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Battersea Arts Centre

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  • Battersea
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© Pau Ross

Time Out says

South London's erratic temple of the avant-garde

Housed in a vast, gorgeous Victorian gothic former Town Hall, Battersea Arts Centre is a much-loved South London landmark. It's got strong links with the local community – not least because it's a beaut of a venue to get married in. But it's definitely worth travelling for. It's popular with big name comedians as a venue for trialling new work, and hosts big, bold shows by some of the most exciting companies out there, including 1927, Bryony Kimmings, and Little Bulb. It's a venue with a constantly festival air, thanks to its cheap tickets and a convivial bar that offers a wide selection of beers and decent tapas.

Under long-term artistic director David Jubb it styled itself as home of 'scratch' (work-in-progress) performance, alongside mini-festivals of finished work and the occasional huge, mad project – including Punchdrunk's immersive 'Masque of the Red Death', which totally took over the entire theatre for a year. But now, change is in the air, courtesy of incoming artistic director Tarek Iskander, who's one of the founders of edgy Hackney venue The Yard, and also has years of experience supporting early-career artists in a senior role at the Arts Council. 

Its occasionally turbulent history has been marked by at least one threat of closure due to loss of funding, and a dramatic fire in March 2015 that closed large portions of the building. To the outside eye, however, BAC remains indestructible, with fire damage just another phase in a building that's in constant flux and development. The triumphant reopening of its Grand Hall (courtesy of the aptly-named Phoenix renovation project) gives it one of the biggest stages outside of central London, and so far, it's found some characteristically thrilling ways of filling it. 


Lavender Hill
SW11 5TN
BR: Clapham Junction; Tube: Clapham Common/Stockwell
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What’s on


  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Immersive

This extremely gentle, indoor theatrical light trail is billed as ‘a festive adventure for all the family’, but be aware that the vibe is strictly pre-school/early primary school. Devised by immersive events company Wild Rumpus, Solstice takes up six rooms of Battersea Arts Centre, thematically divided between midsummer and midwinter. Its first half deals with the zenith of summer: bees, flowers, and in the first area a glowing, giant dragonfly puppet drifting around the room, covered in giant eggs. It’s certainly pretty and briefly entrancing, but where outdoor light trails typically go on for miles, ‘Solstice’ only has a handful of rooms. They’re done nicely, and the puppets are beautiful, but there’s no escaping it’s not exactly chock-a-block with material. To even hit the half-hour mark the show is predicated on being pepped up by activities that are only going to appeal to little ones: drawing on sheets of card with colourful chalk, listening to a story about a wolf, making a cardboard star at the end.  This sounds like I’m moaning: I do think it should be clearer what ages the show is targeted at. I can’t help but think that in a happier era of arts funding, it would probably have been longer. But accepting that we’re all on board with the fact ‘Solstice’ is short and for pre-tweens then it’s very cute, a flickering flame of a show that’ll brighten up little ones’ midwinters, if only for a while.

The Luna Winter Cinema

  • Film events

Luna has chosen the resplendent settings of Kensington Palace and Battersea Town Hall for its winter cinema season. Cosy up in the Pavillion on the Palace’s Orangery Lawn or in the art centre’s impressive domed ceilinged hall to watch Christmas classics like ‘Elf’, ‘Love Actually’ and ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ (and many more), as well as new releases like ‘Wonka’. The venue will be souped up with Luna Cinema's signature theming: giant Christmas trees, falling snow, and plenty of suitably festive food and drink options. Screening times vary. 

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