Let me introduce you to the Southbank!
When we say South Bank, we mean the whole path along the River Thames. If you get off at Vauxhall station and walk towards Westminster you will be able to see the Houses of Parliament, and the Big Ben in all their glory. Walk a little bit further, and you will reach the London Eye and Waterloo station (I've put a small map at the bottom of this post).
So, what is Southbank Centre then? Do you think I made a spelling mistake? No, I didn't! Southbank is a very ugly, grey building on that particular side of the River. It is just past the London Eye. At Southbank you can watch many dance and theater performances, and it is also a host to different art exhibitions. The Southbank is not only what's inside the building, but also the whole surrounding area. So, if you read that there is an event at Southbank, it doesn't necessary mean that it's IN the building.
But this area is not only for those, who love art. There are plenty of cafe shops, pubs and restaurants, where you can sit and watch the people go by. Every weekend the Southbank organises a book fair, where you can buy used books, CDs and posters.
There is also a small area for skaters, where some young daredevils perform some crazy things on their bikes and skateboards.
Many think that Southbank can only be enjoyed during the summer, which is completely wrong. The River and the surrounding areas are beautiful at any time of the year, and Southbank is no exception, especially during the pre-Christmas time. Until 7 January 2013 it hosts a large Christmas market. There are mince pies, mulled wine, hog roasts, cakes and cookies. You can also buy beautiful Christmas trees, hand made decorations and some really colourful and original clothes. Take a ride on a carousel, or just sit on one of the benches and listen to the Christmas carols, which are played by a few of the stalls. All of this is of course spiced up with performances by the street artists. We watched an incredible acrobatic group from Ghana, which twisted their bodies in the most unusual ways, then we went to see a guy trying to free himself of a huge bag he was wrapped in, and finally we just stood for a bit trying to capture the kids playing with these huge colourful bubbles with our cameras. We had some snacks, a mulled wine and a beer, and went home just before the sunset.
Here are some photos we managed to take - it was not easy in that crowd!
|Weekend crowd, trying to suck up all the sun rays|
|That's what I like!|
|Some tricks by the acrobats from Ghana|
|It's amazing what you can do with a metal bowl ;)|
|ugh! that hurts!|
|A real Christmas hot dog|
You can get to Southbank by:
- getting off at the Vauxhall station and walking down the path, along the River (have a look at the map here)
- getting off at the Westminster station (another map here)
- getting off at the Waterloo station (and another map)
You can find plenty of other information on the Centre's website:
Worth mentioning, are the National Theater and the British Film Institute. They are both next door to the Southbank Centre, but they are not a part of it. At the National Theater you can see plays, such as: Shakespeare's Henry V, One Man, Two Guvnors, or War Horse. During the summer the National Theater hosts an open air cinema on the roof of the building, so you can enjoy a film and the magnificent view on the River Thames.
The British Film Institute usually shows old movies, but also has a good choice of the latest blockbusters, like the Skyfall.