areas of the venue usually reserved for British royalty or concert headliners.
A number of free exhibitions are available to the public here on a regular basis, too. More often than not staged on the walls of the Royal Albert Hall’s ground floor corridor, these shows can range from acclaimed photographs of rock-and-roll legends to selections from local arts festivals to award-winning portraits by internationally renowned artists.
If you’re looking to make your visit to Royal Albert Hall all that much more memorable, consider enjoying afternoon tea at the venue’s acclaimed Coda Restaurant. The Royal Albert Hall tea service provides guests nearly a dozen tea blends to choose from; there’s also a food menu available that includes finger sandwiches, cakes, and scones. What’s more, Queen Elizabeth II herself once took tea here!
More to See and Do at Royal Albert Hall
No matter when you’re planning to visit Royal Albert Hall, there’s sure to be something exciting taking place here. Keep reading for even more things to see and do at this world-famous concert hall.
*The official Royal Albert Hall shop is located at the venue’s Door 12; it’s typically open seven days a week between 9:00am and 9:00pm, though these hours are subject to change. Here you can purchase all manner of Royal Albert Hall-themed books, gifts, and souvenirs.
*Whether you’re visiting Royal Albert Hall during the day or making an evening of it, you’ll have no shortage of dining options at your disposal. Eating establishments of note located here include a family-friendly Italian restaurant, a champagne bar specializing in Asian cuisine-inspired small plates, a brasserie-style restaurant, and a charming café with seating on the venue’s terrace, just to name a few.
*Royal Albert Hall hosts a series of events specifically designed for families visiting the attraction with small children. This special programming comprises storytelling sessions, theater productions, orchestral concerts tailored for kids under the age of 11 years old, and more. For additional information, check out the Royal Albert Hall’s official website.
*South Kensington, where Royal Albert Hall is located, is full of fabulous family-friendly activities. Other popular London attractions located within easy walking distance of Royal Albert Hall include Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Why Royal Albert Hall Should Be on Your Must-See List
If you’re a music lover and you have an extra hour in your London itinerary, consider making time to go on a guided tour of Royal Albert Hall—you won’t be disappointed. Albert Einstein and Muhammad Ali gave speeches in its auditorium, Pink Floyd, Adele, and the Arctic Monkeys played shows on its stage, the venue was used as a navigational landmark by pilots during World War II, and that’s only barely scratching the surface of the history that’s been made at Royal Albert hall during the past 150 years.