Fireworks and Spitfire at Hatfield House Battle Proms tonight
The annual Battle Proms picnic concert takes place in the leafy parkland of Hatfield House tonight (Saturday) with fireworks and a Spitfire among the attractions.
Organisers are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the concert series this summer, although Battle Proms only arrived at the Hertfordshire stately home in 2001.
The first Battle Proms was held at Battle Abbey, East Sussex, in 1997, and it has grown into the UK’s premier picnic concert series featuring each year sublime classical music, a Spitfire, fireworks, cavalry displays and cannon – lots of them!
The creation of the Battle Proms came from a desire to make best use of the 200 live firing replica Napoleonic cannon that were taking up a lot of room in the yards of the English Field Artillery Company.
The only sensible use for this amount of guns was to perform Beethoven’s Battle Symphony as the composer intended, with 193 live firing cannon providing a thunderous percussion.
Written in 1813 to celebrate Wellington’s victory over the French at the Battle of Vittoria, it is this signature piece that gives the Battle Proms its name and lends a unique and spectacular twist to all Battle Proms concerts.
The cannons also feature in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – a mere first half finale at the Battle Proms – and provide a stunning backdrop to the panoramic concerts.
Regular ‘Battle Promenaders’ will already be familiar with the uplifting orchestral programme of classical music performed by the 60-piece New England Concert Orchestra under the baton of Douglas Coombes.
But additional acts and attractions are added each year to ensure a jam-packed summer’s afternoon and evening for all.
The Red Devils will be dropping in on the Battle Proms his year to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
And warming up the crowd before the main musical programme will be The Jazz Spivs with some toe-tapping live jazz from the Roaring Twenties.
To commemorate 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele, the English Field Artillery Company will fire a volley of shots from a vintage World War One field gun to open the orchestral part of the programme.
The gun salute will herald the arrival of the majestic Grace Spitfire, with the World War Two plane’s aerial display choreographed to the opening piece, Holst’s Jupiter.
The orchestral programme culminates in a flag-waving, sing-a-long ‘Last Night of the Proms’ style finale as a spectacular firework display lights up the sky.
Tickets for Battle Proms are £43 on the day, until 4.30pm online, or with cash on the gate, subject to availability.
Children aged five to 15 pay £18 and youngsters aged four and under are free.
All under 16s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is over 18 years old.
• Battle Proms programme
4.30pm: Gates open
6.20pm: Napoleonic cavalry display
6.50pm: The Red Devils
7pm: The Jazz Spivs
7.55pm: The Evening Gun Salute
8pm-10.30pm: The musical programme
The concert finishes at approximately 10.30pm.