1. The Southbank Centre
  2. Southbank Centre Graffiti wall (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
    Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
  3. Southbank Centre Performance (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
    Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
  4. Southbank Centre views (Belinda Lawley / Time Out)
    Belinda Lawley / Time Out
  5. Gift Shop (Ed Marsahll / Time Out)
    Ed Marsahll / Time Out
  6. Southbank Centre window (Scott Wishart / Time Out)
    Scott Wishart / Time Out
  • Things to do | Cultural centres
  • South Bank
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Southbank Centre

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Time Out says

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. 

Details

Address
Belvedere Road
Waterloo
London
SE1 8XX
Transport:
Rail/Tube: Waterloo; Tube: Embankment
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What’s on

Chaka Khan’s Meltdown

Each year, Meltdown invites one artist to curate its bill, allowing them to take over the Southbank Centre for a couple of weeks with their favourite stars from across music and culture. This year, Chaka Khan is taking up the challenge with a lineup that brings together established icons and lesser-known discoveries. When is Meltdown 2024? Meltdown 2024 will take place at the Southbank Centre between June 14 and 23.  How much are tickets? Each show is priced differently, ranging from £10 to £120. Most events will cost between £20 and £35, though, and the festival offers a host of early bird and concessions discounts. Alongside the ticketed events, Meltdown features free cultural programming. For more information, visit the festival’s website. Who’s on the lineup? Khan’s Meltdown bill includes headline performances from Malian supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique, British soundsystem DJ Norman Jay, indie upstart Master Peace, soothing singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, French-Senegalese singer-songwriter anaiis, American Idol alumnus Todrick Hall, genre-hopping singer Rahsaan Patterson, experimental collective Speakers Corner Quartet & Guildhall Session Orchestra, folk star Bruce Hornsby, powerhouse vocalist Mica Paris, rising talent SIPHO., pianist and singer Reuben James, “the Grace Jones of jazz” Lady Blackbird, and award-winning jazz star Judi Jackson. Its final weekend comes with shows from West African group Balimaya Project, 60s street band WAR, feminist punks Big Joanie, 90s

  • Music festivals

Nazar Pride Party

London’s summer calendar is already packed full of cracking festivals and parties, but kicking it off at a joyous, open-air Pride celebration sounds like one of the more fabulous options. Nazar is the Southbank Centre’s end of Pride Month celebration where you can groove along to cracking DJs of SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) and South Asian communities. The event is open to all and looks set to be a vibrant party, but the aim is to create a safe and celebratory space for members of these communities in particular. For family-friendly content, you should attend before 9pm.

  • Festivals

Jazz Re:Fest

Sure, there are plenty of great venues across London to sit and enjoy some jazz tunes throughout the year, but this festival aims to spotlight the best but underexposed bands that the city has to offer right now – the likes of Shabaka Hutchings (Guildhall grad Jazz musician and composer), Nubya Garcia (London-based Saxophonist and composer) and Ezra Collective (Time Out’s 2023 Londonders of the Year) all received some early-career support from Jazz Re:freshed, the non-profit behind this event. Along with championing new talent, the event hopes to share access to Jazz with a whole new audience, too!

  • Jazz

Azeema at the Southbank Centre

UK-based print magazine and creative agency Azeema was founded back in 2017, and is centred around celebrating women and non-binary people of the global majority. Across one weekend in July, the collective is hosting a series of events at the Southbank Centre’s Riverside Stage. Azeema’s House Party is a coming-together of diasporic sounds on the Friday night, Azeema’s Open House will take place on the Saturday and Azeema’s Home from Home is scheduled for the Sunday, all an effort to find some unity and celebrate through talks, workshops and performances. You can read more about each event on the Southbank Centre’s website.

  • Festivals

Flawa at the Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre will transform into a shimmying, salsa-ing celebration on the first weekend of August, thanks to a curated collaboration in partnership with FLAWA (Festival of Latin American Women in the Arts). Everyone will be invited to participate and learn more about the diversity and variety of Latin-American culture, and there will be three brilliant events to do so. Latinas Presente on the Friday will feature an array of live performances to get yourself moving for the weekend, LatinXtravaganza will be family-friendly shows and chances to dance well into the evening on the Saturday, and on the Sunday, it’s time for ¡Aquí Estamos! We Are Here!, a collection of more Latin American Music and DJs. Bailemos!

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Counterpoints Arts at the Southbank Centre

‘You Belong Here’ is the 2024 theme for the Southbank Centre’s summer season, and around that they’ve collaborated with some inspiring organisations to curate weekends of colourful events to get involved in. Counterpoints Arts’ weekend is kicking off on Friday August 9 with Our HeartBeats, a community club night featuring sets from established as well as refugee DJs. On Saturday, We Move With Joy will comprise an afternoon of activities and movement to (guess what?) spread joy, and on Sunday to round off the weekend, Acting With Love & Solidarity will include singing, poetry, and most importantly, food, organised thanks to Counterpoints Arts’ climate justice and migration network.

  • Festivals

ESEA Unseen at the Southbank Centre

Another of the Southbank Centre’s enticing weekend takeovers is courtesy of ESEA Unseen, a duo of two neurodiverse multi-media artists, Kim Chin and Sue Man. Chance Encounters will take place on Friday August 16, where visitors can enjoy the collection of DJs and British artists from East and Southeast Asian diaspora; Happenstance will be an afternoon of processions that you can participate in, and Fabulation on the Sunday will feature guided walks and workshops all soundtracked by authentic ESEA instruments. Sound good? Each of the Southbank Centre’s brilliant weekend takeovers are completely free – have a look at the website for more information.

  • Festivals
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