The Sheldonian Theatre is the first major building by Sir Christopher Wren—the architect later designed St. Paul’s Cathedral, Greenwich Royal Observatory, and other landmarks—and its cupola is a top Oxford attraction. Oxford University’s official ceremonial hall, the theater is also where Handel first debutedAthalia, his third oratorio, in 1733. Today, the Sheldonian Theatre hosts an array of concerts, from classical music performances to contemporary events, as well as lectures, talks, drinks receptions, and more.
The Sheldonian Theatre can be visited independently, or via a hop-on hop-off bus trips, bike excursions, walking tours, and other Oxford sightseeing itineraries.
Things to Know Before You Go
An admission fee grants access to the main theater, attic, and cupola; guided tours are extra.
The Sheldonian Theatre’s ground level is accessible to those with mobility issues, though its basement, upper levels, and cupola are not.
In addition to its architecture, the Sheldonian Theatre is renowned for its ceiling fresco, painted by Robert Streater (King Charles II’s official court painter).
How to Get There
The Sheldonian Theatre is located on Broad Street, around the corner from Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera, two other Oxford icons. The theatre is roughly a 20-minute walk from the Oxford train station. There is no parking available on site, so it’s recommended you travel by taxi, bike, bus lines 1, 5, or 280, or hop-on hop-off bus.
When to Get There
The Sheldonian Theatre is generally open to visitors during the day from Monday to Saturday, though its hours can vary. In July and August it's also open on Sundays. Special closures for academic events occur throughout the year. It’s advised to research specific opening hours online before planning your visit. Those attending a concert or event at the venue can visit in the evening.
The Sheldonian Theatre Cupola
Though it’s a landmark in its own right, the Sheldonian Theatre also offers one of the best vantage points for panoramic views of the “city of dreaming spires.” Venture up to its eight-sided cupola—accessible via staircase—for some of the best 365-degree views of Oxford.