Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

20. The BBC Proms


How could we bring the Season to a suitable conclusion without the unashamed flurry of patriotism at the Last Night of the Proms? A sea of Union Flags and a roar of throaty exuberance fill the Royal Albert Hall, crowning what Czech conductor Jiri Belohlavek has described as ‘the world’s largest and most democratic music festival’. This year, what started out as The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts—and which soon became affectionately known as The Proms, for short—celebrates its 120th anniversary (July 17–September 12), with a programme encompassing more than 100 concerts of every stripe. The BBC has been running the series since 1927 and now offers many ways to experience a Prom on radio and television so, even if you can’t get there, you can still be a part of the action.

‘I am going to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages.
Popular at first, gradually raising the standard’
(Robert Newman, explaining his concept for the Promenade concerts)

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