Classical music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, many Londoners will experience the BBC Proms, billed as one of the world’s largest classical music festivals, at some point in their lives.
So, if you aren’t a hard-core seasoned 'prommer' (and trust us, there are some brilliantly dedicated fanatics out there) here are some handy hints for first time prom-goers.
1) There is a David Bowie prom
We need to start with this one because… well … Bowie. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate a night of musical legend David Bowie? Granted, there aren't any seats currently available, but if you’re a fan of the Starman, there is the chance to get standing tickets if you queue on the day. You might want to get there early though.
There’s a lot of really interesting concerts taking place this year. We’ve already celebrated gospel music with Destiny Child’s Michelle, and Jamie Cullum will be performing on 11 August.
2) Go for the gallery
Most people know that you can queue for Proms tickets on the day. What you might not know is that (unofficially) you are more likely to actually get a ticket if you’re looking to sit in the gallery. This isn’t because the gallery is bigger, but more people want to be in the arena - closer to the stage. This area is more crowded and means you miss out on a beautiful view.
3) The price has gone up
If you’re looking to queue this year for the day tickets, its worth remembering that the price has gone up. Granted, it won’t break the bank, but you’ll be expected to pay £6 as opposed to the traditional £5. But…
4) You can pay contactless
For the first year ever, you can now buy day tickets by contactless payment — which is great, because it's quite a trek from the building to the nearest cash point. If you don’t have a contactless card, there's an ATM at the Imperial College bar down the road.
5) You can Prom online
For the first time, a limited number of Prom tickets will be available online. You can only buy these between 9am-12pm on the day of each concert and they're limited to one per person.
The Royal Albert Hall is an old building. So old, that the auditorium isn’t exactly equipped for air conditioning. While the theatre has spent millions over the past five years in cooling the system, the heat can often be stifling in the warm summer months so make sure you take bottled water (plastic not glass) to prevent any fainting.
7) Beat the loo queue
There are toilets on every level at the Royal Albert Hall. However if you’re in the arena, the stalls, the circle or the gallery then try heading down to one of the tiers for a loo break. There's the same amount of toilets, but far fewer people looking to use them.
8) Doors don’t matter
If you’re not queueing for a day ticket, then the door number on your ticket is, for the most part, irrelevant. For most proms, this is just a suggested point of entry as it is physically closest your seat. Our advice? Go to the door without a queue (door 4 is often the best one for this) and find your way once inside.
9) Don’t be Late
More often than not, the proms are recorded or filmed. This means that there are certain points at which late-comers will be admitted. So, if the staff are not letting you through, they genuinely have a reason and aren’t just being mean.
For some proms – where the late entry point is 15 or more minutes in, there is a TV screen by door 6 and you’ll be asked to wait there until a suitable moment.
10) No swapsies
Don’t just sit in any seat that’s empty as soon as the concert starts. It's tempting to move forwards a few rows — lets face it, we’ve all done it — but if you’re sitting in someone else’s seat, you will be moved on causing extra disruption.
If re-seating you takes too long, you may have to be removed from the auditorium until the next late entry period — best not to risk it
The same applies to photos. Not only are they really irritating to other audience members but if the front of house staff are being particularly vigilant about photography (the flexibility of the rules vary from Prom to Prom) then this is clearly a request that has come from ‘higher powers.’ Again, they aren’t being mean
12) If in doubt, staircase six
Different staircases go to different levels, and if you don’t know your way around, you can end up in weird and wonderful places, worlds away from where you are supposed to be. However, there is a huge staircase at door six which takes you to all levels. It is also where you’ll find the most staff to assist you and, more importantly, more bars.
The Proms take place until 11 September 2016. See website for further details.