Visiting the Exhibition & Tour
Do tours run all year round?
Globe Theatre tours run every day, all the year round with the exception of 24 & 25 December. During the Globe Theatre performance season, which runs from mid-April to mid-October, we normally finish tours around midday to allow for the matinee performances. If you are planning to come in the summer months you can find further information by looking at our ‘Opening hours and tickets’ page on our website or by calling the Exhibition Office on 020 7902 1500.
We also run tours of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (our indoor Jacobean-style playhouse) on some days. Availability varies and is subject to change, due to performances and rehearsals in the playhouse. On days when available, public tours will generally run between 1.00pm and 5.00pm every 30 minutes. Please consult our day-to-day calendar when planning your visit.
What happens when it rains?
The Globe Theatre is an open-air arena. This means that if you are in the yard (the area surrounding the stage) on your tour then you may get wet. As British weather is often inclement, it is advisable to bring waterproofs, especially in winter. The weather never stops our tours.
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is an indoor playhouse, but the tour begins by leading you on a short outdoor walk from the Exhibition to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Is this the original site?
Today’s Globe Theatre is a reconstruction of the first Globe Theatre in which Shakespeare worked. We were unable to build on the original site which is partially covered by listed Georgian buildings and Southwark Bridge Road. You can see the original site which is about 200 metres from today’s Globe, and is marked by a plaque and information panels. Staff at the Exhibition admissions desk can give you directions.
The construction of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse was completed in 2014. Designed to replicate the indoor playhouses of the early 17th century with which Shakespeare and his contemporaries were familiar, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is based on the earliest known designs for an English theatre, but it is not a reconstruction of any one particular building.
How long does it all take?
The guided tours of the Globe Theatre and the guided tours of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse each take about 30 minutes plus time at the end for questions. We advise leaving at least an hour to explore the Exhibition. The Exhibition is self-guided so you can spend as long as you want looking around it.
Do the tours go backstage?
Our tours do not go backstage.
The Globe theatre tours do not go backstage as there is no large backstage area. The Globe is a faithful reconstruction of an Elizabethan theatre: in Shakespeare’s day productions did not have scenery or sets like in modern day theatres, so there was no need to have a backstage area for making props and scenery, and there were also no dressing rooms. This is also the case with the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Do you put on plays?
The Globe Theatre is a working theatre and so we do have a performance season. Due to the weather we only show plays from mid-April to mid-October.
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse theatre season runs from October through to April, but a programme of music concerts by candlelight is performed in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse throughout the year.
Further information regarding what plays and concerts are showing and booking for them can be found on the ‘What’s on’ page of our website, or by calling the Box Office on 020 7401 9919 (10.00am to 6.00pm daily). During our seasons of performances in each venue, you may find that our tour times are affected.
Can we stand on the stage?
We don’t allow visitors to go on the stage during the tours of the Globe Theatre or Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This is partly for reasons of safety, but mainly because the Globe stage is a very special place and reserved for our actors and certain classes.
Are the tours only in English?
The guided tours of both the Globe Theatre and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse are only in English.
With tours of the Globe Theatre, free information sheets are available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek and Hungarian, and these can be picked up on the day of your visit. These are available for our individual travellers. For booked groups, who are allocated their own tour guide, the group leader is welcome to translate as the guide gives the tour.
Tour before Exhibition; Exhibition before Tour - which is best?
Your admission entitles you to visit the Exhibition until the end of its opening hours. We sell tickets for the next available tour so you may find that you have up to 30 minutes in the Exhibition before your tour begins; or you might be able to go on your tour immediately. Either way you will have plenty of time to do both and neither way round is better than the other.
Is there an audio guide?
We offer a complimentary audio guide for the Exhibition only. This is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin. You can pick up your audio guide at the admissions desk at the Exhibition, but it does need to be dropped off before you go on your theatre tour. If you choose to return to the Exhibition you can collect another audio guide.
Are you in Stratford-upon-Avon or Stratford in London?
In a word: neither. We are located on Bankside, next to the Tate Modern and across the River Thames from St Paul’s Cathedral.
Stratford-upon-Avon is where Shakespeare was born and grew up and is located about 160km north-west of London. Shakespeare’s working life was spent in London. Stratford, in the east of London, is a completely different place to both the Globe and Stratford-upon-Avon.
I don't like crowds: when is the best time of day to visit?
We are a very popular tourist attraction so you may find that there are crowds at any time that you choose to come. However, our busiest months are from March until the end of August. At this time the earliest Globe Theatre tour at 9.30am is usually the quietest.
During the winter, from the end of the Globe Theatre performance season until February, we find that tours are quieter early in the morning and mid-afternoon.
All tours of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse are limited to 20 people per tour.
Can I take photographs?
You can take photographs throughout the Exhibition. Usually you can take photographs during our theatre tours, and your guide will give you time to take these. However, you may find that when you visit there is something taking place in the theatre which prevents you from taking photographs, for example, rehearsals for a forthcoming performance. Your tour guide will advise you about photography.
At all times, we ask that you do not video the tour.
Can we pop in to have a look without going on a Tour?
Unfortunately, as they are both working theatres we do not allow access to the Globe Theatre or the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse without a guide. There are no viewing platforms or grilles so if you are not on a tour or watching a play you will be unable to see inside the Globe Theatre or Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
I don't know much about Shakespeare or Theatre: will I understand what's going on?
Our visitors range from people who have barely heard of Shakespeare to specialists in his work. We make sure that we are accessible for everyone, and our guides and the exhibition assistants are happy to answer any of your questions. Our aim is to try to inform and engage all our visitors no matter how much prior knowledge they have.
Why can't we go on a Tour during a matinee performance?
During a matinee performance the theatre itself is in use. Taking large groups of visitors in and out of the theatre during a performance would disturb the actors and audience.
Can we buy tickets before we come?
Exhibition & Tour tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, and since our tours are so regular we rarely have problems with them selling out. We advise, however, that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the final tour of the day to prevent disappointment.
You can buy vouchers for Globe Theatre tours at the Globe Shop by following this link: Exhibition & Tour E-Vouchers / Shakespeare's Globe. These can be redeemed for tickets on the day of your arrival. Please note: these vouchers do not book you on a specific tour, nor do they allow you fast-track entry.
Can we use our London pass?
The London Pass is accepted for entry to the Exhibition and Globe Theatre Tour, but please note that we do not offer fast-track entry for London Pass holders.
The London Pass is not currently accepted for Sam Wanamaker Playhouse tours.
What ticket offers are there and how can I redeem them?
The following offers are available to visitors of the Globe Exhibition & Tour:
- Theatre ticket holders will receive a £2 discount off the price of an individual Exhibition & Tour ticket during the season the theatre ticket is valid for. Please present your theatre ticket on arrival to qualify for this discount.
- Blue Peter Badge – Free entry for badge holders – Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition is one of over 200 attractions around the UK that Blue Peter badge holders can get into for free. To gain free entry, badge holders with valid badge card must be accompanied by a full paying concessionary adult. If a paying adult is accompanied by two children with badges and valid badge cards, free entry will be given for both children. Blue Peter Terms and Conditions
- Tesco – Tesco tokens can be redeemed on individual Exhibition & Tour tickets. They cannot be redeemed against family Exhibition & Tour tickets, theatre tickets, food outlets or gift shop. Tesco Terms and Conditions and additional information.
- 2 for 1 Days Out Guide – 2 FORONE on Exhibition & Tour on presentation of a completed Days Out Voucher, with a National Rail ticket. One voucher is required per two people. The voucher entitles one person to get in for free whilst the other pays the full adult rate. Days Out Guide additional information.
- The Epoch Times – get £2 off individual Exhibition & Tour tickets when you present our advert featured in The Epoch Times between 12 – 26 January, to coincide with Chinese New Year. This offer can be redeemed until the 31stJuly 2017.
I have difficulty walking especially up stairs: is the visit suitable for me?
The Exhibition is fully accessible with lifts leading to each section of the Exhibition and up to the Globe Theatre piazza level. There is no lift serving the tours of the Globe Theatre, so if stairs are a problem please let the admissions desk know and we can adjust the tour to accommodate your needs. For further information regarding access requirements please follow this link: Shakespeare's Globe: Your Visit - Access / Shakespeare's Globe.
Access to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is limited: please contact us about your access requirements prior to your visit.
What can we do if there are no tours?
We also run tours of our indoor playhouse the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which take place between 1.00pm and 5.00pm on selected days. Our guides provide a fascinating insight to the indoor playhouses of the time of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and the background to the project, from the initial plans to final construction. You can find out how indoor playing shaped the writing of Shakespeare, how this unique new space was built and the discoveries we hope to make from indoor performances.
On certain matinee performance afternoons we also offer tours to the Rose Theatre archaeological site to view the remains of the earliest theatre in Bankside, where some of Shakespeare’s earliest plays were performed. The Rose tour includes the Bankside area, allowing you to imagine this area during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Since the Rose Theatre Trust stages its own programme of plays on the site there are some days when this will not be available. For further information please call the Exhibition Office on 020 7902 1500.
When no tours are available you are welcome to visit the Exhibition only at a reduced price. The Exhibition is situated below the Globe Theatre so you will be unable to see the theatre itself when visiting the Exhibition.
Can I eat or drink while on a Theatre Tour or in the Exhibition?
Drinks are permitted on tours and in the Exhibition, as long as they are in a bottle or in a container with a sealable lid.
We do not offer a covered lunch space for you to consume your own food, but there are a number of places on site where food and drink are served: further details can be found by following this link: Eating and drinking / Shakespeare’s Globe.
Can I bring my luggage or pushchair?
Unfortunately on tours of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse we cannot accommodate guests with pushchairs or carrying large items of luggage. Children under the age of 5 years are not permitted on tours of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Elsewhere, you must keep items of luggage and pushchairs with you: we do not offer a cloakroom facility for the Exhibition and tours.
Have you found the answer to your question? If not, please contact us.