Commonly known as the 'People's Palace' or Ally Pally, Alexandra Palace looks out over north London from a height. Its altitude rewards casual walkers with spectacular views, and its commanding location and 190-odd acres of leafy parkland mean it's often mistaken for a magnificent palace of regal importance.
In reality, it's an offbeat arts/entertainment centre that's making a renewed bid to pull in Londoners for nights out, after decades in the doldrums. In 2018, it re-opened the massive theatre space that had been out-of-action for decades, giving it a makeover that left its most picturesquely crumbling bits intact. So far, it's offered a mix of touring large-scale plays, seated gigs, and kids shows. The adjoining East Court is back in action too, offering an airy conservatory-like space where theatregoers can drink, mingle and take tea. These additions join the venue's existing indoor ice-skating rink, expo hall and a vast gig space where you can catch big names and the odd clubbing event.
Hopefully, this renovation will mark a new chapter in Ally Pally's troubled history. Built in 1873 as a palace for the people, it has experienced bad luck including two devastating fires (the first just two weeks after it opened; the second in 1980 after it was rebuilt), years of poor funding and periods of bad management.
Despite this, Ally Pally continues to hold a spot in the heart of Londoners, and a proud place in history as the birthplace of the world's first regular public television broadcast by the BBC in 1936. There's a bonfire night every year, a boating lake, pitch and putt course, and deer enclosure.