Originally opened in 1875 ‘Ally Pally’ was designed as a palace for arts, culture and entertainment. However just two weeks after its opening tragedy struck, as it was burnt down. Rebuilt two years later as the ‘Fun Palace’, the grand re-opening featured theatrical attractions of all kinds including balloonists, parachutists, circus acts, fireworks and concerts and drew crowds of 90,000 people. The venue pulled in people for public holidays and large events but struggled to meet business costs and was taken over by the BBC in the 1930s for TV broadcasts and many of the arches were bricked in and until eight years ago nearly 40 per cent of the palace was derelict.
Hidden at the heart of Ally Pally however was a great survivor; a theatre that once could hold audiences of 3,000 and had the latest stage gadgetry to let performers disappear or fly though the air. Now, after 80 years of neglect (and use as a BBC props store, complete with Daleks lining the corridors, as well as a hospital in the First World War), the 1,000sq m theatre has reopened to the public.
With the help of a £26.7m lottery grant the huge, abandoned Victorian theatre has been restored, along with the East Court entrance being bought back to life. Investment has been made in the infrastructure and technology whilst leaving the faded red and gold wall paintings intact, preserving the feeling of being inside a forgotten and slightly crumbling auditorium. You can see the history that runs through the building and there are very few spaces to rival it – Wilton Musical Hall being most similar, though much smaller. The project’s aim is to channel the original philosophy of a people’s palace; a space for entertainment, recreation and wellbeing.
Alexandra Palace Theatre is a Grade 2 listed space and is a unique and exciting new venue for conferences, live events, product launches, dinners and award ceremonies. The theatre can host events for anything from 100-900 guests and the flexible space is a combination of new technology and historical original features.
The theatre is an outstanding addition to the nine existing spaces at Alexandra Palace, which can cater for concerts of up to 10,250 people, banquets of 5,000 people as well as smaller conferences. The Palace which has been at the centre of extraordinary events for the past 140 years, boasts spectacular views across London from its award-winning 196-acre public park and is located just 15 minutes from central London.
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