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Barbican reopens with vibrant programme for the festive period

Red Christmas tree

The Barbican today announces the reopening of the Centre to the public, in line with government guidance, on Wednesday 2 December 2020, as well as an exciting programme of live events and digital content for the festive period.

Highlights include:  

  • Exhibitions Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer and Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory will reopen to the public on Wednesday 2 December.
  • Successful concert series Live from the Barbican, for both live audiences in the Barbican Hall and global livestream audiences at home, continues with The Cosmos with Professor Brian Cox & BBC SO on Sunday 13 December. This is followed by a series of Christmas concerts throughout December featuring Saxophonist Jess Gillam, singer-songwriter Katie Melua, actor Kevin Whately, Barbican Associate Ensemble the Academy of Ancient Music – with a performance of seasonal classic, Handel’s Messiah – and BBC Singers conducted by Bob Chilcott.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle perform two days of Beethoven Piano Concertos on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 December with guest pianist Krystian Zimerman to round off the Barbican’s Beethoven 250 celebrations.
  • Communities in Residence returns from Thursday 3 December with a regular programme of small-scale and in-person creative workshops for local community organisations and charities.
  • London premiere of Vox MotusFlight, based on Caroline Brothers’ novel Hinterland about the perilous journeys faced by refugee children is co-presented by the Barbican at the Bridge Theatre, opening on Thursday 10 December.
  • The Barbican and fieldwork present The Ghost Light, a series of spontaneous short pieces performed live in the Barbican Theatre from Tuesday 12 January to an audience of between one to six people (from the same household or bubble).
  • Barbican Cinema 1 reopens on Thursday 3 December with two Event Cinema screenings – NT LiveHarold Pinter’s No Man’s Land starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and Sonia Friedman’s Olivier award nominated production of Uncle Vanya. New cinema releases opening on Friday 4 December include David Fincher’s Mank and George C Wolfe’s Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
  • Barbican Conservatory, home to more than 1,500 species of tropical plants and trees, will reopen to the public for free from Thursday 3 December.
  • Playing Democracy by artist Ling Tan, a giant two player game of Pong reopens on Wednesday 2 December for everyone to enjoy for free on Level G.
  • For children aged five and under, Squish Space will be offering a new series of digital prompts for parents/carers and their children to enjoy at home over the winter months, while Akin’s interactive, sensory online theatre show We Cover the Universe opens on Thursday 10 December via Zoom.
  • A new series of free festive-themed Play Packs from the City of London Corporation’s Culture Mile, of which the Barbican is a core partner, will be available to download for free or collect from local foodbanks and community centres.
  • Barbican Shop will reopen its physical stores on Level G and Level 4 from Wednesday 2 December, featuring an exciting selection of design-led gifts for the festive season. It will also continue taking orders through its online store.
  • Long reads, podcasts, videos and more are available for free via Read, Watch & Listen on the Barbican’s website.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican said: “We’re excited to welcome everyone back to the Barbican once again to enjoy culture and creativity. Our festive programme features a series of in-person and livestreamed Christmas concerts, new theatre performances and cinema releases, two not-to-be-missed exhibitions, and a range of creative activities for families. We’re also very pleased to restart our Communities in Residence programme which provides free space in the Barbican for local community groups to use in a way that is useful to them, and to reopen our iconic Conservatory to the public again for free, for those seeking solace or a place to pause and reflect.

“We understand not everyone will be able to join us in person, and we’ll continue to share a curated programme of digital content via our website and social channels including Akin’s
We Cover the Universe, an interactive sensory online show combining poetry and drawing show for the under-fives and our digital residency with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

“On behalf of everyone at the Barbican, I’d like to thank our audiences, patrons and supporters and the City of London Corporation for their exceptional support this year. Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing much more of you in 2021.”

The Barbican believes in creating space for people and ideas to connect through its international arts programme, community events and learning activity. To keep its programme accessible to everyone, and to keep investing in the artists it works with, the Barbican needs to raise more than 60% of its income through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising every year. Donations can be made here: