Ai Weiwei: 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows
Join Ai Weiwei, the world-famous artist and activist, for a conversation about his widely anticipated memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows.
This ambitious yet intimate book tells a century-long tale of China through the story of his own tumultuous life and that of his father, Ai Qing, the nation’s most celebrated poet.
From his family’s banishment during the Cultural Revolution to the difficult decision to leave them to study art in America, and his subsequent rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist, Ai discusses an extraordinary life lived under extraordinary circumstances. He also reflects on the myriad forces that have shaped modern China and the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.
Ai Weiwei’s sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011.
Presented in partnership with Penguin Live
Need to know
For ages 16+
Copies of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows are available to buy as an optional add-on at checkout for the reduced price of £20 (RRP £25), to be collected on the night.
Dates & times
- Standard entry£15 – £35*
* Excludes £3.50 booking fee.
** Limited availability. Read about concessions.
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Toilets, including accessible toilets, are open on Level 2 of the Royal Festival Hall.
Situated on Level 1, our cloakroom is accessed via steps or platform lift from the Southbank Centre Square doors. It opens around 60 minutes before the start of any Royal Festival Hall show, and closes around 15 minutes after the performance ends.
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Entering the hall
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For level access to the Royal Festival Hall, please use the external lift near the Artists' Entrance on Southbank Centre Square, Belvedere Road, to Level 2, and enter via Riverside Terrace. All floors are accessible from the main foyer.
We welcome wheelchair users and guide companion dogs.
Blue Badge holders and those with access requirements can be dropped off on the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road off Belvedere Road (the road between the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery).
There are four Blue Badge parking spaces available for visitors located on the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road. Spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and are free to use. You must display your Blue Badge as you enter the site. Vehicles that do not display a Blue Badge are refused entry.
Blue Badge parking at National Theatre
Alternative parking for Blue Badge holders visiting the Southbank Centre can be found at the National Theatre car park (330 metres). If you are visiting the Hayward Gallery, just take your badge and car park ticket to the Ticket Desk in the gallery foyer for validation before you leave.
Please note: on Sunday when the National Theatre building is closed there is no step-free access from the car park.
Alternative parking is available nearby at the APCOA Cornwall Road Car Park (490 metres), subject to charges.
Blue Badge parking at APCOA Cornwall Road
Alternative parking for Blue Badge holders visiting the Southbank Centre can also be found at the South Bank Car Park – APCOA Cornwall Road Car Park. Just take your badge and car park ticket to the parking attendant office at the entrance to the car park for validation before you leave.
A drop-off point at the Royal Festival Hall (30 metres) has been created for visitors who are unable to walk from alternative car parks.
Our Access Scheme
If you have any access requirements, please sign up to our Access Scheme for discounts, wheelchair spaces, dedicated seats and free companion tickets. You can also join our mailing list to get news about accessible events and exhibitions.