Matthew Pearson

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour: FAQs

What’s Shakespeare’s Globe?

Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the 1599 Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse where many of William Shakespeare’s plays had their debuts. And now you can find out all about it on a Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Tour.

So it isn’t the original?

No, that was demolished in 1644. This reconstruction stands just 230m from the original site. It is designed to be as faithful to the original as possible, and is based on lots of academic research into the features, size, materials and shape of the original.

Is it simply an attraction then?

No, Shakespeare’s Globe, like the original, is a working theatre. It is open air, with a thrust stage that leans out into the audience, as was the original Globe. The building provides cover for three tiers of seating, but most audience members stand, entirely unprotected from the elements. As such, the theatre put on performances during the summer only.

Do the tours run year round?

They are indeed. So whenever you’re looking to come to London, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see the building from inside and dip your toe into a little London and Shakespeare history. Tours finish at midday during the performance season, which runs from April to October. But no tour is called off due to inclement weather. Because of the open-air nature of the yard, bring appropriate clothing if you think it’s going to rain.

What does the tour include?

Basically, you get taken into the theatre to see the thrust stage and the covered seating of the ‘Wooden O’. You’ll discover how plays were performed in Shakespeare’s time, and how the modern theatre tries to carry on the theatrical legacy of the Elizabethan stage. It’s particularly enlightening to consider the practical problems and considerations that affected the way Shakespeare developed his most famous works. You’re guided through the history of the original building and its modern reconstruction, getting introduced to fascinating real life characters who made the theatre what it was then, and what it is now.

Anything else?

There’s a self-guided exhibition area too, which you’re free to take a look at afterwards, or beforehand whilst you wait for your allocated time slot.

Can I stand on the stage?

Unfortunately not. It’s for safety reasons though, so fair enough. If you come as part of an educational group, you might be able to during one of the workshops. But for ordinary entry, nope. You do get incredibly close to it though. Just one tiny step and a giant leap from stardom.

Do I get to go backstage then?

There isn’t really much to see backstage at Shakespeare’s Globe. So no.

Does it last as long as Hamlet (Shakespeare’s longest play. A fact I definitely didn’t just look up)?

Blessedly, no. The tour last around 40 minutes. Which is about 10% as long as watching my school’s version of the Bard’s biggest hit felt.

Can I book in advance?

You can book advance tickets online. If you’re turning up on the day, get there early or else tickets may sell out. The quietest tour is the first one of the day, which runs at 9.30am.

I’m bringing my whole crew with me. We number 15 in total. Maybe more if Julie and Darren come to their senses and join the group. Can we just turn up?

First up, congratulations on having so many friends. You should consider forming your own acting troupe if you really know and like that many people. But no, you can’t just turn up if you’re bringing such a large number of people. You’ll need to book in advance, which you can do here.

What are the opening times?

Tours run every 30 minutes from 9.30am until 5pm year round. Apart from April to October, when performances are on. During this time, tours end at midday. It’s also during the performance period (when the weather’s nicer, really) that tours get busier. It’s best to turn up as early as you can during the summer months so that tickets don’t sell out on you.

Are tours in any languages other than English?

No, all tours are conducted in the language of Shakespeare. Although the dialogue is usually not so flowery or hard to follow. However, there are free information sheets available on the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour. They come in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek and Hungarian.

Is the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour fully accessible?

Yes it is. Ask at the ticket office for more details if visiting with someone with hearing or sight difficulties.

How do I get to Shakespeare’s Globe?

Shakespeare’s Globe is positioned on the Southbank, right by the River Thames. It’s in an enviable position, right in the heart of London, just as the original 1599 Globe Theatre was. This means that it is easy to get to from a number of London locations. Take an easy stroll along the Thames from a nearby attraction. It’s a lovely way to arrive at this centre of theatrical history. You’ll also find it easily accessible by a number of cycle routes. The closest tube stations are Blackfriars and Mansion House, which are both a 10 minute walk away. MBNA Thames Clipper services drop you off at Bankside Pier, which is right by the theatre. There’s some limited parking for blue badge holders on New Globe Walk. If you’re on the train, Blackfriars Station is 10 minutes walk away, while London Bridge is 15. And for all your bussers out there, you can get the 45, 63 or 100 to Blackfriars, the 15 and 17 to Cannon Street; and the 11, 15, 17, 23, 26 and 76 to Mansion House.

How much does it cost to go on the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Tour?

Entry to the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour costs £17 for standard tickets. Children get in for £10, Seniors (60 years and over) for £15.50. Bring your ID if you’re a student, and you can get in for £13.50. Family tickets are £46. But entry is totally free with your London Pass. If you have any comments, leave them in the box below. And if you've got a hankering to meet more legendary on.

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