CUL­TURAL TRIPS Fly out with the cul­ture club

Anthea Ger­rie previews an im­pres­sive pro­gramme of arts fes­ti­vals and cul­tural events

The Jewish Chronicle - - TRAVEL -

FOR CUL­TURE VUL­TURES, the range of mu­sic-and art-based hol­i­day op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able over the com­ing year is more am­bi­tious and ex­cit­ing than ever. Close to home, there’s a new es­corted art and gar­den tour of the South of France; vis­its to the Byzan­tine and Ot­toman art trea­sures of Turkey and a fresh look at the Re­nais­sance through the eyes of the pow­er­ful fam­i­lies who ruled Italy’s great city-states.

Fur­ther afield there is a newly-ac­ces­si­ble Abo­rig­i­nal art trail in Aus­tralia and a chance to help re­build mu­si­cians’ homes in New Or­leans, while en­joy­ing Mardi Gras.

There are just four days left to book this trip, which takes place at the end of Jan­uary and will in­clude a French Quar­ter visit, plan­ta­tion and swamp tours, din­ner on a river-boat and lots of world-class jazz at the world’s great­est street party.

And that is with­out men­tion­ing the sat­is­fac­tion of hav­ing helped to build 70 af­ford­able homes to at­tract musi- cians back to the beau­ti­ful city dev­as­tated by Ka­t­rina. The £1,220 price tag does not in­clude air fare, but Jan­uary is low sea­son and the strong pound buys an aw­ful lot of din­ing, en­ter­tain­ment and sou­venir shop­ping th­ese days.

As one of the few vis­i­tors priv­i­leged to have been up close to an­cient rock art in the Abo­rig­i­nal home­land of Arn­hemland, I can con­firm it is well worth the ef­fort and cost to visit this far-flung cor­ner of Aus­tralian’s North­ern Ter­ri­tory which re­mains a pris­tine wilder­ness.

Even fly­ing over the pri­mor­dial es­carp­ment is a thrill, and the view from a boat of a bil­l­abong, packed with wa­ter-lilies and crocs and fringed by 10 mil­lion birds, was as un­for­get­table as the beau­ti­ful scratch­ings. Now three­day fly­ing tours to the rural art cen­tres of Oen­pelli, Man­ingrida, El­cho Is­lands and Yir­rkala are avail­able with spe­cial­ist op­er­a­tors who or­gan­ise stays at a rar­efied wilder­ness lodge.

Is­rael imay be chillier than Aus­tralia in win­ter, but it is a lot cheaper to reach, es­pe­cially with the ad­vent of low-cost flights. It is not too late to con­tem­plate some De­cem­ber sun at the Negev-based Mu­sic in the Desert event, or risk the rain to en­joy the Ja­cobs Lad­der folk-mu­sic fes­ti­val at Nof Gi­nosar in the Galilee, where Celtic bodhran, Amer­i­can coun­try rock and line danc­ing add a cos­mopoli­tan mix.

While names re­main to be fi­nalised

Stock­holm, where Crys­tal Cruises stays overnight as part its Baltic jour­ney which fea­tures classical con­certs

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