Alexandra Palace

Things to do in London | Alexandra Palace

Affectionately known as ‘Ally Pally’, Alexandra Palace is without a doubt one of the wonders of North London. Steeped in history, the establishment is not only known for housing an ice rink and hosting some of the biggest gigs in London, its annual fireworks spectacular comes top of the leaderboard every year. This is probably due to the unparalleled views it has over the London skyline. So get yourself a trip booked in around Bonfire Night and you can experience it for yourself. And if you need somewhere to stay, look no further than our London Archway Premier Inn.

Opening for the first time in 1873, a stroke of bad luck hit the grounds when only 16 days after it first opened its doors, it was destroyed by a fire. With the vigour that the Victorians were renowned for, the Palace was rebuilt and reopened a mere two years later as they didn’t waste a minute creating a marvelous place for entertainment and recreation. Inside, the public could enjoy a concert hall, art galleries, lecture halls and a theatre as well as ‘The Frying Pan’ racecourse which was London’s only racecourse until 1970. Heralded as the birthplace of TV, in November 1936 the first ever high definition television broadcast was held here and was operated by the BBC.

Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Palace

Top tip

If you’ve got a bit of time before your event or gig, take in the views from the top of the palace. The views of the London skyline are out of this world and well worth a few photos.

Essential information

The event calendar at Alexandra Palace is bursting at the seams with everything from indie gigs and tattoo exhibitions to musicals on ice and craft workshops. Due to its size, grand exhibitions can take place here such as annual antiques shows and even yacht shows (with real life yachts set up in the hall!).

There are a number of cash machines dotted around the grounds but mainly in the palace itself. You’ll find one close to the main entrance and two more in the West Hall. If you’re attending a gig or event, there will be security checks so don’t be alarmed as this is just part of their protocol.

Home to one of the largest ice rinks in the UK, kids and adults can enjoy a spin on the ice all year round with speciality events taking place throughout the year including dedicated nights to bands or musicals. You can even watch a local ice hockey match. Other fun family activities include segway rallying around the park, tree climbing and there’s even a 10 hole Pitch & Putt golf course so you won’t be strapped for ideas on your day out. Look out for the farmers market on most Sundays right next to the Muswell Hill entrance with locally-sourced food from Mediterranean, Indian Moroccan influences. In the warmer months, get yourself on a pedalo on the boating lake. And not just any normal pedalo, you can hit the lake in the form of a dragon, swan or taxi!

In November, the iconic fireworks display takes place around Bonfire Night with large amounts of people lining up on the hill to see the sky light up against a backdrop of the city. Not just a fireworks spectacular, you can expect food and drink stalls set up, a fun fair for adrenaline junkies and often a German Bier Festival takes place on the same night in the Great Hall.

With step-free access across the whole of the venue, it’s easy for everyone to get around. There are four disabled toilets on-site at Palm Court, the Panorama room, left of the the West Hall and another in the Great Hall. There are a limited number of wheelchairs available to hire on the day but it’s recommended these are booked in advance.

Eating and drinking

If you’re making a day of it up at Alexandra Palace, it’s important to stay fed and watered. So whether you’re grabbing a takeaway coffee to walk around the gardens with, sitting down for dinner or just fancy something sweet, there are three main hotspots in the grounds as well as some lovely eateries over in Muswell Hill.

Situated in the beautiful Palm Court, Bar & Kitchen serves up a menu of traditional pub grub such as burgers, roasts and pastas plus an extensive wine list and kegs of refreshing beers. The perfect place to retreat to on a hot summer’s day, benches line up to create an inviting outside space offering stunning views of the city as you pop open another bottle of wine. After a spot of lunch? Head to Grove Cafe for the tastiest ciabattas, homemade soups and hearty jacket potatoes plus coffees, detox juices and meals for the little ones. If you’re by the lake and have worked up an appetite after an hour on the pedalo, pop into the Lakeside Cafe for a hot drink and something sweet.

Just a 10-minute walk from the palace and park, gastropub Victoria Stakes has that lovely blend of family friendly pub with fine dining style food. Beautifully decorated in dark mahogany wood, the pubs has character by the bucket load and a menu full of treats including broad bean risottos and stunning roast dinners. Muswell Hill doesn’t disappoint and on the high street, you’ll find Mediterranean restaurant Cilicia. Cosy and unpretentious, this cute restaurant specialises in Med grills, seafood, mezes, casseroles and pides. The decor is beautiful too with multi-coloured lamps hanging from the ceiling and arm, orange-painted walls.

Getting to Alexandra Palace

Getting to Ally Pally is easy as pie whether you’re coming by bus, tube or rail. Just remember there’s a big hill at the bottom of the venue so for the greener folk, you can walk up it and take in the views as you go. On certain event or exhibition days, a free shuttle bus runs from the bottom of the hill to the palace.

By car
On event and exhibition days, you can expect the venue and its car park to be pretty jam-packed. While there are 1,200 car parking spaces on site, these get filled up on a first come, first served basis so we recommend taking public transport. If you are visiting on an off-peak time and taking the car, pop N22 7AY into your Sat nav.

By bus
Both the W3 and 184 bus will take you all the way to the palace. With the W3 running every 5-8 minutes Monday to Friday, 6-10 minutes on Saturday and 9-12 minutes on Sunday, it won’t take you long to get up the hill. The 184 runs a little less frequently but still between 7-12 minutes.

By tube
Both the W3 and 184 bus will take you all the way to the palace. With the W3 running every 5-8 minutes Monday to Friday, 6-10 minutes on Saturday and 9-12 minutes on Sunday, it won’t take you long to get up the hill. The 184 runs a little less frequently but still between 7-12 minutes.