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BBC Henry Wood Proms

Founded in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood, the Proms concerts at the Royal Albert Hall take over London's classical musical calendar every summer and, with some justification, can claim to be the greatest classical music festival in the world.

Over eight weeks, the Royal Albert Hall - one of the capital's most majestic venues - resounds to the sound of over 70 great concerts, covering a vast range, including semi-staged operas, early and contemporary music, chamber orchestras, choral concerts and world music, all amidst a staple diet of symphony orchestra concerts. Also well established are the Monday lunchtime proms at Cadogan Hall. A visit to London in the summer months without attending a Prom is a visit wasted.

Experienced by 6000 people each night, the concerts often sell out, but Proms tickets - the cheapest, at just £5 - are only available on the night. If you're prepared to queue early enough, you're guaranteed to get in. In 1895 people really did walk around while the musicians played (hence "promenade"). Now "prommers" in the Arena (in front of the orchestra) and in the Gallery (in the Gods) stand listening quietly.

The BBC took over the running of the season in 1927 and the concerts moved to the Royal Albert Hall after the destruction of the Queen's Hall in the Blitz. Once the sole domain of British orchestras, since the mid-1960s the world's greatest soloists and ensembles have also played the Proms. The attentive, quiet and appreciative Proms audiences are claimed, by one and all, to be unique.

The Proms go from strength to strength, with an amazing 52 sell-out concerts in 2011 (out of 74), and an average attendance of 94%. With 2012 being London's Olympic year, there are some special projects, including a complete Beethoven symphony cycle (coupled with music by Pierre Boulez), culminating in the Choral Symphony (No 9) on the night of the Olympics' Opening Ceremony (27 July), as well as making a feature of youth orchestras and lots of 150th birthday tributes to Debussy.  It is also the first Proms season ever that has included visits by both the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras (wtih Sir Simon Rattle and Bernard Haitink respectively) and the first season with a commission from a cartoon character, to be featured in the Wallace and Gromit Prom (29 July).

Royal Albert Hall at night during Proms time. Courtesy of the BBC Proms

BBC Henry Wood Proms Information

When: Jul - Sep 2013 (various dates)

Where: London

Cost: £5 (standing)-£55; Last Night seats £25-£90; Proms season tickets & weekend passes available

Opening Hours:

Address: Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP

Hotels near Royal Albert Hall

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