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Live music returns to some of the UK’s biggest venues

The O2 Arena, the Royal Albert Hall, and Alexandra Palace are opening their doors for the first time since March for socially-distanced events

By IQ on 05 Oct 2020

The O2 in London is the world's most popular entertainment venue

The O2 arena will host its first live music event for more than eight months

Some of the UK’s largest and most prestigious venues, such as the O2 Arena (cap. 20,000) and the Royal Albert Hall (5,272), are set to reopen their doors this winter for the first time since March.

The O2 Arena has announced it will host its first live music event for more than eight months on 5 December with British band Squeeze.

The socially distanced event will see the venue’s capacity reduced to 4,700, with tickets being sold in groups of twos, threes and fours only and a seating configuration which is in line with the UK government’s one metre plus guidelines.

Seats will remain empty between each group and one-way routes have been installed throughout the arena and concourse. The performance will end before 10 pm in compliance with the new curfew.

“We have been working incredibly hard to bring back events at The O2 and put measures in place to ensure our fans will have a safe and Covid-19 secure experience,” says Steve Sayer, GM and VP at the O2.

“At the moment, we’re only able to host under a quarter of our capacity in the arena, so this is not a long term solution for us or other venues and we continue to press the government for targeted support and guidance to get the live events industry and its supply chain back on its feet.

“The O2 was designed to give artists and fans the best live music in the world and we look forward to doing that again with Squeeze. As the O2 returns to live, it’s really fitting that a band from the local area are the ones to reopen our doors to the public once again. The whole team are excited to see them on our stage for the first time.”

The Royal Albert Hall has also shared plans to reopen this December, announcing a programme of 18 Christmas concerts including Handel’s Messiah, the Royal Choral Society, Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas and My Christmas Orchestral Adventure.

“This model is not sustainable with such reduced capacities, we are opening because I believe this is what the country needs”

The events will mark RAH’s first concerts with an audience in nine months, on the eve of its 150th anniversary.

Craig Hassall, CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, says: “Six months on from enforced closure, and six months away from our 150th anniversary on 29 March 2021, we are excited beyond words to open our doors to the public for what will be a joyful, stirring and historic occasion.

“It remains the case that socially-distanced performances are financially unviable in the long term. Although this model is not sustainable with such reduced capacities, we are opening because I firmly believe this is what the country needs.

“It is an investment into our future – to protect the jobs of our highly skilled staff, to stimulate the local economy and the wider arts ecosystem, and to fulfil significant audience demand.

“Christmas has always been a time of great celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall, where people have come together since 1871 – from Vera Lynn at the end of the Blitz, to HM The Queen’s first public Christmas address. It is essential for us to carry on this spirit in what has been a year of disruption.”

The Hall sold 121,229 tickets across last year’s Christmas season. This year there will be 36,000 tickets available in total.

Elsewhere, Alexandra Palace (10, 400) recently announced a series of socially-distanced, indoor live events taking place this October and November. The arena’s autumn programme features comedy, theatre, a drive-in film club and a sold-out show with DJ Sasha.

Alongside the standard coronavirus regulations, the venue will be operating a table-only format with a maximum of six people at each table.

All three venues have adopted Covid guidelines including socially-distanced seating, e-tickets, deep-cleaning, staggered entry times to reduce queues, temperature checks, a face covering policy, and sanitising stations throughout the venue.


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