Inside the £18million restoration of a cultural gem: Alexandra Palace’s iconic Victorian Theatre set to return to its former glory and re-open after the summer

  • The hidden north London theatre is tucked away inside Alexandra Palace and has been given an £18.8m grant
  • Venue will open its doors to members of the public on December 1 after lying empty for more than 80 years  
  • It first opened in 1875 but went out of business with the might of the West End and was forced to close

A huge abandoned Victorian theatre hidden inside Alexandra Palace is set to reopen after 80 years following a multimillion-pound restoration.

The theatrical hidden gem has received £18.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, one of the largest grants ever given for a UK heritage project, and the revamp will be completed in December.

It first opened in 1875 and hosted pantomimes with huge casts, as well as opera, ballet, music hall variety and stage drama – and it’s capable of holding an audience of 3,000. 

But it struggled to compete with the might of the West End and the theatre went onto to be used as a cinema, a chapel and the home of music hall stars before a spell as a BBC prop store and workshop. 

For 80 years it has been closed to the public, a cultural diamond in the rough perched high above the city.

Members of the public will be welcome through its doors on December 1, with the interior and show programme promising to pay homage to its roots. 

The theatre’s reopening is part of a £26.7 million restoration scheme of Alexandra Palace’s East Wing, the most extensive in the building’s history.   

Workmen carry out an £18.8 million restoration of the hidden Victorian theatre tucked away inside Alexandra Palace. The theatre, built in 1885, has been closed for more than 80 years

The theatrical gem has was given one of the largest grants ever for a UK heritage project. The revamp will be completed on December 1 and members of the public will be welcome through its doors

It first opened in 1875 and hosted pantomimes with huge casts, as well as opera, ballet, music hall variety and stage drama – and it’s capable of holding an audience of 3,000

The theatre’s reopening is part of a £26.7 million restoration scheme of Alexandra Palace’s East Wing, the most extensive in the building’s history

The venue struggled to compete with the might of the West End and the theatre went onto to be used as a cinema, a chapel and the home of music hall stars before a spell as a BBC prop store and workshop. Pictured: A workman carries out the multi-million pound restoration 

Heads of Alexandra Palace Trust have promised the venue will stay true to its roots, both with regards to its interior and show programme

A headline act, yet to be announced, will open the theatre on December 1, with a gala the following day hosted by the comedian Adam Hills and featuring music, comedy and circus

Alexandra Palace was used as a prison camp for German and Austrian soldiers during the first world war and the Victorian theatre became the camp’s hospital


Heads of the trust say it has been important to maintain the scars of the theatre’s dereliction. They say there’s been a deliberate decision not to clean the interior too much to preserve its character

The theatre will reopen on December 1 with a headliner not yet announced. On December 2 there will be a gala night of music, comedy and circus, compered by Adam Hills

Grants have come from trusts and foundations including the Garfield Weston Foundation and the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, and £6.8 million from Haringey Council

General view of the interior of Alexandra Palace Theatre in north London, which can hold a 3,000 audience, as workmen carry out the multi-million pound restoration

The December line up will include a performance by Gareth Malone, Gilbert and George in conversation, an evening of jazz from Ronnie Scott’s, and a run of the Horrible Histories Christmas show

The theatre, built in 1885, has been closed for more than 80 years and is hidden away inside the iconic London venue

The finishing touches will be made to the theatre over summer as workmen double down their efforts to get it open by December

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