Where To Watch Classical Music Concerts In London

By Jessica Bailey Last edited 13 months ago

Last Updated 16 May 2023

Where To Watch Classical Music Concerts In London
A church with an ornate ceiling flooded in pink light
St Martin-in-the-Fields. Image: Paul Marc Mitchell.

Classical music in London? The capital is awash with the strains of near-constant concerts — performances of the world's most famous composers by the world's greatest musicians, to salons showcasing cutting edge composers, and free classical lunchtime shows. Allow us to pick up the baton and conduct you through our list of the best places to hear classical music in London.

Classical music in central London

A grand piano on a stage overlooking a grand, empty hall
Classical music and free sherry? Keep talking. Image: Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall, Marylebone

The daddy of fine London classical venues, this hallowed institution embraces newcomers and aficionados alike — from discounted concerts for children, free tickets for 6-25 year olds or Sunday morning concerts served up with complimentary coffee (or sherry if you're so inclined). It's not bad-looking either. Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore Street, W1U 2BP

Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone

Just a few doors down from Madame Tussauds, see some of the country's stars of tomorrow in one of London’s oldest and most respected music academies — for free. Here you can watch lunchtime chamber music concerts, finalists of the famous Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, or while away an evening in the company of fresh classical talent. Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, NW1 5HT

St James's Church, Piccadilly

Based off the bustle of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, St James's offers a wide range of classical performances and pay-what-you-want lunchtime organ recitals, for a touch of solace in the middle of the West End. Respected ensembles and concert pianists visit for evening performances. St James's Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL

St Paul's Church, Covent Garden

Mirroring the famous Covent Garden market is St Paul's, or as it's known in the industry, The Actor's Church. This atmospheric space offers regular free organ recitals and choral performances, with donations gratefully accepted. The best time to visit though? After sunset when they light the candles. St Paul's Church, Bedford Street, WC2E 9ED

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

One of the world's most famous opera venues is admittedly in the higher price range — although you can get certain tickets for as cheap as £3. And anyway, from its impossibly steep auditorium, you can witness some of the most elite musical performances anywhere (and sit, post-show on the terrace overlooking the plaza). One for the bucket list. Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD

A grand, Georgian double-steepled church
A baroque beaut with acoustics to match. Image: St John’s Smith Square

St John's Smith Square, Westminster

Lunchtime concerts, organ recitals, Welsh male choirs, and Jewish singers are among the treats on offer at this baroque beaut, with fine acoustics to match. There are regular performances, too, from the skilled Southbank Sinfonia. St John's Smith Square, Smith Square, SW1P 3HA

Handel House Museum, Bond Street [TEMPORARILY CLOSED]

Just off Oxford Street is the place Handel settled down for the rest of his life in London. His old harpsichord is still in situ and Handel fans are regularly treated to performances, with vocalists and chamber ensembles starting at around a tenner. Handel & Hendrix in London, 5 Brook Street, W1K 4HB

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square

Catch free choral performances and established ensembles in the church and its atmospheric crypt. With a programme that features sacred music as well as premieres, tickets start around £15. The Christmas season here is particularly enchanting. St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JH

Kings Place, King's Cross

Nestled by the shiny development of King's Cross and St Pancras International stations, this relatively new build is fresh and modern, and the programme reflects this. See everything from performances by the likes of The Orchestra Of The Age of Enlightenment, to big draws like James Rhodes. Get in there early and tickets are relatively affordable. Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG

St Pancras New Church, Euston

On the bustling Euston Road, this parish church also doubles up as a regular spot to catch some great one-off performances. Unlike the formality of a concert hall, a lunchtime recital in a church is a real opportunity to fully engage with the music. With a schedule of everything from Ravel to Mozart, on a varied range of instruments and a regular roster of performances, the suggestion of a retiring collection for performers is a small price to pay. St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA

Conway Hall, Holborn

Every Sunday late afternoon/early evening, there's a concert at this stately Holborn venue. Recent guests have included the Schwarzenberg Trio, the Barbican Quartet and I Musicanti. Standard adult tickets are £12, but if you're under 26, you can go for free. Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL

King's Cross and St Pancras stations

We kid you not. Pop down to the pop up pianos at St Pancras and King's Cross, and be serenaded by commuters and visitors alike. You can even do the serenading yourself.

Classical music in west London

People fill the grand circular space of the Albert Hall
A concert at the Royal Albert Hall is a quintessential London experience. Image: Andy Paradise

Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington

A big hitter and major player in the classical world that — surprise of surprises — stays open between the Proms. Aside from all the blockbusting concerts in the iconic circular hall (a quintessential London experience), there's Afternoon Coffee Club, where you can appreciate relaxed live music performances in the Elgar Room. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP

Institut Français, South Kensington

A stone's throw from the South Kensington museums, this sanctuary for all things French pays regular homage to a legion of musical heritage from Debussy to Chopin — with piano at the heart of many performances. This is a great place to get kids into classical too — with the Ciné Lumière sometimes screening classically-themed cartoons (think Bugs Bunny in Rhapsody Rabbit). Institut Francais, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

A tall Italianate church-like hall from the outside, bathed in blue light
A splendiferous Sloane Square venue. Image: Cadogan Hall

Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square

There is always a wide choice of artists to hear from at a range of prices at this plush 950-seater venue. Watch the likes of the London Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and head to the gallery for seats sometimes as cheap as £15. Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, SW1X 9DQ

Classical music in south London

The tower and buttresses of the cathedral caught in golden sunlight
Burrito then Berlioz - Southwark Cathedral. Image: M@/Londonist

Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge

When you're done with your lunchtime Borough Market burrito, why not pop in next door for a free organ recital at this ancient site of worship. Or come after work to catch a large-scale symphonic concert or choral music. Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA

Southbank Centre, South Bank

Sitting in illustrious company on the South Bank, the Southbank Centre has managed to maintain its 1950s pedigree and reputation for pulling in big names through a major renovation. Alongside national orchestras of many countries around the globe and world famous performers, the hall celebrates just about any form of music for sensible prices. There's always something going on in the foyers and children are well catered for with masterclasses and interactive sessions. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Blackheath Halls, Trinity College

Much like the Royal Academy, Trinity College is another institution responsible for new generations of classical music talent — and this is where they congregate to share their skills. There's also a great annual opera project, where folks from the community, professional opera singers and production teams and students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire join forces. Blackheath Halls, Trinity College, 23 Lee Road, SE3 9RQ

A crowd packs in the barrel-vaulted auditorium
Support young musicians at Blackheath Halls. Image: Blackheath Halls

King Charles Court, Greenwich Old Royal Naval College

Another platform for free student concerts by Trinity students, this time in the Old Royal Naval College — now the University of Greenwich — and their stunning Great Hall. Finer surroundings, you could not ask for. Trinity Laban Concerts, Greenwich, SE10 9JF

St Anne's Church, Wandsworth

This local church is intimate and welcoming, with regular slots for the Wimbledon Choral Society, the South West London Choral Society, recitals, and of course, mass. An understanding of where these pieces of music would have played and originated from makes for a unique musical experience. St Anne's Wandworth, 182 St Anne's Hill, Wandsworth, SW18 2RS

Fairfield Halls, Croydon

Often said to have better acoustics than the South Bank Centre, the recently revamped 1960s Fairfield Halls lays on a slew of shows, from pantos to tribute acts — and it's also a doozy for classical music. Recent visitors include Chineke Orchestra and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon, CR9 1DG

Classical music in north London

Light streaming from the stage in the Roundhouse, surrounded by circular framework
Interpol performing at Roundhouse - but they do classical music here too. Image © Lloyd Winters

The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm

Though miles and centuries apart, the Royal Albert Hall shares something in common with this cool Camden venue: the circumference of their spaces allow for near-perfect acoustics that make any classical performance imposing yet intimate. Pair this with the likes of Ludovico Einaudi or Khatia Buniatishvili, and get to see and hear masters at work wherever you stand. Roundhouse, NW1 8EH

Mill Hill Music Club @ Henrietta Barnett School, Hampstead Garden Suburb

A grand century-old, Edward Lutyens-designed school hall hosts Mill Hill Music Club's ongoing season of classical music, with trios, quartets and ensembles performing once every month or so. Mill Hill Music Club, Henrietta Barnett School, Central Square, NW11 7BN

Classical music in east London

The corner of a brutalist porch with a Barbican sign on it
Classical music in a modernist setting, at Barbican. Image: M@/Londonist

LSO St Luke's, Old Street

Plenty of classical concerts unfold in London's churches, but this one's a bit different — the space has been repurposed into a concert hall that can accommodate over 400 people at a time. The Friday lunchtime recitals are a treat. LSO St Luke's, 161 Old Street, EC1V 9NG

Wilton's Music Hall, Shadwell

Revamped and taken well and truly off the theatre buildings at-risk register, this historic vaudeville hall mixes its heritage with new and exciting experimental classical performances, plus it hosts transfers of operas. Nowhere's quite like Wilton's. Wilton's Music Hall, Graces Alley, E1 8JB

Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street

Based just off London's famous Spitalfields Market, Bishopsgate Institute has its heart firmly set in the local landscape with family events and musical workshops throughout the year. Bishopsgate Institute 230 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4QH

A modernist looking auditorium, with a pianist on the stage
Milton Court Concert Hall. Image: Morley von Sternberg

The Barbican Centre, Barbican

A long established hub of classical music, the Barbican Hall has seen many greats pass through its doors. It's also the home of the London Symphony Orchestra. In more recent years, experimental artists have rocked the venue, with themed festivals and regular family concerts and festivals. This venue is truly dedicated to the celebration of classical music. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Guildhall School of Music and Drama, City of London

The newest addition to the Guildhall campus, Milton Court boasts two fairly large theatres, and a full to bursting programme that includes free student showcases. Guildhall of Music and Drama, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DT

St Stephen Walbrook Church, City of London

That little church you hurry by on the way to Cannon Street? It looks like a typical Wren creation, but this has something to set it apart: a font created by Henry Moore. On Friday afternoons at 12.30pm you can pop in for a free organ recital. St Stephen Walbrook, 39 Walbrook, EC4N 8BN

Updated September 2022