The legendary Royal Albert Hall in London is celebrating its 15Oth anniversary this year with a diverse program of concerts, events and festivals. Scheduled highlights include performances by Patti Smith and Brian Wilson, and a specially commissioned piece titled “A Circle of Sound, composed by David Arnold and to be performed at the venue’s anniversary concert on 19 July.
Couples wanting to celebrate their wedding anniversary in grand style at one of Britain’s iconic venues will be following in some illustrious footsteps at Royal Albert. The hall was named in honour of the late Prince Albert and officially opened on 29 March 1871 by the Prince of Wales, accompanied by Queen Victoria.
In the century and a half since, the hall has raised the curtain on stellar moments in British cultural history, including the 1963 Great Pop Prom, when the Rolling Stones and the Beatles played on the same bill for the first time. This was also the year that marked the start of “Beatlemania” in Britain.
Now, in the modern digital era, the Royal Albert’s venerable history is showcased during its 150th anniversary year in “Your Room Will Be Ready” – a 95-second video narrated by Sir Mick Jagger. Visitors are invited to experience some of the venue’s legendary performances – including by Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix and Adele – and look forward once again to enjoying the arts together as COVID restrictions are eased around the UK.
Those at home can discover and explore the hall’s history, from era to era, via an online time machine, gaining fascinating insight into ground-breaking events held throughout the decades. Or view another perspective of the Royal Albert Hall, brought to colourful life with artwork by Peter Blake at the Hall of Fame, an interactive experience providing visitors with a taste of past performances and upcoming live events.
Show-Stopping Anniversary Entertainment
Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson will perform his greatest hits on 4 July and punk rock legend Patti Smith makes her first Royal Albert Hall appearance on 4-5 October.
Grammy award-winning jazz and soul singer Gregory Porter will be performing over consecutive nights from 13-16 October, four years after he recorded his first live album in the hallowed venue.
In between, the annual Proms events will be on stage from 30 July, while the 10th annual edition of WOW-Women of the World will feature a line-up of activists, comedians and performers on 23 September.
Curated by composer Nitin Sawhney, the week-long Journeys festival will celebrate 150 years of immigration as part of the anniversary season, with panel discussions, community workshops and a newly commissioned piece of work performed by Sawhney.
Contemporary choreographer Matthew Bourne will be bringing The Car Man to the hall, also on dates yet to be confirmed. Returning to 1960s America and set in a run-down garage-diner, the piece is described as “a fierce reimagining of Georges Bizet’s Carmen”, with “spectacular stage design from award-winning artists, passionate scenes and dancers moving throughout the auditorium”.
Main Photo: Royal Albert Hall (interior) – photo by Christie Goodwin
- Royal Albert Hall (outside view) – photo by David Levene
- Patti Smith – photo by Steven Sebring
- Brian Wilson – photo by Christie Goodwin
- BBC Proms-Five Telegrams – photo by Andy Paradise
- Historical photos (including the Beatles) and “Thank you NHS” courtesy of Royal Albert Hall (VisitBritain)