The Royal Albert Hall.
The Royal Albert Hall is probably one of the most well recognised concert venues in the United Kingdom and has played host to many world famous artists. It is also recognised throughout the world. Primarily it is well known as a concert theatre with many philharmonic orchestras, grand choirs, famous rock and pop stars performing in the building. It has been used for wrestling, judo, boxing matches and sumo wrestling. There have been plays, opera performances, Cirque Du Soliel shows, shows on ice, ballet performances, exhibitions and award ceremonies to name a few. The hall is a very versatile building.
Annually it plays host to 'the proms' a series of classical concerts held each summer and last weekend culminating in the finale or the last night of the proms which linked up with outside broadcasts in Kensington gardens with an additional 40,000 people, also in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The other annual event is on the evening before remembrance Sunday when the Queen and members of the Royal family attend a Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance a concert and service display which ends in a gathering of members of all the armed forces and supporting service personnel remembering those that gave their lives for the country.
How and why did the Royal Albert Hall come into existence in the first place?
Following the success of the great exhibition of 1851 it was decided to build some permanent buildings with the aim of promoting an understanding and appreciation the arts and Sciences. This was the vision of Prince Albert.
Prince Albert was a leading figure in organising and planning of great exhibition but his early demise through contracting Typhoid in 1861 saw the call for a fitting memorial to be built in his honour. A magnificent permanent memorial was built opposite in Kensington gardens with a statue of Prince Albert consort to Queen Victoria covered in Gold leaf which in itself is good enough to warrant its own review. Opposite a great exhibition hall would also be built in his memory.
Six years following his death in 1857 Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for the building that was originally going to be called The Corporation of the Hall of Arts and sciences however eventually it was decided to rename it the Royal Albert Hall. The building was completed in 1870 and it was officially opened in March 1871. It was said that Queen Victoria was so overcome at the opening ceremony that it was Prince Edward (Later Edward VII) who announced 'The Queen declares this hall is now open.'
The Royal Albert Hall is built in the shape of a Roman amphitheatre and from the outside you can see it is a beautiful round building. The building looks Victorian quite gothic and in keeping with buildings of the time. It is built with 6 million distinctive red bricks and 80, 000 pieces of terracotta decorations. The roof is an iron and glass domed roof. Originally the hall was lit by the use of gas lamps but these were replaced with electric lighting in 1897. There have been several upgrades and improvements over the years and the most recent restoration cost in excess of £70 million. One of the most significant major flaws was the acoustics of the building which made any sounds echo this was finally sorted out in 1967 where great mushroom shaped sound absorbing objects were hung from the roof which absorbed the sound waves making it less echoing. During performances you can actually see the mushrooms moving and vibrating as they absorb the sound. There is a massive pipe organ behind the stage that is the second largest Organ in the United Kingdom. It has 999 pipes.
Inside the hall.
There are several entrances so if you have bought your tickets before hand the tickets will tell you which entrance to use to reach your seats. Depending on where you are seated will determine how many flights of stairs you have to mount.
On entering the Hall you are taken aback by the size of the auditorium it appears so vast. The decorative style looks very formal, deep crimson red and gold leaf which is based on the great opera houses of Italy.
The auditorium measures 185 feet wide and 219 feet long.
There are eight viewing levels tiers working up from the ground floor up to the rafters and seats 7000 people plus a standing gallery right at the top of the hall.
From the ground up the levels are:
The choir behind the stage
The Grand tier
The second tier
The Gallery (Standing only).
The three tiers are boxes that seat between six and 12 people each of which are accessed via the circular corridors on each floor. Many of the boxes are privately owned mainly by corporate companies in the city.
I have been to quite a few concerts and events at the Albert Hall and have sat in all the different levels except the Standing Gallery. The most comfortable are indeed the boxes but that does not mean you will get a brilliant view because in some of the boxes there are support pillars that mar the view. Also if the box you are sitting in is nearer the front of the hall you do not get a very good view. To be quite honest I have always found that the best seats are in the Circle directly in front of the stage but there are three major draw backs from the stalls
1. You are furthest away from the stage at this point.
2. It is very high and not ideal if you suffer from Vertigo
3. As you are sat very high the heat rises to the top of the hall it can become incredibly hot and uncomfortable even in the winter.
The costs can be as expensive or as cheap as you are willing to pay out.
Obviously the higher up you are the cheaper it gets with the exception of the boxes which are more private and exclusive.
The standing Gallery you can nab a place here for approximately £10 when it is not being used for filming performances or is part of the show.
The rear Circle £27
The Front Circle £33.50
The Grand Tier and second tier are sold out or not available.
The loggia in rear seats £37.50
The Stalls £33.50
The Arena £33.50
Just a warning though some seats do not have a very good view and are priced a bit lower. There is an area either side in the circle that is designated restricted view. If it is just a music concert you are attending then it is not too bad but if you need a visual element to your enjoyment then this is not worth it.
The above tickets are for a concert in November for Paul Potts which is nearly a sell out. This was the only concert I could find with a few seats left at the beginning of November and its on a Wednesday night.
Checking seats for an event in February Cinderella on ice there are seats with restricted views from £15 and Box seats from £52.50
There are a bars on each lever for pre show drinks or during the interval. There are toilets at various intervals in the corridors running around each tier.
There are three restaurants that you can dine in before your show and 13 bars around the hall plus a champagne bar. If you are in one of the boxes you can arrange for a mini hamper box with Champagne and flowers if you are making it a special occasion which has to be ordered in advance.
There are various back stage tours and other interesting tours of the Albert Hall and a good programme of activities for schools and children.
Would I recommend a visit to the Royal Albert Hall?
Yes I would as it is a super venue offering a wide variety of concerts and performances. So if someone or something you like is on there I would go and book seats as soon as you know it is on because seats sell out fast even up to a year in advance.
The address for those with Sat Nav although I do not recommend driving there.
The Royal Albert Hall.
There are bus's that run right past the Albert Hall from all directions.
Nearest tube station High Street Kensington.
Plenty of expensive Black cabs.
Parking is available if pre booked at the hall but it is expensive and restricted.
The Royal Albert Hall has a fantastic website and you can sign up for regular emails that tell you all that is going on. The web site can be found at the following address.
The Royal Albert Hall was built by Queen Victoria to commemorate her husband Albert and thought by many to be the most famous and most beautiful concert hall in the UK. It is worth visiting just to look at the amazing arcitecture, without even needing to go inside. On a summers evening that red brick literally glows.
If you ever get the chance to attend an event at RAH (as fans know it), then you absolutely must! An evening performance in that hall is simply incredible. I have been lucky enough to attend 3 performances there, one of which required black tie and cocktail dress which just added to the incredible vibe of the place.
Inside the hall, the first time you sit down and get a chance to look around you, it will simply take your breath away! It is so beautiful.
Prices for shows are very reasonable, especially if you book directly from the hall. On show nights I have always found staff to be very professional and polite, particularly in assisting you to your seat.
Personally, I think it's worth a ticket, just so you can say you've been!