SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Mondays: 9:30AM to 5:00PM
Sundays: 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Tues - Sat: 9:30AM to 12:30PM
Time Needed: 2,5 hours
Nestled near the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre may seem a little out of place. It was, after all, designed after the original Globe Theatre which was built in 1599, (and then later rebuilt in 1614 after it was destroyed by a fire).
When it was first constructed, the Globe Theatre was located in the epicentre of London’s entertainment district on the Bankside in Southwark. Performances were put on by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and it is said that Shakespeare himself even sat in the theatre to watch his own performances.
The modern-day Globe Theatre is an oak-and-thatch replica of the original 1599 Elizabethan playhouse (which once sat about 200 metres from where the Globe stands today), and as a result concertgoers will feel as if they’ve been transported back to Elizabethan times when watching a performance.
Today the theatre serves as an open-air venue dedicated to the work of Shakespeare, and some of the many performances visitors can still watch at the playhouse include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and many, many more. Depending on the time of year, several plays, operas, comedy shows and candlelit concerts are held inside the playhouse as well.
Visitors can sit on the wooden benches (which can sit up to 340 people) surrounding the stage, or in any of the two tiers of galleried seating, and there are also productions held in the recently-opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (a candlelit indoor theatre located inside the Globe’s building). Attendees can even stand in the standing rabble directly in front of the stage, just as they did in the original theatre during Elizabethan times.
Not only does the Globe Theatre host numerous performances throughout the summer months, they also host guided tours of the playhouse as well as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which are led by the Globe’s many performers. During the tours, visitors are educated on the history of the Globe, and will also be shown costume and prop collections which are used during performances at the theatre.
Another highlight includes the Globe Theatre’s Exhibition, which educates visitors on Shakespeare’s life, as well as where he lived in London. It also gives some background on what Southwark would have looked like during Elizabethan times, as well as more information on the construction of the original playhouse.
Depending on when you visit, there may also be some temporary exhibitions and/or galleries being held inside the playhouse, which range from historical to photography exhibitions.
If you want to avoid the large crowds, try to avoid watching performances between May and August as it can get incredibly busy. If you plan on going on a tour, the 9:30 a.m. tours are usually the quietest.
If you plan on sitting on any of the wooden benches during a performance, it may be a good idea to rent a seat cushion for £1 as the benches can get quite uncomfortable after sitting for longer periods of time.
For the best view during a performance, try to get a spot leaning on the stage or the outer walls; (be prepared to get some interaction from the actors during the performance as well!)
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT, United Kingdom (See map).
The nearest stations are Blackfriars (a 10-minute walk away), and Mansion House (also a 10-minute walk away).
The nearest stations are Blackfrairs (a 10-minute walk away) or London Bridge (a 15-minute walk away).
You can reach the Globe Theatre via routes 45, 63 and 100 (to Blackfriars Bridge), 15 and 17 (to Cannon Street), 11, 15, 17, 23, 26 and 76 (to Mansion House), 381 and RV1 (to Southwark Street) or 344 (to Southwark Bridge Road).
The nearest car park is located on the northern side of Southwark Bridge.
There is a drop-off point on Southwark Bridge.
Make sure you check the weather forecast before you book your tickets, as those in the standing area may be “exposed to the elements” while watching a performance; (it is an open-air theatre after all). The use of umbrellas is strictly forbidden, so make sure you bring an extra raincoat and warm shoes, just in case. If you’re worried about standing in the rain, there are seats available which are protected under a sound roof.
Guided tours of the Globe Theatre and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse take about 30 minutes each, and you’re welcome to ask questions at the end of each tour. Visitors can also go on their own self-guided tour of the Exhibition which includes a complimentary audio guide that is available in several different languages; (visitors can pick up their audio guides at the admissions desk at the Exhibition). If no tour is running on the day of your visit, visitors can enter the Exhibition at a reduced price.
Visitors can also go on a tour to the Rose Theatre archaeological site (only on certain days when there is an afternoon matinee performance), to view the remains of the original Globe theatre. If you don’t feel like going on a tour, you can easily find the spot of the original theatre on your own, as it is marked with a plaque as well as information panels about 200 metres away from the Globe.
Due to the fact that the Globe is an open-air theatre, performances are only held from mid-April to mid-October. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse theatre season is from October until April, but candlelit music concerts are performed here throughout the year.
Globe Theatre tours, on the other hand, run every day throughout the year (except December 24th and 25th); however, during the performance season tours finish around mid-day in order to allow time for matinee performances. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse tours are only available on selected days, and generally run every 30 minutes between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The hours for the Globe Theatre tours are:
Both the Exhibition and tour tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served bases, so try to arrive at least 30 minutes before the final tour of the day to ensure yourself a spot.
For Shakespeare performances, seat ticket costs range depending on visibility. There are 700 standing tickets available (which offer the best views of the stage) and cost £5 each. Seating tickets for the lower, middle and upper galleries cost anywhere between £20 and £45.
If you want to watch a candlelit concert at the Globe Theatre, tickets cost £10 (for standing) or anywhere between £15 to £48 (for seating). Tickets for opera performances cost £10 (for standing) or £26-£79 (for seating), while tickets for comedy shows cost £10 (for standing) or £25-£35 (for seating).