The UK's leading international arts centre
The Barbican Centre lures fans of serious culture into a labyrinthine arts complex, part of a vast concrete estate that also includes 2,000 highly coveted flats and innumerable concrete walkways. It's a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and some rectangular ponds housing friendly resident ducks.
The focus is on world-class arts programming, taking in pretty much every imaginable genre. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), which revels in the immaculately tuned acoustics of the Barbican's concert hall. 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. The Royal Shakespeare Company stages its London seasons here, alongside the annual BITE programme (Barbican International Theatre Events), which cherry-picks exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. There's a similarly international offering of ballet and contemporary dance shows. And there's also a cinema, with a sophisticated programme that puts on regular film festivals based around farflung countries or undersung directors.
As if that wasn't enough, the Barbican Centre is also home to three restaurants, a public library, some practice pianos, and even a large, succulent-filled conservatory. This cultural smorgasbord is all funded and managed by City of London Corporation, which sends some of the finance industry's considerable profits its way. It's been in operation since 1982; its uncompromising brutalist aesthetic and sometimes hard-to-navigate, multi-level structure was initially controversial, but it's getting increasingly popular with architecture fans and instagrammers alike.
|Venue name:||Barbican Centre|
|Transport:||Tube: Barbican; Rail/Tube: Moorgate|
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- For a film named after an act of gender subversion, there’s not too much exploration of gender in Jamie Patterson’s odd-couple drama. ‘Tucked’ contorts itself to assure us that terminally ill, 80-something drag queen Jackie (Derren Nesbitt) is a s...Read more
- ‘Taboo,’ sings a shorn Robert Pattinson to a gurgling infant in ‘High Life’. Leave it to the gutsy French director Claire Denis (making her English-language debut) to dissect her latest movie with a single word. Taboos abound in the elusive, ellip...Read more
- Even if you’ve seen a hundred drug epics, you’ve never seen quite one like Colombia’s ‘Birds of Passage’. It has the clammy fixations of ‘Scarface’ (drugs, guns, cash, bigger guns), the eerie glaze of ‘Aguirre’-era Herzog and a bit of acid western...Read more
- it feels superficial to compare ‘Beats’ to ‘Trainspotting’: it’s Scottish, it’s the mid-’90s, it’s young tearaways, it’s drugs. But it’s the sensory impact too – ‘Beats’ bottles a very similar brand of lightning to Danny Boyle’s film, consistently...Read more
- You’d have expected footage of a peak Aretha Franklin powerfully singing gospel to be protected at all costs. However, the singer’s intimate 1972 show, filmed over two days at a Baptist church in the Watts neighbourhood in Los Angeles, was fumbled...Read more
Pick a date
AI: More Than Human review
This show contains a letter to Alan Turing from a journalist. Referring to a chess-playing computer, the hack mentions how ‘the chief trouble is, of course, to make the matter really intelligible to the public.’ Making a fascinating and complex subject...Until Monday August 26 2019
A 10-strong cast of dancers will dive into T S Eliot's legendary poem in this avant garde work by New York choreographer Pam Tanowitz, which landed rave reviews when it premiered across the pond. They'll perform to passages from 'Four Quartets', read...Contemporary and experimental Until Saturday May 25 2019
Lee Krasner: Living Colour
Retrospective of the innovative abstract expressionist artist Lee Krasner. As the title suggests, one reason for buying a ticket is to check out Krasner's vivid, large-scale canvases that explode in fireworks of colour. But that not all. You'll also be...Thursday May 30 2019 - Sunday September 1 2019
The Knight of the Burning Pestle
Moscow’s Puskin Theatre and our own (albeit very international) Cheek by Jowl join forces for a revival of Francis Beaumont’s 1607 metaplay, in which worthy comedy ‘The London Merchant’ is interrupted by a grocer and his wife, who have a series of increasingly...Drama Wednesday June 5 2019 - Saturday June 8 2019
Super-director Ivo van Hove hooks up with French titans Comédie-Française to present this toweringly gloomy stage adaptation of Luchino Visconti 1969 film ‘The Damned’. Concerning a prominent family of German industrialists who reluctantly but willingly...Drama Wednesday June 19 2019 - Tuesday June 25 2019
Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
- 5 star:14
- 4 star:23
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:0
This brutalist building is really one of a kind. It's immersive architecture encloses a microcosmic world of apartments (said to be owned by artists), a botanical garden upstairs, and a cultural centre that hosts incredible exhibitions and performances every month. I went there recently to see the Basquiat exhibition and was not disappointed. Amazing!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
Check out my review of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at The Barbican Centre: http://eatwearwander.com/2014/06/30/sidewalk-to-catwalk/
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: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIB4nvvLkNk Notwitstanding, the Barbican does other things very well and is worth a visit.
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.
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