BARBICAN ULTIMATE GUIDE
Mon – Sat: 9:00AM to 11:00PM
Sun: 11:00AM to 11:00PM
Time Needed: 2.5 hours
Price: £15 – £80
Any tourist on a free walking tour around the City of London might be aghast at the mammoth scale of The Barbican Centre. But don’t be fooled by its exterior because inside this huge building lies a treasure trove for all arts, music, and theatre lovers, not to mention a hidden gem of an oasis located in the heart of London.
Serving as a cultural venue with theatres, a concert and music hall, three cinemas, an art gallery, and exhibition centres, no arts genre goes uncovered at this massive venue in London (which is the largest of its kind in the UK).
The venue is known around the world for hosting a variety of festivals throughout the year, as well as everything from theatre and musical performances, film talks and salsa music shows, to art exhibitions, special film screenings for schools and even poetry programmes. The Barbican is also famous for being home to the London Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the top five orchestras in the world.
Its stunning gardens remains to be one of London’s best-kept secrets as well, as they boast a central water feature with fountains, 2,000 different species of tropical plants and trees, and exotic fish, quails and finches.
Besides watching a highly-acclaimed performance, play or production, visitors also venture to the Barbican to watch a classical music concert performed by some of the best world-renowned orchestras in the world.
If you want to learn more about the Barbican’s unique architectural design, or even join a tour to explore the Barbican’s resident gardens with an expert guide, there are three different tours to choose from:
- Architecture Tours – Where visitors can go on a 90-minute tour led by a Barbican guide to learn more about the construction and design of the building as well as its surroundings. Visitors can also enjoy some post-tour refreshments at the Barbican Kitchen for a hot drink and cake.
- The Big Barbican Adventure Tour – For families to explore some of the more “secret” areas of the Barbican on a do-it-yourself, clue-solving adventure tour which includes drawing and games. The trail takes about one hour to complete and visitors are given a free trail kit from the Advance Box Office. If a visitor manages to “crack the code” of the activity, they can pick up a reward at the end of the tour.
- The Barbican Conservatory Tour – Led by the Barbican’s resident garden experts, where visitors can explore the Barbican’s “Secret Garden” (also the second largest conservatory in London) for a 60-minute tour. The meeting point takes place on level 3 outside the Garden Room.
For the most picturesque views surrounding the Barbican, take a stroll around the Wood Street/Fore Street entrance and snap some photos of the little church on the grounds. You can join a free tour around the area to explore this quaint part of London.
If you plan on having a bite to eat at the café, you can take your food outside and sit in the sun.
If you want to avoid the busy crowds and still enjoy the scenery surrounding the Barbican, try to visit mid-week when it’s not so busy.
Address: Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS, United Kingdom.
By Tube: If you are travelling by tube, the nearest stations are Barbican (five minutes walk), St Paul’s (13 minutes walk) and Moorgate (ten minutes walk).
By Bus: If you are travelling by bus, route 153 runs along Chiswell Street directly past the Barbican.
By train: If you are travelling by train, the nearest stations are Liverpool Street (14 minutes walk) and Farringdon (12 minutes walk).
By express: If you are travelling by express, there is a hop-on hop-off point located on Silk Street.
By car: If you are travelling by car, the Barbican has four car parks located on Beech Street and Silk Street.
Visiting the Barbican
No matter what time of the year or day of the week you visit, there’s bound to be some kind of performance, show, or exhibit happening at the Barbican.
To find out more information about the many events, performances and concerts being held at the Barbican, check the venue’s “Event Calendar” on their official website. If you want to watch a London Symphony Orchestra performance, you can see their upcoming performances on the “Events Calendar” section of the LSO official website.
If you want to enjoy a meal inside the Barbican, there are a handful of different restaurants inside the venue which offer everything from pizzas, burgers, craft beers, milkshakes, Italian wines and much more. Visitors are also welcome to go inside the Barbican and have a coffee or a meal with friends or family, or even just to sit on one of the sofas and use the free WiFi on a quiet afternoon.
When to Visit
The Barbican is open from:
- 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Saturday
- 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays
- 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on bank holidays
Ticket prices vary depending on what type of show, performance or event you want to attend. If you want to see a theatre performance, tickets can cost anywhere from £15 (for far-away seats at lesser-known shows) to as high as £80 (for better seats at bigger shows).
If you’re on a budget but still want to attend an event at the Barbican, the venue hosts Monday night film events which cost around £6, and some of the many exhibitions are often free as well.
If you want to watch a show/performance/exhibit etc. at the Barbican, you will need to book well in advance because the majority of events sell out fast. Not only that, tickets can be much cheaper if you purchase them beforehand as well.
For anyone wishing to go on a tour of the Barbican, tickets cost:
- Architecture Tours – £12.50 for adults, £10 for seniors, students and children under the ages of 16, and £11.50 for groups of 10 or more people. To begin your tour, meet at the Advance Ticket Desk on level G.
- The Big Barbican Adventure Tours – Free for everyone, and you can pick up your free trail kit at the Advance Ticket Office (between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, or 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and bank holidays).
- The Barbican Conservatory Tour – This tour starts every day at 11 a.m. during the summer months and lasts for one hour. Tickets cost £12.50 for adults, £10 for seniors, students or children under the ages of 16 and £11.50 for groups of more than ten people. The tour meets at the Advance Ticket Desk on level G.
If you are interested in visiting the Barbican Centre, you might want to check out the many free tours in London available.