Hackney Empire

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What You Need To Know About Hackney Empire:

Hackney Empire was built in 1901 and was designed by the famous architect Frank Matcham. It is now a Grade II listed building, however substantial renovation works over the years have successfully pulled the building bang into the 21st century; its current structure classily combining the original theatre with modern additions.

Like many of London’s older theatres, Hackney Empire has a varied history. First used as a music hall, Hackney Empire then became a venue for filming television shows. Next, it became a Mecca bingo hall before coming full circle and being transformed back into a theatre.

Hackney Empire is not only historically significant, it’s also beautiful. The colourful and gold-edged interior of the auditorium is a sight for sore eyes. It is now also the only purpose-built theatre in Hackney.

Hackney Empire’s programming is a vibrant mix of drama, opera, musicals, dance, comedy, concerts and pantomime. There’s plenty for children and families included in the schedule, and the venue also runs a huge number of programmes and projects for students and children in the local community.

Hackney Empire is one of the best theatres around for offering a multi-cultural programme of events. More than 80% of the Hackney Empire’s audience and performers come from ethnically, culturally and socially diverse backgrounds.

Top Facts About Hackney Empire:

  1. Hackney Empire is famed for its annual pantomimes, which have been staged since 1988. Combining the best of the tradition with big-name stars, the Hackney panto is one of the top Christmas shows on offer in the capital.
  2. When the Hackney Empire was built in 1901, it was one of the first theatres to have electric lighting, a built-in projector box and central heating.
  3. Famous comedians who have performed at Hackney Empire include Ben Elton, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Jo Brand, Russell Brand, Frankie Boyle and John Cleese.

Key Information About Hackney Empire:


Train: The closest train station is Hackney Central (London Overground), which is a short five-minute walk from the venue.

Bus: Bus numbers 30, 38, 48, 55, 106, 236, 242, 253, 254, 276, 277, 394, D6, W15, N38, N55, N106 and N253 all travel to Hackney Town Hall. To plan your journey in more detail, please visit the Transport for London website.


Parking is extremely limited in the area and the Hackney Empire is inside a controlled parking zone. The theatre recommends using public transport when possible or a taxi. However there is a small car park on Amherst Road (E8 1LL) and at St John’s Church Yard (E5 0PD).

Accessibility info:

Hackney Empire is wheelchair accessible with lifts fitted throughout the building to all levels.

Wheelchair seating is available in the auditorium. There are six wheelchair spaces located towards the back of the Stalls.

An Infrared Hearing Loop System is fitted in the Stalls and Dress Circle. Headsets can be borrowed from the theatre. Please ask a member of staff when you arrive.

Working dogs are welcome in all areas of the theatre. You can either arrange to take them into the auditorium or a member of staff will dog-sit. Please arrange either option in advance.

The theatre has created a visual story for each level of the theatre. To download these, please click here.

To discuss all access requirements and to book tickets, please contact the box office on: 020 8985 2424 or email: [email protected] or [email protected].

Access performances:

BSL-interpreted performances are included in the theatre’s schedule, as well as Relaxed performances. Please contact the box office via phone or email [email protected] or [email protected] to find out about future performances and to book tickets.


The Hackney Empire has in-house theatre bars run by Passa Parola LDN. They normally open 45 minutes before the start of a performance, and visitors can buy a range of drinks, as well as bar snacks and light meals.

For more information visit the Hackney Empire’s website.