Tourist Information Guide

Visitor's Guide to the Barbican Centre in London

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The terrace area in the Barbican Centre
The terrace area in the Barbican Centre
The Barbican centre has never been a place that plays by the rules. It is a cultural centre where you will find art, theatre, dance, film and music under one roof. The same stage may play host to Nigel Kennedy one night and a Shakespeare play the next. To get there you will find yourself leaving the fast pace of central London and heading to a more residential area where washing hangs from balconies and locals carry their bags of shopping home. You will approach a pebble-dashed concrete building with brutal lines and minimal decorative features.

On this page we'll give you an overview to the Barbican centre experience along with practical instructions on how to get to there, contact details and photos of the venue. We'll show you how to find out what shows are on, ticketing information and listings for cafes and restaurants close to the Barbican Theatre.

Overview to the Barbican Centre and what makes the venue special

The Barbican Centre entrance
The Barbican Centre entrance
The Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre

The Barbican is a modern centre for cultural arts that offers a theatre, art gallery, cinema and music hall all in one venue. The building is free to enter and has a generous amount of public foyer spaces where you can use WiFi, meet with friends or simply watch the world go by. You could come here for the day and see and do a wide cross section of cultural activities. You might start the day with a wander around the art gallery, see a film in the basement art-house cinema, then watch a show in the theatre (depending what is on at the time, this could be anything from dance to theatre to a live music concert).

The interior of the Barbican Centre
The interior of the Barbican Centre

The Barbican Estate was built in the 1960s and 70s in an area that had been heavily affected by bombing in World War 2. You will walk through these residential flats to reach the Barbican and many of their balconies overlook the centre, giving it a local feel. The Barbican building splits opinion in terms of architecture. Like Marmite, some people love it whilst others hate it. - it was built in the 1960s and many say that its pebbledash exterior, minimalist design and low-lit interior do not fit in with the ornate beauty that you would normally expect from a London landmark. However, whichever side of the argument you fall on, it is worth seeing the building for its unique style and the way in which it successfully captures an era.

The Barbican theatre in particular is known for the variety that it offers. Other theatres specialise in one field, for example musicals or ballet. That is not the case with the Barbican - their programming policy is open-minded, allowing for The Tempest to appear in the same programme as a Nigel Kennedy concert.

The Barbican Centre is also home to the Curve Gallery that offers free admission to its regularly changing art exhibits.

How to get Barbican theatre tickets

If you want to purchase a ticket to see a play at the Barbican Theatre you have a number of options:

Box Office: You can buy tickets at the venue itself. See below for the box office Operating hours.

Website: Head to the events sections of the official website (see link below) and book online. Choose the event that you would like to attend and click on it, which will take you through to a separate page for booking.

Telephone: You can book over the phone using the telephone number below.

Telephone line
Operating hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 - 20:00
Sunday, Bank Holiday: 11:00 - 20:00

Box office
Operating hours:

Month Day Time
January - December Monday - Saturday 10:00 - 21:00
Sunday 12:00 Noon - 20:00
Public Holiday 12:00 Noon - 20:00
24 December - 26 December Closed

Official Events and Tickets Website

Barbican Theatre booking line
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7870 2500

However, you can also generally buy tickets for a play on the day of your visit.

The Barbican also offer some plays with free admission throughout the year. To find these special free events we recommend you visit the following special page on the Barbican official website: Free admission events at the Barbican.

Opening times

The Operating hours of the Barbican Theatre:

Month Day Time
January - December Monday - Sunday 09:30 - 23:00
Public Holiday 12:00 Noon - 23:00

Contact Details

Barbican Theatre at the Barbican Centre
Silk Street

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7870 2500

Website: Official Barbican Centre website

Closest tube station

Tube Tube: Barbican (Yellow Line / Circle Line and Purple Line / Metropolitan Line and Pink Line / Hammersmith and Pink Line / City Line)

When you leave the Barbican tube station you will find yourself on a large road called Goswell Road. Cross Goswell Road and head to an area called Lauderdale Place. Carry on up Lauderdale Place until it turns into Beech Street. Keep walking along Beech Street until you reach Whitecross Street. Turn right onto Whitecross Street and keep walking until you reach the Barbican Centre on your right. The walk should take about five to ten minutes.

Nearby Restaurants

Once you are at Barbican theatre you will find yourself in a spot to grab a bite to eat or treat yourself to a full meal. In the Barbican complex itself you will find a wide selection of places where you can get something to eat:

A cafe in the Barbican
A cafe in the Barbican

Barbican Foodhall

The Barbican Foodhall sits on the ground floor of the Barbican building. It is a relaxed eatery in which you can enjoy café style food. The area is large and it offers coffees, cheeses, chutneys, cakes and savoury dishes. You will also be able to take away artisan locally sourced foods from the café - they sell produce in the café that is packaged and can be eaten at a later stage.

Barbican Lounge

Barbican Lounge offers a more restaurant-style setting in which to enjoy either lunch or dinner. The restaurant benefits from offering both an indoor and outdoor seating area. You can sit in a terrace area that has been designed by a Chelsea Flower Show winner. Alternatively, you can enjoy the cosier indoor option. Food options include pork pies, French sausages and smoked salmon.

Searcy's Restaurant

Searcy's Restaurant is situated on level 2 of the Barbican building. It is the most formal of all of the Barbican's eating options (making it essential to book a table if you want to eat there). You can enjoy seasonal and locally sourced food served in classic restaurant surroundings. There is also a cocktail bar in the area where you can enjoy a drink before or after the performance. This is a good option if you are going to see a play at the theatre as you will be given the option of a special pre- or post-theatre menu.

You may not fancy eating in the Barbican Centre itself. If you would like to head somewhere slightly further afield you can check out a number of options on the nearby Whitecross Street. This street is in easy walking distance of the centre (see above for where it is located) and is dotted with restaurants. It is also home to a popular food market - here, at lunchtime, you will be able to try something from one of the varied and high-quality food stalls that line the street. Check out the Official Whitecross Street Market website for more details.

Parking Facilities

The Barbican centre has its own car parks. There are four car parks surrounding the Barbican centre - two of these are off Beech Street, and two are off Silk Street.

For more information on the car parks, with details of location, Operating hours, prices and how to get tickets, see Barbican car par website.

The Barbican centre is a destination spot - its location at the centre of a housing complex outside of London's city centre attracts people who have a real passion for culture and have made the extra effort to come to the centre. It offers an abundance of both indoor and outdoor public spaces. For example, the lakeside terrace sits outside the Barbican's main entrance and is filled with benches and table seating so that you can kick back and relax overlooking the lake.

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