The first time I ever visited the Barbican Centre was in 2007, when I came to London to attend my sister’s wedding. It is a special place for my sister and my brother-in-law. They met there for the first time while working together, so they decided to use the venue for the buffet party after the ceremony. It was mid-July and the summertime helped that beautiful day to be even more unforgettable.
Now as a Masters student, I went there again a couple of weeks ago after visiting the Museum of London (by the way, an incredible place to learn more about the city’s history and, best of all, for free! I will cover this museum in a future post.) and I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time there and remember how beautiful that place really was. For those of you who haven’t been there yet, it’s a large cultural centre with restaurants, cinema, theatre, gallery and even an internal conservatory garden.
Easily accessible by tube, the Barbican is a pleasant place to stroll around, relax and immerse yourself in culture and arts without paying much. You can’t miss the Barbican station on Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. If Northern line seems closer to you, then you can exit at Moorgate which is really close to the Barbican Centre as well.
I went to the Barbican around 6pm on a Monday, so unfortunately I couldn’t enter the art gallery and check the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition as it was closed. Instead, I just walked through the Barbican and checked the installations. I first went to the Foodhall (level G) to buy some snacks and found it to be a deli/café with a beautiful lighting decoration and casual atmosphere that are worth checking out.
As it was a sunny day, I happily spent some time on the pier looking over the lakeside and enjoying a delicious cheesecake and tea (almost like a British afternoon tea moment!). If you go there, you will see in the background one of the few medieval churches remaining in the City of London, St Giles Cripplegate, which is located just across the lake terrace. It’s a wonderful view.
After the snack time, I went to other floors and accidentally bumped into the conservatory area, a beautiful glass-roofed spot full of colourful tropical plants and trees. I found out later that it is the second biggest Conservatory in London according to the Barbican. It was definitely a good surprise for my visit.
Then, I took the elevator and went to the cinema and theatre floor (Barbican has a wide cinema complex with an external facility located on Beech Street), a large and cosy space with comfortable sofas, big screens and a classic atmosphere. I discovered that the cinema holds very good special offers, such as “Monday Madness” with tickets costing £6 for regular movies (3D is £8) and “Student Tuesdays” (hooray!) when students can watch any new film for £5 (£7 for 3D). If you fancy going, don’t forget your student ID card!
Overall, the Barbican is definitely a student-friendly environment as I saw many young people sitting there with their laptops or engaged in an informal meeting. The fact that the foyers offer a good free WiFi network is a big plus if you don’t have 3G and need to connect. Also, for those who are 14-25 years old, Barbican has an interesting membership scheme called “Young Barbican” which offers discounted tickets for a wide set of activities at low prices.
Concluding, the Barbican is a comprehensive cultural and artistic hub where you will always find something interesting to do without spending much money. There is always a new workshop, festival or special event going on, so keep an eye on the Barbican website and enjoy!
In my next post, I will write about some good open-air street food markets I’ve been to in London and why they’re worth visiting if you enjoy different cuisines and tastes. Stay tuned!
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