Ah yes, it’s back again. The musical event that inspired The Beatles’ “White Album”, Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and Mozart’s Symphony No 40. OK, OK, yes – there’s no need for sarcasm. But today is the day of Eurovision, the bonanza of musical kitsch that many, many people like very much indeed – and which many others think is rather silly, yet use as a basis for a merry night of drinking games. Proceedings take place in Tel Aviv, Israel (eurovision.tv, and on BBC One at 8pm) with Michael Rice, left, flying the flag for Britain. And if its glam informality feels like a reason for travel, the following ideas may also intrigue.
You may have forgotten, but “Titanic”-soundtracking heart-going-on singer Céline Dion is a Eurovision alumna – she won the 1988 title for Switzerland. Her long-term residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is due to end on June 8, but tickets are still available (from $199/£153; caesars.com). A six-night (room-only) holiday at the hotel, flying from Heathrow on May 29, costs from £2,959 per person via virginholidays.co.uk.
Eurovision was, of course, the making of one group whose recorded output still means a great deal to lots of people. And Abba are celebrated in Stockholm – at the does-what-it-says-above-the-door Abba The Museum (abbathemuseum.com; 250 Krona/£20). Expect plenty of costumes and memorabilia and a chance to perform “with” holograms of the band; less on the divorces that split them. A three-night stay at the four-star Strand Hotel, flying from Stansted on June 27, costs from £351 per person via expedia.co.uk.
There’s more to Stockholm than just Abba
Unless you have a private jet, you probably can’t make it to Tel Aviv in time for tonight’s party. But Israel’s key port city bears less-rushed consideration anyway – not least in the White City, its Unesco-listed district of Bauhaus structures, built in the Twenties and Thirties. You can take a two-hour walking tour of the area with Bauhaus Center (bauhaus-center.com; £16), while easyjet.com flies in from Gatwick and Stansted.
Tel Aviv is packed with Bauhaus buildings
Britain’s Eurovision pinnacle was surely 1981, when Bucks Fizz took the crown. Thirty-eight years on, the group is still active – with the caveat that one of the original quartet owns the name, while the other three perform as “The Fizz”. The latter will play the Throwback 80s Festival At Sea, a four-day cruise to Le Havre and back due to depart Southampton on October 11 (floatingfestivals.co.uk/throwback) – from £799pp.
A different take on Israel will be provided by the luxury resort group Six Senses, which will open a new 58-villa-and-suite hideaway in the Negev desert – in the south of the country – at the close of this year. More via sixsenses.com. Will there be a karaoke bar where you can sing the hits of Dana International and Netta? In a word, no.
The Negev desert
To seek the roots of Eurovision, you must travel to Lugano, the pretty Swiss city on the lake of the same name, which hosted the original event in 1956 (the venue, Teatro Kursaal – now known as Casino Lugano; casinolugano.ch – still exists). A fine spot for a few days’ gentle strolling? Indeed. A four-night stay at the five-star Villa Sassa, flying from London to Milan on July 17, starts at £527 per person with lastminute.com.
“My my, at Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender,” sang Abba in their 1974 contest-winning anthem, distilling one of Europe’s most pivotal battles into three minutes of pop metaphor for the unassailable power of love. Want to know more of the real Battle of Waterloo? You need the five-day “Walking the Waterloo Battlefields” coach holiday run by Leger Holidays (leger.co.uk). From £519pp; next departure July 22.
Napoleon did surrender
Ireland has won so many times (OK, seven) that one cannot visit Dublin and not walk past someone who has sung a Celtic power-ballad to seize the throne. The hip Workmans Club (theworkmansclub.com) has mass Sunday-night karaoke events. Three nights at the nearby Davenport hotel costs from £638 per person, with flights, via kirkerholidays.com.
Eurovision has lots of quirks – but the oddest must be that, as of 2015, that famously not-European-at-all country, Australia, has been allowed to take part. Want to celebrate via a holiday, or just avoid the contest entirely? You can book an exhaustive 30-day “Australasia Encompassed” tour from £8,749pp, with flights, with austravel.com.
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