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Southbank Centre

  • Things to do
  • South Bank
  • Recommended
  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

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. 

Lucy Lovell
Written by
Lucy Lovell


Belvedere Road
Rail/Tube: Waterloo; Tube: Embankment
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What's On

Purcell Sessions 2022

  • Music festivals

Audiovisual installations, artists’ new material and multimedia collaborations across music, dance, visual art and the spoken word. For 2022, Purcell Sessions will include a new album performance from Martha Skye Murphy, works-in progress from Soumik Datta and Secretsundaze, a long durational improvisation from the band Caroline, Seder: a multidisciplinary, performative piece from poet Adam Kammerling, and a collaborative Earth Day event focused on the climate crisis from Tongue Fu – Hot Poets. Truly an outstanding programme of challenging contemporary sounds. 

Imagine Children’s Festival

  • Festivals

Bringing much-needed pizzazz to an otherwise dreary February half term holiday, Imagine Children’s Festival is a mix of family-oriented shows and workshops, play experiences and exhibitions, music, art and literature taking place at the Southbank Centre from February 9-20. There are events for all ages (from babies to teens) and at least half of them are free! This year the festival is studded with stars from the beloved Peppa Pig (even our leaders love her), to authors like Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, and Michael Rosen.  If you fancy watching a show, productions include ‘The Dark’, ‘Murmur’, and ‘Butterflies’, all of which are not only fun but also educational, as they explore what life is like for children with different disabilities and conditions, and champion their unique stories. For those who want to get in on the action, join the family ‘Do Your Own Thing DJ Takeover with Heart n Soul’ or wind down with some wellness yoga at the ‘Wellbeing Wind Down’. You'll find the full schedule on the Southbank Centre website.

Matt Forde: ‘Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right’

  • Political

You’ll be stuck in the middle with Matt Forde in a political tug of war, as the renowned satirist pulls apart Britain’s leaders, from left to right and everything in between. Matt Forde has done it all, from ‘Have I Got News For You’ to the Edinburgh Festival - and he now rocks his own podcast Political Party. Die-hard fans and newbies alike can join Matt in the middle of London for a night of comedy that doesn’t take sides or pick favourites. Is this as close as we get to objectivity? Perhaps. General tickets go on sale 15 December at 10am on the Southbank Centre website. 

Grace Jones’ Meltdown

  • Music festivals

The twenty-seventh outing of the annual Meltdown festival on the South Bank is curated by Grace Jones, international music, fashion and film icon, and chatshow menace. Full details are TBC, but the line-up includes Solange, Peaches, Skunk Anansie and Baaba Maal. Jones follows (stalks?) in the footsteps of former curators, including David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Lee Scratch Perry, M.I.A., Robert Smith and her former collaborator Nile Rodgers. 

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