London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall is celebrating 150 years of performances in 2021, with an exciting programme of events and festivals. The home of show-stopping entertainment since the Victorian era, the anniversary season is set to include live performances from musical legends such as Patti Smith, Brian Wilson and composer David Arnold. If you’re dreaming of a cultural getaway to London in the future, you can get inspired with our round up of key events, with a whole host of entertainment still to be announced.
Named in honour of the late Prince Albert, the Royal Albert Hall was officially opened on 29 March 1871 by the Prince of Wales, with Queen Victoria close by. Since then, the hall has gained a reputation as the backdrop to key moments in British cultural history, including the Great Pop Prom of 1963, which saw the Rolling Stones and the Beatles playing on the same bill for the first time, in the year that marked the start of Beatlemania in Britain.
Marking the anniversary in the digital world, this rich history is showcased in Your Room Will Be Ready. A 95-second video narrated by Sir Mick Jagger, the piece invites you to experience some of the venue’s most legendary performances, including those by Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix and Adele, and to look forward to when we can all experience the arts together once more.
If you want to delve deeper into the hall’s history from home, you can pick which era to explore via the Royal Albert Hall’s online time machine, for an insight into the ground-breaking events held across the decades. Alternatively, you can discover more via the Hall of Fame. Brought to life with artwork by Peter Blake, the interactive experience gives you a taste of past performances and live events to come.
Acclaimed composer David Arnold will celebrate the story of the Royal Albert Hall with a specially commissioned piece titled ‘A Circle of Sound’. Performed at the hall’s 150th anniversary concert, this special 10-movement piece will be played by the Tri-borough Music Hub, National Youth Choir of Great Britain and the resident Education and Outreach ensemble, Albert’s Orchestra.
A week-long festival, Journeys, will celebrate 150 years of immigration as part of the anniversary season. Curated by award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney, the festival will include panel discussions, community workshops and a newly commissioned piece of work performed by Sawhney himself.
If you’re a fan of live entertainment, you can look forward to an inspirational coming together of women, girls and non-binary people, with WOW – Women of the World. Now in its tenth year, WOW will feature a line-up of important activists, comedians and performers, and is set to rock the stage on 23 September.
From moving compositions to sizzling dance performances, Matthew Bourne, one of Britain’s best-loved contemporary choreographers, will bring The Car Man to the Royal Albert Hall this year. Reimagined in 1960s America and set in a run-down garage-diner, the piece is a fierce reimagining of Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Expect spectacular stage design from award-winning artists, passionate scenes and dancers moving throughout the auditorium. Dates are yet to be confirmed.
The celebrations continue with musical highlights scheduled throughout the year. Co-founder of the Beach Boys and song-writing genius Brian Wilson will perform his greatest hits on 4 July, while the annual Proms events will grace the stage from 30 July. Patti Smith and Her Band will bring her punk-poetry anthems to the famous London stage on 4-5 October, in what will be the inimitable artist’s first ever Royal Albert Hall performance. And Grammy award-winning jazz and soul singer Gregory Porter will also perform over consecutive nights from 13-16 October, four years after he recorded his first live album in the venue’s hallowed halls.