The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of over 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of chamber concerts at Cadogan Hall, additional Proms in the Park events across the United Kingdom on the last night, and associated educational and children’s events. In 2009 the total number of concerts reached 100 for the first time. In the context of classical music festivals, Jiří Bělohlávek has described the Proms as “the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival”.
Prom is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London’s pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. Promming now refers to the use of the standing areas inside the hall (the arena and gallery) for which ticket prices are much lower than for the reserved seating. Single-concert Promming tickets can be bought, with few exceptions, only on the day of the concert, which can give rise to long queues for well-known artists or works. Proms concert-goers, particularly those who stand, are sometimes described as “Promenaders”, but are most commonly referred to as “Prommers”. Prommers can buy full- or half-season tickets instead for guaranteed entry (until 20 minutes before the concert is due to start), although not the assurance of a particular standing position. A number of Prommers are particularly keen in their attendance. In 1997, one programme in the BBC documentary series Modern Times covered this dedicated following of enthusiasts.