Saratoga County

Lawn seats can add to the SPAC experience

They’re the “cheap seats,” but a spot on the lawn at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center can be a gr
A woman lays on the lawn during the Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC on Saturday, June 29, 2013.
A woman lays on the lawn during the Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

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For a complete list of SPAC’s grounds rules, visit

They’re the “cheap seats,” but a spot on the lawn at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center can be a great place to take in a show, if you plan it right.

From the grassy slope outside the amphitheater you can see all of the stars — onstage and in the sky.

At a rock concert or country show, there’s always room to dance on the lawn, and way in the back, you can usually find a place to toss a flying disc around.

During classical events like the ballet and orchestra, the lawn becomes a picnic ground where patrons sip Chardonnay and set out elaborate spreads of food.

“A lot of people, they go all out. It’s flowers, it’s lanterns, it’s flags, it’s kids’ tea parties,” said Marcia White, SPAC’s president and executive director.

Here are some suggestions to help make the most of a lawn seat at a classical show:

• Get there early to stake out a good spot. Gates open two hours prior to classical events.

•u Another good reason to get there early: pre-show events. Visit for a schedule.

• If rain’s expected, secure a spot under one of the ramps that lead to the amphitheater’s second level. Just in case that doesn’t pan out, wear a poncho or bring an umbrella.

• The lawn can be damp and muddy, so bring something waterproof to put down beneath your blanket.

• Don’t forget an extra layer of clothing for when the temperature drops after sunset.

• Bring a cooler with wheels.

• If packing a picnic’s too much of a pain, White suggested ordering a pre-made “SPAC Pack” in advance from Putnam Market or Healthy Living Market and Café in Saratoga Springs. The food and drinks can be picked up on the SPAC grounds the night of the show.

• It’s OK to bring beer or wine to classical shows. Don’t forget the opener and wine glasses.

• Bring low beach chairs, binoculars and bug spray.

• If you forget a blanket, one can be purchased from an on-site vendor.

The lawn’s a whole different place during a rock concert or country music show. Lounging in a lawn chair is out of the question if you want to see what’s happening onstage, but at most performances, large screens on the amphitheater’s exterior broadcast the show live and larger-than-life, so everyone can see.

Alcohol can’t be brought in to any non-classical show, and coolers are prohibited, but the lawn is still fun.

Here are some tips for negotiating it during a packed show:

• Buy tickets in advance so you can get on the lawn as soon as possible. According to White, sometimes as many as 1,000 people try to buy tickets at the box office the day of an event.

• Leave lawn chairs and blankets home. You’ll probably be on your feet the whole time.

• If you really want to bring a chair, get there early to secure a spot. Parking lots open two hours prior to most non-classical shows, and gates typically open one hour prior.

• Dress for the weather, and don’t forget it might get cold after sundown. Wear comfortable shoes.

• Umbrellas aren’t popular in crowds, so wear a poncho and baseball cap when rain is in the forecast.

• If you bring kids, seek out the family zones on the lawn.

• Don’t bring bikes, roller blades, skateboards or your dog. They aren’t allowed.

• Seal food in clear, one-gallon plastic bags that can be easily inspected at the gate. Factory-sealed water bottles, up to one gallon, can be brought in.

• Food can be purchased on site if you don’t want to pack it.

• Bring a photo ID if you plan to buy beer at SPAC.

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