We all know that London is a place where pearly kings rub shoulders with jellied eels and blustering British bulldogs who salute the Queen with their stunted paws. But away from Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, what cultural behemoths are strutting their stuff on the streets of the capital?
Indeed, the culture of London is a different beast entirely from the tourist clichés that populate its central area. And the architecture of the buildings hosting events can be a great indicator for what’s awaiting within.
Where there’s an ace exhibition or a hip and happening gig, there’s a building that’s welcoming tourists and residents alike.
So take a look at some of the finest that we’ve hunted down.
Union Chapel has been Islington’s home for cultural events for decades. And it’s a grade-one listed beauty, having been saved from demolition in the 80s.
The building itself has centuries of history to tell. First built in 1806 as a place of worship, the architecture has maintained its religious air throughout its evolution into an arts venue and homeless crisis centre, as well as continuing its function as a place of worship.
This huge venue has stamped its presence on the London landscape. Boasting a ton of music and comedy acts all year round, it’s the perfect way to be entertained and overawed by your surroundings.
The Shacklewell Arms
Anyone who wants the feeling of an old-fashioned London boozer while still enjoying the coolest bands should hit up The Shacklewell Arms.
This small venue (it holds a maximum capacity of 200 people) in Dalston has all the characteristics of a pub, but all the ambition of an upmarket gig venue. While double glazed windows let in the light in the main lounge, the backroom has the feel of a basement that’s been kitted out especially for the hippest crowds.
Boasting an epic burger menu, you’ll be able to enjoy decent food without worrying about a dodgy clientelle.
Sometimes all you want is a touch of class in your arts – and a building to match.
The Forge is the perfect middle-ground between high- and lowbrow events, providing you with small midweek classical concerts and scintillating club nights over the weekends.
The building complements any event, its slick white surfaces and open spaces allowing audiences to lounge in comfort as they breathe in the music from the grand piano that dominates the centre of the venue.
A grandiose red-brick building, The Tabernacle is Notting Hill’s finest venue for music, food and art exhibitions. Another former church, The Tabernacle is a grand auditorium where almost every seat can give you a perfect view of the stage.
Originally built in 1869, it was first known as the Taj Mahal of North Kensington. But now it plays host to huge stars as well as events for the local community.
Really, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great London venues with fascinating architecture. Want to recommend any of your own? Then let us know in the comments below.