What makes the Royal Albert Hall so special?The Royal Albert Hall is one of the most distinctive concert venues in the UK, and one of the best-loved. It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and is named after her husband, Prince Albert, who died in 1861 before seeing his grand project completed: the building of facilities in the area for the enlightenment of ordinary members of the public. The Royal Albert Hall has formed a part of his legacy, with many concerts and events providing affordable tickets in order to be more inclusive. It was immediately the site of several notable performances, including by composers Camille Sant-Saëns, Richard Wagner, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. In 1906 it became the home of the Central School of Speech and Drama, which trained many of Britain’s most famous actors and actresses of the 20th century, including Dame Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, and Laurence Olivier among others. Today the Royal Albert Hall seats over 5,200 spectators and hosts more than 390 shows of different genres annually.
Should I take a tour of the concert hall?The standard tour takes about an hour and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the building and the most notable performers who’ve played the hall over the years. Alternatively, you can learn more about the different shows, hospitality, and technical teams and their work on a Behind-the-Scenes tour. Finally, the Inside Out architectural tour is available for visitors more interested in the building than the music, or those who’ve already tried the other versions and want some new information. Other specialist tours may be available throughout the year, for instance, a Film & TV tour during the annual Festival of Film. Tours are available in English, but a British Sign Language interpreter is available if you let the venue know in advance that one is required, and tours in other languages are available for groups of over 15 people who book in advance.
Can I take photographs?During the tour, you can take photographs in most of the areas explored. In the event that photography isn’t allowed, for example, if your tour takes place during rehearsals for a production, the tour guide will let you know that you should wait until you’ve left the area to resume taking pictures. Photography may be allowed during concerts or other events using ‘non-professional cameras’, but in general, visitors are asked not to use flash and not to film so as not to disturb the performers or other visitors.
How can I get tickets to the BBC Proms?The BBC Proms is the name of an iconic 8-week festival of music, which first took place in 1895 and has become a British institution during the last 120 years. The Proms were designed to bring classical music to a wider audience by offering low-priced tickets and an informal atmosphere, and to this day it’s possible to get ‘promming’ tickets on the day of each concert for just £6. The program for each year is released in April, with tickets for seats available from May. Rather than via the Royal Albert Hall, it’s best to purchase tickets from the official BBC Proms website or to turn up at the Royal Albert Hall at 9 am on the day of the concert you’d like to attend to buy promming tickets. ‘Promming’ refers to the people standing during a concert, and there are two spaces at the Royal Albert Hall where Prommers can stand, either in the Arena in the center of the auditorium or in the Gallery, at the very top of the hall. Different rules apply for tickets to the Last Night at the Proms, please refer to the BBC Proms official website for details.
What are food options are available at the Royal Albert Hall?Visitors are requested not to bring their own food to the venue, though they can bring bottled water. The Royal Albert Hall’s restaurants and bars open 2 hours before every performance, and some are also open throughout the day. There are three restaurants: Coda Restaurant (with a menu by Michelin-awarded chef Éric Chavot), the Elgar Room Brasserie, and Verdi - Italian Kitchen, which is also open for afternoon tea. Some restaurants offer the possibility of eating a starter and a main before the performance begins, then returning during the interval for dessert and coffee - ask your waiter for details if you’d like to take advantage of this feature. All of the hall’s restaurants tend to be full on evenings with performances, so booking ahead is highly recommended. If you’ve booked seats in a box in the Grand Tier, Second Tier, or Loggia, then it’s possible to have food and drinks delivered to your seat, and you can place your orders up to 48 hours in advance via an app or online.