The Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK’s best-known and distinctive buildings; opened in 1871, the hall, which is a Grade I building, is held in trust for the people of the UK by a charity.
- Follow the amazing frieze, dedicated to “The Triumph of Arts and Sciences” that runs around the outside of the circular building
- Explore the many corridors throughout the hall which feature photographs and memorabilia from its most famous and historical performances and events
- Scrutinise the Peter Blake mural at Door 12 which features more than 400 of the stars and personages who have appeared on stage at the hall, including David Bowie, Albert Einstein and Jay-Z
What to see and do
Go mushroom hunting
If you take a tour of the hall or if you’re there for a performance in the main auditorium, have a look at the 85 fibreglass “mushrooms” which were hung from the ceiling in 1969 to improve the less-than-optimal original acoustics of the building.
Visit the Albert Memorial
This 54-metre high gold memorial monument is visible from Door 6 of the hall, over on Hyde Park, and is dedicated to Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, who had the initial idea to build the hall. The hall was originally going to be called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but as Prince Albert died before construction started, his widow Queen Victoria decided to rename the project the Royal Albert Hall instead.
Take a Behind the Scenes Tour
These tours only happen 20 or so times a year, so if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to go on one, then you should definitely do it. These tours take you into dressing rooms, loading bays and under stages to give you an idea about how the various teams work together to make productions and shows happen.
Go on the Classical Tour
You’ll be guided by experts around the hall, exploring every corner to find out all the secrets and historical snippets, as well as the world-famous Albert Hall organ, the “mushroom” acoustic diffusers and the Gallery promenade.
The tour guides will also let you in on a few anecdotes from the BBC Prom festival, as well as relating the history of classical music events at the hall over the years.
Take afternoon tea
Afternoon tea at the Royal Albert Hall is a tradition that’s more than a century old and the repast has been served to Queen Elizabeth II herself when she celebrated the centenary of the Women’s Institute in 2015.
The Royal Albert Hall afternoon tea features 11 different teas, as well as finger sandwiches, fresh scones and musically-inspired cakes. There’s even a vegan option, so check out the menus.
Did you know: (4 interesting facts!)
- The famous dome of the Albert Hall was assembled first in Manchester to make sure it fit together properly. Once builders were confident all was well, the dome was dismantled and transported to London to be assembled once more.
- Almost 400 performances and events are hosted at the Royal Albert Hall each year.
- The venue was originally designed to seat 8,000 people, but modern safety standards restrict the number to 5,400 people.
- Queen Victoria laid the hall’s foundation stone on May 20, 1867. The Queen used a golden trowel to lay the red Edinburgh granite stone, in front of 7,000 people, and the stone is still visible underneath Seat 87, Row 11, in Stalls K.
- 1871: The hall was officially opened on March 27, 1871 by HRH The Prince of Wales. His mother Queen Victoria was there, but was too emotional to speak as the hall was dedicated to late husband Prince Albert, who died before the hall was constructed.
- 1933: On October 3, physicist Albert Einstein was the first speaker at a meeting of more than 8,000 people to raise funds for the Refugee Assistance Committee. The meeting raised more than $500,000 to help people fleeing from Nazi Germany.
- 1951: The UK’s first National Brass Band Championship final takes place at the Royal Albert Hall. This championship still runs each year, after nationwide heats decide which bands qualify for the finals.
- 1963: On September 15 of this year, the Beatles and The Rolling Stones played on the same stage for the first time in the Great Pop Prom. The two groups also took part in an iconic photo-shoot before the gig on the steps behind the hall.
- 1996: On July 11, Nelson Mandela visited the hall as part of a four-day tour of the UK. Mandela and his daughter joined the Queen and Prince Charles in the Royal Box to enjoy a concert that featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Phil Collins.
Facilities and accessibility
The Royal Albert Hall is accessible to people with mobility, hearing and sight issues. If you have any accessibility needs, you should call or email in advance to reserve the services. There are also special programmes run monthly to accommodate visitors with extra needs.
Guide and hearing dogs are welcome and you should let booking staff know you’re bringing your dog so they can seat you both comfortably.
The hall has several unisex wheelchair-accessible toilets on different levels, as well as lifts through each level.
The Royal Albert Hall has many cafes and bars, all of which are fully-accessible, although some of the wine bars have high tables which may not be suitable for wheelchair users.
There are cloakrooms on the ground level which cost £1 per item.
The hall has a gift shop at Door 12, which offers souvenirs. The proceeds from sales here go towards the hall’s charity.