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Cultural travel to Europe becomes hip

15 July 2007

Cultural travel to destinations across Europe is in. And, the ‘cultural traveler’ has many options – from wind quintet performing Mozart in the Louis XVI ballroom of an 18th-century Austrian hunting lodge to the Russian National Opera in the piazza of a medieval Tuscan church.

The summer of 2007 offers cultural events all across Europe according to a report in Times Online Travel.

The Prague and Puccini festivals still do enjoy their popularity as they did earlier. However, there is a noticeable trend towards staging one-off events in more and more fabulous places.

The profile of the audience is also changing. Not only connoisseurs of music but also ‘lay people’ are now keen to attend concerts, with tourists from the United Kingdom making up a major portion of visitors. Taking advantage of the new development as well as coming up with new ideas to cater to travelers seeking cultural events, travel and holiday companies are hiring intimate concert venues (akin to the concept of intimate theatre) or organising their own festivals.

Even as a majority of festival lovers organize their own travel, these companies are increasingly selling packages that includes flights, transfers, concert tickets, and accommodation.

A case in point is Martin Randall Travel, which was one of the first travel companies to develop the ‘cultural travel’ market. In 2007, it plans to send 700 clients to its Danube Music Festival, which it launched in 1994 with 110 clients. In 2008, the number of clients is expected to go up to 1,000.

The travelers, who are provided accommodation onboard a boat on the Danube, would attend nine private concerts in venues ranging from a hunting lodge to a Venetian palace, apart from lectures and tours.

The Danube festival is now in its 14th year and is the only event that Martin Randall repeats annually.

Martin Randall organises three other events, including a Bach-themed trip in Germany, Mozart in Italy, and a Rhine Valley event in Switzerland and Germany in 2007.

Kirker Holidays, which has traditionally offered upmarket city breaks across the continent, offers Kirker packages such as the 13-night Kirker Baltic Music Festival, which presents private concerts on a cruise ship.

Kirker sold the Ischia music holiday for the first time in 2006. The Ischia festival is to be held again in October 2007 at a venue the company claims would be acoustically superb.

For 2008, Kirker Holidays is planning a series of events for the Hyden anniversary, including breaks in Vienna and at the trendy Tresanton Hotel in Cornwall.

The International Festivals Bureau (IFB), which offers tickets and packages to international events, is arranging new concerts and festivals to meet the rising demand. There has been a noticeable growth in the number of people attending the festivals that IFB sells, according to Ian Drakesmith, the United Kingdom’s general manager for the IFB.

The big events for which the IFB sells tickets include the Prague Festival, now in its 36th year, and the Tuscan Sun Festival.

Since travelers are now more adventurous than in the past, the IFB is considering a new festival called the Reykjavik Arts Festival – a destination that is bound to charm many people, according to Drakesmith.




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