On 2nd November 1936, the world’s first regular high definition public television service was transmitted from Alexandra Palace, so it’s no wonder we’re closely associated with the small screen. However, the iconic building has had a few cameos in some pretty major motion pictures. Here are a handful of our big screen outings.
The “Victory Square” scenes in the film adaption of George Orwell’s 1984 (appropriately released in 1984) were shot at Alexandra Palace – in the burnt out shell of the building following the devastating 1980 fire. A suitably dystopian backdrop for the film!
The Death of Stalin
The Death of Stalin, the 2017 satirical black-comedy film written and directed by Armando Iannucci, was based on the French graphic novel La Mort de Staline. It depicts the power struggle following the death of Soviet revolutionary and politician Joseph Stalin. Our Ice Rink was temporarily transported to Russia for a scene involving the Soviet ice hockey team.
Inspiring Anna Karenina
Anyone entering Alexandra Palace Theatre would be forgiven for thinking they were stepping onto the set 2012’s film adaption of Anna Karenina. The majority of the film, which starred Kiera Knightly, was set in dilapidated theatre inspired by the Kirov and the Mariinsky in St Petersburg and Alexandra Palace Theatre. The Theatre was re-created in Shepperton Studios and shot mostly on a single soundstage. Production Designer Sarah Greenwood worked alongside Set Designer Katie Spencer to create the theatre used in the film.
For Clint Easter’s Hereafter, our Great Hall became the site for the London Book Fair. The crew assembled publishers to set up booths, along with 275 extras to act as fair attendees and salespeople.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Anyone lucky enough to have visited our Theatre might spot the recently reopened space in the latest Spider-Man film. No spoilers here, just keep your eyes peeled…
Litter is rubbish. Not only does it look unsightly and can endanger wildlife (694 species live in our park) but it costs Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust a lot of money to tackle. With almost 196 acres of parkland to care for, those crisp packets and cans quickly add up.
Our park team and volunteers work around the clock to ensure we’re kept in top shape and each year we spend £140,000 to dispose of more than 120 tonnes of rubbish.
As a charity, we would much rather use our limited resources for the fun stuff – like bringing more parts of the building back to life or delivering more schools but every time we need to dispose of litter or tackle vandalism, much-needed funds have to be diverted.
You might have noticed that new signage has gone up around the park – gently reminding people to use one of the 75 bins provided or, better still, take their litter with them.
A headline show at Ally Pally has become a major milestone for musicians. From The Rolling Stones and Skepta to the Spice Girls and Stone Roses, we’ve welcomed some of music’s biggest names. Given our history, it makes sense that many have recorded their performance – meaning those who were there get to relive that special night and gives those unlucky enough not to get tickets the change to experience just some of the magic of a sold out Ally Pally show. Here are a few of our favourites…
First released on VHS in 1995, the film gained something of a cult following and so was released on DVD in 2012. Recorded at the height of Britpop, the setlist included “Parklife”, “Girls & Boys” and “There’s No Other Way”.
In 2018, we partnered with MelodyVR to offer fans a new way to experience live music at the Palace. Now, wherever you are in the world, MelodyVR can transport you to one of our legendary gigs. Through VR, you will be able to watch the show from in the crowd or on stage with your favourite artists. Shows that have been captured so far include Rudimental, The Chainsmokers and Bullet For My Valentine
The Stranglers: Live At Alexandra Palace
On the 13th August, Hugh Cornwell walked off stage and never performed with The Stranglers again. While the band would continue, the original line-up has never reunited.
Bonobo’s North Borders Tour
Bonobo has made a couple trips to Ally Pally and in 2015 we were the final stop on his North Border Tour. It was career defining tour that saw him travel 180,000 miles, and play 175 shows in 30 countries across 3 continents to over of 2 million people. The show was broadcast by Boiler Room.
The Prodigy’s final UK performance
In 2019, the world tragically lost Keith Flint. The band’s final UK performance was at Ally Pally and saw the release of this live video for We Live Forever. A fitting tribute to one of the greatest frontmen of all time.
Weird and wonderful events don’t just take place indoors at the Palace. As a venue, we are unique. Not only do we have concert halls, a theatre, an ice rink and a maze of basement spaces – we also have 196 acres of parkland.
Opened in 1863, the Park has played host to a number of spectacular events – a tradition that continues to this day. Here is a round-up of just a few of them. If you want to see more from our archive, you can visit our Google Arts & Culture page.
The Alexandra Park, London’s only horse racing track, opened before the Palace in 1868 and lasted until 1970. The first meet, a two-day event, was a massive success and attracted a crowd of over 40,000. Known affectionately as the ‘frying pan’ due to its distinctive shape. The track had mixed reputation and eventually the Horserace Betting Levy Board withdrew their support for course and interest waned.
Away from the Theatre stage, or Great Hall, sideshows were a popular fixture at Alexandra Palace, these included performers including sciences with Dr Holden, or Cagliostro and his automaton Althotas. Some were more technical wonders, including a panorama and camera obscura. Combining the two was the Denayrouze Diving Pavilion.
This was an enormous tank which held nearly 40 tons of water. The tank showcased the latest advances in underwater technology including speaking apparatus and submarine lamps. The divers could be seen at work and conversed with visitors – all under the watchful eye and direction of Mr. R. Applegarth.
Other acts include Miss Alice Webb who would eat, drink, sew, peel an apple and somehow even smoke underwater!
Launched in 2018, Kaleidoscope was our first music and arts festival. Taking place across the slopes, in the famous halls and in our hidden basements, it was a festival that was different at every turn. From Jonny Woo and an army of Liza Minelli impersonators to the Flaming Lips headline performance as the sun set over London – there was something for everyone. In 2019 we’ll be bringing you two “Kaleidoscope presents…” in the form of Norman Jay MBE’s Good Times and an immersive take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
H.D Stanton and the bike races
A mix of steep slopes and flats, Ally Pally has been frequently visited and used by professional cyclists and enthusiasts.
The Park was the scene of many races as spectators gathered to watch penny-farthing riders career around the grounds. Another popular event was cyclists vs horses. One such contest pitted H.D. Stanton against Mr. Macdonald’s mare “Lady Flora”. Stanton, putting in a valiant effort, briefly overtook the horse, before losing the match by forty seconds.
Fireworks have been an important part of our programme since we first opened our doors and not just on bonfire night – the Palace’s opening programme describes ‘Grand Displays of Fireworks and Illuminated Garden Fetes’. Until 1970, fireworks were supplied by James Pain and his firm. They specialised in major displays and themed shows like the Destruction of Pompeii, which reproduced Mount Vesuvius on the shores of the Boating Lake.
Nowadays our annual fireworks festival has grown to become much more than just a display – with 90,000 people enjoying light shows, circus performances, street food and DJs. Early bird tickets for Ally Pally’s Fireworks Festival 2019 are on sale now.
Ally Pally Aeronauts
Not all the events in the Park took place on the ground. Aeronauts were drawn to the Park to test out the latest flying contraptions or perform death-defying stunts. One such machine was created by Dr Barton. He built his airship in a specially built shed in the Park. In 1905 it successfully flew over the Palace but was damaged on landing on its maiden flight and never flew again. If you want to find out more, head to our East Court to see our aeronautical exhibition.
Alexandra Park: Preserving this incredible oasis for everyone
By Sarah Burns, Senior Marketing Manager
Alexandra Park is a vital green lung for North London, offering visitors an escape from busy city life. Opened in 1863, today the park welcomes around three million people each year, from daily visitors like dog walkers and commuters, to people picnicking in a tranquil spot, playing sports or just enjoying a walk and the magnificent views of London. Visitor numbers are projected to rise too, due to local development and population growth.
Alexandra Park also provides many benefits for wildlife and is home to 694 different types of plants, animals and fungi – including 212 different types of insects. These species all play a vital role in balancing the delicate ecosystem of the park. While many plants and animals found in the park are common to London, 38 species in Alexandra Park are classed as rare, including the Noctule Bat and the charismatic Stag Beetle.
The park’s 7,500 trees, some of which are over 150 years old, deliver enormous benefits to wellbeing and air quality, removing around five tonnes of pollution from the atmosphere annually. Together, they are storing around 2,100 tonnes of carbon and locking away a further 68 tonnes of carbon each year. We plan to create a long term tree and woodland management plan for the 196 acre site, which will also support wildlife and introduce more species to the park..
Mark Evison is the Park Manager at Alexandra Park and Palace. “Climate change, pollution and increased footfall are continuing to put more and more pressure on Alexandra Park. With the importance of green spaces helping us to lead healthy and happy lives, the Park really is a vital green space for humans and wildlife alike. We need to make sure Alexandra Park is well managed so it continues to provide health and wellbeing benefits now and for future generations, and maintain vital habitats for hundreds of species.”
Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust is responsible for the conservation, maintenance and restoration of the Park and also provides a year-round programme of educational and leisure activities.
Please visit https://donr.com/allypally to support us to help ensure it continues to be an incredible oasis for both the millions of people who visit every year and the hundreds of species who call the park home.
We cannot wait for the legend of soul Norman Jay MBE to come to the Palace this August bank holiday for the ultimate Good Times party. We caught up with Norman to talk all things Carnival.
How did Good Times come about?
It was a light bulb moment, literally. When I heard Chic’s track of the same name for the first time I related to the lyrics of the song:
‘Good times, these are the good times
Leave your cares behind, these are the good times
Good times, these are the good times
Our new state of mind, these are the good times’
– it’s Carnival!
What’s your definition of a good time?
When I’m standing on top of my red double decker bus in front of an incredible crowd, playing the music we all love.
Why did you want to take Good Times on the road?
Because we see ourselves as 21st century minstrels, going from place to place, playing good music and entertaining people
What’s your most defining Good Times moment?
It’s got to be my last ever Good Times set at Notting Hill. It was the year we returned to Notting Hill Carnival after a gap year in 2012 and suddenly realised just how big it was. It was a road-block, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life! There were helicopters out and about, surveying the crowds and they estimated that around 10,000 punters had arrived at Good Times by 2:30pm, it was phenomenal!
You’ve been up to Ally Pally a few times, do you have any favourite memories of the place?
Easy. Supporting Fat Freddy’s Drop there. I’ve been to the Palace a few times but the most memorable by far was supporting New Zealand’s number one band. It’s the first time I’ve supported a big band at a sell out UK gig in front of about 7000 screaming kiwis, it was great. After that they invited me to go on tour with them across Australia and New Zealand and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.
Why did you want to bring Good Times to Ally Pally?
Why not!? It’s one of the best views of London and Good Times is synonymous with our great city. We’re iconic and as an iconic building it’s a marriage made in heaven.
Your sets span many genres of music, are there any tracks that you play to guarantee a good time?
All my tracks are guaranteed winners, it’s music that makes people feel good about themselves and others around them.
What music is inspiring you these days?
I like the new British soul sound. Cleo Sol, is one of them I like and a whole host of unknown and undiscovered bedroom producers and DJ’s – you’ll have to come to Ally Pally to hear me spin them.
What’s next for you?
I’m excited to say that my autobiography is about to be published, hopefully before the end of the year, and of course the biggest travelling Good Times show of the year at the Palace!
Norman Jay MBE Good Times at the Palace is on 25th August 2019.
Alexandra Park recognised as one of the UK’s best green spaces for the 12th consecutive year
Alexandra Park has been named by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best in the world – recognition that the 196 acres of parkland boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.
Our Park is among a record-breaking 1,970 UK parks and green spaces, and 131 in thirteen other countries around the world, receiving the prestigious award, which celebrates the importance of green spaces and the hard work that goes into maintaining them to the highest of standards.
2019 marks the 12th year we’ve received the accolade. Additionally, Alexandra Park was also awarded the much coveted additional Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the 10th year in a row, for the management of the historic features.
Alexandra Park was established in 1863 and reflected the Victorian belief in the importance of leisure and recreation. Over 150 years later we continue to attract millions of visitors, from local residents to international tourists.
Public parks strengthen and enhance communities, providing much-needed physical and mental health benefits, such as space to exercise and better air quality. Studies have shown that a green view can reduce stress in just three minutes and few places offer a better view than Alexandra Palace.
Mark Evison, Park Manager at Alexandra Park and Palace, said: “We’re proud to retain this award, it recognises the dedication and hard work of the team, especially as visitor numbers and pressures on the park increase. We’re launching a new campaign this summer, encouraging visitors to responsibly dispose of their litter and rubbish – please give us a helping hand so we can concentrate on other work around the park.”
Events, such as the annual Fireworks Festival, are enjoyed by thousands of people, and the income – as well as support from Haringey Council – helps us to pay for looking after the park. But it is not without its challenges.
Louise Stewart, Chief Executive of Alexandra Park and Palace, adds: “People love and value this park. It provides an important breathing space from the urban environment and provides immeasurable benefits for health and wellbeing but it takes an immense amount of hard work to maintain – including the removal of more than 300 tonnes of litter a year.
“This award is a testament to the round-the-clock efforts of our Park Manager, our maintenance contractor John O’Conner and the dedication of our volunteers, including the Friends of Alexandra Park. We all work together to conserve this special space for the public to enjoy.”
I have been working with Alexandra Palace’s Creative Learning team since May, assisting with the organisation for the BAFTA Big Schools Day. It has been such a fantastic experience for me to be actively involved in the preparation for such a large event.
On the 18th of June it was great to see everyone’s hard work and planning culminate to provide a fun and entertaining event for the children. It was a fully packed day featuring a range of different activities including live game editing with Media molecule, a session on book to screen adaption with screenwriter Helen Blakeman and actor Isobel Clifton (Hetty Feather), demonstrations on different forms of Foley (sound effect methods) with Foley artist Ruth Sullivan and Dan Mayfield (School of Noise), as well as a dance routine with choreographer Christina Andrea which really got the kids on their feet. The day then ended with an introduction to BAFTA Young Presenters and a brilliant dance performance by STOMP.
Photo by Lloyd Winters
During the event I was supervising a group of volunteers, recruited from both Alexandra Palace and City and Islington College, who were invaluable for assisting schools and helping the event run smoothly. We provided each school with an individual volunteer so that teachers could feel comfortable and supported. Volunteers also assisted with guiding schools between different areas, producing evaluations and escorting groups to have class photos with the hosts and BAFTA mask; a part of the day which the students seemed to really love.
There was a range of responses on which part of the day schools found to be the most enjoyable. Some of the favourites were the live game editing, the dance routine and meeting Isabel Clifton who plays Hetty Feather in the television series of the same name. It was nice to see a mixed response for what the pupils liked best as it demonstrated that there was something there that appealed to everyone. It was also wonderful to see children engaging with those on stage by asking questions, giving input on the game editing process and practicing Foley techniques for themselves.
I also had the benefit of being able to watch some of the sessions. I found the activity on Foley particularly fascinating. I only knew about tapping two halves of an empty coconut together to mimic horses’ hooves, so it was interesting to find out about the other techniques used to make different sounds.
Overall it was an enjoyable experience for me. I have really appreciated being a part of making this day a success and seeing such a positive reaction from the students who attended.
I think the BAFTA schools day is a really special and unique opportunity for children as it enables them to get a look into the film, television and gaming industries in a fun and interactive way, which can then go on to inspire them to pursue careers in these areas.
Volunteers play a crucial role in the work of the charity. Here, Shirley Beharry talks about a few of her experiences. If you are feeling inspired and want to get involved, drop the team an email.
Alexandra Palace has always been a special place to me and my family. For years we have visited the Palace and supported many of its events and activities. I was overjoyed when I learned that the theatre would be re-opened after 80 years of closure.
When the opportunity came up to volunteer at Alexandra Palace, I was very delighted and immediately signed up.
My volunteering duties include tour guiding/stewarding for Heritage park walks, the theatre and basement tours. I have been involved in many activities such as, The Great Fete, BBC Family Proms and the Biblio-buzz Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Awards for Haringey schoolchildren aged 9 to 12. I have also been involved in fund raising and raising awareness of the newly opened theatre.
My most notable volunteering roles included being a graffiti artist and a gospel singer!
I was also very fortunate to be a volunteer at Alexandra Palace when the Guinness World Record was broken for the largest cream tea party in the world. It was a heart warming experience and I was exceptionally proud to be involved.
Through volunteering at Alexandra Palace, I have been able to work with different age groups, such as the Wellness Café for elderly people, and other community groups in the arts, music and drama, such as Haringey Shed and the Haringey LGBTQ+ community.
Now that the theatre is up and running I am fully involved in the front of house duties which again I am very passionate about and truly enjoying.
Having being a regular volunteer for many organisations over the past 25 years I can say without any doubt that volunteering at Alexandra Palace has been a truly rewarding experience. I definitely would recommend volunteering at the Palace no matter what age you are or what background you are from, you are guaranteed an enjoyable and rewarding experience!
Last month the project received one RIBA’s Regional Awards and collected the special Conservation Award.
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios were the lead architects for the project, which saw our Theatre reopen, 80 years after it shut its doors to the public and the East Court reimagined as a public space where you can interact with our history or take part in our of Creative Learning activities. You can find out what’s on here.
Since opening the Theatre in December, we have been pretty busy! Hosting performances from English National Opera, Alan Carr, Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, FKA twigs and more. In March, we teamed up with Bristol Old Vic and Headlong, to co-produce a critically acclaimed run of Richard III. To date, almost 50,000 of you have attended a show at the venue.
The East Wing Restoration Project would not have been possible without the support of the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund, Haringey Council and invaluable support from a number of trusts and foundations plus members of the public. The East Wing Restoration was £27 million project – the £18.8 million National Lottery grant was one of their biggest ever for a heritage project.
RIBA judges had this to say about the project: “with a vast expanse of space to consider the client and architects for the scheme have done a magnificent job, delivering and spending hard won budget to excellent effect.” You can read more here.
Emma Dagnes, Deputy CEO of Alexandra Park and Palace and responsible for delivering the project on behalf of the charity: “We are especially proud that the RIBA judges recognised not only the design of this once in a lifetime project but also the collaborative spirit. This restoration would not have been possible without the hard work and passion of so many groups and individuals so this award is testament to all involved”