Congratulations! You have tickets to the Glyndebourne opera festival. This summer festival is one of the crown jewels of the summer social season globally and people come from around the world to hear amazing singing from some of the world’s best artists. I attended for the first time this year. Although I have been to the opera many times, this was a special treat. Before attending, I felt a bit unsure of what to expect. The Glyndebourne website has a lot of great advice, but I thought I would go ahead and share some details from my visit. Also, it is pronounced with the “g” as in “grape” and then “line-born” as in “glineborn”. I made the mistake of pronouncing it the the wrong way for weeks – live and learn!
I took the train from London Victoria and then the free shuttle to get to the opera house. If you attend in the middle of the week, you’ll need to take a half day off of work given that the train you’ll need to take for evening performances leaves at around 1:45. You can take a later train but don’t count on getting the shuttle as they only provide shuttle service for one specific train. The bus times are provided online. Bring a book to read, some games to play and extra snacks because there will probably be a gap between the time you arrive and when the opera begins. The garden is also beautiful so take time to stretch your legs.
What to wear
If you are a man, wear a tux. There were a couple of men who mixed it up a bit with blue velvet jackets but it was black tie all the way. I did see one hippie couple in jeans but they may not have been going to the performance as I did not see them inside. Also, if there was ever a time to toss your clip on tie and buy a real one, this is it. Don’t know how? Check out this video.
The day I was at Glyndebourne it was really rainy and a bit cold (normal June weather in the UK). I wore a long black dress and tights. Few women had on full blown formal wear and many looked like they were wearing really nice cocktail or office wear. I recommend wedges or flats as you’ll want to walk around the gardens if it is a nice day.
I almost went out and bought a fancy picnic basket. I am so glad that I did not. It saw very few picnic baskets aside from the ones on the tables where the individuals had pre-ordered a food basket. Most groups (even the ones with their own fancy baskets and China) had an assortment cool bags, hot water bottles, and food carrier backpacks. In my view, the most important thing is to call Leith’s to order a table and chairs in advance. This will only cost around £15 but it makes a huge difference – especially if it is raining as they can set up your table under the eaves of the opera house. I saw a few hard core types eating in the garden in the rain…not my idea of a fun time. We brought our own food on the train – it was very easy. Just remember to pack in advance because making a picnic takes more time than you would expect. Bring a bouquet of flowers for your table. It makes everything so much nicer.
Now that you have your food and opera glasses packed, take time to enjoy the Glyndebourne festival!