Hackney Empire

291 Mare Street, Hackney, London E8 1EJ

The venerable Empire, one of the country’s most splendid old music halls, has long provided some of the best nights out in central Hackney. Designed in 1901, its lavishly decorated and plush interior virtually makes it a destination in its own right. Productions are top-notch too, with highly-rated comedy nights and visits from the English Touring Opera and the Kronos Quartet: the Empire’s Christmas pantomime – bawdy, gaudy, smutty and spectacular – is a must-see local event. Vertiginous seats in the gods go for as little as a tenner, giving you a great bird’s-eye view of the stage.

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