The Bournemouth Pavilion, and its adjoining ballroom, is a Grade II listed venue, which was originally constructed in the 1920s in an art deco design that was very in vogue at the time.
The wider Pavilion complex provides a beautiful and versatile space, providing a range of entertainments throughout the year. From classic arts such as operas, dances, banquets and ballets, through to newer pantomimes, comedies, gala dinners, fashion shows, conferences and exhibitions, the packed annual schedule keeps Bournemouth Pavilion busy across the calendar year.
Original conversations about a full-time entertainment venue in Bournemouth originally took place during the 1880s, and as part of the 1892 Bournemouth Improvement Act, the council at the time were given the hefty sum of £20,000 (roughly equivalent to £2.5m today) for constructing a pavilion which could accommodate the local municipal orchestra.
The plans were blocked multiple times by staunch local residents who felt that licensed premises for drinking were immoral and so would give the town a bad reputation. The venue plans for Bournemouth’s gardens were finally approved in 1908 but saw further delays due to the outbreak of the First World War and was consequently postponed until after peace was declared.
Bournemouth Pavilion is a vintage theatre that retains its original and elegant styling. It is the town’s regular home for hosting visiting shows from the West End, Opera, Ballet, Pantomime, Comedy and concerts.
Now run by BH Live, the South’s leading leisure and event venue operations, the Pavilion works in conjunction with its sister venue, Bournemouth International Centre, to provide visitors with some of the best entertainment facilities in the area.
The Pavilion attracted some controversy in 2019 when Sir Lenny Henry highlighted an offensive poster that was on display in one of its dressing rooms. The actor and comedian posted the picture on social media following his show at the venue.
The poster was an old advert for a performance of Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Opera House in Richmond, that featured multiple uses of ‘blackface’ racial stereotyping. BH Live apologised directly and removed the offending poster. They highlighted that the historical advert had been on the wall for a number of years.
The venue has its own car park on site, with pay and display facilities. As a public car park, it is not exclusive to visitors of the theatre so patrons are reminded that it can fill up very quickly. Particularly on beautiful sunny days. As a thriving seaside town however, Bournemouth has a number of other car parks all within easy walking distance.
There is also the Terrace Bistro at the Pavilion, which is great for pre-show dining, and also offers an extensive selection for its popular Afternoon Teas. Cakes, scones and sandwiches are served in a traditional afternoon setting, now with added Wi-Fi!