May 16, 2019
Cheesy tunes, glittering costumes and dazzling pyrotechnics; the Eurovision Song Contest final will take place in Tel Aviv on 18 May this year. To get in the spirit, here is a selection of holiday ideas from Travel PR, inspired by Eurovision throughout the years:
ABBA’s 1974 Eurovision win with ‘Waterloo’ was one of the most iconic triumphs in Europe’s favourite TV show’s history. So, why not celebrate the 45-year milestone in the city where the fabulous Swedish pop group began? Stay at the Skeppsholmen Hotel and relish in a sensory overload at Djurgården island’s ABBA Museum or hop over to Viggsö, Björn and Benny’s famous ‘song writing’ island, to see where the magic happened. A three-night B&B stay costs from £717 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), return transfers and a 48-hour Stockholm pass. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4722 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Victorious seven times, Ireland is the most successful country in Eurovision history. Visit 2019 participant Sarah McTernan’s native county of Clare, as part of McKinlay Kidd’s self-drive adventure along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Take a boat trip to the famous Inis Mór, bursting with culture, mythology and tradition, plus a guided tour of the otherworldly landscape of bedrock and glacial-era limestone – the Burren. Wild Atlantic Way, Clare and Connemara costs from £875 pp (two sharing), including six nights’ B&B in hand-picked lodgings, return ferry crossings to Inishboffin and the Aran Islands, and a small-group guided walk on the Burren. Call AITO* member McKinlay Kidd on 0141 260 9260 (www.mckinlaykidd.com).
Originally invited as a one-off participant to commemorate the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in 2015, Australia has been allowed to remain in the competition ever since. This year’s entry, ‘Zero Gravity’, is sung by Kate Miller-Heidke. Experience the land Down Under on an escorted tour that takes in vibrant cities, vast desert landscapes, white sandy shores, world-class wineries and outstanding wildlife. Departing 30 October 2019 & 19 February 2020, Iconic Australia costs from £6,695 pp (two sharing), including flights, transfers, 18 nights’ B&B, seven lunches, three dinners, excursions, UK Tour Manager and driver/guide. Call Jules Verne on 020 3553 3722 (www.vjv.com).
Despite competing 23 times since 1993, Croatia is yet to win Eurovision, but hopefully their fortunes will turn around in 2019 with Roko (known as the Croatian Michael Bublé). Make like an A-list songster and head to the glamorous island of Hvar, a holiday haven for the country’s (and indeed the world’s) rich and famous, with its luxury yacht-lined waterfront, exclusive restaurants and chic beach bars. Stay at Hvar House, a luxurious five-bedroomed villa (sleeps eight) which is a rare find at just a few moments’ stroll from Hvar Town’s main square, yet with relaxing grounds, a spacious heatable pool and Jacuzzi. A week’s stay costs from £868 pp (£6,940 total). Flights extra. Call CV Villas on 0207 261 5404 (www.cvvillas.com).
Representing Romania in Tel Aviv is Ester Peony, a 25-year-old singer/songwriter who’s also a YouTube sensation. Explore the country as it once was, pre-internet and even pre-Eurovision, on a 12-day tour that relives a bygone age. Visit remote Saxon villages in Transylvania and Bucovina’s painted monasteries, ride on three narrow gauge steamways and much more. Rural Romania – Where Time Stands Still costs from £2,255 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), rail/coach travel, excursions, B&B (hotel, guest house & homestay), seven lunches, eight evening meals, UK tour leader and local professional Romanian guide. Departs 13 October. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
Armenia’s 2019 representative, Srbuk, is one of the country’s biggest pop stars and hails from the capital city Yerevan, a buzzing music and nightlife hub. Jazz, rock, classical and dance lovers can dive into the city’s live music scene on this four-night city break. Spend an evening cocktail sipping and toe tapping at the iconic Kami Club, salsa and mambo dance at the 24-hour Tiki Bar, take in ancient monasteries and Wes Anderson-style Soviet architecture on a city tour, and stay in a stylish new four-star hotel in the trendy downtown. The trip costs from £600 pp (two sharing), including B&B, three lunches, excursions and the services of a local guide. Flights extra. Call TravelLocal on 0117 325 7898 (www.travellocal.com).
Italy holds the gong for the most famous Eurovision song, with Domenico Mudugno‘s ‘Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu (Volare)’, which has since been covered by greats like Dean Martin, Cliff Richard and David Bowie. Take in the fresh air, enjoy breath-taking views and feel on top of the world (and clouds) while walking On Foot Holidays’ newly extended Dolomites route – which now includes climbing a pretty path from the Falzarego pass, through the dramatic Col De Bos and up to the Lagazuoi refuge. The seven-night trip costs from £845 pp (two sharing), including B&B, one evening meal, luggage transfers, full Walker’s Pack and local telephone support. Flights extra. Call AITO* member On Foot Holidays on 01722 322 652 (www.onfootholidays.co.uk).
Will Michael Rice manage to turn the UK’s luck around with his performance of ‘Bigger Than Us’ at this year’s contest? If so, where better to celebrate a victory than at Seaham Hall, a five-star boutique hotel in County Durham, less than 30 minutes from Michael’s hometown of Hartlepool? Set in 37 acres of countryside, the hotel has 21 individually-designed suites, a two-AA Rosette restaurant and the Serenity Spa, which features a 20-metre pool, Jacuzzi, salt sauna, steam room, outdoor hot tubs, hydrotherapy pool and Zen Garden. An overnight stay costs from £225 per night total/ £113 pp (two sharing), including use of the spa and breakfast. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).
“I see your spirit in the sky, when Northern Lights are dancing”, sings KEiiNO on this year’s Norwegian Eurovision entry, inspired by the Sámi belief that nature provides strength in times of trouble. Experience the Aurora and Sámi culture, staying in the city of Tromsø, a wilderness Aurora glamping site on Kvaløya island and at a Northern Lights camp on Sommarøy island. Activities include a whale or fjord safari, dog sledding and three guided Aurora hunts. The five-night trip costs from £1,975 pp (two sharing), including transfers, B&B, three dinners, two light evening buffets, cold weather clothing and guided activities. Departs 30 Nov. – 29 Mar. Flights extra. Call AITO* member The Aurora Zone on 01670 785 012 (www.theaurorazone.com).
All eyes will be on Tel Aviv as contestants and Eurovision enthusiasts alike gather in this contemporary, cosmopolitan city. Boasting a ten-kilometre stretch of sandy beach, fabulous Bauhaus architecture and an array of trendy bars, restaurants and galleries, it’s a superb spot for a sunny short break. Base yourself at the four-star Shalom Hotel & Relax, a boutique seafront property decorated in beach-house style, its wood-decked rooftop sun terrace offering a large Jacuzzi and all-day bar service. Three nights cost from £998 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), return private car transfers and accommodation with breakfast. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2283 (www.kirkerholidays.com).
*AITO is The Specialist Travel Association: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.