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Step inside London’s only candlelit theatre.
Ghost Stories by Candlelight
Xuefei Yang: By Candlelight
Tim Key: Chrimbo Bimbo
The Duchess of Malfi
Experience London’s iconic open-air wooden ‘O’.
Hansel and Gretel
Discover Shakespeare’s iconic open-air theatre or uncover the history of Bankside with our Guided Tours
Shakespeare’s Globe Story & Tour
Pride Guided Tour
Ghosts & Ghouls Family Tour
Twilight Walking Tour
Shakespeare's True Crimes Walking Tour
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Continuing Professional Development: Teaching Othello and Anti-Racism
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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.
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 Londoners... read on .
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Shakespeare's Globe Theatre opened in 1997. The Globe is a reconstruction of an open-air theatre designed in 1599.
The 'wooden O' honours the 16th-century theatre: audience members can purchase a standing ticket and be a "groundling." Find out more about Shakespeare's Globe in London.
Shakespeare's Globe is also home to a second indoor theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse . It is named after the organisation's founder, American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, father of Zoe Wanamaker .
Map and travel info
Location: Fringe/Off West End Railway station: London Bridge Directions from tube: Exit the station, following signs for the River Thames/South Bank. As you reach the river, head west and the Globe is by the Tate Modern on the south side of the river.
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The Ultimate Guide to visiting the Shakespeares Globe
Shakespeare’s globe ultimate guide.
Nestled near the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre may seem a little out of place. It was, after all, designed after the original Globe Theatre which was built in 1599, (and then later rebuilt in 1614 after it was destroyed by a fire).
When it was first constructed, the Globe Theatre was located in the epicentre of London’s entertainment district on the Bankside in Southwark. Performances were put on by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and it is said that Shakespeare himself even sat in the theatre to watch his own performances.
The modern-day Globe Theatre is an oak-and-thatch replica of the original 1599 Elizabethan playhouse (which once sat about 200 metres from where the Globe stands today), and as a result concertgoers will feel as if they’ve been transported back to Elizabethan times when watching a performance.
Today the theatre serves as an open-air venue dedicated to the work of Shakespeare, and some of the many performances visitors can still watch at the playhouse include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and many, many more. Depending on the time of year, several plays, operas, comedy shows and candlelit concerts are held inside the playhouse as well.
Visitors can sit on the wooden benches (which can sit up to 340 people) surrounding the stage, or in any of the two tiers of galleried seating, and there are also productions held in the recently-opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (a candlelit indoor theatre located inside the Globe’s building). Attendees can even stand in the standing rabble directly in front of the stage, just as they did in the original theatre during Elizabethan times.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Highlights
Not only does the Globe Theatre host numerous performances throughout the summer months, they also host guided tours of the playhouse as well as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which are led by the Globe’s many performers. During the tours, visitors are educated on the history of the Globe, and will also be shown costume and prop collections which are used during performances at the theatre.
Another highlight includes the Globe Theatre’s Exhibition, which educates visitors on Shakespeare’s life, as well as where he lived in London. It also gives some background on what Southwark would have looked like during Elizabethan times, as well as more information on the construction of the original playhouse.
Depending on when you visit, there may also be some temporary exhibitions and/or galleries being held inside the playhouse, which range from historical to photography exhibitions.
Visiting the globe theatre.
Make sure you check the weather forecast before you book your tickets, as those in the standing area may be “exposed to the elements” while watching a performance; (it is an open-air theatre after all). The use of umbrellas is strictly forbidden, so make sure you bring an extra raincoat and warm shoes, just in case. If you’re worried about standing in the rain, there are seats available which are protected under a sound roof.
Guided tours of the Globe Theatre and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse take about 30 minutes each, and you’re welcome to ask questions at the end of each tour. Visitors can also go on their own self-guided tour of the Exhibition which includes a complimentary audio guide that is available in several different languages; (visitors can pick up their audio guides at the admissions desk at the Exhibition). If no tour is running on the day of your visit, visitors can enter the Exhibition at a reduced price.
Visitors can also go on a tour to the Rose Theatre archaeological site (only on certain days when there is an afternoon matinee performance), to view the remains of the original Globe theatre. If you don’t feel like going on a tour, you can easily find the spot of the original theatre on your own, as it is marked with a plaque as well as information panels about 200 metres away from the Globe.
Ticket prices and Opening Hours
Due to the fact that the Globe is an open-air theatre, performances are only held from mid-April to mid-October. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse theatre season is from October until April, but candlelit music concerts are performed here throughout the year.
Globe Theatre tours, on the other hand, run every day throughout the year (except December 24th and 25th); however, during the performance season tours finish around mid-day in order to allow time for matinee performances. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse tours are only available on selected days, and generally run every 30 minutes between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The hours for the Globe Theatre tours are:
- 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mondays)
- 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Tuesday to Saturday)
- 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Sundays)
Both the Exhibition and tour tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served bases, so try to arrive at least 30 minutes before the final tour of the day to ensure yourself a spot.
For Shakespeare performances, seat ticket costs range depending on visibility. There are 700 standing tickets available (which offer the best views of the stage) and cost £5 each. Seating tickets for the lower, middle and upper galleries cost anywhere between £20 and £45.
If you want to watch a candlelit concert at the Globe Theatre, tickets cost £10 (for standing) or anywhere between £15 to £48 (for seating). Tickets for opera performances cost £10 (for standing) or £26-£79 (for seating), while tickets for comedy shows cost £10 (for standing) or £25-£35 (for seating).
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Shakespeare's globe theatre.
Visit one of London’s most iconic landmarks when you take a trip to the home of Shakespeare in the capital: the Globe theatre. When you cross the threshold, you’ll step back in time to the 1600s and experience a production in one of the country’s most unique settings.
One for the theatre bucket list
Watch a production from the pit of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre as a groundling, as such audience members are known, and you might feel that you are part of history itself. Consider how many people saw a production of the Bard’s famous plays in Elizabethan times, standing shoulder to shoulder with their friends! The Globe theatre Bankside gives modern audiences the chance to have the same experience.
Discover history right beside the Thames
Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, the Globe theatre contrasts sharply with the towering structures of the modern London skyline. Where glass and steel dominate in contemporary buildings, this historic reconstruction was made using beautiful wood and traditional thatch. In fact, while building this replica of the Elizabethan original, engineers utilised practices that were common in the 16th century.
The circular building is known as the “wooden O”, its shape allowing audiences to view the onstage action from three sides, surrounding the performers and creating an intimate feel in an expansive space.
Experiencing a performance at the Globe theatre on the south bank is unlike a trip to any other theatrical venue in London. As an audience member you can watch either from the pit with the most affordable tickets, or pay a little more to sit on benches at different levels of the auditorium. It certainly feels as though you are right among the action in the pit, where you are likely to find actors mingling and scenes playing out within touching distance.
But be aware when you buy your Globe theatre tickets that this really is a reconstruction of the Elizabethan original and, as such, the venue has no roof and is open to the weather! This is part of its charm and visitors return year after year. It also means you need to prepare well for your visit – in hot weather it’s advisable to think about bringing hats and water with you. On summer evenings, you’ll probably be glad to have taken a jumper or blanket along. If it’s raining, unless it is torrential, the show will go on – and so should your waterproof coat.
Not just a summer attraction
Don’t miss a chance to explore the hugely popular addition to the Globe theatre – the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This indoor theatre opened in 2014 and allows the venue to stage productions all year round. Like the Globe, it is based on a historical venue: the 17th-century Blackfriars Theatre, which is where Shakespeare’s own company, the King’s Men, performed from 1608.
This smaller space is more intimate than its outdoor companion, but its interior follows a similar pattern, with audiences seated in the pit and two horseshoe-shaped galleries that surround the auditorium. The intense atmosphere of the venue is augmented by its unique lighting, which comes only from candles held and placed by performers or suspended in chandeliers that are raised and lowered from the ceiling.
Explore the hidden Globe
Get the full experience when you buy your Shakespeare’s Globe theatre tickets and book a tour of the venue too. In just under an hour you can discover the story of the Elizabethan original – hear how it survived the adversity it faced from fires, politicians and even the Plague, find out how American director Sam Wanamaker’s vision of re-creating the Globe was realised just 750ft from the site of the 1599 version, and learn more about the craftsmanship that was used to bring a genuine London icon to life.
A must-see during any visit to the capital, the Globe theatre links the past to the present with its inimitable atmosphere. It is sure to be a memorable trip packed with drama.
- Address Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, 21 New Globe Walk , London, SE1 9DT
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- Nearest Railway Station London Bridge, National Rail
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London
Shakespeare's globe theatre tickets.
Hansel and Gretel
Opens 08 Dec 2023
About the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Opened in 1997 by director and actor Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare's Globe gives audiences the opportunity to experience theatrical events in a way no other venue can replicate. The building sits close to the site of the first Globe Theatre, which opened in 1599. Wanamaker wanted to match the dimensions, materials and playing conditions of the original as closely as possible and worked tirelessly for over 20 years to achieve his vision. The Globe is constructed entirely from timber and natural materials, with a thatched roof - the first permitted in London since the Great Fire of 1666 - and thrust stage. Visitors can sit on benches or stand in the yard as "Groundlings" during the venue’s summer performance season. Over the winter months, visitors to Shakespeare's Globe can enjoy candlelit performances at the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse . Artistic Directors at the Globe include Academy Award winning actor Mark Rylance and theatre practitioner Emma Rice. Rice‘s tenure lasted just a few months; the board cited concerns over authenticity and the use of lighting technology in this decision. The Globe Theatre programme includes Shakespeare's plays and brand new writing. It has produced many hugely successful productions, including Morgan Lloyd-Malcom’s Emilia and Lucy Bailey’s notoriously gory staging of Titus Andronicus , which made headlines for the number of Groundlings fainting during its run.
Map and directions.
Frequently Asked Questions
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As You Like It
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Comedy of Errors
The Fir Tree
Much Ado About Nothing
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West End Theatergoers Grumble as Prices for the Best Seats Surge
Concern is growing that a night at the theater in London is becoming unaffordable, especially when a production has starry names, like Kenneth Branagh’s “King Lear.”
By Alex Marshall
Reporting from London
When hundreds of playgoers lined up outside Wyndham’s Theater in London this week, the mood was excited. They had come to see Kenneth Branagh, the revered Shakespearean actor, directing and playing the title role in “King Lear.”
But some were still thinking about the price they’d paid to be there.
Alan Hooper, 75, a retired teacher, said that, at the box office that morning, he was offered a seat in the first balcony for 200 pounds, around $240, or a standing place for a fraction of the cost. He chose to stand for the show’s two-hour run time. West End prices, Hooper said, were “out of control.”
Another audience member, George Butler, 28, said that he was overjoyed to have secured two tickets for 20 pounds, or about $24, each, even if they were in the nosebleeds. “Theater is becoming very elitist,” Butler said. “The minute there’s a well known person in a play, it’s unaffordable.”
London’s theater world is increasingly simmering with complaints over soaring ticket prices, and a perception that they are creeping closer to Broadway levels . Even as producers insist that a fraction of tickets must be sold at steep prices to offset cheap seats for low earners, concern is growing that a night at the theater is becoming an unaffordable luxury.
The West End’s own stars are fueling the fuss. In April, Derek Jacobi, the veteran actor, told The Guardian newspaper that potential theatergoers were now having to think “more than twice” about attending shows. A few months later, David Tennant stirred debate when he told a Radio Times podcast that rising prices were “strangling the next generation of an audience coming through.”
This fall, theater message boards and social media erupted in indignation when tickets for a production of “Plaza Suite,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, went on sale with a top price of £395, around $477 — a level rarely heard of in London.
Yet it was unclear whether these few high-profile cases reflected a wider problem. Alistair Smith, the editor of The Stage, a British theater newspaper, said it was difficult to analyze whether ticket prices were increasing across the board, because producers release so little sales data.
To fill the gap, his newspaper annually surveys the cheapest and most expensive tickets across the West End. This year’s results, Smith said, showed that the average price for tickets in the most expensive price group was £141, or about $170 ( a decade ago , the figure was a much lower £81). This year’s average was still “a long, long way behind Broadway,” he said, adding that the cost of the priciest tickets had barely changed since 2022, despite soaring household costs.
However, Smith added, the average price of the least expensive tickets had risen by more than inflation to £25, or $30. “It would be a concern if that trend continues,” he said.
For many West End producers, the perception of a price hike is a source of growing frustration. Patrick Gracey, a producer who sits on the board of the Society of London Theater, said that the news media published articles about high ticket prices because it “gets clicks.” Those stories were “misleading audiences about the availability of affordable tickets,” he said.
Last year, Gracey said, theatergoers paid an average £54, or about $66, to see a West End show. (The average price on Broadway last week was double that at $125, according to data from The Broadway League.)
Producers were facing soaring costs, Gracey added. After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, some theaters saw their energy costs spike as much as 500 percent, and there were similar jumps in set-building material prices. Last year, West End actors and technical staff secured a pay deal that saw their wages rise , too.
Even with those pressures, Gracey said producers were working to keep theater accessible and were offering cheap tickets for those who couldn’t splurge. “It’s only possible to offer those tickets because some people are paying top price,” he said.
The producers of “King Lear” said in an emailed statement that they were offering 150 tickets per performance at £20 — equivalent to 19 percent of the house. Those included 17 in the front row, with the rest in the back rows of the theater’s three tiers.
The problem was with audience perception, said Nick Hytner, a co-founder of the Bridge Theater. Producers needed to develop “a compelling counternarrative” that theater was affordable or else young people would decide that the art form wasn’t for them. Discounting the worst seats at the back of cramped Victorian theaters didn’t cut it, he said, adding that theaters need to develop more innovative approaches to pricing.
One West End show that is trying something new is “ Operation Mincemeat,” a musical set in World War II . At every performance, all the seats in the house cost the same price, but that amount rises gradually throughout the week, from £39.50 on Mondays to £89.50 on weekends. Jon Thoday, the managing director of Avalon, the show’s producer, said that the production lost money on Mondays, but added that the pricing strategy was good for the musical’s long term future because it brought in a younger audience.
“There will always be a fuss about ticket prices, unless others change,” Thoday said.
At “King Lear” earlier this week, theatergoers weren’t complaining about Branagh’s show, at least. Marshall Shaffer, 31, a movie journalist visiting from New York, said he had paid $403 for two tickets. “I did not think that was necessarily a bargain,” he said, “but Branagh’s probably the premiere Shakespeare interpreter of his time, and I think it’s worthwhile.”
Another audience member, Penny Smith, joked that she’d had to “sell a child” to buy her ticket, but said she was happy to pay to see Branagh. Plus, she said with a laugh, the tickets were “a darn sight cheaper than New York. Have you seen the prices there?”
Alex Marshall is a European culture reporter, based in London. More about Alex Marshall
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