Home of Shakespeare in London, and one of our most iconic theatres
The original Globe Theatre, where many of Shakespeare's plays were first staged and which he co-owned, burned to the ground in 1613 after a special effect malfunction (a cannon set fire to the roof) during a performance of 'Henry VIII'. Nearly 400 years later, it was rebuilt not far from its original site, using construction methods and materials as close to the originals as possible.
Despite some initial scepticism, Shakespeare’s Globe has been an unbridled success, a hugely popular and iconic theatre that's as popular with Londoners as it is with tourists. When it opened in 1997 it was with one theatre, the outdoor, April to October Globe Theatre, but since 2014 it has had year-round programing thanks to the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an intimate Jacobean-style playhouse.
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of its programming revolves around the works of Shakespeare, though its second artistic director Dominic Dromgoole – who followed the great actor Mark Rylance – introduced a spirited (if mercurial) programme of new writing. Its third artistic director will be Emma Rice, former artistic director of Kneehigh, who takes on over in 2016.
Even without seeing a show, Shakespeare's Globe is an afternoon out in itself, with exhibitions and tours throughout the year. There's also fine drinking and snaking opportunities, and if you want to sit down for a full meal the attached Swan restaurant is a solid choice.
Though Shakespeare's Globe is unsubsidised, tickets are kept as cheap as possible, with the famous £5 'groundling' (ie, standing in the yard) tickets held at a mere £5 for years. The seats are cramped and uncomfortable to period specifications, though you can hire a cushion and you'll be sheltered from all but the most determined rain.