The South Bank
As you can see from this mapthumb, right across the river from Charing Cross is the South Bank. In this small section lies an incredible number of venues for all types of entertainment – education and…. What else is there?
Below is our article with more details. (here too we shall be putting up a more detailed section with a selection of TopSpots.)
A Beating Heart for the Arts
The Royal Festival Hall has proved to be a serious encouragement to the Arts. When it was built over 50 years ago in 1951 nobody expected such growth to the level today where over 3 million people a year watch nearly a thousand paid performances of classical music, jazz and dance.
Many more see art exhibitions and hear readings of literature. Add to this, hundreds of free foyer events and educational programmes in and around the performing arts venues. These are all to top world standards and this draws people to feed their spirit. The growing number of people, who come to warm themselves on the enthusiasm and excellence of artists, has drawn shops to the area now known as the South Bank Centre.
Artists and audiences alike have supported the growth as much as bodies who distribute funds for building projects. There has been controversy over the architecture and some exhibits – notably the ‘Polaris’ comprised of 3000 car tyres which caused the death (by burns) of an arsonist who wanted to burn it. However the numbers who come continue to rise.
There have been constant building works – not least of which is the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall itself. Yet art – being at the heart of the place – continues to draw more and more people to a complex of Arts buildings on the South Bank of the River Thames. The new Golden Jubilee foot Bridge alongside the Hungerford railway bridge has made it more accessible to pedestrian traffic from the rest of London’s centre.
Europe’s Largest Arts Venue
The Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room, the Hayward Gallery and the Poetry Library, make the SBC Europe’s largest venue for the arts. Just the other side of Waterloo bridge, the National Theatre, incorporating the Cottlesloe, the Olivier and the Lyttleton have contributed to the growth of London’s West End Theatres. SBC have put on some of the world’s most notable plays.
The British cinema has also got some remarkable outlets. The National Film Theatre and the BFI IMAX are both operated by the British Film Institute. They present the film aspect of the arts. IMAX has the UK’s biggest cinema screen and a sophisticated projection system and also a state of art sound system (surround sound would be an understatement). That make this the newest experience cinema has to offer in london. 3D cinema.
Modernised means that although you still wear glasses, they are polarised rather than being separate red and green lenses. The fascination for 3D persists since the earliest days of the cinema nearly a century ago.
The National Film Theatre has a tradition and reputation for presenting a range of classic, independent and foreign language films. Hence cinema is internationally represented in the South Bank Centre for the Arts.
This friendly stretch of the river is great to walk through, extending eastwards from Westminster Bridge, past The London Eye, the Tate Modern and the new Shakespeare Globe Theatre to the East as far as Tower Bridge. The views of the Thames at night are memorable and great to photograph.
You might think it’s all overwhelming however there is a great sense of peace in the South Bank which also has some calm restaurants to rest and eat great food. It’s good to be away from the busyness over the river for a while. Even so there is always an undercurrent of that enthusiasm while artists and swing gang volunteers build sets, organise concerts and exhibitions and breathe life and art into the Art Centre.