The Royal Albert Hall Tour: FAQs

August 21, 2019 12:34 pm

What is the Royal Albert Hall?

The Royal Albert Hall is perhaps the most famous concert hall in the country. It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and has since played host to some of the most memorable, revered and notorious events in British cultural history. Take a look round it and learn all about its history on a Royal Albert Hall tour, which is what this article is all about.

Why is it called the Royal Albert Hall?

It’s named in tribute to Albert, Prince Consort and husband to Queen Victoria. Following London’s successful hosting of the Great Exhibition in 1851, Prince Albert pushed proposals for permanent cultural facilities and institutions in the capital. Albert died before his vision could come to life. A memorial to him was planned, with a great hall stood across from it. The Albert Memorial still stands in Kensington Gardens, with the Royal Albert Hall facing it.

Why is it so famous?

Because of its design… perhaps. It is an ellipse with a distance colour to it, courtesy of its liberal use of Fareham Red brick. The great dome, constructed from glass and wrought-iron, is 41m high and the whole building is ringed by a triumphant mosaic frieze, depicting important events in the story of the arts and sciences.

Also, references in songs and artworks helped it become part of the UK’s cultural fabric, particularly when John Lennon sang its name in the enigmatic ‘A Day in the Life’. It has become a byword for classiness and making it when it comes to the arts. If you’re playing the Albert Hall, you’re probably doing OK.

And perhaps it’s famous because of all the events that have taken place there, and all the famous people who’ve performed or been in attendance.

What events? What famous people?

Camille Saint-Saëns played the Hall’s great organ, known as the Voice of Jupiter, during a performance in 1871. The genius composer and virtuosic pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff played at the Royal Albert Hall in 1911.

Albert Einstein led a meeting about assisting refugee academics here in 1933; the Eurovision Song Contest was held at the Hall in 1968. Two sides of the same coin.

Sporting events regularly take place at the Royal Albert Hall. Past events include UFC 38, a Sumo wrestling tournament, and boxing bouts featuring Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis and Prince Naseem Hamed.

But it’s the music that still wins out. As well as hosting the BBC Proms – an eight-week classical music festival – each year, the Royal Albert Hall has put on shows by Beyonce, the Arctic Monkeys, Adele and Eric Clapton. Clapton has played the hall over 200 times, and once said that playing it was like ‘playing in my front room.’ Pink Floyd were banned from ever playing the hall again after a 1969 concert saw them setting off cannons and nailing things to the stage.

A piece by British pop artists Peter Blake, named Appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, shows more than 400 people who have performed and appeared at the hall. It’s a fun way of finding out just how many famous faces are associated with this place, having played, performed and watched shows here.

What will I see on the Royal Albert Hall tour?

Your guide introduces you to the history of the Hall as you take a look at the royal areas and the giant auditorium. You’ll see the famous stage and learn about the great variety of performances the hall puts on. The dome, its construction and the famous acoustical problems it presented are another interesting part of the Royal Albert Hall Tour. And the tour guides come armed with plenty of facts about the weirdest and wildest things to have occurred in the grand concert hall since it opened. Want to know about the time a church group made a river in the auditorium? The time an operatic concert called for the auditorium to be flooded? And what do the Krays have to do with this place? You’d better get yourself on a Royal Albert Hall Tour to find out.

This doesn’t always apply, so don’t get your hopes too high…but some lucky tour groups get the opportunity to watch world-class orchestras as they soundcheck prior to the evening’s performance. That’s a real treat.

When do the tours run?

The Royal Albert Hall Tour runs from 10am to 4pm from November to March, and between 9.30am and 4.30pm April to October. They leave every 30 minutes from the Cafe Bar at Door 12. Sometimes, because of performance schedules, the tour runs less frequently or, very occasionally, not at all.

How long do the Royal Albert Hall tours last?

Each tour lasts about an hour.

Can I take photos during the Royal Albert Hall tour?

Usually, yes. However, when events are taking place that evening and rehearsals are on, it’s not possible.

Is there anywhere to get food and drink?

Sure. There’s a cafe and an Italian restaurant. For a particularly memorable visit, consider ordering an afternoon tea after your tour.

Are the tours accessible for people with disabilities?

They are. And if you wish to arrange a touch tour or a tour for the deaf, contact 020 7589 8212.

Can I book a group tour?

If your group is 15 people or more, contact the Hall directly. Otherwise, just use the advance booking system online, or turn up nice and early on the day.

So tours can be booked on the day?

Yes, particularly when you are in small groups, pairs or on your own.

How much do tour tickets cost?

Standard adult tickets cost £13.75 when booked online, while concessions are £11.75 and children (5-16 years old) cost just £6.75. If you’re coming with children under 5, they are free, but you still need to get them a ticket.

However, tickets to the Royal Albert Hall Tour are free for London Pass holders.

How do I get there?

It’s best to get public transport to the Royal Albert Hall. South Kensington and High Street Kensington are the tube stations closest to the Hall, with both about 10-15 minutes walk away. The nearest step-free tube station is Green Park.

Bus-wise, number 9, 23, 52, 70, 360, 452 and 702 stop close to the Hall.

Not scratched your London landmark itch yet? Have a go on this.

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