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7 cultural highlights in Southampton

Southampton is a city rich in history and contemporary art, sure to delight all culture lovers. Whether you're passionate about art galleries, drawn to theaters or in search of festive events, Southampton offers a range of captivating cultural outings. Make the most of your stay in England by exploring these 7 must-see places in Southampton. Let yourself be seduced by the diversity and vitality of this unique Hampshire destination.
Published on June 26, 2024

1. Southampton City Art Gallery

Southampton City Art Gallery is located in the city's cultural district. It opened its doors in 1939. It boasts a vast collection of works of art, with over 5,300 pieces including artists from different periods, from the Renaissance to the present day.

Come and enjoy the works of painters, sculptors, draughtsmen and photographers free of charge through our various programs. The main hall features a rotating exhibition highlighting the gallery's permanent collection. The space from the Renaissance to the present day showcases key works from Southampton's collections. The Exhibition foyer showcases emerging local artists.

2. John Hansard Gallery

This contemporary art gallery was located on the University of Southampton campus from 1979 to 2018. It has since moved downtown to the new Studio 144 arts complex based on the former Tyrrell & Green site on Guildhall Square.

Locally committed, it is nonetheless internationally renowned as one of the UK's leading contemporary art galleries. Through its exhibitions and events, the gallery aims to inspire the world through art.

Inclusion, collaboration and reflection are the values at the heart of John Hansard Gallery's spaces and projects. Admission is free, so don't hesitate to drop in to discover the current exhibition and sign up for a creative event.

3. MAST Mayflower Studios

Right next door to the John Hansard Gallery is MAST Mayflower Studios. This multi-arts venue boasts several creative spaces. From the largest to the smallest, they accommodate a variety of productions: theater, dance, musical comedy, circus, cabaret... seven resident companies animate the studio program.

MAST Mayflower Studios also supports community and youth theater. Studio 2 is ideal for workshops, rehearsals and small-scale performances. It's the ideal place to go when you're in Southampton to see high-quality productions by local artists and touring companies.

4. Mayflower Theater

The Mayflower brand also refers to another establishment. This is the largest theater on the South Coast. The two sites, in two different locations, have come together under one banner to achieve their goals.

The façade is nothing like the atmosphere inside, with its red walls and seats, balconies and tiered seating. In this resolutely Art Deco establishment, you can enjoy dance shows, musicals, operas, dramas and ballets.

5. God's House Tower

You'll find this monument in the heart of the old town. With its 700 years of history, God's House Tower, also known as GHD, is a unique place where historians and artists come together to bring the city's heritage to life.

The Maison de Dieu tower served as a strategic vantage point and a shelter for gunpowder and cannons. The site was in turn a prison, a warehouse and an archaeological museum, before becoming this artistic and heritage space. Between immersive installations, exhibitions and views over the rooftops of Southampton Water, the GHD takes you to the heart of an experience never seen before in England.

6. O2 Guildhall in the cultural quarter

O2 Guildhall Southampton hosts a wide range of cultural events. Located in the vibrant Guildhall Square area, the venue can be used as a standing concert hall or a seated reception area, inviting you to organize a wide variety of events.

The auditorium retains the Art Deco style of the 1930s. Check out the program and you might just catch a pop rock concert during your visit to Hampshire.

7. Art and culture on the streets of Southampton

Enjoy Southampton's artistic diversity on a stroll through the heart of the city. From one end of the city to the other, you'll be able to appreciate numerous works of street art.

  • The Central Station fresco: as dynamic as the city itself, this colorful fresco catches the eye of those arriving by rail.
  • Westquay murals: heading towards Cosmo, you can discover one of Elno Art's works on the outside walls of Westquay, as well as works by other artists, including Kev Munday's 14-meter-long mural.
  • The Winkle Street Face Hunt: a series of small sculptures of faces scattered around the walls of Winkle Street.
  • The Bulb or Frobisher House, England's largest mural: covering an area of over 1,000 square meters, this colorful mural using CO2-absorbing paint was created by French street artist Nerone.
  • The K6 Gallery phone booths: near Westquay, these bright red booths are actually an exhibition space run by volunteers.
  • The fresco on Hamtun Street will surprise you with its 37 concrete and glass mosaic panels, stretching 19 meters long and 3 meters high to represent the city's historic monuments and events.
  • Defenders of the East Gate: raised bricks on the Orchard Homes social housing complex, depicting two medieval blacksmiths in homage to the ancient medieval wall.
  • Monsieur Mosaïque: these small mosaic works of art inspired by the Monsieur Madame children's book collection are scattered around town.