Explosions, a Spitfire and much more: 9 facts about the Battle Proms concert in Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 15:14 13 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:33 13 July 2018

Battle Proms fireworks [Picture: Jean Mower-Allard]

Battle Proms fireworks [Picture: Jean Mower-Allard]

Jean Mower-Allard

Cannon fire, the Red Devils, World War One cavalry displays, fireworks and a Spitfire flying overhead – it can only be the return of Battle Proms to Hatfield.

The annual picnic proms concert takes place in the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field in the grounds of Hatfield House on Saturday, July 14.

Battle Prommers are once again promised an explosive evening of sublime classical music and breathtaking displays.

Here are some facts and essential information about Battle Proms 2018 at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

Evening picnic at Battle Proms in Hatfield [Picture: Tammy Marlar]Evening picnic at Battle Proms in Hatfield [Picture: Tammy Marlar]

1. When does Battle Proms Hatfield start?

Gates open at 4.30pm, with the entertainment starting around 6.15pm.

This gives ticket holders plenty of time to pick their spot in the auditorium, unpack the picnic, pop the Champagne cork and settle in for a fabulous afternoon and evening of spectacular entertainment.

2. Will there be cavalry displays this year?

Yes, there will be thrilling mounted skill-at-arms displays in full 1918 regalia before the music starts.

These will take place around 6.15pm.

This year’s Battle Proms charity is SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.

Battle Proms cavalry display in full 1918 regaliaBattle Proms cavalry display in full 1918 regalia

3. When will The Red Devils be dropping in on proceedings?

Look to the skies around 6.50pm when The Red Devils, the Parachute Regiment and British Army’s official display team, perform their spectacular freefall demonstration in the skies above the concert.

4. Will there be loud bangs on Saturday night?

The main concert starts at 8pm following the traditional Evening Gun Salute.

To commemorate 100 years since the end of World War One, English Field Artillery Company gunners will herald the start of the musical programme – and the arrival of the Spitfire – with a volley of shots from a vintage 13 pounder field gun, accompanied by piper Mark Bisset.

Battle Proms’ signature piece – Beethoven’s Battle Symphony – will later be performed as Beethoven intended, complete with live cannon, musket fire, mortars and fireworks.

So if you hear lots of loud explosions on Saturday night, they are most probably coming from Hatfield Park.

5. When can I see the Spitfire air display above Welwyn Hatfield?

The historic and unmistakable sound of the Spitfire engine will rumble overhead in accompaniment to the concert’s opening classical piece at 8pm.

This aerial display will be meticulously choreographed to Elgar’s Nimrod.

The flying display is subject to weather conditions, and last year’s Grace Spitfire display in Hatfield had to be cancelled.

However, the weather forecast for Saturday night looks hot and sunny.

6. Who is performing the music?

Duo Pippa and Lizzie bring their new show, The Vignettes, to the stage at 7.05pm.

Expect a wealth of toe-tapping vintage favourites to get you in the Battle Proms mood, plus optional singing, dancing and clapping along.

The main musical programme will be performed by the New English Concert Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Coombes MBE, and hosted by popular BBC Songs of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes.

The Battle Proms’ orchestral performance includes the ground-shaking drama of more than 200 replica Napoleonic cannon set to music of the era.

The ‘first half’ finale is the rousing 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, performed with a thunderous percussion of cannon fire. This will serve as a pyrotechnical warm-up to Beethoven’s Battle Symphony, which takes place after the 9pm interval.

7. How many guns will be used during Beethoven’s Battle Symphony?

The 193 guns deployed during the performance of the Battle Symphony are muzzle-loading reproduction cannons and are comprised of 10 x 6in howitzers, 10 x 6in mortars, 40 x 6pdr field guns, 10 x 9pdr field guns, 20 x triple-barrelled 3pdr field guns, 10 x 6pdr carronades and 53 x D’Oyley’s small saluting mortars.

They have bore sizes varying from two inches to six inches, and are all made to patterns used in Napoleonic times.

8. When will there be fireworks on Saturday?

Stunning fireworks will light up the Hatfield sky during Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at the end of the first half of the concert, during Beethoven’s Battle Symphony around 9.30pm, and during the concert’s flag-waving Last Night of the Proms finale.

The concert will finish around 10.30pm, following favourites Jerusalem, Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory, culminating in a dazzling firework spectacular.

9. How much do Battle Proms tickets cost?

Adult tickets cost £39 until the day before the concert.

They are £44 on the day, online or with cash on the gate. (Subject to availability).

Children aged five to 15 pay £18, and children aged four and under are free, and do not require a ticket.

All under 16s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is over 18 years old.

To book tickets online, visit www.battleproms.com

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