Steve's Guide to the Proms

The Proms is truly one of the best classical music festivals in the world. Stretching almost two months and encompasing more than 70 concerts, the Proms are truly a monstrous event.

The Proms are over 100 years old and were begun by Henry Wood and others who believed that classical music should be accessible and enjoyable not just by the elite but by the 'common man'. Now, the Proms are hosted by the BBC and are transmitted via radio every night and by television throughout the season.

Due to the length of the season, a wide variety of music is played by a similar variety of orchestras and conductors. Quality is of the absolute highest and many concerts end with enthusiastic applause and even encores.

Inside the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms


Tickets are available for all Prom events from early May, a guide is published and available from most booksellers detailing ticket and concert information (it is a MUST for anyone serious about attending). Tickets are available for all seats however the REAL bargains are in 'Promming' (see below). Seat prices vary from £5 - £65 and pricing varies depending on the concert (see the guide for further details). All Proms concerts are held at the Royal Albert Hall however other related events are held elsewhere, notably the Chamber Orchestra concerts which are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum down the street.


One of the unique features of the Proms is the idea of 'Promming' where members of the public can queue for tickets for standing-only tickets in the arena (directly in front of the stage) or in the gallery (circling the top of the hall) for a flat rate of £3 per person. This is the IDEAL way of experiencing the Proms. Season tickets for these areas are also available at similarly reasonable prices (though, if you do not live in London and have at least two weeks of nights free, they are not worth it).

Queuing for 'Day Prommers' and Season Ticket Prommers are at opposite ends of the hall though maps about where to queue are arranged all around the perimeter of the Royal Albert. If you see a line do NOT automatically get into it but look around to ensure it is the RIGHT queue (you would not believe how many people I have seen standing in the Season ticket line to purchase a day ticket).

The best area is in the arena (obviously) since the acoustics from the gallery are not terribly good (and you are a LONG way from the stage). The gallery tends to be a LOT more relaxed and less crowded but be aware that you may also be required to climb a large number of stairs (many people bring a picnic dinner and lay about during concerts). In the arena, there is standing room for many hundreds of people (and many times they actually have several hundreds standing) around the traditional fountain. The arena is marked out like a basketball court with white lines separating two areas right in front of the stage. Though not clear when at the concert, the right side is reserved for Day Prommers and the left side is reserved for Season Ticket Prommers (to provide a fair vantage point for those only there for the day) – This is for the area directly in front of the stage ONLY. There is some debate as to where the best place to stand but if you are concerned about your feet after standing for the hours of the concert, there are small walls around the arena that, if you get a place, you can lean on.

Despite there being room many times to allow people to sit in the arena, for some reason everyone stands for the concert. People do tend to give up after a while and start to sit, but most times those people only have views of other Prommers back-sides. A possible explanation why people stand is due to the fact that those right in front of the stage are separated from the orchestra by a fence which they cannot see through so they must stand to see over it.

Last Night

The Last Night of the Proms is undoubtably the largest event of the Proms season and tickets are VERY hard to acquire. Tickets are only available for purchase by those who purchase a set number of regular concert tickets OR those Prommers with season tickets (full season ticket holders automatically get a ticket for the last night as part of their season ticket). There are restrictions even for these situations so it is advised to read the Proms guide for further details. There ARE a SMALL number of tickets available for Prommers on the day of the last night but queues form the day prior.

Due to the incredible popularity of the last night there is a Proms in the Park event held in Hyde Park at the same time as the event in the Royal Albert with a more modern repitoire of music and interspersed with live video from the Royal Albert Hall. Tickets for this event are much easier to aquire.

In many ways the hype and grab for tickets overwhelms the actual Last Night concert itself which is largely composed of popular classical pieces (though with the notable exception of one or two more challenging pieces) ending with the traditional Rule, Britannia! and Jerusalem. The atmosphere, though, is electric with many Prommers in the arena carrying flags and banners – ready to party! Many would argue that the best way to see the last night is to stay at home and watch it on television (it is broadcast on the BBC live) – perhaps this is true. Myself, I want to be there!


The Royal Albert Hall is an institution, even more so than the Proms themselves. Being present at the Proms gives one a sence of history – Absolutely heaven when standing in the arena with the orchestra and massive organ in full concert playing wonderful music. The quality is absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere of comradery and, even, relaxation allows attendees to enjoy the concentrate on the music. It is encouraging to see that many concerts are of newer pieces (even including commissioned pieces – often conducted by the composer themself!) and of lesser-known classical items giving people the opportunity to hear these pieces in the best environment. Perhaps not all of the pieces are to my liking but I am greatful for the opportunity to listen and experience even these pieces – now I know.

Further Information

For further information, please see: