What to do — and not do — at a classical music concert

It’s Saturday night and you’ve got two tickets to go to the symphony. Or maybe it’s the ballet. (Nutcracker really is all it’s cracked up to be!) But what do you wear? Here are a few dos and don’ts to make sure you fit in without being afraid to stand out. 



Show up early. Most concert halls offer drinks, bites to eat, or even just a nice view. Why not make the evening into a multi-sensory experience?



Wear nice shoes. You’ll be sitting most of the time so a bit of heel won’t hurt (too much). Plus, a classy shoe can take any outfit from day to night with minimal effort.


Dress up a little. Chances are you’ll be in an elegant theater or hall with a lot of other stylish patrons. Think cocktail dress, or a pair of cute trousers with a stylish top. Need an excuse to buy that outfit you’ve been eyeing? You’ve got one now.



Read the program. Like what you hear but have no idea what the music is about? You’re not alone. The program is designed to give you a little background on the music being performed — and it’s usually all about love, loss, death, betrayal, the works!



Accesorize. How else will you keep track of your program, ticket, and opera binoculars? Ok maybe you won’t need opera binoculars, but you’ll want to bring a small purse with you anyway. Don’t lug anything too big (think: backpack). You’ll clutter up the aisle when you sit down and have people tripping all over your things.



Be yourself. No need to wear a pantsuit if you don’t like wearing pantsuits. Don’t be afraid to show off your personal style. Classical music is all about self-expression. Why not use some of that when choosing your outfit?




Wear jeans. Even nice jeans. Fine for casual Fridays, or for relaxed office environments, but a bit underdressed for a concert.


Show up in a ball gown, unless there is something extra fancy going on like a gala or big party. On a fancy-scale of wearing your pajamas and watching netflix to meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace, going to a classical music concert is somewhere in the middle. No need to overdo it.



Wear a hat. You heard us. No matter how stylish. No matter how on point. Ditch it because chances are, someone sitting behind you will tap you on the shoulder and ask you to take it off.



Unwrap that cough drop. We don’t know how, but the unwrapping of a cough drop has a way of becoming the loudest sound in the concert hall. If you think you’ll need one, unwrap it before the concert starts and keep it somewhere easy to get to. Hint: not at the bottom of your purse.



Worry if you feel like you don’t “get it.”  There is no right and wrong when it comes to enjoying art. Take it in and if something speaks to you, enjoy that. If you don’t like what you hear, that’s fine too. It’s just about getting out there and trying things out.



Oh, and the clapping…

Easy. If people clap, and you feel like clapping, go ahead. If they don’t, then that’s your cue not to clap either. The rules around clapping have changed throughout the centuries and there really is no right or wrong.

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