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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- The song that plays out this atmospheric refugee drama – Talking Heads’ ‘Road to Nowhere’ – vocalises the existential undercurrents that make it an intriguing, if frustrating, watch. Eschewing easy thrills, writer-director Christian Petzold transp...Read more
- What Gurinder Chadha’s ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ did for football, her effervescent latest does for Springsteen. And Sony Walkmans. And double denim. For viewers of a certain age – if you ever owned a Level 42 cassette, that’s you – there’s loads of ...Read more
- By one way of looking at it, the title of Penny Lane’s documentary poses a casual invitation: Sandwich for lunch? Stroll in the park? Worship Lucifer? Why the hell not? Call it devilishly funny, then, that you may resonate with the organization at...Read more
- A gorgeously crafted memoir of a jaded filmmaker past his prime, ‘Pain and Glory’ could be Pedro Almodóvar’s most autobiographical work since ‘Law of Desire’. The grand irony, of course, is that there’s nothing jaded about the filmmaking on displa...Read more
- ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’ is the sort of high-wire, playful and madly enjoyable riff on movie-world folklore that only Quentin Tarantino could make and get away with. It’s a massively fun LA shaggy-dog story that blends fact and fiction by ...Read more
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Lee Krasner: Living Colour review
Lee Krasner (1908-1984) spent her life fighting for the right to be herself. She couldn’t be Lena Krasner, she had to become the androgynous Lee. She couldn’t be a realist or a cubist, she had to rip her work to shreds and collage it into new, unique...Until Sunday September 1 2019
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
Trevor Paglen: From “Apple” to “Anomaly”
Following on from the Barbican's major exhibition 'AI: More than Human', this show of new works by artist Trevor Paglen interrogates the ways machines are taught to 'see', 'hear' and 'think' via being provided with extensive training data sets by scientists....Wednesday September 25 2019 - Sunday February 16 2020
A world-premiere from hip-hop dance theatre company Boy Blue, ‘Redd’ follows the international success of ‘Blak Whyte Gray’. Audiences are invited to leap into the void with nine dancers looking at how darkness must always accompany happiness and light....Hip hop Thursday September 26 2019 - Friday October 4 2019
Things to do
Flavour Feast - Eat Yourself Better
Promising a pop-up party for all the senses, this free, drop-in interactive installation allows you to watch or participate in edible experiments that play with your sense of taste, touch, smell, and sight. It’s all in aid of gaining an insight into the...Exhibitions Saturday September 28 2019 - Sunday September 29 2019 Free
Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, a whole collection of French artists discovered that absinthe rather than abstinence was the key to better artistic output (and who could blame them?). This major show at the Barbican looks at this classic combination...Friday October 4 2019 - Sunday January 19 2020
The latest Russian visitors to the Barbican are Moscow’s prestigious Theatre of Nations, here presenting ‘Shukshin’s Stories’, a compendium of comic, pithy tales of Russian life written by Vasily Shukshin, star of Soviet cinema. His short stories and...Comedy Monday October 7 2019 - Wednesday October 9 2019
Part of a mini-season of work by Moscow’s Theatre of Nations, Chekhov’s early play ‘Ivanov’ is staged here by hot young Russian director Timofey Kulyabin, and stars a great of the country's cultural scene, Evgeny Mironov, in the title role. Setting the...Drama Friday October 11 2019 - Saturday October 12 2019
CRIPtic Pit Party
A double-bill of work by D/deaf and disabled artists. Poet Jamie Hale’s solo piece, ‘Not Dying’, was conceived while they underwent experimental medical treatment, and recounts their full-circle journey from the agony of facing death to the defiance of...Performing arts space Friday October 11 2019 - Saturday October 12 2019
Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero
Part of Dance Umbrella, this rousing piece is performed by Vuyani Dance Theatre alongside a live a cappella South African quartet. Dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma (‘The Head and the Load’; ‘Tree’) plays Toloki, a character drawn from Zakes Mda’s...Contemporary and experimental Thursday October 17 2019 - Saturday October 19 2019
Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
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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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