Info for First Time Visitors
Welcome to Saratoga Performing Arts Center! Whether you’ll be attending a performance for the first time or want to brush up on information, we want you to feel comfortable and have a memorable experience at SPAC.
Where do the shows take place?
Saratoga Performing Arts Center is located within the lush 2,400-acre Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, NY. The majority of our classical shows and concerts take place at our 5,200 seat amphitheater with a sloping lawn that holds an additional 20,000 people. The stage is home to New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra performances in addition to shows by Live Nation. Our amphitheater also hosts the popular “SPAC on Stage” series.
Additional shows take place right next to the amphitheater in Spa Little Theater, The Hall of Springs, or the newly built Charles R. Wood Stage.
Where do I park?
For classical performances, free parking is available in the Route 50 parking lot or in the Hall of Springs lot next to the Spa Little Theater.
For Live Nation concerts, parking is available in the Route 50 parking lot with a fee.
Members at the Patron level and above, also have free parking in the Patron’s lot for all concerts.
SPAC is a short 2 mile bicycle ride away from downtown, so visitors can easily ride bicycles to the venue along the Saratoga Springs rail trail, Route 9, or Avenue of the Pines. Bicycles can be locked near the Hall of Springs Box Office.
What’s a good seat?
This depends on preference. Some audience members prefer to sit in the orchestra sections so they can see and listen close to the stage, others prefer the balcony to experience the performance from a bird’s eye view, and some like to sit on the lawn, particularly if they are bringing food or drinks. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house.
What can I expect for price?
Matinee performances range from $18 – $53, and evening performances range from $29 – $103 (excluding the NYCB Gala performance).
SPAC offers special deals, including: bundle packages, deals for new audience members, early bird offers, a classical season lawn pass for all classical performances, student rush, $29 Under 29, military benefits, Children 15 & Under, and group sales.
What do I wear to classical shows? Is there a dress code?
There is no dress code at SPAC! We want you to dress in whatever makes you comfortable and there is no pressure for you to conform to stereotypes. Feel like wearing jeans and a tee shirt? Awesome. How about a suit and tie or a formal gown? Great. You will see a variety in the way audience members dress.
What do I need to know about attending a performance with children?
The gift of the arts is one of the best things you could give to children – it allows them to explore their imagination and enhance their creativity. Many families sit on the lawn with children so they can dance and play, however some bring them into the amphitheater. Children 15 years old and under can sit on the lawn for free when accompanied by an adult with a paid lawn ticket, or can sit in the amphitheater for $20. Children two years old or younger can enter the amphitheater for free if they sit on an adult’s lap.
We also have many family night opportunities that are free for ticketholders and great for all ages! Other special events are geared toward families to have fun on the lawn and broaden their SPAC experience.
What if I or someone needs medical help or there is an emergency?
We have medical staff onsite if there is an emergency. Please call the Saratoga Spa State Park police, who respond to onsite emergencies: (518) 584-2004.
Golf carts are available to help handicap folks get from the entrance to their seats. Please note that this free service is not available during Live Nation pop and rock concerts.
What food and drink options are available?
For classical performances, audience members are allowed to pack food and drinks, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, to bring onto the grounds. Pack a cooler with your own food and beverage and enjoy a picnic on the lawn while watching the performance, or partake in the variety of options, like burgers, chicken tenders, and pretzels offered by Legend’s Hospitality, our on-site concessionaire.
Please refer to Ground Rules for detailed information about what you are allowed to bring inside the venue.
Order a SPAC Pack picnic dinner for ballet and orchestra performances from Putnam Market. Call 518.587.3663 to order and pick up your picnic at the coffee concession at SPAC after the gates open!
Formal dining is available by Mazzone Hospitality, How do they make reservations? featuring fresh, local cheeses, salads, tapas, antipasti, soup, breads and rolls and salad bar selections. Creative American and global offerings of beef, chicken, game, seafood and pastas, vegetarian and gluten free options are also available.
How can I study up before I go?
Beneath every calendar listing are links to listen to the music on Spotify, watch behind-the-scenes videos of ballets, and read fun facts about the choreography, composers, and choreographers. Overviews of performances are also in the programs, given to you when you enter the venue.
Additionally, pre-performance talks are presented at many shows throughout the summer, starting one hour before show-time. Why are they a good idea? These events are free for those who have tickets to the performance. It never hurts to expand your knowledge!
How long is a concert?
Classical concerts and ballets last approximately 2 hours – 2 hours and 30 minutes. There is always at least one intermission in between pieces, allowing you to walk around and enjoy the beautiful SPAC grounds, use the restroom, and get some food or refreshments.
When do I applaud?
Orchestral songs are called pieces, and the entire group of pieces that make up the performance is called the “program”. Some pieces have separate songs, which are called “movements”. When a movement is finished, please stay seated and hold your applause until the end of the entire piece.
Similarly, some ballets have separate sections. Unlike the orchestra, applause can be given at the end of each section and the ballet as a whole, or even when a dancer does something impressive. It takes a lot of courage, dedication, and preparation to perform on stage, so if you enjoyed the performance please applaud at the end of every piece and ballet to convey your support and enjoyment.
Who hates phones?
Performers and other audience members hate phones when used during performances – that’s who. The performers work hard to prepare for the performance, so please give them your full attention and respect. Please put your electronic devices on “do not disturb” or airplane mode, and refrain from using your devices until intermission or the end of the performance. The use of flash photography or any kind of recording devices are strictly prohibited.
What else should I expect?
When you hear the five-minute warning chimes (which are brand new for the 2018 season!), please start walking to your seats so the performance can start on time. If you are sitting in the amphitheater, it is important to stay seated and remain quiet until intermission, unless there is an emergency or need to applaud. Latecomers will be seated with discretion of the ushers.
Orchestral music and ballet can paint a beautiful picture in your brain, tell an incredible story, and open your imagination and heart to feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Be sure to keep your ears and eyes open during the program to allow for a memorable experience!