Located on the South Bank of the Thames, the Royal Festival Hall is an iconic concert, dance, and talks venue. Inaugurated in 1951, the performance venue is Grade 1 listed, making it the first post-war building to receive that honour. The hall was constructed to be a part of the Festival of Britain for London County Council. In 1986, when the Greater London Council was abolished, the Festival Hall was acquired by the Arts Council. The Southbank Centre assumed ownership of the venue in 1988 and holds it to date. The performance hall is home to the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philharmonic Orchestra.
Apart from the auditorium, the hall also features reception rooms, restaurants and bars, and even a ballroom. In 1951, the hall featured a seating capacity of 2901 which came down to 2788 after several renovations. A major renovation happened in 2007 with the intention of improving the venue's poor acoustics and layout. The renovation was led by architects Allies and Morrison and sought to achieve a more rectangular form in the stage canopy and interior walls.
The Royal Festival Hall has hosted some truly iconic shows and performances in its 70 years of existence. Some of the stars who have performed at the venue include Patti Smith, Alfred Brendel, Anderson and Birtwistle, Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Daniel Barenboim, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Grace Jones, Alban Berg Quartet, and more recently, Daniel Barenboim. In June 2019, the venue will host the West End premiere of Broadway hit, The Light in the Piazza. If you're planning on watching the musical, our Royal Festival Hall seating plan guide will come in handy. From the best seats in the house to the cheapest way of getting to the venue, we have all the information you need.
Address: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX, UK
Construction started: 1948
Seating Capacity: 2800 approx.
Front Stalls : 663
Rear Stalls: 993
Others: 528 approx.
Check out the Royal Festival Hall Seating Plan here.
Now Playing at Royal Festival London
The Light In The Piazza
Adapted for the stage from a novella by Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza is a 1950s set musical. The show first premiered in Seattle and Chicago in 2003 and 2004 respectively, before making its way to Broadway's Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 2005. The Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Original Score, instantly making the musical a classic. What sets the show apart from your regular Broadway fare is the fact that the music featured is more Neo Romantic classical music and opera than traditional pop music. After various productions across the globe, the musical is finally headed to West End starting from 14th June at the Royal Festival Hall. The show is scheduled to run for a limited 20 performances only, so book your tickets as soon as possible!
The show has a stellar cast led by Grammy and Tony nominee Renee Fleming and popular actress Dove Cameron. They are joined on stage by Alex Jennings, Rob Houchen, Marie McLaughlin, and many others.
Travel from rainy London to the sunny lanes of Italy with this musical for the ages. The Light in the Piazza follows the mother-daughter duo of Margaret Johnson and Clara. Set in the summer of 1953 in Florence, the show follows the two as they gleefully explore the magical city. The show takes a dramatic turn when a seemingly innocent gust of wind leaves Clara's hat in the hands of local dreamer Fabrizio Naccarelli. It's love at first site for the two but before they can get too close, a secret threatens to unravel everything. Margaret and Clara must together face the truth and finally move past a secret that's been hiding in the dark corners of their life for the longest time.
Mon - Fri - 8:00 PM
Sat - 2:30 PM & 8:00 PM
Sun - 5:00 PM
All five levels of the Royal Festival Hall are accessible via lift. There are 6 lifts in total, namely lift 1, lift 2, lift 3, lift 4, lift 5 and JCB glass lift. To learn about the exact route of these lifts, check with the theatre staff upon arrival and they'll guide you on the most optimum way to reach the level of your choice.
Wheelchair Accessible: Given the availability of many lifts, all the levels of the theatre are wheelchair accessible. There are designated seats for wheelchair users in the last row of the front stalls and the last row of the rear stalls. One box seat on either side of the hall is also wheelchair accessible.
Restrooms: All the levels of the Royal Festival Hall are equipped with accessible toilets. A changing places toilet is located next to the JCB glass lift on level 2.
Bars: The Royal Festival Hall is a part of the Southbank Centre complex and features tons of restaurants and bars to make your experience delightful. You can choose from Spiritland, Topolski, Central Bar, Skylon, and many others.
Assistive Listening System: For patrons with a hearing disability, sound enhancement systems are available in the Royal Festival Hall. Please contact the Welcome Desk on Level 2 to collect one. Make sure to reach the help desk on time since there are limited devices available.
Cloakroom: The cloakroom in the Royal Festival Hall is located on level 1. The cloakroom opens 60 minutes before the start of the show and remains open for 15 minutes after. There's a charge of £1 per item.
- Guide/assistance dogs are welcome to the venue. Please let the staff know beforehand if you would be bringing a guide dog along so that the necessary arrangements can be made.
- For blind and visually impaired patrons, complete assistance is available including guiding and narration. Reach out to the venue staff to learn more about the facilities.
- All the public toilets in the venue are equipped with baby changing facilities and the site is completely accessible to pushchair and wheelchair users.
- The Green Side Foyers in level 2 of the Royal Festival Hall feature a multi-faith prayer room which can be used by patrons.
- Outside food and soft drinks are allowed in the Royal Festival Hall foyers but only alcoholic drinks purchased at the Southbank Centre can be consumed.
- Patrons who need to bring in special food or medicines to manage a medical condition are free to do so.
Located in Belvedere Road, the Royal Festival Hall is quite easily accessible with tons of great public transport options to choose from. Here are some of the best options:
Tube: You can reach the Royal Festival Hall by alighting at the Waterloo station which is serviced by the Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo and City lines. You can also get off at Embankment station, serviced by the District and Circle lines.
Bus: Route RV1 stops on Belvedere Road which is less than a minute’s walk from the venue. There are buses in routes 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 139, 168, 171, 176, 188, 243, and 521 which stop on Waterloo Bridge, a two-minute walk away.
Vehicle: If you're bringing your own vehicle, you can park it at one of the four Blue Badge parking spaces available on Queen Elizabeth Hall slip road.
Restaurants near Royal Festival Hall London
1. Cote Brasserie: This contemporary, all-day French brasserie chain serves regional specialities and traditional classics.
2. Skylon: Enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the river at this airy Modern European restaurant with 1950s design touches.
3. Wagamama: Dine at this Asian inspired and Japanese chain restaurant where the food is served at long communal tables.
4. Yo Sushi: At this colourful chain eatery, Japanese dishes are taken from the belt or ordered from the open kitchen.
5. Pizza Express: This chain pizzeria is famous for its chef wearing striped t-shirts tossing handmade pizzas in a comfortable space.
6. Giraffe South Bank: Visit this funky, colourful, and child-friendly chain for their international favourites including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
More West End Guides
For more West End information, here are some helpful quick links!