“ The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences is an arts venue dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband and consort, Prince Albert. It is situated in in the South Kensington area of London, England. The hall was originally to have been called The Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed by Queen Victoria when laying the foundation stone. It forms the practical part of a national memorial to the Prince Consort - the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by the heavy traffic along Kensington Gore. The hall also accommodates the largest pipe organ in the UK, and is the home of The Proms. „
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I've been to a number of concerts and events in London, but had never been to the Royal Albert Hall, that was until I went to see John Barrowman there on Monday 1th June 2009.
Tickets for John Barrowman's concert at the Royal Albert Hall (from here on in known as the RAH, for simplicity) were available through the usual big ticket sellers (SeeTickets and Ticketmaster) as well as directly through the RAH (online, by phone or in person). I ordered my ticket through Ticketmaster back in December 2008 and it arrived in plenty of time, where as my friend from Hungary had to collect hers.
Collecting tickets from the RAH on the day of the event is easy and there are two ways of going about this....... If tickets are booked directly through RAH, then you can use the ticket collection machines situated in the Box Office hall. All you do is swipe the credit/debit card you used to book the tickets (don't worry if you can't remember which one you used as you can keep swiping cards until you find the right one). When you have swiped your card, the machine will print your tickets for you... It's as simple as that! If you book your tickets through SeeTickets or Ticketmaster and need to collect them for any reason (such as you live abroad and the ticket company won't send them about) then you simply queue at the collection desk. The desk opens a short time before the auditorium doors open and is situated in the Box Office hall. On the day we were there, there seemed to be a few members of staff around being quite helpful.
The RAH is situated in Kensington Gore, on the edge of Hyde Park. If you arrive by tube then there are several tube stations you can use - Knightsbridge, South Kensington, Gloucester Road and High Street Kensington - each are roughly the same distance from the RAH, although I chose to use Knightsbridge station as you can just follow the A315 road to get to and from the hall. There is also a bus stop directly outside the building. If you are arriving by car then there is limited parking at the RAH (including parking for disabled visitors) and nearby parking at the nearby Imperial College.
Upon arriving at the RAH you'll notice various entrances into the RAH. The door number on your ticket will determine which one you should go in through. In my case, this was Door 11 as I was sitting in Block F in the stalls.
As all seats are reserved there's no need to queue outside for too long. We arrived at our nominated door 15 minutes before it was due to open (it was a really hot day, so we didn't want to swelter in the heat). What really surprised and pleased me is that the RAH opened the doors 5 minutes early - in my years of experience of concert going most venues open the doors anything between 5 and 30 minutes late!
The RAH is really well signposted inside so it is easy to find where to go, whether you want to go to the bar first or directly to your seat. I went directly to my seat and upon entering the auditorium I was greeted by a steward who helped me find my seat and politely told me (and everyone else, not that it stopped them) that "Mr Barrowman" had requested no photos.
Once seated, I didn't think the RAH was as big as it looked on the TV, but it's still a fair size, seating over 5,200 people. Sitting in Block F, Row 7, Seat 28, I had a fantastic view of the stage and plenty of room to stretch my legs out (once others had found their seats). One or two arrived late (John Barrowman was already on stage) but were still allowed in. I wouldn't fancy sitting in the seats at the very top of the RAH (I don't like heights), but I imagine the view would be great.
The sound and lighting were top notch - as one expects when going to a concert - but then I don't know if that's more to do with John Barrowman's crew than the RAH.
Still, all the best acts want to play at the Royal Albert Hall and having been there I can see why.
If you want a souvenir of your visit to the RAH then merchandise is available in the Box Office hall (t-shirts, tea towels etc). I somehow missed John Barrowman's merchandise (but did see some walking around with tour t-shirts), however programmes were being sold in the auditorium.
Exiting the RAH was done swiftly, so it only took a couple of minutes to get out (it's taken ages to get out of some concert venues).
If you wish to catch the act (either before or after the event) then the stage door is to one side of the Box Office entrance. There was possibly 100 people waiting for John Barrowman by the time I got out. My friend wanted to wait for him but after half an hour (11pm) I'd had enough (my feet were killing and there was a possibility he's already left!). Of course, I found out afterwards that he came out (of the building... he "came out" a long time ago!) around midnight.
Daytime tours of the RAH are also available, but I can't comment on them as I have yet to go on one.
So all in all, the Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful venue, with history and great views. I would certainly go to an event there again. I think the only downside is the walk from the tube stations (but then my feet were aching from a day of walking around London!).
As part of the London Pass, my parents (who are visiting from Australia) and I took the tour of Royal Albert Hall.
Royal Albert Hall is an amazing music venue. Tours start at around £6.00 and start on the half hour, and last an hour.
The tour commences with a history lesson on the building of Royal Albert Hall and how the funds were raised. It goes into detail of Prince Alberts death and the impacts to Queen Victoria.
The tour then takes you into a box seat, and shows where the Royal Box is and the queens entrance and private retiring room.
There are details provided about the acoustics of the hall, and the many different setups available for performances. Including Tennis, and filling a portion of it with water for a performance of Swan lake. I think the tour needs to have a better display of the sound levels, and a longer visit into the Hall itself. The staff weren't terribly helpful, and a little abrupt.
Make sure you visit the Albert memorial on the park opposite. Stunning.