Arts & Culture

September 2014

Last Night of the Proms

13.09.14
Royal Albert Hall, London

One of the world's best-loved classical music events extends beyond London to reach millions of listeners around the globe.

The largest classical music festival on Earth, comprising more than 80 concerts, the eight-week BBC Proms, running from July to September, was founded in 1895. The name derives from 'promenade concerts' - the audience used to be able to stroll around some parts of the hall during the concert, and today holders of the least expensive tickets stand in the arena and gallery in front of the orchestra.

The Proms culminates in the Last Night party, usually on the second Saturday in September, which brings together the various themes of the Prom season. It has a light-hearted feel, beginning with popular classics and moving on to patriotic British works - Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Land of Hope and Glory), Sir Henry Wood's Fantasia on British Sea Songs, which ends with Thomas Arne's Rule Britannia, Hubert Parry's Jerusalem and then the National Anthem.

Some of the audience wear patriotic T-shirts, others dinner jackets. Union Jacks are waved during Rule Britannia.

Seats for the final night sell out quickly; to get a Last Night of the Proms ticket one must also attend several other Proms in the season. Prom tickets are no more expensive for the Last Night than for other concerts, but many promenaders queue overnight and all day to get a good space.

To accommodate some of the many people who can't get a ticket, a Proms in the Park concert is held in Hyde Park opposite the Royal Albert Hall, the Proms' main venue. A live big-screen links up with the hall for the finale and people usually get into the spirit outside too.

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