The Royal Albert Hall hosts many different musical and theatrical productions each year.
This post covers what types of tours are offered, how to get there, facts about the landmark, and other things to do in the area.
For those wanting to visit the Hall, not as an audience spectator but as a tourist, the Hall is open for tours and exhibitions throughout the year.
Known as the Public Grand Tours, tours are led by highly-skilled guides who take visitors throughout the building including into the auditorium, the Queen’s private suites, and the Galleries.
Currently, Royal Albert Hall offers 3 types of tours and each tour last around an hour.
If you want to purchase admission, make sure to read our full post covering Royal Albert Hall tickets and discounts.
Royal Albert Hall Tour
Visitors get to see the royal areas of the Hall with a knowledgeable guide, take in the breath-taking auditorium, and see the stage that has played host to some of the world's biggest change-makers, history-makers, and stars.
Past performers and shows include notable examples such as the Arctic Monkeys, Muhammad Ali, the BBC Proms, Beyoncé, Winston Churchill, Cirque du Soleil, and Ed Sheeran.
Visitors also learn how the structure was established 150 years ago, the royal love story that led to it, and how they overcame one of the most difficult engineering tasks in the history of the UK: the Royal Albert Hall echo.
If you're fortunate, you might even catch an artist during soundcheck!
Behind the Scenes Tour
Note: Tour is currently unavailable.
Rarely, visitors are allowed to peek behind the curtain of this beloved Grade I listed structure to see areas of the Hall that are typically off-limits to the general public.
The Behind the Scenes tour brings you deep beneath to busy loading bay, under the stage, and into our dressing rooms.
These unique visits offer a chance to gain a different perspective on how the show, hospitality, and technical teams collaborate to stage more than 390 various events in the main auditorium each year.
Inside Out Architectural Tour
A cultural district known as Albertopolis, with the Royal Albert Hall at its centre, was constructed in South Kensington as a result of Prince Albert's idea and the efforts of his allies.
Visitors can take an inside architectural tour of the Hall building, following the exterior and interior contours as a friendly tour guide takes them on a voyage through Victorian history and architecture.
Nearest Tube to Royal Albert Hall
The closest London Underground stations are Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line) and South Kensington (Circle, District + Piccadilly lines).
The Hall can also be reached by bus routes: 9, 10, 52, 70, 360, 452.
We recommend using this Google map link for directions to Royal Albert Hall from anywhere in the London area.
Be sure to read our post on tips for navigating the London Underground.
Royal Albert Hall is located near several other London attractions, including Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, the Natural History Museum, and several other sites.
For more details on what you could pair with your visit to the Hall, consult our self-guided tour of Kensington and Hyde Park.
Facts and Figures
This concert hall is rich with history, and although you can learn a lot about it on their tours, we will also cover some of the more significant details below.
After the success of the Great Exhibition in 1851, Prince Albert – who was responsible for the Great Exhibition – proposed that a permanent venue should be built nearby to serve the continuing education and enlightenment of Victorian society.
A series of buildings in the area were planned – becoming known as Albertopolis.
Unfortunately, Albert died before his vision was realised and the Albert Memorial was added to the plans to commemorate the man who had begun the scheme of building education-centric structures in the Kensington area.
Victoria signed the Royal Charter to found the Corporation of the Hall of Arts and Sciences on the 20th of May in 1867.
The Hall was designed by civil engineers Major-General Henry Y.D. Scott and Captain Francis Fowke.
The two engineers had been influenced by ancient amphitheatres and was built to contest with the Cirque d’Hiver, a structure in Paris that was seen as the design for the engineers to now outdo.
Actually Built by Lucas Brothers, the Hall is comprised mainly of Fareham Red brick and terra cotta, giving it the well-known rustic colouring.
Building was finished and official opening took place on the 29th March 1871.
At the grand opening, Queen Victoria was too overcome with emotion to speak, leaving the duty of a welcoming speech to her eldest son, Edward, the Prince of Wales.
A concert to celebrate the opening followed the speech and it quickly became apparent that the Hall had serious acoustic problems, including a severe echo.
Word rapidly spread that the Hall had acoustic difficulties and it became said that the Royal Albert Hall was “the only place where a British composer could be sure of hearing his work twice.”
The problem of the echo was not, in fact, solved until 1969 when a group of large fibreglass discus were installed below the ceiling.
Renovation and Restoration
Between 1996 and 2004 the Hall underwent a serious programme of redevelopment.
A £20 million grant was given to the Hall to complete various necessary tasks including: improving ventilation, adding more bars and restaurants, improved seating, modernising the backstage areas, creating a new box office, and creating better technical facilities.
Most of the renovation done was based internally which means the outside of the building has changed but a little from its’ original design.
The renovation also included a major rebuilding of the original great organ inside the Hall.
Built by Henry Williams in 1871, then rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1924 AND 1923, the organ was rebuilt yet again by Mander Organs between 2002 and 2004.
Today, the organ is the second largest pipe organ in the British Isles, boasting 9,997 pipes!
The Hall has played host to numerous musical acts throughout the decade as well as being used as somewhat of a showroom and an exhibition space.
The first concert held here was on the 1st of May 1871 and was Arthur Sullivan’s On Shore and Sea.
Since then the Hall has seen poetry recitals, rock concerts, motor shows, ballet and opera, circus shows and sporting events, Cirque du Soleil performances, wrestling (including the first sumo wrestling tournament to be held in London!), as well as being used for filming by people such as Alfred Hitchcock.
Perhaps most famously of all, the BBC Promenade Concerts (“The Proms”), an eight-week summer season of daily classical music concerts, has been held in the Hall since 1942.
Annually the Classic Brit Awards are held in the Hall as is the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance.
Imperial College London, the Royal College of Art as well as Kingston University have used the Hall for their graduation ceremonies and the Hall has also hosted numerous film premiers: Skyfall and Titanic 3D being just a couple.
The original plan for the building was for it to be named The Central Hall of Arts and Sciences.
However, the name was changed by Queen Victoria as a dedication to her late husband, Prince Albert.
She made the name change on the laying of the foundation stone and although today it is commonly referred to as the Royal Albert Hall, the full name of the venue is the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences.
Restaurants Near Royal Albert Hall
- Verdi Italian Kitchen at Royal Albert Hall
- The Ivy Kensington Brasserie
- Publiq. South Kensington
- Memories of India Kensington
- Ognisko Restaurant
- Launceston Place
Hotels Near Royal Albert Hall
- The Gore London - Starhotels Collezione
- The Queen's Gate Hotel
- DoubleTree by Hilton London Kensington
- Montana Hotel Kensington
Pubs Near Royal Albert Hall