Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a place to walk, usually next to a beach

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun promenade meaning a leisurely walk in a public place dates from the mid 16th century, while the related verb dates from the end of the 17th century. They come from a French word meaning ‘a leisurely walk’. The meaning of ‘a place for walking’, often by the sea, dates from the mid 17th century, while the term promenade concert was first used in the early 19th century.


An annual feature of the British summer the Proms, or to give them their full name the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, are well underway at the Royal Albert Hall in London under the auspices of the BBC. Founded at the end of the 19th century by an impresario called Robert Newman with the financial backing of George Cathcart, a surgeon, the concerts were originally called Mr Robert Newman’s Promenade Concerts. Henry Wood was the preferred conductor from the start and became the festival’s guiding light until his death in  1944. His role is still recognized today: a bust of Sir Henry that normally lives in the Royal Academy of Music is moved to the Royal Albert Hall for the duration of the Proms season and is decorated with a laurel wreath on the Last Night of the Proms. Outdoor promenade concerts were a popular form of musical performance in London in the 18th and 19th centuries and the tradition continues in the Proms today. Very cheap tickets sold on the day of performance allow up to 1,350 audience members to stand either in the area closest to the stage or high up in the gallery, although today’s Promenaders (or Prommers) mostly stand still rather than walking around or promenading like their predecessors.


“The promenade is a special subset of walking.”
(Rebecca Solnit)

“One of the joys of the Proms-goers is that they break the rules, as Sir Henry would have wanted.”
(Jonathan McAloon)

Related words

quayside, riverside, waterfront, waterside

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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