The Sounds of London Summer:HCP Festival | 夏籟之音在倫敦:漢普敦宮音樂節

Hampton Court Palace Festival presents the most stunning backdrop. 漢普頓宮音樂節出色的背景。© Hampton Court Palace

London is a genius when it comes to self-promotion. The city showcases its most attractive side to the world every chance it gets, planting popular events near popular landmarks and offering photo opportunities hard to resist. 

As one would expect, many events scheduled for the "Great British Summer" have iconic backdrops. In June, the British Summer Time in Hyde Park will be staged in one corner of the famous royal park; the Wimbledon tennis tournament will be shown at rooftop screenings near St Paul's Cathedral in the east and Westminster Cathedral in the west; and further afield in the leafy West London is where you'll find the annual Hampton Court Palace Festival.


想當然的,倫敦許多的夏季表演也都選擇在有美美背景的地方舉辦。譬如「英國夏季音樂節」 每年都佔用海德公園的一角落;「溫布頓網球錦標賽」大螢幕現場轉播,坐落于東倫敦的聖保羅大教堂與西倫敦的威斯敏斯特主教座堂旁的購物區頂樓; 在倫敦郊區,最堂皇的大概就是「漢普頓宮音樂節」了。

The Fountain Court designed by renown architect Christopher Wren. 由著名建築師克里斯多佛·雷恩設計「噴泉中庭」。 © Eileen Hsieh 2015

This year, Hampton Court Palace is celebrating its 500th birthday, and a series of events and activities are staged throughout the year to mark the occasion. The HCP Festival is a summer headliner and bills itself as a "truly unforgettable experience", with a wide range of artists -- from pop stars, orchestras to stand-up comedians -- performing in the historic main courtyard of King Henry VIII's Tudor Palace. 

今年漢普頓宮排滿了一系列的慶祝活動,慶祝開基五百週年慶。「漢普頓宮音樂節」(Hampton Court Palace Festival) 是夏季的重頭戲,表演形態包括了流行音樂,交響樂團和獨角喜劇演出,地點就是在亨利八世都鐸宮殿的主庭院裡。

The Great Fountain Garden and its gumdrop-shaped yew trees. 噴泉花園和逗人喜愛的紫杉。© Eileen Hsieh 2015

Picnic on the lawn of the Palace. 音樂會前的野餐時間。 © Eileen Hsieh 2015

Feel free to bring your own table set to the picnic. 可以自帶全副桌椅在草坪上享受野餐。© Eileen Hsieh 2015

We have tickets to the John Wilson Orchestra performance on a Sunday evening and are advised to arrive early if we wish to have picnic on the Palace's magnificent garden lawn. You can bring your own table set, or waterside gazebos are available for rent for those who want more seclusion away from the crowd. If luxury is what you desire, go for the VIP package and enjoy a pre-concert dinner under the splendid painted ceilings of the Palace's State Apartments.

Visitors can relax in the Palace's beautifully manicured gardens that run down to the River Thames. In the Great Fountain Garden, where gumdrop-shaped yew trees line its paths, several food stalls and a bar are set up for anyone who arrive hungry, thirsty and empty-handed.



Waterside gazebos. 水邊涼亭。© Hampton Court Palace

VIP dinner at the Palace's State Apartments. 在皇家御所享用VIP套餐。© Hampton Court Palace

The setting of the evening concert is intimate and truly fit for a king. The acoustically-blessed venue is flanked by towering red brick gates, with the stage on one end of the courtyard overlooking about 3,000 seats, mostly uncovered. As the orchestra churns out one beautiful score after another from classical Hollywood films, the dimming, cloudy sky only adds drama to the night as many of us sitting in the open air are secreting praying for the rain to stay away, since umbrellas are not allowed during the concert even in adverse weather conditions (according to one repeat visitor who got drenched last year)! 

Luckily for us, all the worries are for nothing. The performance wraps up smoothly, and the evening stays dry, if only just a little bit chilly. Next June, we'll know better and bring a thick blanket and poncho!