The Royal Festival Hall is home to a world-class concert hall with a programme of music and performances across genres. It forms the heart of the Southbank Centre, a 21-acre cultural quarter on the banks of the Thames, incorporating galleries, performance venues and cinemas showcasing a broad programme of events, festivals and exhibitions for all ages and celebrating all cultures. From classical dance and music to poetry, street-dance and performance art, the Arts Programme is unparalleled in London.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
The foyers of the Royal Festival Hall are a haven away from the hustle and bustle of central London, any day of the week. And they’re free!! There is always something going on for adults and children alike to watch, admire or listen to and visitors are encouraged to make themselves at home, bring their own picnic and enjoy the free wi-fi.
It is always enjoyable to turn up at the Hall and take in the impromptu street performances outside before heading in to marvel at the break-dancers and body-poppers over a home-made ham sandwich.
The formal programme of events for children is not really geared towards very young babies and toddlers, but kids aged five to 15 are well catered for with a huge range of performances, activities and workshops for them to participate in across the Arts. Some of the events seem designed to appeal more to the parents than the kids themselves (Under 10 Feminists Group anyone?); all, however, aim to make the arts accessible, communal and enjoyable.
Address: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX.
Cafe: There is a wide choice of restaurants and cafes across the Southbank Centre, including food chains to suit most budgets, all accessible and many child-friendly.
The Royal Festival Hall itself has a number of bars which sell snacks. It is also home to Skylon, an up-market restaurant. Best of all, however, it is open to the public every day from 10.00 a.m.to 11.00 p.m. with seating and tables where one is welcome to eat and drink one’s own food.
Toilets: Fully accessible toilets and baby change available.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: The Royal Festival Hall is a 1950’s building, renovated in 2007. As such, it is fully accessible, but a little bit tight getting in and out of loos / baby change, etc., as they were not originally purpose designed. For full details on access, please visit the Southbank Centre website: www.southbankcentre.co.uk/visitor-info/access.
Routes to and from the stations are also a little convoluted, but doable!
Parking: The Southbank Centre has two car parks operated by CP Plus Limited:
Southbank Centre Car Park – Hayward Gallery
Southbank Centre Car Park – Hungerford Bridge
Please note that many of the spaces in the Hayward Gallery car park are for Blue Badge holders only.
Train: Waterloo / Waterloo East / Charing Cross.
Tube: Waterloo /Charing Cross.
Bus: Bus number RV1 stops on Belvedere Road. Bus routes 76, 77, 211, 341, 381, 507, N381, N76 and RV1 all stop on York Road, a 5 minutes’ walk away. Bus routes 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 139, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 243, 521, N1, N68, N171 and N343 stop on Waterloo Bridge, a 2 minutes’ walk away.
Phone: 020 7960 4200.
Email: [email protected].
Entry to all of the Royal Festival Hall’s foyers is free and visitors are welcome to come in and enjoy the atmosphere, the regular exhibitions and public performances with or without a ticket. Free wi-fi and open spaces also make the foyers a hub for students and freelancers, as well as dancers and performers seeking a space to practice.
Not all events are suitable for children. The centre has a year-round programme specifically tailored to families and children.
Review by Emilie Lemons.