Royal Opera House Tours
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The third theater to have stood on this Covent Garden site, the Victorian-era Royal Opera House (ROH) was given a major facelift at the turn of the 21st century. The landmark venue now hosts performances by two of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious companies: the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera.
Anyone wandering Covent Garden can admire the classical-style pillared facade of the opera house. The exterior can also be seen in passing on sightseeing tours of central London, both on bike and on foot.
To explore the interior of the ROH, travelers have two options. Book a ticket to a performance in the 2,256-seat auditorium or join a guided tour. Backstage tours last 75 minutes and showcase front of house as well as behind the scenes; participants may even get to see Royal Ballet dancers in class. The 45-minute Velvet, Gilt, and Glamour tour focuses on the architecture and history of the theater.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The ROH is a must-see for culture vultures.
- No dress code is enforced, so wear whatever is comfortable.
- Avoid bringing large bags to the venue as security restrictions apply.
- The opera house has two bars and three restaurants, including a champagne bar and restaurant in the spectacular glass-vaulted Paul Hamlyn Hall (formerly Floral Hall).
- The ROH is wheelchair accessible, and 19 spaces are available for wheelchair users in the main auditorium.
How to Get There
The ROH is situated on Bow Street in central London and is best accessed by public transport. Take the Piccadilly tube line to Covent Garden station, or one of many city buses that stop at the nearby Aldwych Theatre.
When to Get There
Tours are very popular so book well in advance to ensure a spot. Performance ticket holders should arrive about 30 minutes before curtain; latecomers are not permitted to enter until a suitable break in the performance.
The History of London’s Royal Opera House
Fires destroyed the original ROH and its replacement in the 19th century. Though today’s facade, foyer, and auditorium date from 1858, much of the rest of the complex is the result of an extensive reconstruction project that took place in the late 1990s. A claim to fame of the opera house: In 1839, it became the first indoor theater in the world to use limelight, a kind of spotlight created by adding lime to a flame produced by an oxyhydrogen blowpipe, creating a very bright white light.
Address: Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, England
9 Tours and Activities to Experience Royal Opera House
Discover the grandeur of London aboard the open-top, double-decker Big Bus on this hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. With your 1-, 2-, or 3-day ticket, design a personal itinerary with stops including Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral and more. Enjoy unobstructed views and onboard commentary as you view the city’s highlights and upgrade to The Big London Day Out option to get an aerial view of the city aboard the London Eye giant observation wheel. Hop off to enjoy a Thames River cruise, currently operating Friday to Sunday only.
A behind the scenes look at a famous London theatre can be an eye-opening experience. Most theatres in London are impressive from the outside but when you visit theatres such as Drury Lane, the National or the Royal Opera House, the scale inside is hugely impressive, with a hidden world of costume departments, scene-building and technical magic. This tour explores the backstage life of the Royal Opera House, where you will see preparation for the shows (they do 20 a year), including set-building and props-making. Each tour is different from the last and runs from Monday to Saturday exploring areas of the theatre not normally seen and immerses you in the glitz and glamour of a West End production. There can be a pre-theatre dinner in Covent Garden District to prepare for an unforgettable night of a magnificent West End musical where you will have a truly memorable experience watching global smash hit musicals such as Mamma Mia, Matilda, School of Rock and The Phantom of the Opera.
Take the lead in a tour of London's historical cultural influences through time with the helping hand of me, blogger Shaun Nolan! "Light the Lights" takes you on a self-guided audio tour from the Embankment, up Charing Cross Road, into Covent Garden, along the Strand and back to Leicester Square. As you walk, I'll tell you everything you need to know about the history of the beautiful buildings you see and the amazing people who have walked the same pavements as you. London has forever been shaped by the culture that has influenced it. Famous creatives like Charles Dickens and Henry Irving have spent a lot of their lives in the city, being influenced by the environment and atmosphere. And it's not just a writer's playground - modern designers, intelligent innovators and important names have also helped to shape the city.
A street photography self-guided audio tutorial tour of the unexplored back streets of Covent Garden by a professional photography guide. Listen to time-honored photography tips and commentary while being guided about the old, grand and not-so-grand architecture, famous highlights, tiny details and fascinating crowds of people that is Bloomsbury. Explore London at your own pace while absorbing the stories of the streets and learning how to take better photos. Please note that you must bring your own equipment. Recommended equipment: Wide angle lens Lens within the ranges of 18 - 105mm A tripod is NOT required, but advised for long exposures if doing the route towards the early evening
London is the capital of fine arts, music, theatre, films and all performances and therefore this course is perfect for anyone interested in the arts and media studies and is the greatest venue for all movie sets of all times. The city that Beatles gave their jubilee concert in the city for the longest-running plays like Broadway, the city having disused tube stations for filming Hollywood movies. It’s the city of James Bond as well as Harry Potter. The inspiring city of films of all times. Our theatre, film and TV week will tell you all this and more while improving your English. Here in this program, you can see and explore the inspiration for the Music, theatre and movie facts in the British entertainment industry. As you go with the program you will explore the music, theatre and film locations. It is a perfect combination of music, theatre and movie related activities in London.
Price varies by group size
Price varies by group size
Love podcasts? You'll love our immersive walking tour of Covent Garden! The digital audio guide can be downloaded anytime directly on your smartphone! Take a journey with this adventurous self-guided podcast tour of Covent Garden! With a mix of crazy stories, famous residents, hidden neighbourhoods and great food, you'll listen to art historian Dr Ed and influencer Sophie as you journey along this vibrant route. Spend some time in one of London's prettiest streets; Neal's Yard. In this colorful little enclave, you'll be able to find quirky pubs, quiet corners, or a cup of coffee. Wander around at your own pace while your podcast tells you stories about the Piazza, St. Paul's Church, and a delightful invention. Stroll along the Strand, one of London's most affluent neighbourhoods, and see the luxurious Savoy hotel until the tour comes to an end at the Royal Opera House. Marvel at the beauty of its exterior as your audio guide gives you some background information.
See London from the streets, water, and sky with this great-value package that lets you explore London at your own pace. Easily reach top sights without spending a fortune on cab fare with a hop-on hop-off bus ticket valid for 1, 2, or 3 days. You’ll also get an aerial view of the city aboard the London Eye giant observation wheel and glide past Parliament and Big Ben on a Thames River cruise (Fri-Sun only).
Taking safety measures
Face masks required for travelers in public areas
Face masks required for guides in public areas
Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
Get your fix of Freddie Mercury and Queen nostalgia on this London walking tour. Skip finding the locations for yourself and let a guide lead you to the places important to one of the UK’s greatest bands, and share stories and secrets you’d miss if alone. Visit the pub where Freddie first met Brian and Roger; pass recording studios, see the house where Freddy died in 1991, and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Royal Opera House?
The best ways to experience Royal Opera House are:
- Big Bus London Hop-On Hop-Off Tour and River Cruise with Optional London Eye
- London West End and Royal Opera House Private Walking Tour
- London Lights: Discover how culture has shaped the city on an audio tour
- Covent Garden: Get a street photography tutorial with a pro on this audio tour
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