FROM waltzing wizards to Motown’s greatest hits, and from salsa to soul, music offers opportunities for travellers to immerse themselves in a destination’s culture. As well as simply embarrassing yourself on a dancefloor, that is.
For when the world starts to return to sanity, here’s a top ten tuneful travel treats to book into your diary or put on your longer term bucketlist.
1. LAND OF 1,000 RHYTHMS
Hailed as the Land of 1,000 Rhythms, every corner of Colombia moves to a distinct and vibrant sound. Rich local cultures are reflected in the many forms of music waiting to be discovered. Travellers can feel the rhythm from the beats of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, to the city sounds of Salsa in Medellín and Bogotá. They can explore the infamous sounds of traditional Cumbia folklore or jump on the Joropo bandwagon, the distinctive “Cowboy Style” genre of the Andean plains. With a music scene as diverse as its landscapes, Colombia sets the stage for celebration and storytelling through song which can be discovered through the ‘Feel The Rhythm’ website.
2. HIT THE HIGH NOTES
Verona remains one of Italy’s undiscovered gems, dotted with pretty palazzi and medieval sites, and home to that famous Romeo and Juliet balcony. Each year the Verona Opera Festival welcomes visitors from around the world to the Arena di Verona, located inside a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre. One Traveller, an award-winning solo holiday specialist for mature travellers, offers a five-day Festival tour which includes recitals from Turandot and Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci to La Traviata and Aida. In addition, the tour offers sightseeing in Verona and Lake Garda, a wine tasting lunch at a Valpolicella winery and private tours of picturesque towns across the Lake Garda region.
3. IT’S NOT JUST COUNTRY
Nashville’s National Museum of African American Music – the first of its kind explores the legacy of African American music in the US, exploring its contribution and innovation across more than 50 different genres. The museum narrates a story that has never previously been told in such an environment, exploring how African American artists changed the course of musical history with their determination, talent and innovative sounds. Visitors are able to discover the role artists have played in America’s rich musical history through interactive exhibits and artifacts.
4. DON’T STOP BELIEBING
Ontario has a diverse and dedicated music scene, and is the birthplace of, and home to, artists including Drake, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain and Bryan Adams. Those wishing to tick off key hotspots will be kept busy in Stratford – the home of Justin Bieber – where Beliebers can take a walking tour past his busking spot and favourite eateries. Meanwhile, the Stratford Perth Museum hosts an exhibit titled ‘Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom’, which runs through till the end of 2020. Meanwhile, live music fans will find plenty of venues in Toronto, including the legendary Horseshoe Tavern which has hosted everyone from The Rolling Stones to The Ramones.
5. WALTZ OFF TO VIENNA
Vienna is regarded as the world’s capital of music, not least because more famous composers have lived here than any other city. The romantic city boasts 120 music and theatre venues and more than 15,000 performances each year. It’s even home to the oldest ‘boy band’ in the world: the Vienna Boys’ Choir (est. 1498). But there’s more than classical charm – the city is a melting pot for a plethora of genres, with a pulsating jazz and electro scene, as well as welcoming musical legends including Beyoncé, Lenny Kravitz and award-winning Hollywood film composer, Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator), to enjoy renowned recording studio Synchron Stage Vienna.
6. SIMPLY BOMBASTIC
Music, rhythm and dance are ingrained in Puerto Rico’s DNA and as such, is essential when describing the energy and vibrancy of the island. Music and dance were traditionally used as a means of expression here, so intertwined that they often shared the same name, like the Bomba and Salsa. The bomba, where the beat of the drums is guided by the feet of the dancer, traditionally reflected sadness or anger, whereas the salsa, which originated in a Puerto Rican community of New York, is one of the island’s most flavourful and vibrant styles of music. Travellers looking to immerse themselves in local culture will most likely be the last ones on the dancefloor.
7. HITSVILLE USA
Home to no fewer than four US car makers, Detroit was soon nicknamed the “Motor City” and the sound of its music became known as Motown. In the 1960s, Barry Gordy, Jr. founded Tamla Motown Records, the first African American owned recording company to feature African American musicians, such as Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and The Supremes. The Motown sound led to the crossover of African American soul and rhythm and blues music into popular culture, and visitors can see how this all happened at The Motown Museum in Detroit, which is the former Motown recording studio known as ‘Hitsville USA’.
8. CAN’T STOP THE BEAT
Home to the feelgood, smash hit musical, Hairspray, Baltimore city is bursting with musical soul – to quote the musical, it’s the place where ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’! This rhythmic city is not only where the renowned musical is based but also where the original Hairspray film’s director and producer, John Waters, grew up and still resides. Baltimore’s platform for live music also stretches further than the theatre stage, with jazz, funk, soul and rock being played across a range of venues from intimate clubs for underground performances, to huge venues staging national acts.
9. TOGETHER IN ELECTRIC STREAMS
It’s unknown when we’ll be able to take to the seas again for a cruise holiday but stay tuned to Sixthman, who specialise in rock and pop festivals on the ocean wave featuring big name headliners such as Jon Bon Jovi, Kiss, Kesha, Joe Bonamassa and many more. Recently they’ve joined forces with top promoter Danny Wimmer for a new addition to the festival diary. Names haven’t been confirmed yet but Danny’s past headliners have included everyone from Metallica to My Chemical Romance, and from ZZ Top to Creedence legend John Fogerty. It’ll be a five-day cruise from Miami with live music onboard, plus headliners playing on a private island in Belize.
10. ON THE MUSIC MAP
Call in at all the iconic high note hotspots with Riviera Travel, the UK’s leading escorted tour and river cruise company, who offers Deep South USA Plus Texas for Solo Travellers. Weaving through music cities such as Nashville, Dallas and New Orleans, music lovers will discover the history and culture of some of America’s favourite acts. The trip starts in Memphis, where guests tour Graceland, exploring the life of Elvis, before heading to Nashville, known as ‘Music City USA’ and visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. Other highlights on a 14-day itinerary include a ride on Amtrak’s renowned train from Memphis to New Orleans.