Royal Festival Hall foyer revamped ahead of 75th anniversary

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Southbank Centre
Image credit Adam Luszniak

Ahead of its 75th anniversary in 2026, the Southbank Centre has revealed its new café, bar, shop and welcome desk in the Level 2 Foyer of the Royal Festival Hall.

In 1981 the Southbank Centre was granted Grade I listed status, making it the first post-war building to receive this designation.

Two years later the Greater London Council instituted the ‘Open Foyer’ policy which allowed public access to the Royal Festival Hall during the day – something that is still implemented today.

Part of the building’s transformation includes a bakery to complement the new Ballroom Café. This space will transform to a bar in the evening, with the aim to reduce audience queue times throughout the Southbank Centre.

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Additionally, the new Festival Bar and Kitchen overlooks the Riverside Terrace and the Thames with key features including walnut veneers and fluted glass dividing walls.

A menu consisting of local craft beers and signature sourdough pizzas will be introduced by the catering organisation, Company of Cooks.

The Royal Festival Hall Shop has moved from the east side of the Royal Festival Hall to the west side, returning the space to its original 1950s open foyer design.

The new Welcome Desk is accessible from multiple entry points of the Southbank Centre and has been designed in solid walnut to complement the adjacent bars and café.

Susan Johnston, Chief Operating Officer of the Southbank Centre, said, “We wanted to modernise the foyer of this iconic heritage building to give visitors and artists the best possible experience.

“We’ve reconfigured the space to create a more accessible open foyer and enhanced the retail and catering offer to ensure we remain at the heart of the cultural and public life of the South Bank.”

Ms Johnston added, “Since the Open Foyer Policy in 1983, when the Royal Festival Hall opened its Foyers to welcome the public all day, the Southbank Centre has been a creative, cultural and social space.”

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