London’s South Bank – an area stretching in a wedge shape along the southern banks of the Thames from Lambeth Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge, and back to St George’s Circus near Southwark Cathedral – is one of London’s most vibrant areas when it comes to the arts. The reason lies in, of course, that Brutalist behemoth of the Southbank Centre, a whopping 17 acres of live and visual arts and cultural activities that taken together make up Britain’s largest arts centre. Established in 1951, the centre is made up of three fabulous performance spaces – the Royal Festival Hall (opened in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain), Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room – as well as a great art gallery – the Hayward – plus the National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. Next door, the National Gallery and BFI Southbank Cinema complex offer even more culture, and the whole area is a magnet for performers of all kinds, as well as a daily book market, weekend food market and various festivals. Oh, and did we mention some great bars and restaurants? It really is very special. But the South Bank has a lot more to it than just the Southbank, with more than enough family favourites (the London Aquarium, Dungeon and Eye are all here), quirky museums, laidback rooftop bars and historical attractions to offer something for everyone.
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