We’re pretty spoiled here in London, it’s got to be said. Not only do we have some of the best live music anywhere in the world, but we’ve also got some of the coolest music venues in which to see it being played. And, luckily for you we’ve been kind enough to create a lovely venue guide for you to read at your leisure.
After you’ve taken a look, don’t forget to check out our London gig guide, where we’ve listed the best gigs you can’t really miss in 2022. So without further ado here they are, the best music venues in London – ranked by size, but by no means by their epicness.
Huge music venues in London
1. Wembley Stadium
Location: Wembley | Capacity: 90,000
This was a must on our roundup of the best music venues in London. The biggest stadium in the whole country, and the sixth largest in the world – no mean feat. If a huge act is coming to London, you know they’ll be performing at Wembley Stadium. Fleetwood Mac, P!nk, Spice Girls, and The Who are just a handful of acts that have performed here in the last few years, and this year sees Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay grace the stadium with their presence.
2. The O2
Location: Greenwich | Capacity: 20,000
Diversity certainly ain’t lacking at the iconic O2. What was once the Millenium Dome – remember that one folks – has now been turned into one of the UK’s most famous music venues. Everyone from Ariana Granda to Lana Del Ray, to Liam Gallagher and The Chemical Brothers have played here, and 2022 sees pop princess Dua Lipa, Stomzy, Billie Eilish, Elton John among many others play. Plus, if you like the venue that much – you can even bloody climb it! Go ‘Up at the O2’ and you’ll get some pretty incredible 360-degree views of the city.
3. SSE Wembley Arena
Location: Wembley | Capacity: 12,500
Wembley Stadium’s next door neighbour may be a considerable downsize, but that’s not to say the gigs played here aren’t any less good. From Giggs to Christina Aguilera, and the Jonas Brothers to Lewis Capaldi, there have been a heck of a lot of acts that have played at the Wembley SSE Arena over the years. 2022 sees 50 Cent, Anne Marie, Sigrid and even The Libertines play. Get ready to get your lighters up.
4. Alexandra Palace
Location: Alexandra Palace | Capacity: 10,400
Seeing a band in a Grade II-listed palace is already pretty cool. So seeing a band in a palace that has survived two fires, hosted the first ever television broadcast, and has seen millions of people experience extraordinary events for nearly 150 years is something even bloody cooler. ‘Ally Pally’ as it’s affectionately known may boast tradition in its beauty, but the acts that perform there are far from old news.
Lorde, Bloc Party, James Blake and Michael Kiwanuka are some of the upcoming acts at this truly unique venue. Arrive a couple of hours before the gig to sit on the grass and enjoy some of the best views of London from Alexandra Palace’s beer garden.
Location: Surrey Quays | Capacity: 6,000
No photo quite captures the sheer length of this uniquely-shaped venue, and it has rapidly achieved popular status since its opening in 2017. Once home to the largest printing factory in Western Europe, the original aesthetics, giant machines and printing presses have been preserved to create a stunning, industrial environment for a dynamic array of events. As well as some great club nights, Printworks also has plenty of live music events too – the sound system and lighting also has to be seen to be believed.
6. The Royal Albert Hall
Location: Kensington | Capacity: 5,544
The Grade I-listed Royal Albert Hall is undoubtedly one of the nation’s most treasured music venues. On first glance, you expect amazing nights of late night jazz and orchestras playing ‘Harry Potter’ or the ‘Lord of the Rings’ within its cavernous interior. What may come as a surprise is the range of other amazing events on offer – from techno nights with Jon Hopkins to grime get downs with Kano. Last year was its 150th birthday, and this year sees acts including Bonobo, Gladys Knight and Eric Clapton join in with the fun.
7. Eventim Apollo
Location: Hammersmith | Capacity: 5,039
If you want to know just how iconic the Eventim Apollo is, you only have to take a look at some of the legendary acts that have performed there. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Marley took to the stage in its earlier years, with the likes of Oasis, REM, Kylie, and Elton John following in their footsteps. Need we say anymore? It’s worth coming here just to say you’ve been in the same place as some of the greatest musicians on Earth. This year sees The Vaccines, St Vincent and Anastacia play among many others.
8. O2 Brixton Academy
Location: Brixton | Capacity: 4,921
The venue that the Maccabees called: “the best venue in the world.” Not a bad claim to fame, right? As soon as you spot the much Instagrammed entrance to the internationally-renowned, award-winning O2 Brixton Academy, you know you’re in for the time of your life. Located in the centre of David Bowie’s hometown, this venue has hosted acts as prestigious as Amy Winehouse, The Clash, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, The Strokes, Blur, Coldplay…and even the late starman David Bowie himself.
Sloping floors offer superb views of Europe’s largest fixed stage, all sheltered by an outstanding 140ft dome echoing the sounds and beats of the musicians performing. A magnificent backdrop to any artist, a must-visit venue, and a brilliant start to the night we say.
Mid-sized music venues in London
9. Roundhouse, Camden
Location: Camden | Capacity: 3,300
As former railway engine repair sheds turned music venues go, the Roundhouse is without a doubt probably the best in the entire world… in all seriousness though, with its unique history and architecture, it’s a pretty epic venue and thoroughly deserves its spot on this roundup of the best music venues.
The building was transformed into a groundbreaking performing arts venue 50 years ago, and has welcomed legendary performances by Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Ramones and one of only two UK appearances by The Doors with Jim Morrison. 2022 sees Fred Again, Miles Kane and Ray BLK all perform.
10. Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre
Location: Southbank | Capacity: 2,740
Built in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain, the Royal Festival Hall has become a truly inspiring arts centre. The hall is located on the banks of the River Thames at the heart of Southbank Centre, making for a remarkable location to go and watch some amazing live music – from Ministry of Sound, to The Great Escape live in concert, with a load of jazz thrown in for good measure.
Don’t miss Meltdown Festival this year, which sees the captivating Grace Jones curate a lineup which includes Solange, Honey Dijon and Skunk Anansie, who will all play this very stage.
11. O2 Forum Kentish Town
Location: Kentish Town | Capacity: 2,300
From art deco cinema to Irish dance hall, bingo hall back to dance hall…and finally to live music venue. This 1930’s spot has seen it all! Prince, Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys have all graced the stage in the past, and this year sees Jake Bugg, Paul Weller and The Flaming Lips all perform. Take a seat downstairs in the O2 Forum Kentish Town’s boujee booths, head up top for a great view from the balcony, or throw yourself into the mosh pit up front.
12. Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Location: Shepherd’s Bush | Capacity: 2,000
Once a TV studio-theatre producing some of the nation’s favourite shows, now an award-winning music venue bringing the sweet sound of musical legends to our ears. Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols are just a few of those who have performed here…and that was only within the Empire’s first five years!
Pearl Jam made their debut here, Oasis celebrated ten years here and Prince played a near-three hour spectacle of guitar solos and jazzed-up medleys. Plus, not one but TWO balconies guarantee you a phenomenal view of any of the epic acts you choose to see at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Location: Central London | Capacity: 1,943
Whether you’re into classical concerts or contemporary, there’s bound to be something on for you at this world-class, Grade II-listed centre. The Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms, meaning performances in its music hall are usually something pretty darn special. Father John Misty and the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra are just two of the acts making their debut this year.
14. Electric Ballroom
Location: Camden | Capacity: 1,500
What started as a busy Irish club playing host to performers such as Jim Reeves, has (80 years on) become Camden high street’s iconic live music venue, which sees people queueing round the corner every day to watch bands from U2, The Clash, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Joy Division, The Smiths, Foals and Blur. Ed Sheeran, Porter Robinson and Circle Jerks are all playing at the Electric Ballroom during 2022.
Camden | Capacity: 1,410
Previously housing artists like The Rolling Stones, Prince, and Camden-local Amy Winehouse, KOKO has always been a legendary live music venue. Madonna performed her first UK gig at the venue, and Coldplay, Grace Jones, Prince, Lady Gaga and Kanye West all played here too.
Unfortunately, due to a tragic fire, COVID-19 and ‘colossal water damage’, we almost lost this venue for good. Luckily for us, the team at Koko are back with a bang in April, and are opening for the first time in three years. Acts on the bill include Pete Doherty, Jorja Smith, Honey Dijon and many more. We for one can’t wait.
Small and intimate music venues in London
Location: Stoke Newington | Capacity: 1,200
Evolutionary Arts Hackney – or EartH as it is otherwise known – brings together the leading, rising and most important talents of all fields under one roof in Stokey. But you won’t get any old geezer performing at this venue, the old Savoy cinema (which re-branded in 2018) presents a carefully-considered calendar, and ‘programming prioritises artists, individuals and groups who attempt to innovate, progress and collaborate their craft to push creativity forwards’.
Artists who have performed before include Little Simz, Jay Electronica and Stefflon Don, and the venue has pledged to work towards a 50/50 gender split by the end of 2022, which we are always happy to hear! Grab a tasty bite to eat at the EartH Kitchen before heading to one of the other two distinct performance spaces this live music venue has to offer.
Location: King’s Cross | Capacity: 1,145
If you’re looking for historic music venues, then this one is a good go-t0. From plane manufacturer, to labour exchange for soldiers, to Kings Cross Cinema. Blitzed in the war, re-opened again, host to ‘adult’ cinema (hello), and – with a few licences revoked in between – a rocking live music venue. And Scala’s rebellious reputation shone through its musical personality too, with the likes of Iggy Pop and Hawkwind christening the stage in the 70s.
Its popularity lives on, with modern performances from Lana Del Ray, Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, The Killers, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kaiser Chiefs, Run DMC, Sonic Youth, Jessie J, Die Antwoord and so many more. The Kings Cross-based venue now boasts a whopping four floors, with the main room spread across a series of terraces watching over a dancefloor and stage below.
18. Union Chapel
Location: Islington | Capacity: 900
As a previous nominee of The London Venue Awards (and a champion of various other awards, it would be rude not to give Union Chapel a mention. An award-winning, architectural treasure, this working church is the perfect place to come and worship the music that you love – see what we did there. In just under 30 years, the venue has gone from facing demolition, to becoming a Grade I-listed building. Not bad work, hey?
A lot of this has got to come down to it being a completely independent and not-for-profit venue, with acts such as Tom Jones, Amy Winehouse, Noel Gallagher and Elton John coming to *ahem* bless the stage throughout its history. When not hosting a gig or actual worshippers with a mass, the church is home to The Margins Project – a charity designed to help those that are experiencing homelessness, crisis and isolation in Islington and beyond.
19. Islington Assembly Hall
Location: Islington | Capacity: 890
A short history of Islington Assembly Hall – 1930s: opened, 1980s: took a 30-year nap, 2010: re-opened. We can’t knock it, we all bloody love a good nap. And the venue is back with more energy than ever – it’s arguably the beating musical heart of this leafy north London borough.
But history still lives on in subtlety, with original Art Deco interiors and (out-of-use) ashtrays in the tiered, intricate balcony. Its musical itinerary now is a far cry from the tea parties it once hosted, with acts including Skepta, Laura Mvula, Sam Smith, Floating Points and Unknown Mortal Orchestra playing over the years.
20. The Garage
Location: Islington | Capacity: 650
Originally built to be a billiard hall, this space soon became a haunt for local villains in the 60s…as well as gaining a reputation for its great pies. It then became a Town & Country Club, which is when the live music magic began. The Garage has hosted a number of underplays, with The Killers, Jack White, Mumford & Sons and Suede being among some of the more recent acts to pack the venue.
Other acts who have passed through the doors include Green Day, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Temples, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Paramore, Oasis and My Chemical Romance. And no, it’s not actually a garage. But intimacy is still there in this 650 capacity venue. If that isn’t cosy enough for you, check out Thousand Island, the 100 capacity venue just upstairs. The venue has seen the likes of Harry Styles, Jack White and alt-J in recent years, so it ain’t no small fry.
21. The Dome
Location: Tufnell Park | Capacity: 500
Housed in a Victorian building complex, The Dome has survived two world wars, punk performances and everything in between. The 1975, Florence & The Machine, Khalid and Giggs have graced the stage with intimate shows for lucky fans in recent years. And today the independent and LGBTQ+-friendly venue is in better shape than ever – pardon the pun given the name – having undergone a huge refurb and equipment upgrade in 2017.
22. Cecil Sharp House
Location: Primrose Hill | Capacity: Around 500
There’s a reason this live music venue has won itself many awards over the years. The only dedicated folk arts centre in England, the Cecil Sharp House is host to an adventurous programme of folk events all year round, and all taking place right in this Grade II-listed building right in the heart of London Town. Pre- or post-gig, don’t miss the chance to see the views from Primrose Hill, the most scenic view in London.
Location: Camden | Capacity: Around 500
This iconic landmark set inside Camden Market has a colourful heritage which can be traced back to 1973. Home to Blondie’s UK debut, and a past hangout for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers, many music legends have played their way through Dingwalls. In recent years the stage has seen Noel Gallagher, the Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Caribou and Wolf Alice perform. Not bad for another of our city’s 500-capacity-maximum music venues.
24. The Underworld
Location: Camden | Capacity: Around 500
If you’re looking to get down to some alternative music, then The Underworld in Camden is the place you really want to head. The Cranberries, The Offspring, Placebo, Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Suede, The Darkness, Sum 41 and Fall Out Boy have all played here in the past. They also do club nights too. Rock on.
25. Bush Hall
Location: Shepherd’s Bush | Capacity: 400
Built by a publisher in 1904 as one of three London dance halls for each of his daughters, Bush Hall is the last woman standing. But its exciting past does not end there. This amazing venue also served as a World War II soup kitchen, a bingo hall, a rehearsal space for the likes of The Who and Cliff Richard, and a snooker and social club in the 80s and 90s, all before being restored back to its musical glory in the noughties. A remarkable history to match a truly remarkable venue, Bush Hall brings all the class.
26. MOTH Club
Location: Hackney | Capacity: Around 400
If you want live music venues with character for a bill that won’t break the bank account, then make sure you get your arse to Hackney and head to MOTH Club. The glittering, vaulted ceiling and shimmering curtain certainly grab the attention – and that’s even before the music’s started.
Gigs from up-and-coming bands are always reasonably priced, but keep on the lookout, because they always sell out early doors. The stage is hallowed ground, and has been graced by the likes of Connan Mockasin and James Blake to even bloody Lady Gaga. Memorable Order of Tin Hats is the proper title for this place – want to know where it comes from?
27. Camden Assembly
Location: Camden | Capacity: 400
A bar, a live music venue, a nightclub, and a damn good boozer to boot – what more could you want from your music venues, hey?! Contrary to its title, the closest tube station to the Camden Assembly is actually Chalk Farm, but wherever you’re coming from – you’ll never miss the red neon light on the front of the pub luring you in for a full night of music madness…
Location: Hackney | Capacity: 375
Nordic vibes come to the capital in the form of OSLO – an all-day destination for food, drinks and great live music. Not only the neighbour of a railway station (Hackney Central to those not in the know), but a former one itself, this relative newbie to the music scene certainly does not lack the confidence and character of its older siblings like MOTH and The Shacklewell Arms. Upcoming gigs include Beardyman and Lasso.
Location: London Bridge | Capacity: 320
Though this live music venue is merely a baby in comparison to some of the other ancient treasures already mentioned on this list, OMEARA has got off to an impressive start, welcoming record label showcases, special underplays from world-class acts and headline shows from the finest rising artists. This new gem is hidden away under the railway arches in London Bridge, hosting club nights playing everything from house and techno through to hip-hop and soul. Get ready to get your groove on.
Location: Spitalfields | Capacity: 300
London’s live music scene has gone back to its roots with WERKHAUS – a nightclub-come-live music venue in Spitalfields. Located in the famous Truman Brewery complex on Brick Lane, this spot is kitted out with a Funktion-One soundsystem, meaning both its live music nights and DJ events will sound unforgettably good. Hannah Wants is playing soon, and they’ve got many other great bookings planned for the bill.
Location: Hoxton | Capacity: 300
This multi-arts bar and club is guaranteed to impress with a line up of intimate gigs in collaboration with fellow spaces Village Underground and EartH. The venue showcases local and global up-and-coming artists, housing a top of the range D&B Audiotechnik PA System that will bring the hottest Nu Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul, Electro Pop, and R’n’B straight to your ears.
The ‘Colour Trap’ is the centrepiece of the venue – an LED ceiling installation created by Burning Man lighting sculptor Christopher Schardta, which makes any night a colourful one. Read more about Colours in our Secret London article.
32. Boston Music Room
Location: Tufnell Park | Capacity: 250
The Dome’s little sister brings punk to Tufnell Park in intimate chaos, hosting the likes of Fugazi and Sham 69 in the 80s, and HECK, Turnstile and Creeper in more recent years. The Boston Music Room has always been a place where acts of any genre can ‘cut their teeth’ – Blur and The White Stripes enraged the stage with hard indie in the nineties – while this century has seen The Hunna and Twenty One Pilots play raucous shows.
33. The Shacklewell Arms
Location: Dalston | Capacity: 250
A cosy room in the back of a pub sees the coolest of indie bands perform. King Gizzard put on a killer performance here just hours before they took to the stage in front of 40 times more people at their sold out Ally Pally show. Solange Knowles has also DJ-ed at The Shacklewell Arms, and HAIM and Vance Joy have also played here in the past.
34. Notting Hill Arts Club
Location: Notting Hill | Capacity: Around 220
West London’s biggest champion of pioneering live music and club nights since 1997. Their site says that, ‘the Notting Hill Arts Club is best explained by the belief that a world created by artists would be a much better place. And a lot more fun!’ We couldn’t have summed it up better ourselves.
35. The Lexington
Location: Angel | Capacity: about 200
Your classic London boozer, turned lounge bar…turned Rock’n’Roll party. After enjoying their award winning food, and American craft beers, head upstairs for the latest and greatest bands, before dancing the night away as the DJs spin everything from 20s Jazz to post-punk and the newest indie jams. A five-minute walk from Angel, and a ten-minute walk from Kings Cross, The Lexington is one of the most connected music venues in our beloved capital.
36. Paper Dress Vintage
Location: Hackney | Capacity: 180
Shop vintage by day, listen to amazing live music by night. Paper Dress Vintage wears the best vintage Rock’n’Roll, Soul, Reggae, Blues, Gypsy, Swing and Rockabilly sounds on its unique shop window stage, boasting a great view onto Hackney Central’s overground station. The Noisettes, Adam Ant and The Fat White Family have played here among many others.
37. The Sebright Arms
Location: Just off Hackney Road | Capacity: 150
‘Bands. Beers. Quizzes’. The first three words on this East London pub’s website are like music to our ears. Your local boozer that also doubles up as the host to artists fresh on the scene – Catfish and the Bottleman, Charlie XCX and Hinds all started off playing here.
Miles Kane and Jamie T once joined forces here to play a gig, which isn’t something you’d ordinarily see at many other venues. Plus, their food is pretty bloody good at The Sebright Arms, even for ‘f**king vegans’, as one of their burgers is aptly named.
38. The Old Blue Last
Location: Shoreditch | Capacity: 150
To be considered the ‘best live music venue in London’ is quite an achievement, especially for a space of this size. A quirky mix of legendary acts have graced this stage (check out the list on their site if you have a spare minute or ten), but history was made here long before performances at The Old Blue Last.
Once a former brothel, it was also known as a hang-out spot of Shakespeare himself. Does that make this the coolest venue venue in London? Either way, we should respect it, it is hundreds of years old after all.
39. The Grace
Location: Islington | Capacity: 150
Another worthy addition to this roundup of live music venues here. The team behind The Garage and Oslo are behind Islington’s newest live music pub – a cosy drinking spot for locals, gig-goers and musos right in the heart of the borough. But don’t be fooled by its fresh face, this building boasts an impressive music pedigree with the likes of Jeff Buckley, The Killers, Sheryl Crow, Mogwai, Grimes and many more.
Now, as one of the only late licences in the area, The Grace has *ahem* graced us with an exciting calendar of DJ nights, upcoming bands and late night parties. It’s also just a stone’s throw away from Highbury and Islington train station – pretty convenient if you ask us.
40. The Waiting Room
Location: Stoke Newington | Capacity: 120
Enjoy some posh pub grub at the famous Three Crowns pub in Stokey before heading downstairs to The Waiting Room – the basement that is sure to be booming with some kind of live music. There is often an artist performing every single night of the month, so pop down anytime for a truly intimate gig.
41. The Slaughtered Lamb
Location: Clerkenwell | Capacity: 120
Though the name screams long hair, mosh pits and head-banging to Deathcore (something which the music venue is not adverse to), The Slaughtered Lamb is in fact a favourite with acts that fall into genres such as folk, roots, acoustic, blues and Americana. Ed Sheeran, Tom Grennan and James Bay are just a few of the acts that have gigged here, and there are many more besides.
The cosy basement is great for those that love acoustics, with the low-down corner stage allowing for an intimacy between performers and their audiences. Head to the bar upstairs after the gig for a great pint and (most likely) a chat with the musician that’s just enthralled you with a brilliant performance.
42. Servant Jazz Quarters
Location: Dalston | Capacity: 100
Rounding off this list of the best live music venues in London is the intimate Servant Jazz Quarters – or ‘SJQ’ – a boutique live music venue right in the heart of Dalston. It has pretty cool acts on almost every night of the week, as well as some killer cocktails and great wines. Cheers.