The Royal Albert Hall will open at full capacity on Monday for the first time since March 2020.
The venue’s re-opening event is a concert to celebrate its 150th anniversary, featuring a commission from composer David Arnold, and a host of special guests, including Michael Sheen, Nicola Adams and Melanie C.
Since closing, the Hall has lost £60m in income, refunded £10m-worth of tickets, and now owes the government a further £20m, but it has funded a major £900,000 ventilation project thanks to audiences, seatholders and donors, which has been completed ahead of re-opening.
Craig Hassall, Chief Executive of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “We are thrilled to be able to reopen at full capacity for what remains of our 150th year, after an emotionally and financially devastating 16 months. Following our longest closure since the Blitz, we are looking forward to welcoming audiences back, and starting on the long road to recovery.
“The safety of visitors to the Hall remains our priority, and we have implemented extensive measures to be able to re-open safely at full capacity.”
Alongside the ventilation project, those measures include one-way systems, Perspex screens, sanitising stations and a rigorous new cleaning programme. The venue has also created an outdoor dining area on the terrace opposite the Royal College of Music.
The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria on 29 March 1871. Its 150th anniversary concert was scheduled to take place exactly 150 years on, but was postponed due to pandemic restrictions.
The event centres around a commission by composer David Arnold (Bond, Sherlock), with 10 movements reflecting the Hall’s 150 years. A roster of star special guests will present the segments – on themes including legendary musical performance, sport and science – with appearances from Melanie C, Michael Sheen, Nicola Adams, Brian Cox, Claudia Winkleman, Jess Gillam, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Charles Dance, LionHeart, Jemma Redgrave and Helen Pankhurst.
The introductions have been crafted by notable British writers, including Neil Gaiman, Jack Thorne and Joe Penhall.