Experience a winter wonderland and celebrate a European Christmas and New Year on this new 15-day tour visiting the great music capitals of Europe – Prague, Salzburg and Vienna. The tour has been designed to coincide with the height of the winter music season, with eight performances of the highest calibre. As well as featuring a series of outstanding performances, this musical journey takes you to the places where the great composers lived and worked, in addition to visiting key historical sites.
Nine performances of the highest quality
The heritage of Europe’s leading opera houses in Prague, Salzburg and Vienna
Orchestral music by excellent national orchestras
Walking tours of the cities in which we stay as well as visits to cultural sites, many with a strong musical history
Longer stays, with time for relaxing and for individual sightseeing
The company of like-minded music lovers and expert introductions to performances
Nine performances of opera, orchestral music and ballet are included, in some of Central Europe’s most celebrated music venues.
A concert by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jakub Hrůša, featuring violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, performing works by Dvořák, Martinů, and Honegger at the Rudolfinum
A concert by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra conducted by Reinhard Goebel, featuring Slovakian soprano Simona Šaturová at the Rudolfinum
A traditional Christmas concert by the Czech Philharmonic Children’s choir and the National Theatre Orchestra at the National Theatre
The Mozarteum’s Christmas Concert of works by Vivaldi, Gruber, Mozart, Corelli, Handel
Johann Strauss’ operetta Wiener Blut at the Landestheater
Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute at the Vienna State Opera
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve concert of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Konzerthaus
The New Year’s Day concert by the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Leoš Svárovský at the Reduta Bratislava
Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker at the Vienna State Opera
Days 1–5: Arrive in Prague and attend three performances, one at the historic Estates Theatre. Take a walking tour of the city, explore the castle district and wander the festive Christmas markets. Celebrate Christmas-eve with a traditional dinner.
Days 6-9: Travel to Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, where we visit a range of sites and attend one performance. Take a day trip to the stunning Salzkammergut lake district of Austria.
Days 10-15: Travel to Vienna via Melk Abbey. See in the New Year in Vienna, attend three fine performances and explore the city’s vast musical heritage, including visits to venues where Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert lived and worked. Take a day trip to Bratislava to tour the town and attend a concert.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Qantas and Emirates offer daily flights into Prague and home from Vienna. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L, D and C for canapés.
Thursday December 20: Arrival
Transfers to the hotel are included for those booking flights with Academy Travel and can be arranged for those who have booked their own flights. In the early evening tour members meet in the hotel for welcome drinks and canapés with Robert Gay. Overnight Art Deco Hotel Imperial, Prague (C)
Friday December 21: Old Town Prague – Czech Philharmonic orchestra
After a talk on this evenings performance, we explore the Baroque city of Prague. With its gothic spires, elaborate domes and winding, cobbled streets, it is one of Europe’s most perfectly preserved cities. We take a guided walking tour of the Old Town, giving us further insight into Prague’s rich history, ending at the Charles Bridge which spans the Vltava River. We visit too, the historic Estates Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in Europe, built in 1783. We have lunch in hillside Malá Strana, with views across the Vltava river to the old town. The later afternoon is at leisure in preparation for this evening’s performance at the world-famous concert hall the Rudolfinum, home of the Czech Philharmonic. Overnight Prague (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Rudolfinum Program: Dvořák, Te Deum; Gemrot, Resurrection of Light and Hope (world premiere); Martinů, Violin Concerto No. 1; Honegger, A Christmas Cantata Performers: Czech Philharmonic, Jakub Hrůša (conductor), Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin)
Saturday December 22: Castle District – Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
Hradčany has been the seat of Czech royalty for hundreds of years and centres on Prague Castle. On a guided tour of the castle complex we visit St. Vitus Cathedral, clearly visible soaring above the castle walls, Vladislav Hall and Golden Lane. We continue to Lobkowicz Palace where the art collections trace the ancestry of the noble Czech family, who were great patrons of the arts. In the later afternoon there is time to rest prior to tonight’s concert. Overnight Prague (B)
Performance details Venue: Rudolfinum Program: Works by Quantz, Locatelli, Heinichen, Bach, Corelli, Fils and Gaviniès Performers: Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Reinhard Goebel (conductor), Simona Šaturová (soprano)
Sunday December 23: Art Nouveau Prague – Czech Philharmonic Children’s Choir
This morning we attend the traditional Christmas concert of music performed by the Czech Philharmonic Children’s choir and the National Theatre Orchestra. In the afternoon, we have a guided tour of the beautiful Municipal House, a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture, design and decoration. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Prague (B)
Performance details Venue: National Theatre Prague Program: Czech Christmas music by Treml, Ryba and others Performers: Czech Philharmonic Children’s Choir and the National Theatre Orchestra
Monday December 24: Christmas Eve in Prague
Every year in the lead-up to Christmas, Prague shines in a blaze of festive lights. Today is at leisure to explore the Christmas markets in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. These markets are filled with unique Christmas ornaments and holiday decorations as well as traditional Czech gifts, food and drink – there’s something for everyone. Continue the festive cheer with a traditional Christmas eve dinner. Overnight Prague (B, D)
Tuesday December 25: To Salzburg – Christmas Concert
Merry Christmas! After a relaxing Christmas day breakfast, we depart mid-morning for Salzburg. We have opted to travel on this day because as with most European cities, Prague closes down for families to celebrate Christmas together. With the major sites, theatres, restaurants and shops closed, there is less traffic on the roads, making it the ideal day to travel to our next city. This evening we attend the special festive Christmas Concert at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Overnight Hotel Crown Plaza The Pitter, Salzburg (B, D)
Performance details Venue: Mozarteum Program: Christmas Concert with music by Vivaldi, Gruber, Mozart, Corelli and Handel Performers: Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
Wednesday December 26: Salzburg’s Musical Heritage
As well as being Mozart’s birthplace and the home of famed music festivals, Salzburg is an attractive city, poised on a river surrounded by mountains. This morning we take a guided tour of Salzburg focusing on the sites associated with Mozart and other musicians, including the delightful Mirabell Gardens, the Mozarteum and a stroll through the Getreidegasse district. We also stop in at St Peter’s Abbey and Salzburg Cathedral, both important to the musical life of a city ruled by a prince-archbishop. In the afternoon we head to the museum at Mozart’s birthplace, where Leopold Mozart and his family lived from 1747 to 1773. Overnight Salzburg (B)
Thursday December 27: The Salzkammergut Lake District
Today we travel to the stunning Salzkammergut lake district. We visit a number of picturesque villages, starting with St. Gilgen, a lakeside resort that lies at the western edge of the Wolfgangsee Lake. From there, we take a boat to St. Wolfgang where we have lunch at the White Horse Inn. In the afternoon drive to Bad Ischl, a fashionable spa town that was the summer seat of Emperor Franz Josef for more than 60 years. We return to Salzburg in the late afternoon. Overnight Salzburg (B, L)
Friday December 28: Salzburg – Wiener Blut
After the talk on tonight’s performance, the day is free for you to explore Salzburg at your own pace. You may choose to ascend the Hohensalzburg Castle atop the Festungsberg, or simply relax at any one of the numerous coffee houses. This evening we head to the Salzburg Landestheater to see Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood or Vienna Spirit), a fascinating operetta put together by librettists Victor Léon and Leo Stein using, with his express permission, some of Johann Strauss’s most popular music. The operetta is set during the famous Congress of Vienna and premiered in Vienna in 1899, a few months after Strauss’s death. It’s a show one only ever encounters in Austria! Overnight Salzburg (B)
Performance details Venue: Salzburg Landestheater Program: Johann Strauss, Wiener Blut Performers: Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, Robin Davis (musical director)
Saturday December 29: Melk Abbey
This morning we depart by coach for Vienna, stopping at Melk Abbey, a Benedictine Abbey overlooking the Danube valley, that is one of the greatest examples of Baroque architecture in Austria. During the drive, Robert Gay will talk about the creation of one of Mozart’s most enduring masterpieces, The Magic Flute. We arrive in Vienna in the late afternoon and have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Hotel de France, Vienna (B, D)
Sunday December 30: Vienna’s Musical Heritage – The Magic Flute
Vienna is a city with an impressive musical legacy which we explore during our stay. Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Johann Strauss and Mahler all lived and worked here. This morning, our coach and walking tour through the old city focuses on this musical heritage, visiting sites such as Schubert’s birth-house and the newly opened Beethoven Museum in Heiligenstadt. We have lunch at a fine restaurant with views over Vienna. This evening we see an excellent cast perform the Vienna State Opera’s production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. Overnight Vienna (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Vienna State Opera Program: Mozart, TheMagic Flute Performers: René Pape (Sarastro), Benjamin Bernheim (Tamino), Hila Fahima (Queen of the Night), Valentina Naforniţa (Pamina), Rafael Fingerlos (Papageno)
Monday December 31: The Vienna Woods – New Year’s Eve Concert
Today we travel to the edge of the Vienna Woods and Baden bei Wien, a spa town famous for its curative waters (the Romans called the town Aquae). Beethoven spent many summers in Baden and the surrounding countryside. We return to Vienna in the early afternoon with time to rest before this evening’s concert of Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony, followed by celebratory dinner at a Viennese restaurant which offers views over the city and the New Year’s Eve fireworks. Overnight Vienna (B, D)
Performance details Venue: Konzerthaus, Great Hall Program: Beethoven, Symphony No.9 Performers: Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Andrés Orozco-Estrada (conductor), Regula Mühlemann (soprano), Dorottya Láng (mezzo-soprano), Steve Davislim (tenor), Florian Boesch (baritone)
Tuesday January 1, 2019: New Year’s Day in Bratislava – Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Happy New Year! Mid morning we travel to Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, which has shed some of its Communist-era architecture and transformed its charming Old Town. We take a guided tour through the heart of the Old Town starting in the main square, lined on one side by the Old Town Hall and the other by a mix of restaurants and cafes. We visit St. Martin’s Cathedral, the neo-Renaissance Opera House, and our tour ends at the Archbishop´s Palace. We have dinner in a local restaurant before attending a concert in the Baroque Reduta Bratislava Concert Hall, home of the Slovak Philharmonic. Afterwards we return to our hotel in Vienna by coach. Overnight Vienna (B, D)
Performance details Venue: Reduta Concert Hall Program: New Year’s Day Concert, including music by Hérold, Joseph and Johann Strauss, Korngold, Smetana, Offenbach, Shostakovich and Gounod Performers: Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, Leoš Svárovský (conductor)
Wednesday January 2: Farewell Vienna – The Nutcracker
Today provides time, both before and after our Farewell Lunch, to explore Vienna at your own pace. You may choose to visit the collection in the great Kunsthistorishes Museum, or perhaps the Albertina or the Leopold Museum in the new Museum Quarter. The Treasury of the Hapsburgs in the Hofburg is also well worth visiting. Our final performance takes us back to the Vienna State Opera for a Christmas classic, Tchaikovsky’s delightful ballet The Nutcracker with its instantly recognisable score. Overnight Vienna (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Vienna State Opera Program: Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker Performers: Vienna State Ballet
Thursday January 3: Departure
The tour concludes after breakfast. There are included transfers for those passengers who have booked flights with Academy Travel. (B)
Is one of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators. He has designed and led more than 80 performance based tours to Europe and the US.
Since 1987, Robert Gay has managed to combine his passion for music and his love of teaching with his enthusiasm for travel. He has visited the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe and America and heard most of the great singers and instrumentalists of the last half-century. Robert was President of the Sydney Schubert Society for eighteen years, and for several years was a guest lecturer for ADFAS.
After gaining a BA, Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, Robert trained as a lyric baritone in London and Munich before turning to the field of music education with a position at 2MBS-FM. He has taught music history courses at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1985. Robert’s musical expertise ranges wide, from baroque to modern. He particular enjoys placing works in their larger contexts – musical, biographical, social and historical.
In the early days, Robert always designed his tours to include a visit behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – whether it was Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Budapest – thereby providing fascinating insights into a world which has now largely disappeared. His tours, which total nearly 90, have regularly featured the great musical cities of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Russia, as well as Scandinavia and the United States of America.
“It has been an enormous privilege to have travelled the world for the last 30 years taking groups of music lovers to the great musical and cultural cities of Europe and America,” Robert says. “There is something magical about music – an art form which only truly lives as it is performed – which seems to bind people together so effortlessly and harmoniously.”
“I have always been a great believer in ‘the spirit of place’,” says Robert. “You can read and research and google all you like, but it cannot for a moment match the thrill of standing in the beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne where Wagner and his beloved Cosima first lived together; or of hearing a service in Bach’s unassuming St Thomas’s church in Leipzig; or seeing a performance in the old Paris Opéra, the auditorium ‘crowned’ by its superb Chagall ceiling celebrating both opera and ballet. Such experiences are treasurable and unforgettable!”
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.