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Summer Guide to the Southbank

9 July 2013 | London Calling

Home to the largest arts centre in Europe, London’s Southbank boasts a thriving arts scene this summer. Within easy walking distance from Waterloo, Embankment and Southwark stations, there are a whole host of musical, literary and cultural delights on offer for families, music and art lovers.

Place: The National Theatre

Situated close to Waterloo Bridge, the National Theatre’s building, recognisable on the Southbank skyline, is known for putting on modern revivals and plays by new writers. With three theatres (The Olivier, The Lyttelton, and the Cottesloe), there’s no shortage of plays to take the fancy of the most choosy theatre goer.

This summer sees Howard Davies stage Maxim Gorky’s Russian classic, Children of the Sun, telling the story of the comically middle-class blindly revolving toward the impeding revolution. The gospel choir in The Amen Corner gives a beautiful tension against the underlying threat of rebellion among the community of Sister Margaret’s Harlem church.

If the sold-out and acclaimed Adrian Lester performance of Othello is more your thing, you can catch the National Theatre Live broadcast in participating cinemas on the 26th September.

Top Tip: The National Theatre are giving away £12 tickets to ‘Children of the Sun’ and ‘The Amen Corner’ when you sign up to the Travelex programme and book in advance.

Event: Beanotown

In the 75th year of The Beano comic, Beanotown is set up in the festival village under the Queen Elizabeth Hall, free to young children and adults alike to come and explore the story of colourful pranksters, like Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, The Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx and Roger the Dodger.

Open from 11am – 7pm, this free event gives children a chance to dress up like their favourite comic character in the Beanotown photo booth, re-read their favourite annual and there’s even the chance to attend free creative masterclasses between 2pm and 4pm on the weekends.

Top Tip: Parents can catch a child-friendly meal in the Beano Breville Bar, with toasties starting from as little as £3.50.

Place: Hayward Gallery

Built in 1968 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II, the Hayward Gallery houses contemporary art and design, and the building itself is a rare survivor of the concrete and imposing brutalist architecture.

From June 11th, a group of self-taught artists and architects come together to explore their own versions of the world we live in in the Alternative guide to the Universe exhibition.

Get ready for unorthodox viewpoints and refreshingly different artwork that will get you thinking!

Top Tip: With your ticket, you get free entry into The Museum of Everything, the world’s only travelling museum for undiscovered, unintentional and untrained artists from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Huffington Post called it ‘disbelief and awe!’

Event: Exquisite Corpse: Or, How Not to Kill Your Neighbours

Can’t get down to the Southbank?

You can take part in a crowd-sourced murder mystery novel, Exquisite Corpse, using Twitter until August. Every Monday from 11am, a chapter brief is supplied and you fill in the dialogue, details and ideas using hash tag #exquisitecopy

On Friday at 1pm, your tweets get transformed into chapters on storify.com and a free eBook will be released in September. So here’s your chance to get published without leaving your house!

Top Tip: See the tweets that have been used and read the story as it unravels on Storify, chapter by chapter.

Place: Royal Festival Hall, home to two resident orchestras, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonic Orchestra, is a Grade I listed Hall and one of the world’s leading performance venues.

Part of the Festival of Neighbourhood, Southwark Splash 2013: Outfoxed! is held in Royal Festival Hall. On Friday 5th July, 700 Southwark children sing, dance and perform musical and literary pieces in a one-off creative project presented by Excellence in Southwark. 

Top Tip: Strapped for cash? Look out for the changing free exhibitions in the Royal Festival Hall foyer. Also, until Friday 19th July, enjoy free lunchtime classical, jazz, folk and world music in The Clore Ballroom.

Event: The Udderbelly Festival

Until Sunday 14th July, The Udderbelly Festival makes its fifth year at Jubilee Gardens, next to the London Eye. Distinct with its upside-down purple cow venue, this venue offers circus, family and comedy shows.

Comedy highlights include the remarkable Boy with Tape on his Face, Susan Calman, Father Ted's Ardal O'Hanlon, Best of the Comedy Store and much more. 

Top Tip: For an extra £5, beat the queues and get the best seats in the place with Sirloin Seats

Key Information:

Nearest Tourist Information Point: London Visitor Centre, Arrivals Hall, Waterloo Terminal, SE1 7LT (at Waterloo mainline station), +44 20 7620 1550, e-mail: london.visitorcentre@iceplc.com.

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