Close-up of trumpets playing in a show band
14 October, 20204 minute read

Six of the best: Holidays for music lovers

From classical operas in an Italian amphitheatre to catchy samba rhythms in the bars of Brazil, we’ve picked out half a dozen holidays where the music you’ll hear is as much a feature as the sights you’ll see.

Country, blues and rock ‘n’ roll in America’s Deep South

Two musicians play a banjo and a guitar while sitting on a stone step

America’s Deep South is undoubtedly its musical heartland – and our two-week ‘Southern Sights and Sounds’ tour helps you uncover its jazz, blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll roots.

In Nashville, our first evening is free for you to experience the famous honky-tonk music bars on Lower Broadway. Our full day is spent at Studio B (an iconic recording studio where Elvis once sang) and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In the evening, we experience the Grand Ole Opry, a fantastic live country music concert.

In Memphis, we’ll visit Graceland and enjoy some time at leisure to perhaps seek out another live music bar (or two). And finally, in New Orleans, you’ll have a few nights to discover the French Quarter’s jazz bars.

Classical along the Danube

A musician plays a violin

Some of the world’s most famous classical melodies originated from the shores of the Danube. Bratislava, Passau, Linz and Vienna were on the itinerary of the Mozart family when young Wolfgang was introduced to the courts in 1762, and Johann Strauss II (composer of ‘The Blue Danube’) grew up in Vienna.

Opera in Verona

Exterior of the Arena di Verona amphitheatre at night

Verona’s annual opera festival is one of the highlights of the musical calendar. It’s held each summer in the city’s open-air Roman amphitheatre – a fittingly grand venue for performances of the world’s finest operas.

Tango in Buenos Aires

Couples dance the tango in a courtyard at night, their motion blurring the image

The music (and dance style) of choice in Argentina’s capital is, undoubtedly, tango. Once the sun sets, you’ll hear the sounds of tango drifting from bars, shows and milongas (dance venues) as dancers – both beginners and professionals – limber up for an evening on the dance floor.

On our ‘Grand Tour of South America’, we’ll spend three nights in Buenos Aires, so you’ll have plenty of time to experience the city’s love for tango. Watch a show with a glass or two of malbec, or have a go yourself – it’s great fun, whether you know what you’re doing or not!

Samba in Brazil

Samba dancers in colourful costumes during a street party at Rio Carnival

Brazil moves to a soundtrack of samba – and once you hear its lively beat, you can’t help but tap your toes along with it. The Bahian city of Salvador is thought to be where samba first originated in Brazil.

We’ll also spend three nights in Rio de Janeiro, another city where you’ll hear samba rhythms floating from bars, cafés and clubs. Find a venue, order a caipirinha (cachaça, lime and sugar) - and enjoy. (Rio also features on our ‘Grand Tour of South America’, along with Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu, Santiago and more.)

Jazz on the Mississippi

The American Queen river cruise ship sails along the Mississippi

American Queen is one of the best-looking river cruise ships we’ve seen. It’s a traditional Southern steamboat with lacy filigree detail, a cherry-red paddle-wheel and interiors decked out with antiques and fresh flowers.

Cruising the waters of the Mississippi, she takes passengers through America’s Deep South, combining Civil Rights and literary history with jazz influences. Regional music is brought to life each night with live shows in the opera house-style theatre, followed by jazz, bluegrass and country performances in the Engine Room Bar.

Our seven-night cruise on American Queen ends with two nights in New Orleans, where you can listen to Dixieland jazz in its birthplace.

Image of blog author Laura Weeden

Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.

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