While in London, we walked over to the Royal Albert Hall to see if there was anything going on that we could buy last minute tickets to see. Unfortunately, they were in the midst of setting up for a major awards show and there was nothing on the schedule for the last few days of our trip. However, we noticed that they had guided tours of the hall during the day.
Before our tour, we walked around the exteriors of the hall and took some pictures.
Right next to the hall, there is a very beautiful building for music students. Our tour guide was a music student at the school and he was very enthusiastic during our tour of the hall. How do you get to the Royal Albert Hall? Give tours I guess...and practice!
Before our tour, we had a latte in the Hall's cafe. I took a picture, because I thought that the "Table Bin" was a cute and clever way to manage trash.
The Royal Albert Hall opened in 1871 and was in large part funded by the money generated from The Great Exhibition of 1851, that was held across the street from the hall, in Hyde Park. The exhibition was a labor of love for Prince Albert and when he died, Queen Victoria wanted to carry on his dream of having a permanent building for the arts. Directly across from the hall, Queen Victoria commissioned a grand monument be erected to honor Prince Albert, the great love of her life.
Dan took this great shot of the hall as viewed from the monument.
The hour long tour was an information overload. One of the most special parts, was when we were allowed to go inside the private entrance and reception room for the Royal Family. It's discreet and normal concert goers would never even realize that it was there. I would not be able to find it again. The two story room provides a space for a small party prior to the show and it is located directly across from their private box, so there is an avoidance of the other concert guests. We couldn't go into their box, but we were able to take a peek inside of a typical private box. Very fancy. With the awards show set-up going on, the box had a dining table laid with white linens and crystal.
We walked around top of the hall and looked down to watch the awards show set up. The Royal Albert Hall looks like an absolutely amazing place to see a concert. I hope that on our next trip to London we can buy tickets for a performance!
Dan took this great panorama shot. The colors in this photo are so pretty.
A interesting thing that we learned about the hall, is that there is a high number of seats that are owned by individuals or companies. Many of these seats were permenantly purchased for the low price of a hundred pounds, as the hall was being built. They were sold to raise money for the building. As a provision of the sale, the seats can be bequeathed when the original owner dies, meaning several generations can enjoy their purchase. The seats are theirs for a majority of the yearly schedule, only a handful of special performances are exempt. It is rare that a family will sell off their seats, but when they do, they are sold for many times their original value. A box can go into the millions. Due to the permanent seats, sometimes a sold-out show can have many empty chairs.
As we were leaving, Dan took this balcony shot with the Royal Albert Hall logo on the screen door.
Our tour of the Royal Albert Hall was one of the highlights of our London trip. Even without seeing a show, it was fascinating to walk around the hall and learn about its History. If you're planning a trip to London, make sure to add this to your must-do list.