Some believe that London's National Theatre is the greatest theatre in the world, and rightfully so. With four different auditoriums showcasing up to 25 different shows a year, not to mention a strong presence in London's West End theatre district, the National Theatre (also known as the Royal National Theatre) has become a haven for theatre fanatics from all over the world.

Perched on the South Bank riverside, this massive theatre is also a learning centre which hosts theatre tours throughout the year, and even broadcasts to cinemas all over the world through its National Theatre Live Stream (which also plays free to UK schools).

Besides producing theatre performances and events of the highest calibre, the venue also boasts its own bookshop selling books, playtexts and gifts, as well as three different restaurants, a bar and daytime tours for visitors.

National Theatre, No Fit State Barricade. By Dave Pearce National Theatre, St. Paul's Cathedral view. By Steve Keiretsu
National Theatre, deck chairs. By Rev Stan National Theatre, event. By Ania Mendrek National Theatre, at night. By Andrew Sweeney

National Theatre Highlights

Regardless of what type of performance you plan on seeing at the National Theatre, you are bound to be graced by some of the best acting, directing and producing on the planet.

Luckily for theatre fanatics, the National Theatre now offers four different tours to choose from:

  • Costume Tours – Where visitors can see how the National Theatre's costume team prepares the theatre actors and actresses for performances using make-up, wigs, and costumes. During the tour, visitors will be led to the cutting room, wig room and dye shop.
  • Architecture Tours – On these 90-minute tours, visitors can hear more about the architectural design of the theatre, and be led both outside and around the building (not including the auditoriums).
  • Backstage Tours – Where visitors can learn more about the National Theatre's dress rehearsals, prop preparation and costume making, and even be led to some of the more “unseen” areas of the theatre including the backstage area.
  • Family Tours - Where families can enjoy their own personalized backstage tour of the National Theatre, handle production props and even try on some costumes!

Special Tips

  • If you don't have time to see a performance at the theatre, try and take a walk along the Shearling High Level Walkway (which can be accessed through the Dorfman Theatre foyer) and watch staff construct props for the upcoming performances.
  • If you don't want to pay for a National Theatre programme, you an always pick up a cast list for free.
  • Sometimes the National Theatre hosts performances that are a tad on the experimental side, so make sure you read the reviews of each show beforehand, or choose something that has been running at the theatre for quite some time.