The Southbank Centre is London’s largest entertainment venue, comprising chiefly of the Hayward Gallery, Royal Festival Hall, Royal National Theatre and National Film Theatre.
The Hayward Gallery is the worst of the Southbank Centre’s concrete catastrophes (one architect accused it of having a
quite frightening ugliness), but don’t let the depressing shell keep you from the inside – where you’ll find major exhibitions by the world’s leading artists.
The Royal Festival Hall is the Southbank Centre’s main concert venue. Classical music recitals are always on the agenda, with regular performances by the Philharmonic and London Philharmonic. You can also find jazz, ballet and world music pieces.
The National Theatre was opened in 1976, and combines three different auditoria: the Cottesloe, the Lyttelton and Olivier.
BFI Southbank shows a broad range of British, international and foreign language films, and is the focus of the annual London Film Festival.
If you don’t like all the art-house movies, then you can always catch one of their frequent film premières – where, if you’re really lucky, you’ll also catch the director or movie-star introducing the piece with a short talk. Previous stars have included Clint Eastwood and Cate Blanchett.
The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room feature small-scale productions by orchestras, bands and dance companies.
If you like skateboarding, then head for the car-park underneath – it’s full of kids falling off their bits of wood.