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?
Parking is free for SPAC classical events, and Jazz Festival. Guests should park in the Route 50 parking lots.
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 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 12 and under are free on the lawn for the New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra (excluding movie nights).
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 assist guests with disabilities from the entrance to their seats.
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 75 – 80 minutes with no intermission. Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival lasts 6 hours.
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 fanfare, 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!