Brixton Academy: The Legendary Venue That’s Rocked London for Decades!

Brixton Academy
Live music takes centre stage at Brixton Academy, as the vibrant energy of the crowd fuels an unforgettable concert experience.

The Brixton Academy, also known as the O2 Academy Brixton, is one of London’s most iconic and beloved music venues. Located in the heart of Brixton, South London, the venue has played host to some of the biggest names in music over the years, and has become a mecca for music lovers from all over the world. Here’s everything you need to know about this legendary venue.


The building that now houses Brixton Academy was originally built in 1929 as the Astoria cinema. It was designed by architect Thomas Somerford and could hold up to 3,000 people. In the early days, the Astoria was used primarily as a cinema and hosted the premieres of many classic films. However, as the popularity of cinema declined in the 1960s, the Astoria began to struggle.

In 1979, the building was bought by music promoter Simon Parkes, who saw the potential of the venue as a music hall. Parkes renamed the building the Brixton Academy and began to transform it into a premier live music venue. The first concert at the newly named Brixton Academy was held on October 4, 1983, and featured bands such as The Thompson Twins, The Alarm, and Modern Romance.

Throughout the 1980s, Brixton Academy played host to many up-and-coming bands, as well as established acts such as U2 and The Smiths. The venue quickly gained a reputation for its excellent acoustics and intimate atmosphere. In 1985, the venue was sold to the Mean Fiddler Group, which helped to bring even more big-name acts to Brixton Academy.

The 1990s saw Brixton Academy cement its status as one of London’s premier music venues. Some of the biggest names in music, including Nirvana, Radiohead, and The Prodigy, played sold-out shows at the venue. In 1995, the venue was purchased by the Academy Music Group and underwent a major refurbishment. This included the installation of a new sound system, air conditioning, and a mezzanine level, which increased the venue’s capacity to 4,900.

Today, Brixton Academy remains one of London’s most popular music venues. It continues to attract some of the biggest names in music, as well as up-and-coming artists. The venue’s iconic status has been recognized by the music industry, with Brixton Academy winning the NME Award for Best Venue four times.

The venue has hosted concerts by some of the biggest names in music, including The Clash, Madonna, and Nirvana. The Brixton Academy has also played a significant role in the UK music scene, with many famous bands and musicians getting their start on its stage.


The venue has a capacity of 4,921 people, making it one of the largest music venues in London.

The venue’s main auditorium is designed to provide excellent acoustics and a great view of the stage from every angle. The stalls area can hold up to 2,000 standing patrons, with additional seating available on the circle level. The balcony level also provides excellent views of the stage and has a capacity of 890 people. The mezzanine level, which is accessible via the main staircase, can hold up to 666 people.

Despite its large capacity, Brixton Academy has managed to maintain an intimate and welcoming atmosphere. The venue’s unique design, with its tiered levels and wrap-around balcony, helps to create a sense of closeness between the performers and the audience. This has helped to make Brixton Academy one of London’s most beloved music venues, and a must-visit destination for music fans from all over the world.

Music and Entertainment

The Brixton Academy has a rich history of hosting some of the biggest names in music, from The Rolling Stones and The Beatles to Kanye West and Beyoncé. The venue has also hosted a range of other events over the years, including comedy shows, fashion shows, and charity events. The Brixton Academy is known for its incredible atmosphere and has a reputation for being one of the best live music venues in the world.

Rock and Pop

Brixton Academy has hosted some of the biggest rock and pop acts in the world. From Nirvana to Madonna, Oasis to The Rolling Stones, the venue has welcomed some of the most iconic performers of our time. In the 1980s and 1990s, Brixton Academy was a popular venue for the emerging indie and alternative scene, with bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, and Radiohead all playing sold-out shows.

Dance and Electronic Music

Brixton Academy has also been a popular venue for dance and electronic music. The venue has hosted many legendary DJs and producers, including Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, and The Chemical Brothers. In the 1990s, the venue was at the forefront of the rave scene, with events such as Slammin’ Vinyl and Fantazia drawing huge crowds.

Comedy shows

In addition to music, Brixton Academy has also played host to some of the biggest names in comedy. Comedians such as Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey, and Russell Brand have all performed at the venue, often to sold-out crowds.

Film and Television

Brixton Academy has also been used as a filming location for a number of music videos, films, and television shows. The venue has appeared in films such as Spice World and Attack the Block, as well as TV shows including Top of the Pops and Later… with Jools Holland.

Community and Culture

The Brixton Academy is not just a music venue, but also an important community hub and cultural landmark. The venue has played host to a number of cultural events and celebrations over the years, including the annual Notting Hill Carnival. The Brixton Academy also supports a number of local charities and organizations, and has played a key role in the regeneration of the Brixton area.

The venue has also been a launching pad for local talent. Brixton Academy has played a key role in helping emerging artists and bands gain exposure, with many going on to achieve international success. The venue has also hosted a number of showcases for local music, comedy, and spoken word talent.

Brixton Academy has always been a welcoming and inclusive space. The venue has actively promoted diversity and inclusivity, with events such as Black History Month celebrations, LGBTQ+ nights, and disability access initiatives. Brixton Academy has also worked with local organizations to promote cultural and social initiatives, such as community clean-up events and youth outreach programs.

Brixton Academy has also been a hub for political and social activism over the years. The venue has hosted numerous rallies and protests, including events for the Anti-Nazi League and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Brixton Academy has also been a platform for discussion and debate, with events such as the Women of the World festival and talks on important social issues.


In recent years, the venue has also gained a reputation for its commitment to accessibility and disability rights.

Brixton Academy has made a number of modifications to its facilities to ensure that they are accessible to all. The venue now has dedicated wheelchair spaces in the stalls, as well as accessible toilets on every level. The main entrance to the venue has also been made accessible, with a ramp and handrails installed to ensure that patrons with mobility issues can enter the building safely.

Brixton Academy welcomes assistance dogs to the venue, and staff are trained to provide any necessary assistance to patrons with guide dogs or other service animals.

Brixton Academy has installed hearing loops in the main auditorium to assist patrons with hearing impairments. These loops are designed to enhance the clarity of sound for hearing aid users, making it easier for them to enjoy performances.

The venue has also introduced a number of visual assistance measures. These include large print versions of event information and menus, as well as high-visibility signage throughout the building. Staff are also trained to provide visual assistance to patrons as required.

Brixton Academy has taken steps to ensure that its ticketing system is accessible to all. The venue offers a dedicated accessible phone line for patrons with disabilities to book tickets, and staff are trained to assist with any accessibility requirements. The venue also offers a free ticket for a personal assistant or carer to accompany patrons with disabilities.

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Travelling to the venue

If you’re planning on attending a concert or event at Brixton Academy, you might be wondering about the best way to get there. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way to this iconic venue.

By Train: Being the capital city, there are plenty of trains that run through London and this is generally the favoured form of public transport for people travelling from the outskirts. Make sure you plan your journey well in advance and book your train tickets as early as you can to save on costs.

By Tube: The easiest and most convenient way to reach Brixton Academy is by taking the Tube. The venue is located just a few minutes’ walk from Brixton station, which is on the Victoria line. From central London, take the Victoria line towards Brixton and get off at the Brixton station. Once you exit the station, just follow the signs to the venue.

By Bus: Brixton is well-served by a number of bus routes, making it easy to reach the venue from all parts of London. Some of the bus routes that stop near Brixton Academy include the 2, 3, 35, 37, 45, 59, 109, 118, 133, 159, 196, 250, 322, 333, and 345.

By Car: While it is possible to drive to Brixton Academy, we wouldn’t recommend it. The venue is located in a busy, congested part of London, and parking can be difficult to find. If you do decide to drive, make sure to plan your route in advance and arrive early to allow plenty of time for parking.

By Bike: Brixton is a bike-friendly neighbourhood, and cycling is a great way to reach the venue. There are a number of bike racks located near the entrance to Brixton Academy, making it easy to lock up your bike and enjoy the show.

By Foot: If you’re staying in the Brixton neighbourhood or nearby, walking to the venue can be a great option. The area is well-connected and easy to navigate on foot, and you’ll get to take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant part of London along the way.

By taxi: Taking a taxi to Brixton Academy is also an option, especially if you prefer a more comfortable and direct mode of transportation. You can book a taxi through a ride-hailing app like Uber or Bolt, or you can hail a black cab from the street. Just keep in mind that traffic in Brixton can be heavy, so it’s best to allow plenty of time to get to the venue. Also, be aware that taxi fares in London can be quite expensive, so it’s a good idea to check the fare estimate before booking a ride.

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Hotels near Brixton Academy

Brixton, located in South London, is a vibrant and lively area that is home to the iconic Brixton Academy music venue. If you’re planning to attend a concert or event at the venue, you may want to consider staying in a nearby hotel. Fortunately, there are several great accommodation options available in the area. Here are a few of the best hotels near Brixton Academy:

  1. Best Western Plus Vauxhall Hotel: This hotel is located just a short distance from Brixton Academy and offers easy access to central London. The hotel features modern rooms with free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, as well as an on-site restaurant and bar.
  2. Belgrave Hotel: This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Brixton and offers comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and tea/coffee making facilities. The hotel is just a short walk from Brixton Academy, as well as a wide range of restaurants, bars, and shops.
  3. Park Plaza London Riverbank: This stylish hotel is located just a few miles from Brixton Academy and offers luxurious rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. The hotel features an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as a fitness center and indoor pool.
  4. The Windmill On The Common: This historic hotel is located in nearby Clapham and offers cozy rooms with free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. The hotel features an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as a beautiful garden and terrace.
  5. Premier Inn London Brixton: This budget-friendly hotel is located just a short distance from Brixton Academy and offers comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and tea/coffee making facilities. The hotel features an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as a 24-hour front desk.

These are just a few of the many great hotels located near Brixton Academy. Whether you’re looking for luxury or budget-friendly accommodation, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs.

Pubs and bars nearby

There are plenty of pubs and bars in the area where visitors can grab a drink before or after a show at the iconic music venue.

One popular option is The Prince of Wales, located just a few minutes’ walk from Brixton Academy on Brixton Road. This multi-level bar and club features a rooftop terrace, a wide selection of drinks, and a rotating lineup of DJs and live music acts.

Another great option is The Ritzy, a historic cinema-turned-bar located on Coldharbour Lane. The Ritzy offers a range of craft beers, wines, and cocktails, as well as a menu of pub food and snacks.

For those looking for a more traditional pub experience, The Duke of Edinburgh is a popular choice. This cozy pub features a range of cask ales, wines, and spirits, as well as a menu of classic British pub fare like fish and chips and steak and ale pie.

Other nearby options include The Effra Hall Tavern, The Beehive, and The Dogstar, all of which offer a range of drinks and pub food in a friendly atmosphere.

There are plenty of pubs and bars near Brixton Academy where visitors can enjoy a drink and soak up the lively atmosphere of the surrounding neighbourhood. Whether you’re looking for a rooftop terrace, a cosy pub, or a historic cinema-turned-bar, there’s something for every taste in the area surrounding the iconic music venue.


The Brixton Academy is a true London institution and an essential destination for any music lover visiting the city. With its rich history, impressive facilities, and commitment to community and culture, the venue is more than just a place to see a concert – it’s a cultural landmark that represents the very best of London’s music scene. Whether you’re a fan of rock, pop, hip hop, or any other genre, the Brixton Academy is a must-visit destination that will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

Further reading

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