"Southbank Centre" Top 5 Page for this destination Southbank Centre Food Markets Tip by toonsarah

Southbank Centre Food Markets, London: 5 reviews and 21 photos

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This area of London?s riverside has been a focus for the arts since the 1951 Festival of Britain. The buildings are somewhat brutal in style, reflecting their origins in the immediate post-war period, and in the concrete-loving sixties. The oldest is the Royal Festival Hall, built for the exhibition itself, and this was joined by the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room in 1967, and the Hayward Gallery in 1968. The complex is linked by a series of walkways, which can feel rather bleak and windswept, but recent improvements have done much to dispel that image, and in any case what the Centre lacks in beauty it makes up for in facilities and in vibrancy.

There is always something happening here, and it?s particularly buzzy at weekends. In addition to the events in the buildings themselves there is a book market, cafés and restaurants, fountains and statues, and regular free entertainment in the Festival Hall foyer. Outside families picnic in nearby Jubilee Gardens and enjoy walking by the river; teenagers skateboard; buskers and ?living statues? entertain the crowds.

Because the centre consists of a mix of venues, the programme is very varied. In the concert halls you might hear classical or world music, rock or pop or jazz, or see ballet and other dance performances. Meanwhile the Hayward focuses on visual arts, mainly modern. One fairly recent and much talked-about exhibition here was last year?s Anthony Gormley retrospective, with his work displayed not only in the gallery itself but on a number of rooftops across the surrounding area (see my travelogue for some images of this show). It?s important to book in advance for popular art exhibitions like this, and for the concerts, but if you simply want to get a sense of what?s on offer and enjoy the buzz, just turn up any Sunday afternoon and see what?s on offer.

There are also lots of places to eat and drink here, from smart restaurants to casual cafes. For a complete list, check out the Food & Drink area of the Centre?s website.

Address: Waterloo, SE1
Directions: The nearest tube is Waterloo (Bakerloo, Northern & Jubilee lines) but it?s fun in nice weather to use Embankment (Circle & District lines) and walk across the Jubilee Pedestrian Bridges (use the eastern one for the best views).
Phone: +44 (0)20 7960 4200
Website: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written May 10, 2008
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