Glyndebourne is an opera house in East Sussex and it has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival since 1934.
What to expect at Glyndebourne
Running from May to August each year, Glyndebourne is an opera festival that offers a programme of six operas. Glyndebourne is as much about the opera performances as the setting. Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens and the White Cube, which is a temporary art gallery, before arriving into the 1,200-seat indoor auditorium.
Most performances begin in the late afternoon and the interval lasts 90 minutes, giving you plenty of time to take in the stunning views over a picnic and a glass of bubbly, or to enjoy dinner.
Glyndebourne’s founders, John Christie and wife Audrey Mildmay, opened the first Festival in 1934. It has since become a popular highlight of The Season, with London’s high society flocking to various performances throughout the summer.
Event hotspots and hospitality
Picnicking in the gardens is a tradition. A limited number of picnic tables are situated on the Upper Circle level. A queuing system is in place from the Blue Circle side, and access is given to the Upper Circle tables when the grounds open. The main lawn is a popular picnic area and this is located in front of the mansion house. For a truly secluded picnic, choose the far side of the lake. Picnics can be pre-booked and some include a porter service.
Madama Butterfly begins the Festival for 2018 and starts on the 19th of May. Moving through history in a sequence of striking sets, Richard Jones’s colourful production of Der Rosenkavalier returns with an exciting new cast. Other productions follow throughout the summer.
There are several restaurants that visitors frequent during the festival. The Long Bar is considered the best place to meet guests and offers a full range of Champagne, Pimms, wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks, appetisers and sandwiches, teas and coffees all of which can be purchased on the day or pre-ordered in advance.
Middle and Over Wallop will be bustling with opera fans and offers formal dining with a three course menu.
Did you know
Sir George Christie took over the running of the festival in 1962 following his father’s death. One of his lasting legacies was to launch the Glyndebourne Tour in 1968. His vision was to ensure Glyndebourne was accessible to audiences across the country, and to give performing opportunities to promising young singers.
The primary resident orchestra is the London Philharmonic Orchestra and this has been the case since 1964.
The first Festival was a modest two-week season of The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte.
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While there is no dress code, people do like to dress up for the Festival. Many visitors wear black tie and you would look out of place if you didn’t follow suit. This is a tradition that started as a mark of respect to the performers. Ladies are advised to wear wedge heels or flats so they can browse the gardens without getting stuck in the lawn.
Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5UU, UK
Glyndebourne is situated four miles from the county town of Lewes, which has the nearest train station. All Glyndebourne performances finish in time for audiences to return to London by train. There are excellent rail connections from London Victoria (journey time just over an hour) and across the south-east. There is a complimentary shuttle coach service between Lewes train station and Glyndebourne. If you are driving, there is a large audience car park that is free of charge. View Location.