Royal Albert Hall announces date for return of full-capacity audiences

The Royal Albert Hall will begin hosting full-capacity concerts again this summer with a performance by James Blunt.

The London venue will reopen from May 29 with a series of socially-distanced events before returning to a full house from July 6.

The hall, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and named in memory of her husband Prince Albert, has been mainly shuttered since March 2020, refunding more than £7.5 million of ticket sales.

A family concert featuring the house band, titled Back With A Bang, will reopen the space, followed by Messiah with the Royal Choral Society on May 30.

Handel’s Messiah has a special significance, having been performed at the hall every year since 1876 – a tradition interrupted only by the blitz and pandemic.

A Country Night In Nashville will follow on June 1 before Dame Darcey Bussell hosts the British Ballet Charity Gala on June 3.

Only 1,000 tickets will be available for each of the concerts, about 20% of the hall’s usual capacity.

Full-capacity events are scheduled to begin on July 6 with singer-songwriter Blunt taking to the stage.

The hall will mark its 150th anniversary on July 19 when a new work by James Bond and Sherlock composer David Arnold titled A Circle Of Sound is performed.

The BBC Proms will return on July 30 running until September 11, with further details being announced on May 27.

Craig Hassall, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “This has been the toughest period in the hall’s 150-year history – and not how we ever imagined marking this remarkable milestone.

“But we are so excited about getting back to doing what we do best, and can’t wait to welcome audiences to the hall to help us celebrate this anniversary in style.”

Richard Cooke, music director of the Royal Choral Society, said: “It was so disappointing to have to cancel our 144th annual Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in 2020, and we thought we’d lost this year’s as well – having missed the usual Easter date – so we are indebted to our friends at the hall for allowing this year’s performance to go ahead, albeit a little later than usual.

“We have all missed live performance, and there is no better work than Handel’s Messiah for raising the roof.”