Barbican Centre

Aashita Dhingra
Feb 03, 2023 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Oct 07, 2021
Brutalist architecture in the Barbican Conservatory covered in greenery.
Age: 0+
Read time: 5.6 Min

  • This central London cultural venue offers the best the city has to offer in performance and visual arts. 
  • Discover London’s second biggest conservatory, housing over 1,500 species of plants and trees, and enjoy the atmosphere safely while breathing in a wonderful dose of healthy air.
  • With regular activities and events for families to do and a host of free exhibitions, installations and commissions, there’s something for everyone.
  • Expect a variety of events throughout the year, from shows at the Barbican Theatre, viewings at the Barbican Cinema, and a whole host of inspiring London exhibitions in Barbican Hall.

The Barbican Centre is based in central London, and is both an outstanding London gallery and one of the biggest performing arts centres in Europe. Open every day of the week, it's a great place for a family day out. It's filled with hidden gems and secrets that some locals don't even know.

Visit the Barbican to learn about photography and art in the Barbican Gallery, enjoy dance and performance in its theatre, and explore the epic greenery in the Barbican Conservatory. The Barbican programme includes live music and theatre, with a focus on championing both up-and-coming artists and leading performance companies.

The Barbican Centre is known for its outstanding work with young people aged 14+, offering them opportunities to curate, programme, write, make and be a part of a wonderful creative community in a cultural melting pot. From Young Poets, Young Programers, National Open Youth Orchestra, Young Curators, Young Visual Arts Panel and Youth Panel, there’s so much to be involved in to be a part of the change they want to see. These give teens the opportunity to practice their craft, curate festivals and have their voices heard.

Why not grab a book at the Barbican Library?

It's also great for younger kids, running a family film club every Saturday, offering a brilliant programme for young cinephiles with specially curated viewings of films from all around the world. On the final Saturday of the month you can drop in for the free Family Film Club Workshops. These range from film-busting claymation to crafty shadow puppets, providing creative learning and exciting entertainment. You'll be in good hands, as each workshop is led by a fantastic artist and inspired by the film screening. Plus, there's the Big Adventure Trail, an immersive adventure through the Barbican where you can discover its hidden gems through drawing, interactive games and cryptic clue solving.

The Centre regularly hosts interactive activities for your littlest children too, including Rhymetime at the library, and Squish Space and Barbican Blocks for a more energetic activity. In Barbican Blocks, a selection of blocks made out of all sorts of materials that young children can use to shape the space around them in a sensory adventure.

As creative as the Barbican Centre is, at the heart of the venue, it boasts a fantastic and vibrant public library with books, DVDs, spoken word, CDs, recordings and scores available for loan to all visitors. You can listen to music and play the piano, learn about arts, explore the children's stories and use the Internet access and photocopying service. 

The Barbican works with an array of outstanding artists, creating an innovative international programme blurring genre and art form. Through collaborating with companies and artists from around the world, the Barbican exposes London spectators to opportunities, experiences and fantastic art that can educate, inspire and challenge.

As the home to three ponds and the incredible Barbican Conservatory, the Centre certainly champions the environment. The Conservatory holds a vibrant mix of species and ponds, some of which are home to ghost carp and koi from America and Japan, plus another pool for terrapins to enjoy. Let the Barbican Conservatory take you away to a multitude of different climates, as the species are a vibrant mix of temperate and arid types. There are areas as diverse as the rocky deserts and bushland of South Africa to the coastline of Brazil. If you want to learn more about the Barbican Conservatory history and the secrets it holds, a tour takes place on selected Sundays led by the Barbican’s resident gardeners.

Known for its Brutalist architectural style, the Barbican is one of the most famous structures in the capital. The post-war complex was designed by British architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in the 1950s. There are Barbican exhibition, film and photography tours, all exploring the building and area itself, where you can discover more about the interesting architecture and its beginnings. It’s worth a visit, even just to marvel at this wonderful piece of building design, and is perfect for any budding architects.

What to know before you go

  • The Barbican Centre opening times are weekdays 11am – 7pm, weekends 10am – 7pm, with possible changes on bank holidays.
  • There are a variety of eateries on site, including three restaurants (family-friendly Barbican Kitchen, Bonfire restaurant and bar and Italian restaurant Osteria), and multiple cafés, most of which allow kids under 12 to eat for free per every adult main meal purchased. Due to its central location, there are plenty of restaurants near the Barbican catering to families too, including Pizza Express.
  • If you want to grab a souvenir, there’s the Barbican shop, with its fantastic selection of stationery, accessories and cards, design–led gifts; all produced and sourced from up-and-coming artists, makers and design houses locally.
  • There are accessible toilets on multiple different floors and baby changing facilities, accessible parking (free for Blue Badge holders). 
  • The venue is wheelchair and buggy accessible everywhere but on level M where the Information Desk is. Buggies can be left at the top of the small staircase next to it. The Conservatory is accessible via lifts (to Level 3) but there are a few steps in some parts of it.
  • There is ramped access via the main entrance on Silk Street for wheelchair and buggy users and throughout the venue.
  • There are systems for those who are hard of hearing.

Getting there

  • The Barbican Centre is located on Silk Street in central London.
  • The Barbican is within a 10-minute walk of many stations, including Barbican (Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Circle lines), Moorgate (Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Circle lines), St Paul’s station (Central line), Liverpool Street (Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines and National Rail services) and Farringdon (Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City and Circle lines and National Rail services).
  • By bus, you can take the 153 which runs past the Barbican along Chiswell Street, or routes 4 and 56, which serve Barbican Tube station.
  • The Barbican Centre has four car parks, and a number of extra wide accessible car parking bays (car park 5) that can be pre-booked. It’s recommended to pre-book any Barbican Centre parking.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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