In a few week’s time, London’s highest viewing gallery will open, and you’ll be able to look down at the Shard and across an awful lot of London. And it’ll be free to visit. Yes, totally free!
The viewing gallery is Horizon 22, a play on the view of the horizon that you’ll get to see, and the skycraper’s address of 22 Bishopsgate. It’s quite a remarkable view, even if you’ve been up London’s other viewing galleries, thanks to the very high space they’ve created and the deliberate choice to use a low-iron glass that lacks the very slight tint that most office glass comes with.
Entry is from a large doorway at the front of the skyscraper, so not hidden away, and once up an escalator and through the usual security checks you expect these days, and then straight up the ear-popping elevator to the 58th floor.
It’s a large space, with minimal decoration, because frankly, you’re not here to look at the walls but out through the windows.
There are views all the way around about 300 degrees of the building, with the northeast corner of the building blocked off to house the utilities for the skyscraper and access upstairs to three floors of restaurants. The restaurants will also be open to the public, and we’re promised that there will be a range of prices to ensure it’s not exclusive.
The viewing gallery — at 254 metres above ground vs. the 244 metres for the View from the Shard is not just the highest in London, but because it’s free to visit, it’ll be the highest in Europe that’s free of charge. On a clear day we’re told that you can see from Southend in the east to Windsor Castle in the west.
The viewing gallery will open to the public on Wednesday 27th September, and to visit, they are recommending that people book tickets in advance, and free tickets will be available from the Horizon 22 website on the morning of Wednesday 20th September.
They will hold back 10 percent of the tickets each day to allow for people to walk in on the day if there’s space, but candidly that’s unlikely in the opening months as people flock to visit. Horizon 22 will be open 7 days a week (except Christmas/NYE) from 10am, closing at 6pm on weekdays, 5pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
In the meantime, here’s a preview of what you will be able to see.