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.

What is Southbank Centre?

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.


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 appearances by some of the biggest stars in the world. There’s also loads of family events, workshops and free performances.


What's on at Southbank Centre


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.


Southbank Centre Tours

What's there to do while I'm here?

So many things! From music and literature, visual arts, circus and comedy, there’s absolutely loads to choose from – and don't forget that 50% of our events are completely free to enjoy. The best way to find out is to check our calendar.


what's on at Southbank Centre

free events

What is there to eat and drink at Southbank Centre?

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.


eating and drinking at Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre Food Market


You are also welcome to bring your own food and soft drinks to the Royal Festival Hall foyers, where there is plenty of seating. Just note that only alcoholic drinks purchased at Southbank Centre can be consumed here.

Help, I’m lost!

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.


see a map of Southbank Centre


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.


see our Photo Access Maps


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 Cathedral. So if your ticket is telling you to go to Level 4 Green Side, Royal Festival Hall, that’s what that is all about. The main entrances into Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery can both be accessed from Riverside Terrace.

Where’s a good place to meet my friends?

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, Honest Burgers and the Southbank Centre Shop. You can’t miss it! If it’s not so nice, why not meet just inside the doorways of Royal Festival Hall next to the Mandela statue opposite Le Pain Quotidien, or inside Queen Elizabeth Hall foyers.


On a romantic date? Make an impression by suggesting you meet in the poetry section in Foyles bookstore on Queen’s Walk or book a table at Skylon. Meeting a friend who’s always late? Tell them to find you having a coffee at Hayward Gallery Cafe or a caipirinha in Las Iguanas.


We recommend you don’t suggest meeting ‘at the main entrance’ – that could mean something different depending which way you and your friends approach Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall or Hayward Gallery.

Where are the toilets?

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, accessible toilets, gender neutral toilets and a Changing Places toilet.

You can find toilets on every level of Royal Festival Hall. If the Level 2 facilities are busy try taking the stairs or lift up to a higher level, as they are often a bit quieter. You can find toilets in Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall too.


facilities & access

What happens if I arrive late for an event?

Don’t worry – we know that trains run late, London traffic can be 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.

we're here to help

Our Visitor Experience hosts are happy to help with any information you need while you are on our site – you'll see them around our venues and spaces looking friendly!