Barbican Centre

Cinemas, Arts centres Barbican
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The Barbican  (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
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Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
The Barbican hall (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
Barbican stairs (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
Barbican theatre's stage (Rob Greig / Time Out)
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Rob Greig / Time Out
The Barbican  (Nigel Tradewell / Time Out)
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Nigel Tradewell / Time Out
The Barican's view (Tove K Breitstein / Time Out)
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Tove K Breitstein / Time Out
The Barbican fountains (Andrew Brackenbury / Time Out)
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Andrew Brackenbury / Time Out

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The UK's leading international arts centre

The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete estate of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. 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. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The annual BITE season (Barbican International Theatre Events) continues to cherry-pick exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. The Barbican regularly attracts and nurtures experimental dance, and the Pit Theatre is a perfectly intimate space.

Find out more about the past, present and future of the Barbican with our complete guide to the Barbican Centre.

Posted:

Venue name: Barbican Centre
Contact:
Address: Beech Street
Barbican
London
EC2Y 8AE
Transport: Tube: Barbican; Rail/Tube: Moorgate
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Pick a date

to
  • Classes and workshops Until Sunday June 3 2018
  • Photography Until Sunday May 27 2018
  • Installation Until Sunday May 20 2018
  • Shakespeare Until Saturday April 21 2018
  • Experimental Until Saturday May 5 2018
  • Ballet Until Saturday April 21 2018
  • Experimental Tuesday May 15 2018 - Saturday May 19 2018
  • Tuesday May 15 2018 - Saturday May 19 2018
  • Pop Monday May 21 2018
  • Music venues Wednesday May 23 2018 - Sunday May 27 2018
  • Show more

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Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:22
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|38
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tastemaker

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!

Tastemaker

The Barbican centre is a unique beautiful place. I saw the Tempest this summer and I was genuinely impressed by the building, the space, the facilities but especially the theatre. Such a magnificent enormous stage, exquisite finishes, comfortable seats, excellent seat arrangement providing a great view of the stage and hence a unique experience to the audience. The brutalist architecture of the exterior might not be everyone's favorite but it's definitely something unique and worth seeing. There's loads of other things to do including the cinema, art and cafes!

tastemaker

Incredible building, quirky and clever features, utterly unique. Not appreciated by all for its concrete style. Excellent facilities, ecoustics amd impeccable taste in the choice of shows on the billing. You can trust the Barbican to be honest and authortic and entertaining.

tastemaker

I fully got to the visit the conservatory last year when I got invited to a beer and food event by Jimmys Farm in collaboration with Stella Artois. It's a mini rainforest.


However to get up there is a mission, the signage is very poor, but once inside the mini rainforest, its beautiful. Not the type to get your hair all frizzy, the nicer kind, lovely trees and flowers, theres a nice water feature too. It's a beautiful venue to get married in! 

Tastemaker

I love the theatre space with its comfy seats and individual doors for every row, however if you want to get up, you have to walk past a very long row of people to get out if you're sitting in the middle! It's also incredibly easy to get lost here thanks to all levels and floors looking the same and signage not being great. The ticket hall is right at the bottom past the ticket enquiries booth which results in people queueing for ages in the wrong place to pick up tickets only to be told they need to queue elsewhere. There's a also some adequate restaurants and bars in the centre, along with cinema screens for those who like their action on celluloid rather than in person.

Tastemaker

The Barbican area is like the evil twin of Temple.  Whereas in Temple, you go through a gate and are transported into a kind of Harry Potteresque quaint world, when you follow the signs to the Barbican, you are transported into a concrete Brutalist maze with the challenge to find the centre.


Fortunately, we did find the centre.  We walked in and it was very spacious, but, like the outside, difficult to navigate your way around.  I thought it looked like somewhere that had a lot of potential, if it underwent a good bit of decorating to remove all the dated artex look.  We were here for the theatre, so I was expecting to find this dated but functional as well.  I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong about the theatre and it was actually really nice.  It had wide curved stalls with very comfy seats and there was actually enough room in front of the seats so that people could go past without you having to stand up and press yourself to the back of the chair.  The entrance was unusual in that on the end of each row of seats was an entrance door and I was geekily impressed when all the doors automatically closed as the performance started.


I didn't get a chance to sample the food there apart from a coffee, but the kitchen looked good.  I would definitely visit again, if I can find it!

Tastemaker

Lovely venue! Complete with a bright and airy restaurant, coffee stalls (with decent prices - £2.90!) Very beautiful waterfront, which could easily be a wedding venue.


The theatre was the most luxurious venue I've had the pleasure to sit in. With very spacious, velvet, padded seats, you feel you are treating yourself. The layout allows all to see the screen with ease (we were sat in the stalls and were incredibly impressed).


Would love to go again and again, and next time I'd definitely be inclined to dress more formally.

Tastemaker

I was just reading through some reviews and I am happy I am not the only one who felt the signage was horrific! I came out of the tube and was completely lost. I wandered around following a group I was hoping going to the same place I was. I don't mind the modern look of it, I think it's a bit ugly but only on the inside. Again even on the inside the signage is less than desireable, I wish I could have left a bread crumb trail. There are places to get a drink, a coffee and some snacks. Seemed like reasonably adequate toilets once you find them. (or maybe that's why the line wasn't as long as I expected) But the theatre... now that is a wow factor. It's huge, it's so high and it looked like there it was pretty much unobstructed seating. I sat very near the stage and had an excellent view. But the seats are so comfy! They are actually the best seats I have ever sat in. I guess that helped considering the play I saw was 2hrs 40 mins! The only bad thing is it's a bit harder to let people out because the seat didn't lift up.

tastemaker

Much has been written about the Barbican generally. Poor signage. Difficult to find one's way around. All probably true. But an excellent space nevertheless especially the Martini Bar. If you need to kill one or two hours before a show, this is the place to do it. Comfortable chairs. Not shoulder to shoulder with others. Time to collect your thoughts after a day's work. The apple and rhubarb crumble martini went down a little too easily. Thank goodness I wasn't tempted to order a second because twenty minutes later I knew all too well that I'd had the first! Cheers!

tastemaker

Unfortunately I don't get to spend a huge amount of time here as I don't work or live anywhere near the city, however if you do, this is a Mecca for the arts, with a cinema, theatre, restaurants, bars and exhibition spaces. 


It may not be to a lot of people's taste due to the Brutalist architectural style, however what it lacks in elegance, it definitely makes up for in cultural interest. The handful of exhibitions, plays and recitals I have check out here have all been exceptional and whilst the restaurants are a tad tired and expensive, there are plenty of other places in the area to eat and drink! Definitely worth a look!

tastemaker

The Barbican is not to everyone's taste due to its brutalist architectural style and I admit that from outside it's not the most classicly beautiful looking structure. But head inside and this building is fairly fascinating and also has a lot to offer.

Theatre, cinema and exhibition space reside at the Barbican and the cafe and bar offerings are also fairly delightful. The theatre is beautiful with a clever curved seating design that means even in the box areas you are facing forward without the need to crook your neck to view a show. Huge stage, regularly impressive setting design and more importantly very comfy seats make this a lovely theatre experience.

This site is worth a wander around even if you're not heading to a show of sorts and the numerous seating and desk areas are great for a laptop stop bit of work or just a chill out session. Lovely.

Tastemaker

Barbican centre is not a usual art centre. Surrounded by 2,000 flats build in the brutalism's architectural wave and having a small lake just in from with fountains & birds, is a destination either for your evening after your tiring work time, or for a whole day out in the weekend. Regularly changing excibitions (free or ticketed) are hosted here, multiplex cinema with popular movies, and of course a brilliantly designed huge theatre hosting mostly european small theater companies that have something though provoking to say. There is restaurant and bar also here, with reasonable prices and great selection of neebles and food. Free wifi all over the building thus quite busy in the weekend with college guys and girls studying here. An art hub that has proved all these years that London's art scene is not limited just to West End or Southbank.

Tastemaker

The building itself would be worth the visit, with all its exposed concrete and a HUGE back courtyard that makes for the perfect place to stop a little and relax. Choose from one of the many entertainment options available - from artsy movies to world class music performances. The conservatory bears an amazing indoor garden than is worth a visit, if possible on the day, and I can also recommend the tour that tells a little bit more about the architecture of the art centre and surrounding buildings

tastemaker

Barbican Centre is a performing arts centre with art exhibitions, theatre performances and music concerts. This is also the home of the London Symphony Orchestra. The exhibitions are well curated and always very interesting. Besides the good art, the outside area is just beautiful. The seats in the main auditorium are wider than traditional theatres with reasonably extra leg room and are quite comfortable, even after a non-stop 2.5 hour performance. This auditorium  is more suited to a musical concert or a massive production rather than a play. As I went to see Obsession play with Jude Law, I thought that there is vast empty space on the stage with no use and actors were struggling to fill it in.

The architecture construction of the centre itself is massive and cold, minimalistic and brutalist. It also looks somehow heavy and dull with it's disjointed layout, different nooks and crannies.  To be honest, it also looks intimidating and I always get lost in the Barbican, 

tastemaker

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.

Top tip:

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.

Tastemaker

It took me three visits to start to 'get' the Barbican. At first I just thought it was a strange eerily quiet place to come at the weekend. But after coming back, and seeing an exhibition and then coming back AGAIN and seeing it in the sunshine, I have started to enjoy the strangeness of the Barbican. It's an imposing building softened by overhanging plants, and it's huge as it was originally built to be an 'all in' community - so you'll see churches, schools and even a police station. Inside there's theatres, exhibition space and a garden space (which is rarely open so check before you go). My top tip is go on a sunny day and sit by my favourite bit which is just outside next to the pond and enjoy a cider or prosecco from the Benugo stationed inside and listen to the sound of the fountains at sunset.

Tastemaker

The Barbican is one of those spaces that seems to address every need no mater what time of day or year that it is. It is my go to for art, for cinema, for passing Sunday's in the conservatory, for shopping and for quiet inspiration - it never disappoints. The brutalist centre has a surprisingly serene presence for me and you can feel it whether exploring it's outdoor terraces or meandering through it's wide halls and exhibition spaces. It is an unlikely phenomena for such imposing architecture but it is truly bestowing.

Tastemaker

I love/hate the Barbican centre. I definitely just hated it at first, the squareness, the concreteness, the levels that all look the same, the fake entrances, the stupid identical passages that seem to be designed to trip up your sense of direction especially when you're running late for something. (Maybe my rejection of it also had something to do with a previous relationship in its death throes that was laid out bare in the conservatory). On the other hand, their digital exhibition a few years back was well-curated and enjoyable, with all that was cutting edge at the time, and it changed my opinion of Le Barbican. I noticed they have quite a few good exhibitions actually, with interesting angles on fashion and art. The gift shop is great as a regular shop for buying gifts. It became a convenient meeting place for our production meetings when I was working on a musical around the corner. Then the real turning point was when my brother visited London for a week last September, and I decided to take him to the Barbican. Because it is after all as exemplary ode to Brutalist architecture, the cafe serves proper coffee, and in summer you can take your shoes off and sit on the hot concrete by the water and sort of feel like you're in a different world after all. Which I think is what the Barbican is all about. It just loses one star now for being difficult to navigate, so allow an additional half an hour (I'm serious) to find your way to where you're going, if you've never been before.


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! 

tastemaker

Where else in London can I attend a classical performance, visit a waterfall, look over the beautiful city, have lunch AND be in a modern day brutalist metropolis. The Barbican. 


Everything about you oozes class, design and sophistication. The comforting repetition of curves on the top of the arts centre mirror the curves on the balconies on the towers and the door handles.   It gives my goosebumps just thinking about you. 


Many people argue you are an 80's eye sore.  But it is the most perfect example of brutalist design and showed how Britain wanted to rebuild the city after the second world war. You are now a listed building and has such architectural significance that people come from around the world to see.


That's enough about your exterior - now about the arts. The best cinema in London with the most beautifully designed cinemas. Top class classical performances fI took my dad to see the VonTrapp family singers mixed with Salsa beats - where else would this happen. Your exhibition spaces are like chameleons changing the space to fit photography, performance art and sculpture.  And finally Theatre - being in the theatre with the most beautiful safety curtain on the planet takes me to another world - when all those doors close on me at the same time like a chorus line of dancers I know that Im going to enter a new an immersive experience. 


Barbican Centre I love you! 

Tastemaker

One of the benefits of living and working in London is having a word-class cultural centre like the Barbican on your doorstep.  It's an incredible architectural space with exceptional cinemas, galleries, concert hall, theatre and probably one of the best public libraries in the country.  I'm a member here and visited more times than I can count for various events, last being the beautiful and emotionally devastating Anohni show a few weeks ago.  The globally-focused theatre is always bringing up fresh and interesting perspectives, where else would stage something like Ivo Van Hove's butt-numbing Dutch Shakespeare epics Kings of War or the Roman Tragedies?  And yeah, it's lovely just to sit by the fountain on a sunny day.  If you go regularly (and why wouldn't you?) I'd highly recommend the membership, even just for the free Gallery entrance it more than pays for itself.

Tastemaker

I've come to the Barbican for a number of photography exhibitions and a concert. The concert hall has fantastic acoustics. The exhibitions were well planned out. There are quiet areas in the main halls to sit and chill. On Sunny days there is spaces by the lake to have a quiet moment


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

Tastemaker

Love the Barbican, it’s like a giant school hall and everyone is packing in for assembly. Spacious seats and great acoustics. It is an absolutely massive venue, so be sure to know where you’re going! I went to see KODO (a Japanese Taiko drumming group) and they were outstanding! You could feel the reverberations pulse through your body, such a brilliant performance, very immersive. Always a wide range of events on too! The staff are very friendly and accommodating and the food and drink on offer is pretty reasonably priced.

Staff Writer

I find that the Barbican is one of those places that should be visited at least once. It has a fun and exciting feel to it. I have been on a few occasions to visit during exhibits and have always enjoyed the entire experience. 

Staff Writertastemaker

Amazing complex with a consistently strong roster of cultural events, exhibits and talks going on. But its the absolute best place to visit in London if you're looking for an afternoon of solitude. It feels totally away from the hustle and bustle and there are sporadic seats and sofas throughout the floors which make =for a really cosy study spot (or book reading or quiet wine) you feel like nobody will find you there- you know when you're having one of those days!

Visit the conservatory open on Sundays only, visit the shop if you need a thoughtful gift for someone, spend all day relaxing here!


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.

Tastemaker

Such a weird and wonderful place, a hidden gem in London. Not the prettiest of buildings from outside but the magic is in the interior. Some great events have been held here, including a number of conferences I have been lucky enough to attend. Love the conservatory with it's koi carp pond and the garden cafe. Worth a visit even if it's just to see one of the fascinating exhibits (most of which are normally free).


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!

Tastemaker

I guess most people would agree the Barbican isn´t the most pretty landmark in London. However, even though our tastes might have changed since the Barbican was built in the 60s, it is still an incredibly impressive place to visit. One can imagine the futuristic visions of its creators when exploring all of its different levels and hidden corners.There are always some interesting and quirky exhibitions as well as a great cinema and theatre. 

Don´t miss the conservatory or a coffee break at the "lake" if the weather is good enough. You´ll feel like you´re part of Brave New World or 1984 - not quite sure if the Barbican is a dystopia or utopia.

Tastemaker

the weird, the wacky and the wow. The exhibitions on display (many of them FREE!!) are highly interactive and intriguing. It is a surprise that this is not as popular as some of the other major touristic venues. Hence this makes a good hideaway, alongside the ample cafe options dotted around the complex. Definitely a place to spend if you have an hour or two to spend learning about something completely new (and quirky) such as the most recent one about using light pulses to trace out the movement patterns of visitors upon a sandy floor... yes it isn't for everyone but still cool.


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 love going to shows, the art gallery and cinema here. Really cool 60s building.


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.