EVENT PICK: Vienna Festival (May 11-June 17)
Vienna—gorgeous on its own, but throw in the Vienna Festival and you’ve got yourself an even more memorable vacation. This is one of the world’s leading cultural festivals showcasing a bevy of performances with the elite of opera, theater directors, conductors and orchestras descending on this Austrian city. Visitors seeking high-brow culture will find it here.
HOTEL PICK: The historical, family-owned, five-star Hotel Sacher is an idyllic Leading Hotels of the World property. It offers 149 guestrooms including suites and is located opposite the Opera House and a 5-minute walk from the Hofburg Imperial Palace.
EVENT PICK: Salzburg Festival (July 19-Sept. 1)
The 5-week Salzburg Festival, taking place in Mozart’s birthplace and held since 1920, is a cultural feast offering over 250 events in the opera, concert and drama genres and presented at 14
HOTEL PICK: The chic Blaue Gans is the oldest inn in the city, although its design is completely modern (a gorgeous meld of the old and the new). It’s located opposite the Festival Hall in the heart of the city’s historic center. Extra perk? It’s only a short walk from Mozart’s birthplace.
EVENT PICK: Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp
(opening Sept. 27)
The Red Star Line Museum will open in the historic warehouses of the Red Star Line shipping company in Antwerp. The museum tells the story of the shipping company, of its origins, its growth and its demise, but most importantly travelers will delve into the stories of the millions of Europeans who left their homeland and traveled to North America.
HOTEL PICK: The 29-room Hotel ‘T Sandt is a stunning 17th century mansion that has been converted into a fabulous
contemporary hotel and is ideally located in the heart of the
historic city-center, just steps away from stylish design stores, funky restaurants and the trendy South quarter.
EVENT PICK: Ghent Festivities (July)
Taking part in the medieval area of the city, the festivities include parades, music, dance, theater and puppetry festivals, fireworks and a bevy of other delights. Complementing the celebrations are the Ghent Jazz Festival, the International Street Theatre Festival and the coveted dance festival 10 Days Off.
HOTEL PICK: The 150-room Ghent Marriott Hotel is located on the famous Korenlei on the banks of the River Lys, close to famous historic sites and shopping. Its unique architecture—a historical Flemish facade and a spacious atrium lobby with a superb glass dome—is a sight in and of itself.
EVENT PICK: Historium Brugge in Bruges (opened fall 2012)
History buffs will adore this attraction as they step back in time to see what life was like in Bruges around the 15th century via seven thematic rooms and using all five senses (chocolate tasting…a little beer).
HOTEL PICK: The four-star, 44-room Martin’s Relais is made up of four great merchant’s houses set in the romantic center of Bruges, on the banks of the Spiegelrei canal. A charmer.
EVENT PICK: Marseille—European Capital of Culture
This is a year of festivities taking place in the 2013 European Capital of Culture (or one of them, at least), Marseille. Visitors will be entertained with circuses, new galleries, exhibitions, street entertainment, fireworks, open-air concerts, and street food, among a bevy of other fun to-do’s. In all, there will be 400 cultural events, bringing together the top artists in Europe and the Mediterranean. One major exhibit happening in honor of this event is “Painters and the Mediterranean,” which will showcase the ways in which the avant-garde artists of the time, such as Van Gogh, Bonnard, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and De Stael, illustrated southern France between 1880 and 1960. Additionally, the entire seafront will undergo a cultural transformation, while the port will welcome more cruise ships.
HOTEL PICK: The 194-room InterContinental Marseille, housed in the former Hotel Dieu and a historical monument dating back to the 18th century, offers breathtaking views of the Vieux Port and the world-famous Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde. Best part? It’s right beside the oldest and most historical neighborhood in Marseille known as the Panier.
EVENT PICK: Brothers Grimm Festivals (May 1-July 1 in Hanau; July 18-Aug. 18 in Kassel)
Ok, excuse us if we’re caught up in the whole Grimm phenomenon, but where else but in Germany would your clients be able to delve deep into the Brothers Grimm?
Hanau: In Hessen (the state in which Hanau is located), actually, this festival happens to be the second largest open-air festival, and features performances of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm at the Hanau amphitheater, set against the backdrop of Philippsruhe Palace and the palace park. Hanau, incidentally, is the starting point of the German Fairytale Route, which runs for almost 400 miles, ending in Bremen.
Kassel: Over in Kassel, the Brothers Grimm fairytales come to life on a floating stage on the lake in Schonfeld Park, with more than 100 events. Kids will love it all, but especially the readings in the shade of gardens and hedges. Doesn’t get more magical than this.
HOTEL PICK: The three-star, 48-room Grand City Hotel
Hessenland Kassel Zentrum is located right around the corner from the Brothers Grimm Museum and the natural history museum. Meanwhile in Hanau, you can recommend the 135-room Best Western Premier Hotel Villa Stokkum, located near the Brothers Grimm Memorial.
EVENT PICK: Year of Natural Scotland 2013
This is the year for your clients to head to Scotland if it’s the great outdoors they want to embrace. The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 will put on full display—this year more than ever—the country’s stunning natural and historic landscapes, art inspired by nature, surprising wildlife and delicious food and drink. Visitors will be able to explore urban nature, historic landscapes, discover unique produce and, of course, Scotland’s mesmerizing mountains, hills, forests, glens, islands and coastline. All of this will be complemented by a full program of delightful festivities such as book, film, music and sports events.
TOUR PICK: CIE Tours International’s 14-day Scottish Isles & Glens, with departures April through October, is an ideal way for your clients to discover the destination’s cultural highlights and natural beauty. Ghost tours, pub dinners,whisky tastings, visits to 5,000-year-old villages and isles—it’s a great way for your clients to take in Scotland’s myriad facets.
QUIRKY PICK: And if your clients happen to be in the Isle of Wight in England for a couple of days, make sure they are there on Aug. 18 for The Garlic Festival. They’ll be able to sample garlic ice cream, jelly beans, fudge and beer during the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival in Newchurch.
EVENT PICK: Reykjavik Art Festival (May 17-June 2)
For visitors to Iceland who truly want to immerse themselves in the local art culture, recommend the Reykjavik Art Festival, Iceland’s premier cultural festival. It brings together the best in local and international theater, dance, music and visual arts. Visitors will be privy to a variety of curated exhibitions, concerts, dance, theater and opera performances. Along with its focus on Icelandic culture past and present, the festival hosts an array of international artists and performers.
HOTEL PICK: The truly hip will love Design Hotels’ 38-room 101 Hotel, located in downtown Reykjavik, near government and cultural buildings, shops and nightlife, and next door to the Icelandic Opera House. This former office building erected in the 1930s is now Iceland’s casual-chic hangout du jour.
EVENT PICK: The Gathering (year-round)
This year-long celebration will offer up hundreds of festivals and events across the island, all while paying tribute to the country and her people, past and present. During the festivities, communities throughout Ireland will showcase and share the very best of Irish culture, tradition, business, sport, fighting spirit and the uniquely Irish sense of fun. The focus: “for the country to open its arms to friends and family from all over the world, inviting them home to locally organized gatherings in villages, towns and cities.”
TOUR PICK: Brendan Vacations and Avanti Destinations are offering special packages that allow travelers to take part in this year-long celebration. For example, Avanti’s 7-day Galway Oyster Festival features a combination of Dublin, Galway and Shannon with a 5-day compact manual car rental to travel between the cities. It features two nights in Dublin with entrance to Jameson Whiskey Distillery, two nights in Galway with entrance to the Oyster Festival, and two nights in Shannon with a visit to Kilkenny Castle and the Bunratty Castle Folk Park. Brendan’s suggested itinerary for an Irish St. Patrick’s Day includes four nights in Dublin; Dublin Hop On Hop Off City Tour; Guinness Storehouse Tour; and St. Patrick’s Parade Grandstand Ticket-The Gathering 2013 Event.
EVENT PICK: 400-year-old Amsterdam canals (year-round)
This year the Netherlands is celebrating 400 years of the Amsterdam canals. Amsterdam’s famous canal ring, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is celebrating four centuries of existence and there will be a bevy of celebrations. As the canals in Amsterdam are a focal point of the celebrations, many events will take place right on the city’s famed canal district. The official kick-off for Amsterdam 2013 will begin in the second week of this month with a special concert series at the Concertgebouw.
HOTEL PICK: The Dylan Amsterdam is located right on the Keizersgracht, one of Amsterdam’s most famous and picturesque canals. The 40-room hotel, with each guestroom individually designed, is set within a 17th century landmark and delicately blends its historical setting with a fabulous modern decor.
EVENT PICK: Holy Week (April)
If ever there’s a perfect time to be in Spain it’s during Holy Week, when the country comes out in full regalia. In Spain, Easter week is celebrated to the Nth degree, with people coming out to fill the streets all embraced by the beat of drums and masses of colorful flowers. One of the best cities to send your clients to take in this fabulous spectacle is Seville. Here, visitors will see how the
cofradias (religious brotherhoods) manage to withstand the
colossal weight of elaborately decorated statues of the Virgin Mary as they parade through the narrow streets of the old town.
HOTEL PICK: The 151-room Hotel Alfonso III, a Luxury
Collection Hotel in Seville, is a 1929 landmark that was renovated in 2012. It shows off splendidly the city’s Moorish influences and provides access to the renowned Santa Cruz quarter and
QUIRKY PICK: La Tomatina tomato festival (last Wednesday in August). Yes, the one in which everyone hurls tomatoes at each other…taking place in the town of Bunol. Silly, but lots of fun…and its origins, even sillier: it dates back to a fight amongst children in 1945. Who knew?!
101 Hotel: designhotels.com or designhotels.com/iata
Atout France: us.franceguide.com/travel-trade
Austrian National Tourist Office: austria.info/us_b2b
Avanti Destinations: avantidestinations.com
Best Western Premier Hotel Villa Stokkum: bestwestern.com
Blaue Gans: blauegans.at
Brendan Vacations: brendanvacations.com
CIE Tours International: cietours.com/us or travelagent.cietours.com
The Dylan Amsterdam: dylanamsterdam.com
German National Tourist Board: germany.travel/en/trade/trade_1.html
Ghent Marriott Hotel: marriott.com
Grand City Hotel Hessenland Kassel Zentrum: grandcityhotels.com
Hotel Alfonso III: starwoodhotels.com
Hotel Sacher: sacher.com
Hotel ‘T Stadt: hotel-sandt.be
Iceland Travel: icelandtravel.is/agents
InterContinental Marseille: ichotelsgroup.com
Martin’s Relais: martins-hotels.com
Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions: holland.com/us/Trade.htm
Tourism Ireland: discoverireland.com
Tourist Office for Flanders-Brussels: visitflanders.us
Tourist Office of Spain: spain.info