Welcome to London & The Cotswolds
This exciting tour to Great Britain will whisk you into a world of immense beauty, culture, history, and most importantly, music.
Originally settled by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, today’s London is rich with both history and tradition. Modern London is the largest city in Western Europe with a diverse population of over 7 million inhabitants, yet in many ways, life still goes on as it has for centuries. The English capital is the setting for countless works of literature, offers a myriad of galleries and museums, and is one of the major performing arts centers of the world.
London boasts a lively music scene with a spectacular array of iconic venues, clubs, concert halls, festivals, and events. There are settings for classical concerts where music has been played for centuries. From presentations at grand cathedrals such as Southwark and St. Paul’s to the Royal Opera house, Royal Albert Hall and proms in the parks, the city’s display of classical presentations carries on its musical legacy.
A couple of hours northwest of London are The Cotswolds where you’ll spend additional days on this tour. Quintessential English market towns and villages amidst a range of gently rolling hills and fields characterize this special region. Life is quieter here with lovely town centers to explore, friendly local churches for concerts and exchanges, and honored traditions from afternoon tea and biscuits to choral evensong.
Additional concert tours in the U.K.: London.
Depart North America for London, England.
Begin explorations of greater London with a guided visit to Windsor Castle, a short drive from Heathrow Airport. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world! Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and then home to 39 monarchs, the Castle has hosted countless official events and ceremonies and survived war, fire, political and social uprisings.
From Windsor, transfer to London and settle into your hotel and refresh. Rehearsal can be arranged upon request.
Later, celebrate your arrival in the United Kingdom at a welcome dinner of local specialties as your tour manager previews exciting days ahead.
Your first full day in England begins with a guided panoramic tour of London. From the comfort of your motor coach, view intriguing landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament.
After time for lunch, perform your first concert in London! You may be in a splendid venue such as Southwark Cathedral, where music has played a part in service for hundreds of years; or in a beautiful outdoor setting like the grandstand in Hyde Park or Crystal Palace. Smaller churches and galleries with fine acoustics also invite ensembles to perform in their wonderful spaces.
Spend the afternoon at the Tower of London—a secure fortress, royal palace, and infamous prison. The crown jewels are kept at the Tower and you will be able to admire them if the Queen and family aren’t already wearing them. And, if you’re inclined, sing spontaneously in the Tower courtyard to the delight of yeoman guards and visitors from many nations.
Evening activities can be arranged: Tickets to a London show, a group dinner at a traditional pub, a cruise on the Thames, or a lofty ride on the London Eye!
This morning check out of the London hotel and move to Bath.
En route, stop in Salisbury to perform a concert at the Salisbury Cathedral. The Cathedral is a remarkable building and church, welcoming hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors to its medieval chambers each year. Its gorgeous spire is the tallest in Britain and second tallest in Europe!
Next, continue to Stonehenge, the best- known prehistoric monument in Europe. For centuries, historians and archaeologists have puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, which took Neolithic builders nearly 1,500 years to erect.
At the end of this terrific day in England, arrive in Bath, and settle into your hotel. Your tour manager can make suggestions for where to have dinner in town.
This morning, visit the Roman remains in Bath, including the ancient Assembly Rooms, Roman Baths, and Pump Rooms. Then, enjoy time for lunch and browsing in the quaint town center.
Later, gather with your ensemble at Bath Abbey to perform a concert in the historic monastery known for music and choral productions.
Evening activities, such as a jaunt up the hillside of Alexandra Park for sunset views and panoramas can be arranged.
This morning, leave Bath for Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
En route, stop in Tintern famous for its abbey where poets and painters, such as Wordsworth and Turner, visited hundreds of years ago. Tintern is a romantic place on the Welsh side of the winding River Wye valley, and your ensemble can sing here for other visitors in the hallowed ruins of Tintern Abbey.
Arrive in Cardiff in the afternoon and check into your hotel before heading over to Cardiff Castle, a medieval castle built on top of a Roman fort. At the heart of the Welsh capital, surrounded by beautiful parklands, the Castle has endured 2,000 years of history.
Your tour manager will provide suggestions for dinner this evening in Cardiff.
First, accompany a local guide on a tour of Southeast Wales. Start at Caerphilly Castle, which dates back to 75 AD. The current structure, built in 1268, is one of the largest medieval fortresses still standing and an exemplary example of 13th-century military architecture.
Then delve into the local mining industry at the Big Pit National Coal Museum and a visit underground with a miner to hear about life for workers in the tunnels and buildings around the moors of Blaenafon.
Return to Cardiff with time to prepare for your evening concert.
Tonight, your ensemble will participate in a fabulous musical immersion with a choir from Wales. Perform a friendship concert with a Welsh Choir and enjoy socializing with new Welsh friends.
Move from Wales to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Stratford-upon-Avon is a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands. It looks like it was lifted directly from a storybook! Peruse the Tudor-style shops and get lunch before your concert here.
The Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was baptized and buried is a possible venue for your last performance in England. The church sits on the banks of the River Avon, a short walk from most of the major Shakespeare sites in town. Your repertoire will be heard by locals and tourists who frequent the church and will enjoy your concert in the classic English setting.
A festive farewell dinner in a traditional restaurant brings your tour to a close preparing to leave the UK.
Depart this morning for the airport to fly home.
Additional days, destinations, and activities can be added to customize this tour for your group.
Concert Tour Highlights
FRIENDSHIP CONCERTS IN CARDIFF
Friendship concerts are a featured experience on our tours and are at the heart of our mission to foster cultural connections through music. We benefit from a vast international network in the choral world built over our thirty years of helping choirs share their music both in the United States and abroad. Your choir will share a venue and a concert program with a host choir from the region. Your singers will have the opportunity to hear their host choir's repertoire (often showcasing local musical styles) and to share your own repertoire in turn. Fellowship time is planned around the friendship concert, giving both choirs the chance to mingle and enjoy the camaraderie of creating cross-cultural connections through a shared love of music.
A place of worship is believed to have sat on this site along the bank of the River Thames since as early as the 6th century AD. The current cathedral was first built in 1106 under the care of the Bishops of Winchester. The cathedral has since undergone many repairs and held services for a variety of congregations. In 1905 it was given its present name of Southwark Cathedral. The current structure offers outstanding acoustics and the large steps leading to the altar act as built-in risers. The Cathedral holds five services daily and is known for hosting large musical events, offering a stunning venue for visiting performance groups in the heart of central London.
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
The beautiful church built along the Avon River is known affectionately as the Shakespeare Church and is one of the most visited churches is all of Great Britain. The Collegiate Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity was completed in 1492 and boasts fabulous acoustics, making it an amazing venue for performances. As the oldest building in Stratford, the Holy Trinity Church is filled with interesting details, including meticulously carved 15th-century misericord seats in its chancel.
William the Conqueror began construction on the castle in the 11th century. It was modified by Edward III in the
mid-1300s, and transformed from a medieval castle to a royal palace by George IV between 1824 and 1837. Windsor Castle is the only royal residence that has been used continually by the royal family since the Middle Ages. The Round Tower is its central feature, which is surrounded by the Moat Garden. The lower ward houses St. George’s Chapel, a gorgeous 15th-century building with a breathtaking wall of stained glass dedicated to the Order of the Garter. When the Queen is in her official residence, The Changing of the Guard takes place daily at 11 a.m.