Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour: FAQs

By Matthew Pearson

So, what is 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 the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Tour.

Is it 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.

Shakespeares Globe

Is it simply an attraction, then?

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

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 tour time slot.

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 the 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?

Visitors are 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’ll be 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.

Shakespeare's Globe play

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 the Bard's longest play, Hamlet?

Blessedly, no. The tour lasts around 40 minutes.

Theatre Tour

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. Can we just turn up?

First up, congratulations on having so many friends.  But no, you can’t just turn up if you’re bringing a large number of people. You’ll need to book in advance.

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.

Shakespeare's Globe

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 from £17 for standard tickets. Children get in for £10, and 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 as you know, entry is included with your London Pass. 

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Illuminated River: What's It All About?

What is Illuminated River? Illuminated River is a large-scale public art piece, rolling out along the River Thames over the next few years. It will transform the look of the city’s main water feature each night, lighting up the bridges that cross it with illuminations. Once completed, it will be illuminating up to 15 bridges on the River Thames. The illuminations for each bridge are individually conceived. Some will reflect the story behind the bridge, while others will emulate the bridge’s design and engineering. Some of the illuminations are styled to mimic the flow of the Thames on that particular stretch of the river, while others will reference the communities north and south of the river that are joined by the bridge. Illuminated River will make each bridge that crosses the Thames stand out as an individual landmark with its own interesting history, purposeful design and important surrounding communities. At the same time, the art project will link the London bridges together into a single art piece with the Thames as its stage. You can see a very lovely visitation of how Illuminated River will look once completed here. So I have to wait a while to see it? Nope. Phase one of Illuminated River is already completed, with four bridges getting lit in Summer 2019. London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium bridges. Go see for yourself. Or check out just how gorgeous they’re all looking on Instagram these days. Phase two of this ambitious project is due to be wrapped up by autumn 2020 and includes Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, Golden Jubilee and Lambeth Bridges. The rest will (funding permitting) be completed by 2022. When it’s done, the piece will stretch from West London’s Albert Bridge to Tower Bridge. That’s a 4.5 nautical mile section of the River Thames that’ll be a part of this public art piece, the longest in the world. So as far as artworks go, it’s definitely doing more than most to bring the city together. Weren’t the bridges lit up before? Some of them, yes. London and Southwark bridges were both previously lit up at night. Others not yet given the Illuminated River treatment currently have light displays of their own. However, the new lights are much more ecologically sound, cutting down on light pollution and spill into the river. Also, they automatically switch off at 2am, unlike previous displays that shone the whole night through. The illuminations are programmed to shimmer and shine in individual patterns, with a tone of light much more pleasing to the eye than what was up before. So yes, they’re more eco-friendly and they’re prettier. And now each bridge will be lit individually, but be a piece of a whole. Singing their own part in a shared hymn. How can I see Illuminated River and how long will it last? Go down to the river at night and it’s there. It’s totally free and accessible to all. Take a stroll down the Thames to see a few on a single jaunt, or simply take a riverside seat to soak in the illuminations of one. They are designed to make the River Thames a more enjoyable place to be at night, whether you’re crossing a bridge, walking down the footpath that follows its course or just popping down on a bench for a bit. Remember, the illuminations switch off at 2am. Also, there are plenty of planned events running in conjunction with Illuminated River, including boat tours, kayak trips down the Thames, London taxi tours and riverside walk n’ talks. Check in with the What’s On part of the Illuminated River website to find out what’s happening when you plan to visit. In the long-term, Illuminated River is supposed to last 10 years. The lights apparently have a lifespan of 20 years. After 10 they will be gifted to the operator of each bridge who will then be responsible for their care and upkeep. So 10 years minimum. Maximum, who knows. Who came up with the idea? Illuminated River is a joint piece by artist Leo Villareal and architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. Their plan was selected after an international design competition held by the Mayor of London. They got an initial investment from the public purse, but are now reliant on private investors and partnerships in order to bring the artwork to life on the scale originally imagined. They’re on track so far. What have people been saying about Illuminated River? Response online has been very positive. Anyone who’s got an Instagram to tend is going to like these stylish, subtle, characterful illuminations. And they make night photography that little bit more fulfilling. To end, here’s Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announcing the project and ruminating on public art in London: “From the Fourth Plinth to Art on the Underground, our city has a rich heritage of showcasing public art... I am delighted that Illuminated River is bringing more free and accessible artwork to Londoners. The Thames has played a key role in the growth and development of our capital for centuries, and this unique artwork will help Londoners and visitors see it in a whole new way. The Illuminated River will celebrate the unique architecture and heritage of our bridges, showcase creativity, boost life at night and transform the way we think about the Thames.” Looking for more ways to admire the Thames? Have a look here.
Matthew Pearson

Summer in London: Last Chance

We’ve come up with a last-minute article about last-minute things that last-minute you can do to get the most out of summer in London. We’re not big on technicalities here. If it’s sunnier and warmer than the majority of the year, then it’s probably still summer. So here are some ideas to get you going (you’d better get going quick). But first, an appropriate verse from Mr Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row, a perfect depiction of the twilight of the good times. They’re sweeping up the mounds of confetti, They’re taking the bunting down, The bouncy castle’s been deflated, The ice cream man’s left town. But there’s still time to see some of the following Events as you’re about to read, Who are point blank refusing to come inside Like a dog running off from its lead. And if you have any suggestions On stuff to do before the summer goes Just let us know with a comment in the Comment box below. Get Down by the River Totally Thames is a festival that encourages you to get outside (whatever the weather) to engage with and celebrate the city’s main water feature, the River Thames. The month-long festival of events kicks off on 1st September and wraps up on the 30th, meaning its perfectly placed to pick you up as the holidays draw to a close. Highlights include nighttime kayak tours on the river, a huge regatta challenge event on the 29th and concerts in the bascule chambers of Tower Bridge. The centrepiece artwork of the festival is The Ship of Tolerance, a boat with a sail made up of illustrations by 100 local schoolchildren. It will be bobbing up to the Tate Modern from the 4th September, but for now it’s at the Royal Docks. Find out more on the Totally Thames website. Go Royal Yeah, yeah, not very summery is it. We know. But this is still one the best things to do with your summer in London, particularly as it cools down. September is the last month in which you can enjoy a visit to Buckingham Palace and its wonderful state rooms. The Queen and her family are still on their summer holidays, so take up the chance to see the magnificent Grand Staircase and marvel at the cream and gold fixtures and fittings of the White Drawing Room. Don't forget to take a walk around the sprawling Palace Garden with its grand herbaceous border and rose garden. You can take a tour of Buckingham Palace up until the 29th September, so book now to avoid disappointment. Check availability on their website here. Stay Outside as Long as You Can OK, this is more like it. Just because it’s September doesn’t mean the sun’s completely gone and being outside is unbearable. You’re thinking of October. Until October, Summer in London is go. And where better to enjoy Summer in London than on one of the capital’s best rooftop bars. From Shoreditch’s buzzing Queen of Hoxton, to Lost in Brixton’s new jungle-themed roof terrace, there are plenty of above-ground areas where you can drink, eat and wave a long goodbye to the sun. Check out our recommendations for the best rooftop bars in London here. Music-wise, we’re really excited about The Nest Collective’s Campfire Club events taking place in September. They’ve been delighting intimate audiences all summer with folk acts and drinks around the campfire. There’s nothing quite like music round the flames as the nights draw in and these guys know it. Check out all their September events here. The capital’s excellent set of outdoor cinemas are not willing to give up on summer in London. Pop Up Screens’ enthusiasm for movies alfresco isn’t going anywhere any time soon, with the touring screen heading to Fulham, Holborn, Hammersmith, Greenwich and Parsons Green before September is through. Bohemian Rhapsody, The Incredibles 2, The Greatest Showman and Get Out are among some of the flicks they’re bringing with them. The Luna Cinema is also still going through September, with showings of The Meg, The Favourite and A Star is Born at various London venues. And the always-popular Rooftop Film Club are bringing screenings of Cruel Intentions, Rocketman, The Blair Witch Project and many more to Roof East, the Bussey Building and Queen of Hoxton. A Different Kind of Festival Season Well, we’ve already told you about the Totally Thames festival that is totally happening this September, but there are other fantastic to get out and enjoy as summer in London wraps up as slowly as we’ll allow it to. The Udderbelly Festival on the South Bank is enjoying its biggest and most popular year yet. It has plenty of family-friendly arts events, Udderbelly Lates evenings for adults-only and live podcast recordings this year. That’s in addition to its usual packed schedule of fantastic circus, comedy, cabaret and music performances. With tons of street food places available at each performance, this London pop-up has a real festival atmosphere that’ll help you forget that school is back and you’ve got deadlines coming up. Have a look-see here for more info on what to book. London Design Festival kicks off on 14th September, turning the city into its stage until the 22nd. There’s a ludicrous amount of stuff to see this year, with over 400 large-scale pieces of public art and installations, exhibitions and talks across the city. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s Bamboo Ring outside the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as Please Be Seated by Paul Cocksedge in Finsbury Square. Work out your festival itinerary here. And dovetailing seamlessly with the London Design Festival is Open House London. This annual festival of architecture that sees many of London’s architectural landmarks open their doors for free. This year, it’s taking place on the weekend of 21st-22nd September. Take a look inside the Greek Masonic Temple close to Liverpool Street, explore the iconic Custom House on the north bank of the Thames, or join the ballot to be in with a chance of heading up The Shard. Check out the extensive set of buildings open this year on the Open House London website. So, those are some of the things we’ll be doing to cling onto summer in London. If you’ve got any other ideas, let us know in the comments below.
Matthew Pearson

London 3 Day Itinerary: Summer Edit

This London 3 Day Itinerary is perfect for a summertime trip to the UK’s capital. Soak up culture and the sun in a city that really knows how to enjoy itself when the weather’s fine. We’ve put together an itinerary that includes many of London’s best attractions and landmarks, but has a summery twist on it. Featuring... The attractions you won’t want to miss during your trip Advice on getting around town using breezier form of transport Some ideas on where to eat each day And much, much more London 3 Day Itinerary for Summer: DAY ONE Westminster Abbey Let’s start our London 3 day itinerary in Westminster. Look up to admire Big Ben, a symbol among symbols in a city of symbols. It sticks up from the Palace of Westminster like a thoughtful, interruptive index finger, primed to make a salient political point about something or other. Of course, Big Ben is actually the name of the bell, not the tower. But everyone calls the tower Big Ben anyway. Still, it’s good to know the facts. Tell your travelling companion. If travelling alone, tell a complete stranger. They might not thank you for it, but they will pass it on as their own fact sooner or later. Head into Westminster Abbey, entry to which is included with The London Pass. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Westminster Abbey has been the traditional coronation church of the British monarchy since the 11th Century. It was also used as the venue for Kate and William’s wedding. Learn the history of the abbey using the multimedia guide, and get to know the life and work of the famous Brits commemorated there. It’s best to go early in the morning, as it gets pretty crowded later on. It also closes relatively early, at 3.30pm on most days. [caption id="attachment_6443" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Photo by Charles Postiaux on Unsplash[/caption] Thames River Boat Cruise It’s summer, so we need to cool off. A boat cruise on the River Thames may seem like the kind of treat only accessible to the super rich, but not so. Your London Pass gives you access to a 24 hour ticket on City Cruises’ Thames River Boat Cruise. That means you can head up and down the Thames as much as you like during that 24 hour period. So we’re hopping on at Westminster Pier, heading east along the river, trying to catch some breeze if we can. The breeze may not be a certainty, but catching sight after sight of London’s biggest landmarks is. Ahoy there, London Eye! Hello, Tate Modern! Lovely to meet you, St Paul’s Cathedral. Greetings, Tower Pier. Right, let’s hop off here at Tower Pier. Tower of London Just as you’re getting your legs adjusted to being back on dry land, we’re here. The Tower of London. London’s most famous fortress. London’s most popular prison. It was even a zoo for a period. Now it’s one of London’s top attractions and it’s included with The London Pass. It houses a museum that covers every stage of its history, and has an impressive number of gates, rooms and towers open to the public. We used to only be allowed in the prison bit. See the famous resident ravens, get jealous looking at the Crown Jewels and say hello to the Beefeaters. You could spend much of your day here. But we need some food, we need some sun, we need to keep moving. We’ve only got 85% off this London 3 day itinerary left. Borough Market Cross over magnificent Tower Bridge and stroll along the south bank of the River Thames. What can we see from here? HMS Belfast. That’s included with The London Pass too, so pop on there to see Britain’s most famous WWII ship still in existence. Or log its position to come back to later. It’s a busy old business this London 3 day itinerary malarkey. You’ll come to Borough Market, one of the oldest and largest food markets the capital has to offer. Whip around the stalls selling speciality food products, seasonal veg, fresh meat and other local produce. Grab some street food from one of the many superb vendors at Borough. Gujarati Rasoi is popular year-round for their veggie (and often vegan) Indian dishes. In summer, they set up their kulfi cart, selling lemon, pistachio, chai and mango flavour Indian ice cream. If you fancy a sit-down meal, head over to Padella, a small plate fresh pasta place known for its scarily long queue, and the fact that it’s definitely worth the wait. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour And here we are at the end of all our wanderings. The Wooden O. Shakespeare’s spiritual home in the capital. The perfect way to round off the first day of our London 3 day itinerary. Join the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour at the Guided Tours entrance. They run every half hour and transport you back to the Elizabethan era, when Shakespeare was riding high in the charts and this spot on the south bank saw the debuts of plays that would change the course of English literature, the English language and the National Curriculum forever. It’s summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe, so Shakespeare classics are played out on the outdoor stage every day. Grab yourself a ticket for standing (requires some degree of stamina) or sitting (requires only the usual amount of stamina one uses during a Shakespeare production) and let the magic in. Head back to your hotel reciting your favourite lines, speaking in iambic pentameter, satisfied. Treat yourself to a glass of wine and some food close to where you’re staying. Then get some rest. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow. London 3 Day Itinerary for Summer: DAY TWO Buckingham Palace and The Changing of the Guard Let’s begin Day Two of our London 3 day itinerary nice and early. Head to Buckingham Palace for 9.30am, having booked your tickets in advance. Tour the famous residence of the British Monarchy, taking in the grandeur and history of the State Rooms and the palatial magnificence of the gardens. Buckingham Palace is only open to the public during summer, so it’s a great summery thing to do during your London 3 day itinerary. Get down the area in front of the palace for 11am for the Changing of the Guard. This traditional ceremony—when the Queen’s household guards swap in and out of their duties to protect the palace—is a must-see for those coming to London. It’s all pomp and ceremony and a symbol of Britain, the Royal Family and London. [caption id="attachment_6444" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Photo by Debbie Fan on Unsplash[/caption] Jason’s Original Canal Boat Trip Head up to Little Venice to take Jason’s Original Canal Boat Trip along historic Regent’s Canal. The tour includes live commentary, and takes you past Regent’s Park, London Zoo and more. Pre-booking of Jason’s Original Canal Boat Trip is advisable. You can make a request to book on their website HERE. All 24 hours for your booking to be accepted. This one-way summery canal boat ride is included with The London Pass. Camden Market Camden Market is a great place to be in the summertime. Pop yourself down at a canal-side beer garden, go shopping for retro clothes and souvenirs, and indulge in some of the best street food the city has to offer. Grab a ludicrously cheesy toasty from The Cheese Bar; pick up some deep fried treats at Oli Baba’s (the home of halloumi fries); or enjoy a superlative stuffed pitta at Magic Falafel. [caption id="attachment_6445" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] London Zoo Nearby London Zoo is a treat whatever the weather, but it’s particularly enjoyable when the sun’s out. Just show your London Pass at the door for entry. Once inside, it’s really down to you and the creatures that float your ark. Daily afternoon events include Penguin Beach Live, the Pygmy Hippo Hot Tub and the Tropical Bird Tour. Outside of these allotted events, just enjoy strolling in the sunshine and saying hello to all the residents. [caption id="attachment_6446" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Photo by Richard Cook on Unsplash[/caption] Outdoor Cinema As the evening draws in, head to an outdoor cinema, a favourite activity of many a sun-starved Londoner keen not to spend another evening inside, alone, with nothing but Netflix for company. There’s a popular one in Merchant Square, not far from London Zoo, and the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House draws in a big crowd too. Check out the listings for other London outdoor cinemas to find the one that best suits your plans and tastes. The Luna Cinema, Pop-Up Screens and the Rooftop Film Club are among the best in town, with screens across the capital. London 3 Day Itinerary for Summer: DAY THREE Kew Gardens It’s the final day of this London 3 day itinerary. So what have we missed? Well, we’re pretty sure there’s no better way to start your day than a trip to Kew Gardens. This historic botanical garden is a true London treasure, beautifully sculpted, rich in flowers and plants from across the planet, different wonderfully curated zones and a number of walking routes. So let’s start our final summertime day in London at Kew, soaking up the sunshine, getting the names of all the plants wrong, skipping on the grass. Dip into the onsite cafe for some seasonal lunch, or a sublimely refreshing cup of tea and a slice of cake. Entry to Kew Gardens is included with The London Pass. Find out more below. [caption id="attachment_6447" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash[/caption] Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour Let’s get back into Central London for a bus tour. It’s a been a busy few days, we’ve seen a whole bunch of attractions, but there are some more to hoover up. Even if it’s just from the comfort of an open top bus. A bus ride is lovely in the sunshine, and the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tours included with The London Pass offer a wealth of alternative routes around the city. And, as the name makes clear, you can get off and back on whenever you like. Just choose the right tour for you and the things you want to see before you leave town. For instance, the Best of the West Route run by Big Bus London takes in iconic landmarks such as Harrods, the Natural History Museum, Kensington Palace, Notting Hill and Marble Arch. The Essential Tour run by Golden Tours takes you from Buckingham Palace east to Tower Bridge, past St Paul’s Cathedral...entry to which is also included with The London Pass and thoroughly recommended if you have the time. You can find out all about the different Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour options offered with The London Pass by bashing that button below. The View From The Shard We need a vantage point from which to look over all we’ve done during this London 3 day itinerary. There is no higher vantage point in the capital than The View From the Shard. Let’s head up the super fast lift, perhaps take a glass of something bubbly from the bar and admire the sun as it sets on this London vacation. You can see all the landmarks and highlights of your London 3 day itinerary from this privileged perch high in the sky. And entry is—you guessed it—included with The London Pass. [caption id="attachment_6448" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Photo by Genevieve Perron-Migneron on Unsplash[/caption] That concludes our London 3 Day Itinerary: Summer Edit. If you have anything to add, ask or get off your chest, let us know in the comments below. If not, be sure to check out the other attractions you could see with The London Pass during your summertime visit by clicking the button below.
Matthew Pearson

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