Don't be fooled by its exterior, because inside the Barbican's walls 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 the City 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 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 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.
- 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.