Barbican Centre

Art, Photography Barbican
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(26user reviews)
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The Barbican  (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
The Barbican hall (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
Barbican stairs (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
Barbican theatre's stage (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
The Barbican  (Nigel Tradewell / Time Out)
Nigel Tradewell / Time Out
The Barican's view (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
The Barbican fountains (Andrew Brackenbury / Time Out)
Andrew Brackenbury / Time Out

The UK's leading international arts centre

The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete estate of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. The art gallery on the third floor stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The annual BITE season (Barbican International Theatre Events) continues to cherry-pick exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. The Barbican regularly attracts and nurtures experimental dance, and the Pit Theatre is a perfectly intimate space.

Find out more about the past, present and future of the Barbican with our complete guide to the Barbican Centre.


Venue name: Barbican Centre
Address: Silk St
Opening hours: Centre Mon-Sat 9am-11pm; Sun noon-11pm. Art Gallery Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm; Thu, Fri 10am–9pm. The Curve Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun 11am–8pm; Thu, Fri 11am–9pm
Transport: Tube: Barbican
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    Pick a date

    • Exhibitions Until Friday September 1 2017
    • Until Sunday August 13 2017
    • Drama Monday July 24 2017 - Friday August 18 2017
    • Reggae and dancehall Friday July 28 2017
    • Rock and indie Saturday September 9 2017 - Sunday September 10 2017
    • Rock and indie Saturday September 9 2017
    • Rock and indie Sunday September 10 2017
    • Classical and opera Thursday September 14 2017
    • Classical and opera Sunday September 17 2017 - Tuesday September 19 2017
    • Rock and indie Wednesday September 20 2017 - Thursday September 21 2017
    • Show more

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    Average User Rating

    4.3 / 5

    Rating Breakdown

    • 5 star:10
    • 4 star:15
    • 3 star:0
    • 2 star:1
    • 1 star:0
    1 person listening

    Barbican centre is not a usual art centre. Surrounded by 2,000 flats build in the brutalism's architectural wave and having a small lake just in from with fountains & birds, is a destination either for your evening after your tiring work time, or for a whole day out in the weekend. Regularly changing excibitions (free or ticketed) are hosted here, multiplex cinema with popular movies, and of course a brilliantly designed huge theatre hosting mostly european small theater companies that have something though provoking to say. There is restaurant and bar also here, with reasonable prices and great selection of neebles and food. Free wifi all over the building thus quite busy in the weekend with college guys and girls studying here. An art hub that has proved all these years that London's art scene is not limited just to West End or Southbank.

    Laura G

    The building itself would be worth the visit, with all its exposed concrete and a HUGE back courtyard that makes for the perfect place to stop a little and relax. Choose from one of the many entertainment options available - from artsy movies to world class music performances. The conservatory bears an amazing indoor garden than is worth a visit, if possible on the day, and I can also recommend the tour that tells a little bit more about the architecture of the art centre and surrounding buildings


    Barbican Centre is a performing arts centre with art exhibitions, theatre performances and music concerts. This is also the home of the London Symphony Orchestra. The exhibitions are well curated and always very interesting. Besides the good art, the outside area is just beautiful. The seats in the main auditorium are wider than traditional theatres with reasonably extra leg room and are quite comfortable, even after a non-stop 2.5 hour performance. This auditorium  is more suited to a musical concert or a massive production rather than a play. As I went to see Obsession play with Jude Law, I thought that there is vast empty space on the stage with no use and actors were struggling to fill it in.

    The architecture construction of the centre itself is massive and cold, minimalistic and brutalist. It also looks somehow heavy and dull with it's disjointed layout, different nooks and crannies.  To be honest, it also looks intimidating and I always get lost in the Barbican, 

    Eva L.

    This is one of my favorite places in London. Theatre, music, exhibitions, cinema or just a cool place to hang out, the barbican has it all.

    Top tip:

    On a Monday cinema tickets are only £6 - they call it Monday madness. There are only three cinema screens. Cinema one is huge - a great place to catch a blockbuster. Cinema two and three are accessed on silk street. These are much smaller and the seats are incredibly comfortable.

    NakedPRGirl Claire

    It took me three visits to start to 'get' the Barbican. At first I just thought it was a strange eerily quiet place to come at the weekend. But after coming back, and seeing an exhibition and then coming back AGAIN and seeing it in the sunshine, I have started to enjoy the strangeness of the Barbican. It's an imposing building softened by overhanging plants, and it's huge as it was originally built to be an 'all in' community - so you'll see churches, schools and even a police station. Inside there's theatres, exhibition space and a garden space (which is rarely open so check before you go). My top tip is go on a sunny day and sit by my favourite bit which is just outside next to the pond and enjoy a cider or prosecco from the Benugo stationed inside and listen to the sound of the fountains at sunset.

    Sarah B

    The Barbican is one of those spaces that seems to address every need no mater what time of day or year that it is. It is my go to for art, for cinema, for passing Sunday's in the conservatory, for shopping and for quiet inspiration - it never disappoints. The brutalist centre has a surprisingly serene presence for me and you can feel it whether exploring it's outdoor terraces or meandering through it's wide halls and exhibition spaces. It is an unlikely phenomena for such imposing architecture but it is truly bestowing.

    Nicky G

    I love/hate the Barbican centre. I definitely just hated it at first, the squareness, the concreteness, the levels that all look the same, the fake entrances, the stupid identical passages that seem to be designed to trip up your sense of direction especially when you're running late for something. (Maybe my rejection of it also had something to do with a previous relationship in its death throes that was laid out bare in the conservatory). On the other hand, their digital exhibition a few years back was well-curated and enjoyable, with all that was cutting edge at the time, and it changed my opinion of Le Barbican. I noticed they have quite a few good exhibitions actually, with interesting angles on fashion and art. The gift shop is great as a regular shop for buying gifts. It became a convenient meeting place for our production meetings when I was working on a musical around the corner. Then the real turning point was when my brother visited London for a week last September, and I decided to take him to the Barbican. Because it is after all as exemplary ode to Brutalist architecture, the cafe serves proper coffee, and in summer you can take your shoes off and sit on the hot concrete by the water and sort of feel like you're in a different world after all. Which I think is what the Barbican is all about. It just loses one star now for being difficult to navigate, so allow an additional half an hour (I'm serious) to find your way to where you're going, if you've never been before.


    The barbican is fabulous - one of those establishments that embraces all art forms, making them accessible to everyone. I've seen Waiting For Godot here, the ballet, Winton Marsalis.. I think your soul is made richer just standing next to that beautiful concrete slab by osmosis! 


    Where else in London can I attend a classical performance, visit a waterfall, look over the beautiful city, have lunch AND be in a modern day brutalist metropolis. The Barbican. 

    Everything about you oozes class, design and sophistication. The comforting repetition of curves on the top of the arts centre mirror the curves on the balconies on the towers and the door handles.   It gives my goosebumps just thinking about you. 

    Many people argue you are an 80's eye sore.  But it is the most perfect example of brutalist design and showed how Britain wanted to rebuild the city after the second world war. You are now a listed building and has such architectural significance that people come from around the world to see.

    That's enough about your exterior - now about the arts. The best cinema in London with the most beautifully designed cinemas. Top class classical performances fI took my dad to see the VonTrapp family singers mixed with Salsa beats - where else would this happen. Your exhibition spaces are like chameleons changing the space to fit photography, performance art and sculpture.  And finally Theatre - being in the theatre with the most beautiful safety curtain on the planet takes me to another world - when all those doors close on me at the same time like a chorus line of dancers I know that Im going to enter a new an immersive experience. 

    Barbican Centre I love you! 


    One of the benefits of living and working in London is having a word-class cultural centre like the Barbican on your doorstep.  It's an incredible architectural space with exceptional cinemas, galleries, concert hall, theatre and probably one of the best public libraries in the country.  I'm a member here and visited more times than I can count for various events, last being the beautiful and emotionally devastating Anohni show a few weeks ago.  The globally-focused theatre is always bringing up fresh and interesting perspectives, where else would stage something like Ivo Van Hove's butt-numbing Dutch Shakespeare epics Kings of War or the Roman Tragedies?  And yeah, it's lovely just to sit by the fountain on a sunny day.  If you go regularly (and why wouldn't you?) I'd highly recommend the membership, even just for the free Gallery entrance it more than pays for itself.

    Sarah (kukkiiandkoppee)

    I've come to the Barbican for a number of photography exhibitions and a concert. The concert hall has fantastic acoustics. The exhibitions were well planned out. There are quiet areas in the main halls to sit and chill. On Sunny days there is spaces by the lake to have a quiet moment

    Telmo M

    Love this building. Plenty of exhibitions plus concerts and cinemas. Many places to have food so you can spend all day there. Nice terrace to have lunch in a sunny day


    Love the Barbican, it’s like a giant school hall and everyone is packing in for assembly. Spacious seats and great acoustics. It is an absolutely massive venue, so be sure to know where you’re going! I went to see KODO (a Japanese Taiko drumming group) and they were outstanding! You could feel the reverberations pulse through your body, such a brilliant performance, very immersive. Always a wide range of events on too! The staff are very friendly and accommodating and the food and drink on offer is pretty reasonably priced.

    Rosie T
    Staff Writer

    I find that the Barbican is one of those places that should be visited at least once. It has a fun and exciting feel to it. I have been on a few occasions to visit during exhibits and have always enjoyed the entire experience. 

    Staff Writertastemaker

    Amazing complex with a consistently strong roster of cultural events, exhibits and talks going on. But its the absolute best place to visit in London if you're looking for an afternoon of solitude. It feels totally away from the hustle and bustle and there are sporadic seats and sofas throughout the floors which make =for a really cosy study spot (or book reading or quiet wine) you feel like nobody will find you there- you know when you're having one of those days!

    Visit the conservatory open on Sundays only, visit the shop if you need a thoughtful gift for someone, spend all day relaxing here!

    karen f

    The Barbican is always worth a visit if you are in the area, regardless of what's on. It's a beautiful complex which has so much to see, both inside and outside. I always wonder who lives around the Barbican as I understand the apartments / flats that surround it are housing designers / artists / locals which adds to its community feel.

    Kirsty E

    Such a weird and wonderful place, a hidden gem in London. Not the prettiest of buildings from outside but the magic is in the interior. Some great events have been held here, including a number of conferences I have been lucky enough to attend. Love the conservatory with it's koi carp pond and the garden cafe. Worth a visit even if it's just to see one of the fascinating exhibits (most of which are normally free).

    Vicky T

    This brutalism monster might seem scary on the first visit but the more you see it the more you love it! Ageing has definitely made it more special and in combination with the new activities it hosts, it's one of the most important cultural centres London is offering. Any kind of art exhibition can be found here from time to time, as well as theatre, music and cinema shows. And all of them always carefully selected and with special prices for young and older people. Even if you're not interested in anything that's on, visiting is still an experience itself -as it feels like a journey to the past- and you can always enjoy sitting at the ground floor cafeteria by the ponds or even next to them when it's sunny!


    I guess most people would agree the Barbican isn´t the most pretty landmark in London. However, even though our tastes might have changed since the Barbican was built in the 60s, it is still an incredibly impressive place to visit. One can imagine the futuristic visions of its creators when exploring all of its different levels and hidden corners.There are always some interesting and quirky exhibitions as well as a great cinema and theatre. 

    Don´t miss the conservatory or a coffee break at the "lake" if the weather is good enough. You´ll feel like you´re part of Brave New World or 1984 - not quite sure if the Barbican is a dystopia or utopia.

    Daniel L

    the weird, the wacky and the wow. The exhibitions on display (many of them FREE!!) are highly interactive and intriguing. It is a surprise that this is not as popular as some of the other major touristic venues. Hence this makes a good hideaway, alongside the ample cafe options dotted around the complex. Definitely a place to spend if you have an hour or two to spend learning about something completely new (and quirky) such as the most recent one about using light pulses to trace out the movement patterns of visitors upon a sandy floor... yes it isn't for everyone but still cool.


    I would love to do a gig here as this is London's answer to Carnegie hall on 7th Avenue. It is however sad to read the comments from the dissatisfied bride below. So anyone getting married in London should have a look at recommended venues: Notwitstanding, the Barbican does other things very well and is worth a visit.


    I love going to shows, the art gallery and cinema here. Really cool 60s building.

    dissatisfied bride

    I had a lovely wedding, the location was spectacular and I had a fantastic day as did all my guests. It ended rather abruptly though with the music being turned off at 11 on the dot. I can hardly complain, but I do have some serious complaints regarding the service. The food at the wedding was a much lower quality than what I was served at my tasting. The appetiser, which had been lovely at the tasting, held no resemblance to what I was served at my wedding and the creme brulée instead of being luscious and creamy as it had been at the tasting, was a stiff gelatine. After the wedding the staff didn't pack up my crockery hire correctly which made me lose my deposit and they were completely unremorseful about it, ignoring my emails and not helpful at all. The cherry on top of the cake, 2 months after the wedding, after we had settle all accounts the wedding planner started bothering us for another 600 pounds. We had spent the budget, the invoices had all been settled and he was haggling us for more money. Quite unprofessional.