Having arrived at Heathrow a little after 7 am, I had a few hours to kill before my impending train to Birmingham so figured a visit and tour of London’s Royal Albert Hall was in order. With the first tour commencing promptly at 9:30 am, I loaded my bag into the luggage room and awaited our tour guides arrival. What lay ahead was perhaps one of the best venue tours I have ever participated in.
As the tour unfolds, you quickly learn of the deep love Queen Victoria had for Prince Albert as the venue is named after him and memories and hints of his existence are dotted all around. Our cheeky tour guide gave us a rich insight into not just the RAH but the history or the surrounding area and other venues. Something I found interesting was that the Royal Box is often used by staff of the Royal Family when the family are unable to make it. Naturally, the Royal Family have their own facilities away from the concert hall itself.
All up, there are over 500 events that take place each year which include not just concerts but circus events, presentation nights, comedy acts, theatre and even school events. There is even a science fiction event coming up soon! All gear is loaded in and out of the venue through an underground entrance which allows faster set up and take down times for events in the main hall. A selection of change rooms can cater from a small handful up to 800 performers in one sitting. You don’t really think too much about things like that when you attend concerts or events.
Scattered around the walls af the RAH are a fine selection of photographs of performers from their time playing live at the venue. You sometimes forget just how many amazing acts has taken to the historic stage here in London. They never ban artists from returning either. Normally, when a group wishes to return like The Beatles and Rolling Stones for example in the 1960’s, venue management inform the relevant management teams for the artists that they are booked out on the requested dates. Very polite of them I must say.
Taking up almost two hours, the tour concludes back where we started out and I am safe in the knowledge that I’ve had a fantastic time and now know a lot more about the Royal Family and London’s rich history than I had before the tour commenced. There is even one of Elton John’s piano on display in one of the smaller rooms.
Tours cost £13 and run on the half hour from 9:30 am daily and you can get there by South Kensington tube station followed by a short walk. You are able to purchase tickets upon arrival and there is a reasonable cafe to kill time in before and after. I’ve been meaning to partake this tour for some years now and am very glad I finally got around to it.