Built in 1871, thanks in part to the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition organised by Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband), this huge, domed, red-brick amphitheatre, adorned with a frieze of Minton tiles, is Britain’s most famous concert venue and home to the BBC’s Promenade Concerts (the Proms) every summer. To find out about the hall's intriguing history and royal connections, and to gaze out from the Gallery, book an informative one-hour front-of-house grand tour, operating most days.
The hall was never intended to be a concert venue but instead a ‘Hall of Arts and Sciences’, so it spent the first 133 years of its existence tormenting everyone with shocking acoustics. The 85 huge mushroom-like fibreglass acoustic reflectors first dangled from the ceiling in 1969, and a further massive refurbishment was completed in 2004. There's a whole range of other tours, from a one-hour grand tour to a secret-history tour, an afternoon-tea tour, an architectural tour, a behind-the-scenes tour and tours with dining provided; booking tours online is slightly cheaper than over the phone. The behind-the-scenes tour is rather infrequent, taking place just 20 times a year.