Address: The Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Visitors to London in search of excitement, history and fun can find all these things and more when planning a trip to Somerset House.
Located in the heart of the English capital between The Strand and the River Thames, this neo-classical building is impressive to behold and contains an array of exemplary exhibits and sights to see for lovers of culture and the arts.
Originally a 16th century palatial home for Edward Seymour, Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset, Somerset House was built in a Renaissance style and quickly made a name as one of the most contemporary and impressive architectural designs in the whole of Europe. Fast forward almost 500 years and the property continues to be a hub of design brilliance and a cultural Mecca for lovers of art and design.
London Fashion Week at Somerset House
One of the biggest events on the social calendar for lovers of the latest garments and trends, London Fashion Week took place at Somerset House from 2010 to 2015. Now moved to a new venue in Soho, the event remains a key part of annual festivities at Somerset House, with supporting attractions held throughout the week for visitors to enjoy.
Highlighting some of the best designers in the world and offering the chance for visitors to learn more about the history of fashion, Somerset House prides itself on the wealth of fashion-focused exhibitions and attractions that have taken – and continue to take place – at this popular venue.
Exhibitions galore at Somerset House
One of the best attractions of Somerset House is the changing roster of exhibitions that are held throughout the year at this popular London venue. Some of the standout events and exhibitions of the coming months include:
- Utopia (July) – A celebration of the 500th anniversary of the work of Thomas More, examining his text, Utopia, in detail and supported by a range of activities, exhibits and performances.
- Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick (July) – An exhibition exploring the impact of this seminal filmmaker, with supporting contributors including Sarah Lucas, Gavin Turk, Joseph Kosuth and Doug Aitken.
- Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House (August) – Offering a programme of contemporary classic movies, all projected on to London’s largest outdoor screen.
- London Design Bienniale 2016 (September) – An inaugural event this year, the showpiece will feature design installations and exhibitions from up to 40 of the world’s leading designers and nations.
Full details of all upcoming exhibitions and events can be found by heading to the official website of Somerset House.
Ice skating at Somerset House
Another great attraction of Somerset House is the venue’s very own ice rink, which is set up every winter and transforms the grand courtyard of this historic property into a skater’s paradise.
Set to return in November and be open until January, Skate at Somerset House is an annual extravaganza that is perfect for families and kids of all ages. Offering one of the most impressive backdrops to any ice rink in the world, visitors can scoot about on the ice while soaking up the cultural surroundings of this beautiful former Tudor palace.
Opening times and visitor information for Somerset House
Anyone planning a trip to Somerset House should be aware that this is a popular place to visit and therefore there can be queues for some exhibits and attractions. However, there’s plenty to see and do to ensure guests are kept entertained.
Within Somerset House
- Embankment level opening times – 8 am to 6 pm
- The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court opening times – 7.30 am to 11 pm
- River Terrace & Seamen’s Hall opening times – 8 am to 11 pm
Gallery and exhibition areas
- Embankment Galleries opening times – 10 am to 6 pm
- Terrace Rooms (when exhibitions are taking place) opening times – 10 am to 6 pm
- Courtyard Rooms (when exhibitions are taking place) opening times – 10 am to 6 pm
- East & West Wing Galleries (when exhibitions are taking place) opening times – 10 am to 6 pm
- The Courtauld Gallery (when exhibitions are taking place) opening times – 10 am to 6 pm
Entry to all permanent exhibitions and smaller displays will cost one set price for adults, and another for seniors and students, those with National Arts passes and registered unwaged guests can get in for free. Meanwhile, access to all permanent collections and temporary exhibits at Somerset House will cost one set price for adults, another for seniors and they’re the cheapest for students, National Arts pass holders and registered unwaged guests.
Last admission to all attractions at Somerset House is 5.30 pm each day. Visitors are reminded that food and drink should not be consumed anywhere within the gallery or exhibition areas of Somerset House. However, there is an on-site restaurant for those in need of refreshment during their stay.