Kirker Cultural Tours & Music Holidays 2014

New escorted itineraries include Albania, Ukraine and Northern Italy as well as three poignant trips marking the centenary of World War I

Music Festival ©Kirker Holidays

Specialist tour operator for discerning travellers, Kirker Holidays has launched the latest edition of its Cultural Tours & Music Holidays brochure. Encompassing life-enriching itineraries in the UK, Europe and the USA, Kirker’s 2014 programme features 14 new tours including two new exclusive Kirker Music Festivals and a dedicated programme created to mark the centenary, next year, of World War I.

Led by experts in military history, each of Kirker’s three World War I commemorative itineraries offers a fascinating perspective on the tragic events of the period from 1914-18 in the esteemed surroundings of Oxford’s Wolfson College as well as on the ground in Northern France and Turkey:

UK: The Centenary of World War I – This very special, three-night weekend break, spent at Wolfson College, Oxford, examines the myriad aspects of war: from the military and historical perspective to the way in which it was interpreted by poetry, music, literature and painting. As well as talks by Hugh Macdonald-Buchanan, Dr Neil Faulkner and the writer/historian Peter Parker, the itinerary includes a musical programme by Stephen Lodges (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano), Joshua Ellicott (tenor) and Simon Lepper (piano). Departing 4 July 2014, the price is £995 pp* – with no single supplement.

BELGIUM: The Western Front – Led by military historian Hugh Macdonald-Buchanan, this six-night tour offers an informative introduction to the complexities of the Great War, explaining how the battles were planned and executed, and examining the consequences. Staying for two nights each in Ypres, Arras and Amiens, the itinerary visits some of the most infamous battlefields as well as several war cemeteries. Departing 29 September 2014, the price is £1,489 pp*.

TURKEY: Istanbul & Gallipoli – Focusing on Gallipoli, where the Allies suffered a catastrophic defeat whilst attempting to seize control of the Dardanelles from the Ottoman Empire, this eight-night tour – led by military expert Dr Neil Faulkner – also takes time out for sightseeing in Istanbul, visits the Florence Nightingale Museum at the Selimiye Military Barracks and spends time discussing the life and work of war poet, Rupert Brooke. Departing 3 June 2014, the price is £1,990 pp*.

Also new to Kirker’s Cultural Tours selection for 2014 are:

Albania, Greece & Macedonia:  – Kept hidden from the rest of Europe for a large part of the last century, the former ‘People’s Republic of Albania’ is now the fascinating focus of this 11-night tour that includes visits to the capital, Tirana, the Old Town of Gjirokäster (UNESCO site) and the well-preserved 7th century archaeological site of Butrint, as well as scenic and historic sightseeing in neighbouring Greece and Macedonia. Departing 30 April & 1 October 2014, the price is £1,957 pp – with no single supplement.

FRANCE: Basque France & the Foothills of the Pyrenees – From a four-star base in the heart of elegant Biarritz, this seven-night tour explores the Basque region’s rich historic past against a backdrop of stunning countryside that boasts high peaks, châteaux, Romanesque churches and quaint medieval villages in equal measure. Departing 16 June & 1 September 2014, the price is £1,858 pp*.

ITALY: Genoa & the Ligurian Riviera – The beautiful but little-known region of Liguria in northern Italy reveals itself on this seven-night tour, offering the first-time visitor an insight to the impressive maritime history of the capital, Genoa, as well as free time to potter around the pretty Cinqueterre village of Vernazza and to relax in delightful Santa Margherita. Departing 22 May & 6 October 2014, the price is £2,396 pp*.

ITALY: A Musical Discovery of Northern Italy – Country specialists since 1986, Kirker further expands its programme in the north of Italy with this seven-night holiday, taking discerning clients on a melodic journey that traces the origins of Verdi, Toscanini and Stradivari. Featuring a private concert of opera arias and tickets for Aida at the Arena di Verona, this is a tour to tick all the boxes for music lovers.  Departing 10 July 2014, the price is £2,265 pp*.

PORTUGAL:  Oporto & the Douro Valley – Combining four nights amid the beautiful rural landscape of northern Portugal with three nights in Oporto, this week-long tour offers ample opportunity to enjoy the bucolic delights of the Rio Douro and the Iberian Peninsula whilst learning more about the region’s history and world-famous port wine production. Departing 2 June & 8 September 2014, the price is £1,670 pp*.

UKRAINE: An Introduction to Kiev – Discover a city of great contrasts on this five-night tour, visiting a superb selection of Ukrainian churches and other unforgettable sites including the remarkable Pirogovo Open Air Museum and sobering Chernobyl Museum. Departing 1 May & 4 September 2014, the price is £1,344 pp*.


Featuring world-class musical programmes tailor-made for its clients – as well as the chance to meet the musicians themselves – Kirker offers no less than seven exclusive music festivals in 2014. Alongside perennial land-based favourites such as the Kirker Ischia Music Festival (now in its ninth year), the 6th Kirker Music Festival at Tresanton, St Mawes and the Kirker Chamber Music Weekends in Alfriston, East Sussex are two new music festivals at sea. Held on Fred.Olsen’s renowned ‘Black Watch’ vessel, each itinerary combines superb sightseeing with the opportunity to enjoy sublime performances by internationally-acclaimed performers.

Departing from Dover, the Kirker Midsummer Cruise to Ireland & the Scottish Isles is an 11-night musical odyssey featuring Melvyn Tan (piano), the Doric String Quartet, Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), James Baillieu (piano) and Simon Rowland-Jones (viola). Shore visits include Tobermory, Stornaway, Belfast and Dublin, whilst clients are also invited to join the on-board Kirker Choir, coached by Choir Master, Christopher Monckton. Departing 16 June 2014, the price is from £1,995 pp*.

Fancy floating further afield? Departing from Newcastle, The Kirker Music Festival at Sea to Iceland allows musically-minded travellers time to explore Reykjavik (including the Blue Lagoon), Akureyri and Eskifjördur, as well as to enjoy unforgettable views of the country’s spectacular coastline before heading south to spend an afternoon in the Faroe Islands, visiting the pretty small town of Runavik. Top drawer sightseeing is accompanied by music from Alasdair Tait (cello), Carole Presland (piano), Laura Samuel (violin), Simon Rowland-Jones (viola), Adam Walker (flute), Einar Jóhannesson (clarinet) and Ingibjörg Gudjónsdóttir (soprano). Departing 20 July 2014, the price is from £1,995 pp*.


Kirker’s 2014 programme of escorted holidays to Europe’s leading music festivals and events once again offers perennial favourites for culture vultures, including a four-night escorted trip to La Fenice in Venice  (regular departures throughout the year, from £1,369 pp*), three and four-night sojourns to La Scala, Milan (from £1,369 pp*) and, in New York, a five or six-night itinerary melding city tours and visits to some of the Big Apple’s most prestigious museums and galleries, with three performances at the Metropolitan Opera (departing 8 & 23 March and 26 April 2014, the price is from £2,678 pp*).

NEW for 2014, Kirker has added the Salzburger Easter Festival, a seven-night holiday featuring four performances of works by Mozart and Richard Strauss (whose 150th birthday falls next year), given by the Dresden Staatskapelle in the city’s impressive Grosses Festspielhaus. Departs 9 April 2014, price is from £2,547 pp*. Those who appreciate the music of J.S Bach are well taken care of on Kirker’s new six-night itinerary to The Bach Festival in Leipzig (departs 17 June 2014, price is from £2,248 pp*) whilst Musical St Petersburg blends world-class music, opera and ballet performances with the chance to visit the new Mariinsky Theatre, Mariinsky 2, which opened in the city in May this year. Departs 1 March and 12 November 2014, price is from £2,295 pp*.

*Depending on the itinerary chosen, prices are based on two sharing and include return flights (London) or standard class Eurostar, transfers, accommodation with breakfast and some other meals, excursions/musical performances and the services of a tour lecturer and/or holiday escort. UK tours do not include travel to/from the destination. Single rooms available on request – supplement applies unless otherwise stated.

For further information or to book, call Kirker Holidays on 020 7593 2284, email or visit