A night at the Proms: How popular Battle Proms concert will be staged in Hatfield this summer
- Credit: Tammy Marlar
A popular proms concert is set to return to Hatfield this summer now that lockdown easing is opening up the country again for live outdoor events.
The annual Battle Proms is due to take place in Hatfield Park again on Saturday, July 17.
A highlight of the Hertfordshire social calendar, Battle Proms promoters JSL Productions should have celebrated their 20th summer at Hatfield last year.
Regular Battle Prommers will know that the picnic concerts series offers a spectacular and memorable night out but will probably be wondering if things might look a little different this year.
We caught up with event director Adam Slough to find out how Battle Proms 2021 will look, with social distancing, a smaller capacity, and COVID-secure measures in place.
The leafy Queen Elizabeth Oak Field means organisers have plenty of space to expand their site to accommodate social distancing.
Adam said: "We are lucky that our beautiful and spacious open-air setting means that we can plan for a safe, socially distanced concert without compromising the Battle Proms magic that our audience know and love.
"We are currently planning to have just 4,000 visitors this year – we usually attract in the region of 8,000 – as well as increasing our auditorium size to allow for comfortable social distancing.
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"Among other changes, we are opening our gates earlier to allow for smooth, socially distanced concert entry, will be providing hand sanitising stations, spacing out all facilities, and have stewarded seating to ensure your party is comfortably distanced from other members of the audience.
"We have even created a system to reduce queues by allowing our audience to pre-order their programmes and flags, which any loyal ‘Battle Prommer’ will tell you are essential kit for a night at the Battle Proms!"
While England moved to Step 3 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown on Monday, Step 4 set for June 21st could be derailed by the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus.
Adam said: “We do anticipate that our arrangements will need to adapt as the concert date approaches, but we want to assure all our loyal followers and anyone considering joining us this summer that The Battle Proms will be taking place at Hatfield House on July 17 and it will be an incredible, memorable and safe way to celebrate with family and loved ones this summer.”
The Battle Proms features a full orchestral performance by the New English Concert Orchestra.
While the orchestra will be slightly smaller this year to allow for social distancing on stage, they have lined up yet another programme of soul-stirring classical favourites, including the 1812 Overture and Beethoven’s Battle Symphony, performed with the full complement of 193 live firing Napoleonic cannon – a Battle Proms speciality!
An annual highlight for many Battle Prommers, the iconic Grace Spitfire will once again perform a meticulously choreographed aerial display to the opening pieces of the orchestral performance, including Elgar’s moving Nimrod.
Vicky Nelson, event manager at Hatfield House, said: “We are so excited to have the skies over Hatfield Park filled with the rumbles of the Spitfire again, the audience singing along and waving their flags followed by the sparkles and glitter of the fireworks.
"Events like this truly make the Park come to life. Battle Proms is one of our longest hosted events and we know it is one that is warmly welcomed year on year.”
Popular BBC presenter Pam Rhodes has been The Battle Proms compère for several years, and is now almost as famous for her sparkly stage jackets as her TV presenting roles.
We asked Pam what she most missed last summer, and what she is most looking forward to this year.
“There's a family-feel to the Battle Proms – and that's not just amongst the crew and cast behind the scenes, but every single one of the Battle Prommers who come along year after year.
"The impact of COVID hit everyone in different ways – but not to be able to meet up and share the spectacular, joyful, musical, magical Battle Proms Picnic concerts last year was a real disappointment for us all.
"But we're back – delighted to rejoin our Battle Proms friends to munch picnics, shed a tear at the dancing Spitfire, cheer the guns, singalong with the melodies, and have a fantastic time together!”
Event director Adam Slough added: “We missed our wonderful audience and the team at Hatfield House terribly last year and are very excited to return.
"We know that everyone wants to celebrate with family and friends this summer more than ever and a Battle Proms concert is the perfect opportunity to gather friends and family to enjoy a quintessentially British ‘Party in the Park’.
"While we were heartened by the lockdown easing announcements made on May 10, we know that things can change and the safety of our audience, staff and volunteers are our top priority.
"Our team has been working hard behind the scenes and are ready with a set of COVID-19 safety measures to ensure that our audience can celebrate in confidence with us this summer."
Tickets for The Battle Proms are available from www.battleproms.com and organisers are encouraging people to book early to avoid disappointment due to the reduced capacity.