A summer’s evening in the grounds of Highclere Castle (‘Downton Abbey’ to many fans); what could be a more perfect setting to wave the patriotic flag and sing a rousing rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’?
This year’s Battle Proms takes place on Saturday 1 August, and is a chance to picnic in the splendid grounds of Highclere Castle – historic home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and where the ever-popular television series ‘Downton Abbey’ is filmed – whilst enjoying eclectic entertainment, magical music and fantastic fireworks.
You are welcome to take your own picnic and relate equipment, or you can pre-order and let someone else do all the preparation so that you just turn up, relax … and have fun.
The Battle Proms themselves have been staged since 1997, the first event taking place at Battle Abbey in East Sussex and the purpose being to create a stage for the live firing of dozens of replica Napoleonic cannon to the strains of ‘Beethoven’s Battle Symphony’. This year, of course, the event will be extra special, marking 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo.
The programme of events starts when the gates open at 4pm. Time to lift the lid on those hampers, pop the champagne corks and soak up the atmosphere.
Early evening sees a Napoleonic display of mounted cavalry taking to the battlefield.
Fast forward more than a century and see the vintage-style group The Rockabellas performing songs to mark milestones in the Second World War, reflecting the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the end of the Second World War 70 years ago.
At 7.25pm comes the Battle of Britain Gun Salute, leading in to the main event: the magnificent musical programme.
All eyes will be drawn to the skies as the Grace Spitfire performs in perfectly choreographed style to the opening pieces of this evening of classical favourites, performed by the New English Concert Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Coombes and hosted by the BBC’s Pam Rhodes.
The event draws to a close at around 10pm, with, as you would expect from all the best Proms, a flag-waving sing-along, culminating in a spectacular firework display as a finale.
Pre-booked tickets from now until 31 July are £36 for adults (£40 cash on the gate and subject to availability so pre-booking is strongly advised); children age 5–15 £17 (free to those age 4 and under). Discounts for advance group bookings.
To book tickets, reserve picnic hampers and furniture, and for all further details visit: www.battleproms.com. Tickets are also available locally from the Visitor Information Centre and Corn Exchange in Newbury.