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Southbank Centre

Things to do, Cultural centres South Bank
4 out of 5 stars
(15user reviews)
The Southbank Centre
Southbank Centre Graffiti wall (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
Southbank Centre Performance (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
Southbank Centre views (Belinda Lawley / Time Out)
Belinda Lawley / Time Out
Gift Shop (Ed Marsahll / Time Out)
Ed Marsahll / Time Out
Southbank Centre window (Scott Wishart / Time Out)
Scott Wishart / Time Out

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. 


By: Lucy Lovell



Address: Belvedere Road
Transport: Rail/Tube: Waterloo; Tube: Embankment
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A London institution featuring wonderful events and exhibitions. Even if you aren't visiting for a particular event, it's always worth popping in to see what's going on and soak up the great atmosphere. 


Love the Southbank! Have been here countless times over the years to see a wide range of events, from attending the Women of the World Festival, through to watching Slavoj Zizek in debate with Yanis Varoufakis (quite something to see!) and seeing the legend Marianne Faithfull perform - it never fails to host the cream of the crop in culture and the arts. 


The 'Adventures in Moominland' special exhibition, on until August, is a wonderfully magical look into the life of the woman (Tove Jansson) who brought these beautiful characters and their world to life in both print and animation.

An unremarkable large 2D poster of a Moomin novel pulls back to reveal a hidden tunnel that leads your small tour group down into a darkened room. Faced with the much-loved Moomintroll, it is here that your tour begins.The 1/2-hour or so that follows takes you on a winding trail of walking, crawling and wading through a number of Moomin-inspired sets from campsites to lighthouse picnics, snowy forests to tropical jungles. At each location your well-versed tour guide shares captivating backstories of the characters' adventures and the true-to-life history of the illustrator on which they are inspired.

The interactive story-telling will keep both children and adults entertained for the duration and is well worth the ~£15 price tag. 


I paid a visit to the centre this weekend to take part in the Nordic Matters event. The event was really well done and was completely free -we were even taught has to make cinnamon buns. The venue is lovely, overlooking the Thames and is a great place to spend the day with the children but a fun hangout for adults too. I'd highly recommend having a look at the upcoming Nordic events, there is sure to be something for everyone!

moderatorStaff Writer

The best arts venue in London – Southbank Centre consistently presents the most diverse and inspiring programme in the city, from music to dance to literature to singing and everything in between.


whats not to love about the south bank right? 

There's so much to see and do and man the selection of food is just gorgeous! at night you can stroll on by the river and admire the sights.. love love love it! every time a friend wants to visit London I always recommend taking them here! 


I am so involve with the Southbank Centre it's ridiculous. Over the summer I had the chance to visit a few different events here: David Byrne's Library and the Big Sing as part of the Meltdown Festival (which Byrne curated this year), as well as a crafting session to make confetti-filled balloons as part of the Festival of Love. Not to mention the beautiful balcony on the Thames on the 5th floor just down from the incredible Saison Poetry Library... wow. Do whatever you can to visit - there is so much happening that there truly is something for everyone. And hey, if all else fails, grab a drink and hang out on the balcony or the outdoor café terrace.

London. My favourite town. I've recently rediscovered the joys of the city, after many years of being blinded by out of town shopping centres. Most weekends, I will journey up by train or tube to meet with my daughter. We shop, chat, eat and walk the length and breadth of Oxford and Regent Street; always ending our day in Carnaby Street or Leicester Square. Many a Sunday, we sit and watch the world go by at the Southbank, stopping to have a bite to eat in one of the many popular eateries. But best of all, is our midweek trips to Theatreland. I've dragged my teenage son to the Donmar, to watch the incredible Corianlanus, the same week I treated my daughter to The Light Princess at the National and then as a family night out we went to see the mesmerizing 'Warhorse'. Next, on the cards, is another Mother and Son day to see 'Blaze' at Peacock Theatre, a Mother and Daughter day to 'Sing-a-long-a Moulin Rouge' and family trip to the wonderful 'Wicked' (we've seen it before!). London has so much to offer and so much to do (even with moaning teenage children).I love it! especially the free events in the summer at The Scope, Southbank and Trafalgar Square.

Try to visit Skylon when you are at the Southbank, the service is good and you can enjoy a drink in a spotlessly clean glass. It's nice to see a variety of musical entertainment coming to the Southbank; chart music does not reflect the wider spectrum of talent.

A good place for shows but also to sit and dream away.

The Southbank Centre is fabulous arts hub in London. It stages a wide variety of theatre and musical performances to cater to all tastes. There are always interesting festivals hosted at Southbank. It is the perfect place to windle away a saturday afternoon.

0 of 1 found helpful

I have not found it possible,on the new website, to get a good listing of classical music. It was very well organized in the magazine, and sketchier in the current website, This is not usable.

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