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Like a crowd-pleasing superhero, it’s Southbank Centre to the rescue when you need something to do in London and you’re out of ideas. An astounding programme of cultural events – from visual art and music to literature workshops and performance – views over the Thames, and slap bang in the centre of London - no wonder it’s so many people’s trump card.
The lively arts and entertainment centre is the UK’s largest, putting on over 5,000 events a year. Expect a well-curated line-up that straddles world-class artists, niche poetry, music festivals and everything inbetween. The London Literature Festival, for example, brings together the greatest literary minds for 11 days of talks, readings, poetry and performance. Meanwhile the annual WOW - Women of the World festival sees a killer line-up that champions everything good and great going on in the world of women.
Events take place in multiple venues perfectly poised on the bank of the Thames. The Grade I listed Royal Festival Hall is at the heart of the complex, where you'll find - among many other things - a 2,700 seater auditorium and the National Poetry Library. The neighbouring Hayward Gallery is a stunning piece of brutalist architecture, and plays host to a range of inspiring and adventurous artists.
And it's not just culture vultures that flock here, food fans circle the food market for their weekly helping of inspired street food, booze, coffee and artisan produce. The Southbank Centre restaurants are incredibly popular too, with big names like Wagamama and Las Iguanas feeding the masses, while off-beat joints like Topolski sling pizzas and prosecco to a smaller, savvy crowd. Head to the Queen Elizabeth Rooftop Garden in the summer months for drinks with views of the river and beyond.
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Things to do
Southbank Centre Winter Festival
The Southbank Centre Winter Festival is back for 2019 with another sparkling programme of festive shows and performances, family fun and music. The riverside venue will celebrate the coldest season with a fistful of fun pop-ups and activities. The annual...Festivals Until Sunday December 27 2020 Free
Bring It On: The Musical
Hot on the heels of Netflix's hit series 'Cheer', here's a chance to get immersed into the pompom-waving, high-stakes world of another gang of cheerleaders. 2017 'Love Island' winner Amber Davies will star as Squad Captain/all-round-queen-bee Campbell,...Musicals Wednesday December 9 2020 - Saturday January 9 2021
The Southbank has been throwing its own highbrow, multi-day music festival since 1993, and this time round Grace Jones is taking the reins as curator. The singer, actress and style icon was due to curate 2020’s festival, however, due to the global pandemic,...Music festivals Friday June 11 2021 - Sunday June 20 2021