South Bank is one of my favorite areas in London. Maybe the one that I like most of all. It is located along the River Thames and is a concentration of theaters, cinemas and music auditorium with such a rich program that is almost impossible to keep track of all the events.
South Bank has a large number of spaces open to the public and free services such as sofas, armchairs, tables and chairs, toilets and even free WiFi: I repeat: FREE. If that were not enough, also it offers a nice view of the Thames to Charing Cross and the West End. We find a myriad of cafes, bars and restaurants of all kinds. Most belong to popular local chain, although recently it has added an ethnic food market where you can taste interesting foods at very low prices.
..."South Bank has a large number of spaces open to the public and free services such as sofas, armchairs, tables and chairs, toilets and even free WiFi: I repeat: FREE."...
I prefer to walk through the Waterloo Bridge, that is less frequented of the nearest bridge of Westminster (the one that is opposite to Big Ben), which is still a viable alternative. Along the left side of the bridge, near the bus stop, you will find a ladder to get off. Go right and take the pedestrian tunnel to your right, passing under the bridge.
Now you are in South Bank. To your left is the National Theatre, a place dedicated to the theater program and high quality musical. I confess I am not a fan, but the program always promises to be very interesting and varied, including live broadcasts with other famous theaters such as the American ones. A quick look of the National Theatre gives you an idea of the area, whose architecture is originally "brutalist" or "rationalist", with great concrete display in sight. In the evening, you will see that the use of colored lights gives to this buildings a lighter shape.
The National Theatre has a series of terraces where you can sit in the sun (if any!) and enjoy the river. It is open to the public and free, I recommend to have a tour. The small ship "anchored" on the roof of the National Theatre wants to be a creative initiative: periodically emerging artists can develop new works and concepts showed in the same boat.
In front of you on the left is the Hayward Gallery. This is a gallery whose varied programming in areas that I can not define with a single adjective or term ... However, this place host very special exhibitions, like the one I saw recently, entitled "Alternative Guide To The Universe" , whose content and argument are difficult to explain ... these are the works of "alternative" artists, architects unlicensed, self-taught.
..."The National Theatre has a series of terraces where you can sit in the sun (if any!) and enjoy the river. It is open to the public and free, I recommend to have a tour."...
Hayward has a cafe open to the public and often in the first floor there are free exhibitions, ask at the entrance. Continuing beyond the Hayward Gallery, you find yourself on a large terrace. In front of you will find the Royal Festival Hall. This is certainly the queen of the South Bank buildings and has been recently renovated inside and out - although, in the name of the tireless fervor of Londoners construction work - there is already a new project for the whole area to modernize all buildings by adding more space and cleaning up a bit the appearance "brutalist", giving a turn toward greener architecture.
The RFH contains a large, modern main auditorium , where you can see everything (from Billy Brag to contemporary and classical music). We continue the visit, taking the ramp to your right (or stairs if you prefer), to arrive in one space overlooked by the main entrances of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the RFH. During the summer a large art installation with vertical jets of water turns this popular and famous terrace into a place of great fun for children (and not only). If you are in summer in London, you'll understand what I mean, and if you are with children, bring a change of clothes and a towel. Better to be prepared. And do not forget to bring clothes also for yourself...
From this terrace you can watch the Thames and sit down for a drink at the outdoor bar - but if it Saturday and is sunny will be hard to find a seat. The QEH contains an auditorium where concerts and events are held. The foyer contains a small stage and tables with chairs and a time each Friday afternoon during the autumn-winter-spring, were held free concerts "Commuter Jazz". For any news about shows and concerts, check the South Bank website.
..."If you are in summer in London, you'll understand what I mean, and if you are with children, bring a change of clothes and a towel. Better to be prepared. And do not forget to bring clothes also for yourself..."
Actually check the South Bank site as often as possible because there are many events and many of them free, to enjoy the afternoon in one of these buildings, and in line with the renovation project of this area, on the roof of the QEH was opened a "roof garden", run by local volunteers, where various species of plants have been planted, even a vegetable garden (tomatoes and other vegetables), and where you can see a thick vegetation in urban context, including bees and other insects that naturally are drawn to this corner of nature.
Was also opened a small bar serving drinks and sandwiches, and if there is a beautiful and warm day and you're curious, you can try the Pimms , a typical British alcoholic drink for the summer, low-alcohol, served in carafes (pitchers), with cucumber, mint, orange and ice. For access to the roof garden, use the stairs painted blue to the left of the QEH.
Ben lives and works in London, a metropolis that often explored on foot. Besides a passion for Unix and Linux, he has created and manages a website dedicated to the writer Iain Sinclair, who gave his "blessing " to the initiative.