First time visit tips
Welcome to Southbank Centre! We’re so happy you’re coming to see us.
We hope you have a great time, whether it’s the first of many visits or a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Here’s some information to help you make the most of the experience.
Southbank Centre is an arts complex comprising three main buildings: Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall (which is also where you’ll find the Purcell Room), and Hayward Gallery. Due to renovations, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery are currently closed, due to reopen in 2018.
We curate many different festivals, including annual events such as Imagine, Meltdown and Alchemy, visual arts exhibitions, the country’s biggest programme of classical music and one-off appearances by some of the biggest stars in the world. There’s also loads of family events, workshops and free performances.
If you want to find out more while you're here, why not book a tour? You can choose from a Behind The Scenes tour, which looks at the running and history of Southbank Centre, or explore the site and buildings in our Architecture Tour.
Enjoy British and international cuisine at our eateries including wahaca, Giraffe, Strada, Skylon and our Riverside Terrace Cafe. Or check out the Southbank Centre Food Market for tasty treats and desserts from Fridays to Sundays, and often throughout the week during our festivals.
You are also welcome to bring your own food and soft drinks to the Royal Festival Hall foyers, where there is plenty of seating. Only alcoholic drinks purchased at Southbank Centre can be consumed here.
Don’t panic – there is plenty of signage to help you find your way around. Also have a look at our maps online or pick one up on site. And you can always ask one of our friendly Visitor Experience Hosts for directions – they’re always on site and can be identified by their T-shirts and Southbank Centre staff passes.
If you’re one of those people who takes in information better visually, have a look at our photos and video tours of the site. This is also a good way to plan out step-free routes.
Most people enter Royal Festival Hall on Level 2, which is where you’ll find Central Bar, The Clore Ballroom and Riverside Terrace. Royal Festival Hall is divided into two halves: Green Side, which is the side nearer the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament; and Blue Side, which is nearer to Queen Elizabeth Hall and St Paul’s. So if your ticket is telling you to go to Level 4 Green Side, that’s what that is all about.
Is it a nice day? How about suggesting you meet at the Nelson Mandela statue on Festival Terrace – that’s the elevated walkway which runs between Royal Festival Hall and the strip of shops including Las Iguanas and Feng Sushi. You can’t miss it! If it’s not so nice, why not suggest you meet just inside the doorways of Royal Festival Hall next to the Mandela statue, opposite Le Pain Quotidien cafe.
On a romantic date? Make an impression by suggesting you meet in the poetry section in Foyles bookstore on Queen’s Walk. Meeting a friend who’s always late? Tell them to find you having a coffee in Caffe Vergnano or a caipirinha in Las Iguanas.
We recommend you don’t suggest meeting ‘at the main entrance’ – that could mean something different to where you think, depending which way you and your friends approach Royal Festival Hall!
Glad you asked – it’s the question we get more than any other. The good news is there are loads of toilets on site, including baby changing facilities and accessible toilets.
You can find toilets on every level of Royal Festival Hall. If the Level 2 facilities are very busy try taking the stairs or lift up to a higher level, as they are often a bit quieter.
Don’t worry – we know that trains run late, London traffic is terrible and things happen at home and at work that you need to deal with.
If you’ve missed the start of an event you should approach one of our Visitor Experience Hosts and they’ll let you know if there’s a suitable time for latecomers to take their seats. But please understand that sometimes artists request that their performances not be disrupted at all, and we must respect their wishes.