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How Long Does a Concert Last? Things You Should Know

Concerts are amazing experiences that give fans a chance to see their favorite artist perform live. Many people will do whatever it takes or pay ungodly amounts of money to see their favorite artist, but not everyone knows what to expect at a concert.

Most of the time, a concert will last between two and three hours, but how that actually breaks down isn’t something a lot of people are privy to. In this article, we’ll take a look at how long a concert lasts, what a typical concert schedule looks like, and give you other useful information you should know before going to one. 

Typical Concert Times

Regardless of what type of concert you plan on going to, they all tend to start and end around the same time. There is a lot of variation on down-to-the-minute scheduling though, and concerts at music festivals can start and end at all times of the day. 

February 2, 2013 – Checking the watch. Image source: MIKI Yoshihito from Sapporo City,Hokkaido., JAPAN, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A typical concert starts in the evening, usually around seven or eight p.m. It gives attendees plenty of time to get off work—on a standard work schedule that lets you off at five—get home, get ready, then make it to the venue and find your seats. 

You can almost always get in an hour or more before a concert is slated to start. The doors will open an hour in advance of the posted time, so if it’s supposed to start at eight, you can arrive as early as seven to get in. Posted times for the concert will also usually have the time the doors open on them, sometimes written as a seven or eight p.m. start time. 

For the most part, concerts will end somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m. It keeps it from going too late into the evening but gives the performers plenty of time for encores. It also allows for a concert to end well before this time officially but lets people file out while the performer is still coming out to do more songs. 

A Full Concert Schedule

Concert schedules can vary depending on the type of concert, how many opening acts go on before the main event performer, and who the headlining and opening performers are.

Generally, an opening act is given a 30-minute set. They play their most popular tracks and help get the crowd warmed up for the headliner. But, this can vary quite a bit. If the opener isn’t particularly popular or isn’t well known, they may play just under 30 minutes. If the concert has a huge headliner and popular openers, the openers can go for an hour or even a little more. 

For some concerts, the headliner will have two opening acts, generally with the smaller of the two performances first. Their set lasts around 30 minutes, while the second act can play anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their popularity. 

Once the opening acts have come and gone, you should expect a 15 to 20-minute interval between each act. If the headliner has a complex stage show, the interval between the opener before them and their act can go a little longer. 

The main event act of a concert will typically play a set lasting about 90 minutes. They can go for over two hours quite regularly though, depending on how many encore songs they intend to perform or if they stretch it out because of an awesome crowd. Some acts may only play for an hour though, so it really all depends on who the headliner for a concert is and what their setlist looks like. 

November 5, 2010 – Color concert. Image source: Eduardo Merille, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In total, you should expect around 30 minutes of action per opener—with two being the most concerts typically have—and between one and two hours of the headliner performing. In between, expect intervals of 15 to 30 minutes. All of that added up comes to somewhere in the neighborhood of three hours, but a concert can last anywhere from two to four hours. 

Other Things To Plan For

Knowing what sort of concert you’re going to and who the performer is can help you figure out exactly what to expect for the length of a concert. 

February 3, 2009 – Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Image source: Derek Gleeson., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you plan on seeing an orchestra or another style of classical music, you should expect a shorter concert. These performances typically follow more rigid schedules, broken into two parts. There is almost always a first part that runs an hour to an hour and a half, then a 15-minute intermission before the second half of the same length is performed. 

August 14, 2019 – Rolling Stones performing Sympathy For The Devil in Seattle. Image source: TheSandDoctor, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some rock concerts can go on for hours longer than expected. If you get tired, you should go ahead and head home. Some performers will also give impromptu speeches, songs, or sing-a-longs to help engage the crowd. These departures from the setlist are what makes concerts so much better than listening to an album alone, but they can stretch out the length of a concert.

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Bonus Questions and Things You Should Know

When Should I Arrive At a Concert?

December 29, 2010 – Madison Square Garden entrance. Image source: Jorge Láscar, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You will almost always be told to arrive at the concert venue a minimum of 30 minutes before the show is slated to begin. This gives you time to get through any entrance requirements, find your seat, and maybe even get a drink on your way in. However, 30 minutes early is not always the best advice. 

If you have a general admission ticket, you don’t have a seat locked in for you. You’ll be in a standing-room-only area directly next to the stage, there are no seats, or you’ll be in another spot a little further away. If you do have one of these tickets, your placement in the concert is entirely dependent on how early you get there. 

June 25, 2023 – Muse at Milton Keynes Bowl. Image source: Mewhen123, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Generally, you want to be in line and ready to enter the venue before the doors open. That means being there at least an hour before the show is set to start. If you don’t get in line early enough, there’s no chance of you being right next to the stage during the concert, and you’ll have quite a lot of people in front of you. For the biggest headliners, this means getting in line hours before the concert starts. 

What Should I Bring To A Concert?

June 24, 2018 – People recording a concert of Agnieszka Chylińska on Green Market Square, Włocławek’s Days. Image source: Mariochom, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You aren’t going to want to bring a lot with you to a concert. Of course, there’s no way you’re going to leave your phone at home, you have to keep it on you for pictures. So be sure to bring that, but make sure not to block anyone’s view. But when it comes to concerts, less is almost always more. 

You don’t want to bring a large purse into a music venue if you can help it. Anything that’s too big or heavy is just going to get in the way and make your experience worse. Keep in mind that you’re going to need an ID to get into most concerts, especially those at a bar. So, a wallet or a small purse is your best option. Try to lessen your load and only bring what you need to. Phone, ID, debit/credit card, and maybe a jacket if you’re going to be out and may get cold. 

Should I Expect Security Outside of the Concert?

May 23, 2020 – Turnstiles outside of the new South Stand, Headingley Stadium, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Image source: Mtaylor848, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For the most part, you should expect to go through some sort of security checkpoint to get into a concert, beyond just having your ticket scanned. Some venues will have metal detectors, others will have a bag check, while others might only have a bouncer checking IDs. The security you’ll go through depends on the venue you’re entering; do a little research beforehand, so there are no surprises and you don’t bring anything you can’t have on you. 

How Old Do I Have to Be to Go to a Concert?

 December 16, 2013 – Charity concert in the Gallus Hall of Cankar Centre. Image source: Robert Cotič, SOJ SV, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Concerts generally don’t have an age limit, you see parents taking their children to concerts all of the time. However, the concert venue or band may have age restrictions. 

Some bands that deal with heavier material or have adult portions of their show may restrict audience age to 18 and older. This is mainly to protect them from any lawsuits from unhappy parents. 

The venue is much more likely to have age restrictions on who can enter a concert than the performer though. Many concerts are held in bars and clubs, all of which serve alcohol and will have an age limit at or above 21. Some of them serve drinks to anyone in the venue during the concert, with the price rolled into their admission. So, it makes it much easier to manage if they always check IDs at the door. 

But just because a venue says 18 plus doesn’t mean younger people can’t go. It’s a liability issue for the venue if someone under 18 enters without an adult or guardian, so they restrict the entrance to that age and up without an older person looking out for them. 

May 14, 2017 – Hands on a laptop. Image source: Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Generally, you shouldn’t have any problems going to concerts no matter your age, just make sure you do your research on the venue online before going and take an older person if necessary. 

What Songs Are Going to be Played At Any Given Concert?

April 2, 2023 – Ed Sheeran at Bercy Accor Arena, Paris. Image source: Zakarie Faibis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Performers will go on tour to make money for sure, but most of the time, they go on tour to promote an album. Any great performer will play some of their most popular songs, especially in the encore portion of the show. But you should expect the majority of the tracks to come from newer releases from the artist. 

May 29, 2014 – Fireworks fired during the encore of the Wiener Philharmoniker Summer Night Concert in Schoenbrunn. Image source: Okino, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An encore you say? Typically, the setlist for a concert can be found online when you’re booking tickets. Barring any impromptu additions from the headliner, you can know exactly what song they will be singing from the start of their show through their last track. If they decide to continue performing after they finish the setlist, they will often come back out on stage to perform more of their most popular songs or cover versions of popular tracks. This is called an encore, and once over, ends the show.

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