With several high-class theatres, live music and cinema options in St Albans, the small city packs a big cultural and entertainment punch.
Entertainment in St Albans
The largest theatre and concert space in the city, The Alban Arena is an 856-capacity venue that hosts everything from stand-up comedy and live music to musicals, theatre, opera, themed nights, children events and more. Located in the centre of St Albans – a minute’s walk from our St Albans City Centre hotel – the arena opened in 1968 and has hosted a variety of big names, including Dire Straits, Jethro Tull and John Mayall.
A mile north of St Albans in Harpenden, you’ll find the Harpenden Public Halls, a busy cultural hub that puts on a wide range of events including theatre, live music, film and comedy shows. With two theatres to choose from – the 410-capacity Eric Morecambe Hall, named after the 60s comic legend who lived in Harpenden, and the 70-capacity Southdown Room – plus a licensed bar and kitchen, it’s a wonderful community driven theatre that puts on several shows each month.
The smallest of the theatres in the area, Abbey Theatre is a short walk from St Albans city centre and is a 230-seat proscenium arch venue built and run entirely by local members. An active space that hosts stand-up comedy, musical tribute shows, live acts and some impressive original theatrical productions, the theatre also has a licensed bar and a small foyer complete with a coffee bar and ice cream stand.
Music in St Albans
St Albans theatre
Running since 1963, the St Albans International Organ Festival is a week-long celebration of organs, recitals, choral shows and cabaret, with household names like John Williams (the Star Wars composer) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra being previous guests. The festival takes place every second year, with most events being held at the Norman cathedral. The festival expanded in 2007 to also include fringe events which take place across the city, diversifying the musical and cultural remit.
For something a little more contemporary, The Horn is one of the leading pubs and bars in St Albans, hosting a wide range of local bands, guest acts and DJ-focussed events. Launched in 1974, and twice named the best music pub in the country, The Horn has managed to secure bands like U2, Bastille and Chrissie Hynde as their careers were on the way up. With two bars and the main venue space, it’s one of the best bars in St Albans and handily located next to the train station.
While modern complexes offer super-sized cinema fun, there’s an undeniable charm to old-fashioned, one-screen cinemas – and the Odyssey Cinema is one of the finest. A restored Art Deco cinema just a short walk from the city centre, the 426-capacity independent cinema is split across a balcony and main seating area, with two licensed bars offering a range of drinks and snacks. With only one screen, there are generally only two screenings per day, but the cinema does try to offer a balanced line up of new releases, foreign language films and silver screen classics.
Boasting all the mod-cons, Vue Watford is a huge 11-screen complex with nearly 2,000 seats all boasting Digital Dolby 6.1 Surround Sound, as well as several digital 3D screens. The cinema is a short drive from the centre of St Albans, and just a few hundred metres from our Watford North hotel.