man-on-mobile-phone
Anyone who travels regularly will know how costly it can be to keep in touch with loved ones back home. Between £1 per minute or more phone calls and astronomical mobile internet prices, sometimes you have to stay out of the loop for a little longer than you’d like.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to keep in touch without spending half your food money on communication.

Here’s how to keep connected on your travels the cheap and simple way.

1) Take a look at your phone and network
Many phone networks have packages available for those who want to use their phones abroad, that you can simply add onto your existing contact or pay-as-you-go package. However, although these packages will reduce the cost of calls and texts, they can still work out pretty pricy.

Consider buying a SIM card when you get to your destination, which can dramatically reduce your phone bill. You can buy pre-paid phones for the country you’re in, or if you’re going to a number of countries then a global SIM may be the way to go.

2) Get your family to call you
If you can, stay somewhere with a phone in your room, as it makes it hugely cheaper for people to call you. Your family back at home can use what is known as an override provider, which is a phone company who will override your current landline provider and charge you their rates – which can be far, far cheaper – and you don’t even have to setup an account.

3) Find an internet cafe
Why spend a ridiculous amount on roaming internet on your mobile when most places will have an internet cafe? Often these are dirt cheap, and just buying an hour once a week or so means you can send an email to your loved ones, and hop on Facebook or your preferred social networking site to catch up with friends.

4) Find a Wi-Fi spot
You can call almost anywhere in the world for nothing, or almost nothing, using a VoIP app on your phone like Skype, if there’s Wi-Fi. Simply download the app onto your phone, get your loved ones to download it to their phone or computer, find a Wi-Fi hotspot and you’re all a-go. All you need to remember is to organise a time!

5) Send a letter or postcard
Letters and postcards are so often forgotten these days, but they are a great way to keep in touch in places where you might not have signal on your phone. Plus, snail mail is exceptionally cheap to boot. You get to spend the time to craft something detailed, rather than just a quick text or email, and your recipient gets a letter through the post – who doesn’t love that?

Do you have any more handy hints on how to keep in contact while you’re travelling?

Estelle Page is a mum who would like her kids to see the world. She blogs in her spare time for White Pages, trying to help people stay in touch for as little as possible.

Image by: Axel Kristinsson

campingIt’s always exciting to drive through the campsite gates and see the corner of nature which you will call home during your camping trip. However, I find that my mood as I strike the first tent peg into the ground is always related to how comfortable the car journey to the campsite has been. Here are a few tips to help you plan your car journey – they could just help preserve your sanity (and that of your family’s)!

1. Plan your journey
The directgov.uk website has a journey planner which lets you plan your car journey in some detail. Just tap in the post code you are setting off from and the post code of your camp site destination and this government website will advise you on the best route. You can also find out how long your journey should take, the distance involved and what your fuel consumption should be!

2. Conduct a mini-MOT
When processing the information about your car journey try and ascertain whether your car is up to the journey. If your vehicle is only fit for ferrying you around town then it might be time to hire a camper van for that journey to the campsite. It is also a good idea to conduct a mini-MOT before you set off. Check your tyre’s tread is at least 1.6mm and that the water and oil levels in your engine are sufficient. Measure your tyre pressure and bear in mind that the required tyre pressure will vary according to how much luggage and passengers your car is carrying. And don’t forget to ensure that your windscreen washer reservoir is full and that your lights are clean and fully operational. If in any doubt, ask a garage to complete this fitness-for-purpose test for you.

3. Take out breakdown cover
Don’t set off to a campsite without first checking that you have adequate breakdown cover. Owning a comprehensive policy should ensure that you sleep soundly under canvas and don’t have nightmares about being stranded on a motorway hard shoulder during your return journey.

4. Know how to act in a breakdown scenario
Just as there are rules which govern how you should act at a campsite so there are procedures to follow should your car breakdown. If you do find yourself having to seek the sanctuary of the motorway hard shoulder then always make sure your car wheels are facing inwards so that your car won’t slide back into moving motorway traffic if it is hit. Switching your hazard warning lights on and getting out of the car to wait on the kerbside (as far away from the traffic as possible) is also essential.

5. Be kind to the driver
When planning your car journey, pay particular attention to factoring in some service station stops so that they can get adequate rest. A 15-minute break after two hours of driving will help drivers stretch their legs, re-hydrate and re-charge their batteries so that they can maintain their concentration on the next leg of the journey.

6. Control the car’s atmosphere
The car’s air conditioning is there for a reason – use it so that all the car’s occupants can keep cool enough. Wind down windows to keep the car ventilated and consider using sunscreens and sunglasses to make sure that bright sunshine doesn’t trigger off travel sickness. Child passengers need particular care – explain to them how long the journey will last and why it is a good idea for them to behave during it and you will improve your chances of having a stress-free trip. Provide healthy food for them to eat during the journey and the occasional sweet as blackmail/reward for good behaviour!

7. Delegate
If there are a number of you travelling to the campsite then allocate different roles to different passengers. For instance, one passenger can help navigate and another passenger can keep an eye on the clock to ensure that the driver gets plenty of regular breaks from driving duties. You could also allocate a smart mobile phone to one passenger so that they can keep up to date with traffic news and help you avoid traffic hot spots.

8. Spread the load
Just as it’s a good idea to take the stress away from the driver by sharing out responsibilities so it is a good idea to spread the load so that weight is distributed evenly and safely among the car. When packing the boot make sure that items are kept in bags so that access to the spare wheel remains quick and easy. And try not to have too many loose items lying on the back seats as these could fly around and hurt someone if there’s a sudden collision.

9. Start as you mean to continue
Did you know that most crashes and near-misses occur within the first two hours of a journey? You do now. Get a good night’s sleep before your journey and you will feel fresh when you start the ignition the next day.

10. Enjoy yourself!
Don’t forget that going camping should be a fun experience and that the car journey should be the start of your holiday. Drivers and passengers who have planned their journey in advance should be in a relaxed frame of mind before, during and after their arrival at the campsite gates!

James Christie writes for GEM Motoring Assist.

tanzaniaTanzania is such a beautiful and diverse country that it can be a challenge to work out which of its many interesting regions to visit first.

This is why it’s always good to get some expert advice so that you can make the most of your first trip to this glorious African nation.

Arjo Ghosh’s first journey to Tanzania was in 2000. He has been back every year since then; proof of the country’s magnificent appeal!

Here’s what he has to say about his favourite travel destination.

‘Don’t under-estimate the visual impact of the landscape’

I do think that people under-estimate the stunning impact of the natural landscape in beautiful areas such as the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater; at least until they see these places with their own eyes!

The Ngorongoro Crater is breathtaking and well-worth a visit. For those who don’t know, it’s a superb collapsed volcanic crater. As with so much of Tanzania, it’s like something from Jurassic Park. And then there is the wildlife there – on my last visit I saw seven rhino.

Travel to the Serengeti – home of the famous annual wildebeest migration – and you will see African plains as far as the eye can see. There are leopards, cheetahs and I lost count of the numbers of lions I saw. Touring the Serengeti while standing up in an open-topped safari vehicle is something that everyone should try at least once in their life.

Kilimanjaro: ‘proof of how lush and green Africa can be’

Many people assume that Africa, and Tanzania, is largely a dry and arid place. However, Mount Kilimanjaro is proof of how lush and verdant the landscape often is. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and it is stunning to behold its cloud-ringed, glacier tipped peaks for the first time. There are several different hiking routes you can use to get to one of its peaks – look out for waterfalls and other natural wonders along the way.

Magnificent Moshi

At the foot of Kilimanjaro is the wonderful town of Moshi and this is my main port of call when I visit Tanzania. It’s strange to think there is such a highly-populated town next to Kilimanjaro. The Moshi coffee shops are magnificent – you really should try the coffee there.

Moshi’s townsfolk are very self-sufficient; they grow crops in their garden to feed themselves. Kilimanjaro is a very fertile place and the gardeners of Moshi really benefit from this. There are lots of day trips you can organise from Moshi too.

Zanzibar – beaches, Middle Eastern food, film festivals and Freddie Mercury’s house!

I visited the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar eight or nine years ago and went to Stone Town on an extremely hot day. It’s a great place to visit for a whirlwind two-day stay as, being located on the old Moors’ trading route, it is so full of history.

The Middle-Eastern influence has definitely left its mark on Zanzibar – the food is spicy and you can find plenty of exotic stylish furniture in the bazaars. Zanzibar has lots of friendly villages near its sandy beaches and you can go and take a look at Freddie Mercury’s childhood house (though, sadly, you’re not allowed inside). Freddie would certainly have approved of the Zanzibar’s International Film Festival – this year’s ‘ZIFF’ is held from 15th to 17th July.

Friendly people

What are the people of Tanzania like? In a word: ‘friendly’. For years, Tanzania was a socialist state which was cut-off economically from the rest of the world. Tanzania, and its citizens, have been making up for lost time ever since and are keen to welcome visitors.

Tanzania is, on the whole, a poor country but politically it is secure and I have never felt unsafe walking the streets. It is also a very tolerant and diverse nation – it is surrounded by seven countries and as a result many cultural influences have filtered into its daily way of life. In Moshi, as is the case elsewhere, citizens in tribal dress happily mingle with Tanzanians wearing western clothes.

Colour-clashing clothes: anything goes!

Aside from camouflage, you can wear any colour you like in Tanzania as this is a continent where combining colours like red and green is something to be celebrated! I find it great to people-watch in Tanzania and see women wearing the magnificent national dress: the Kanga. The Kanga is a colourful piece of printed cotton cloth which is often daubed in political and moral messages. These messages can be proverbs, riddles, manifestos – anything really.

The customs and language

The handshake is the accepted form of greeting in Tanzania. Many Tanzanians speak English but it is easy to pick up KiSwahili. A good starting point is to learn the word for ‘hello’ – Tanzanians always appreciate you saying ‘Jambo’ to them!

African safari specialists Safari Consultants can organise a Tanzanian safari for you. Check out Safari Consultants’ website to find out the best times to visit Tanzania.

Israel 2009

It is no surprise that Israel tours are among the most sought-after trips in the world. Israel, also known as the Holy Land, holds special significance for people of all three major world religions. In addition to its millenniums-old history and rich heritage and culture ,Israel is also home to some of the most modern attractions, most famous landmarks, and most stunning scenery.

A trip to Israelis a dream-come-true for people of all faiths, backgrounds, and ages. Some Jews wait their whole lives to pray at the Western Wall. Christian tours by America Israel Travel offer  pilgrimage trips to Jerusalem following the footsteps of Jesus and the Biblical heroes. Other travelers can’t get enough ofIsrael’s Mediterranean coastline and beautiful beaches, packed with a slew of water activities for the whole family. And when it comes to archeological digs, desert oases, outstanding hiking, and natural springs and waterfalls,Israel is second to none.

With so many compelling reasons to visitIsrael(including tasting some mouth-watering Middle Eastern falafel), it’s no wonder the travel industry offers so many enlightening tours to the region. To cater to the diverse interests of the millions of travelers who fly intoBenGurionInternationalAirporteach year, nowadays you sign up for:

  • Jewish Heritage Tours
  • Christian Tours
  • Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah tours
  • IsraelArcheologicalTours
  • Bible StudyTours
  • Holy LandPackage Tours

There are countless benefits to sightseeing and traveling with an organized group. Your trip will be planned from beginning to end, including transportation (making sure you don’t get lost!), accommodations, and food. An experienced tour guide will lead you to the country’s most famous sites and attractions, giving you the ‘inside scoop’ on everything you see and do. If you are mapping out your ownIsraeltrip, however, here are some of the ‘must-visit’ destinations to include on your itinerary:

  • Jerusalem (including the Western Wall, the Western Wall Tunnels, the Cardo, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), the Israel Museum, and the Biblical Zoo)
  • Tel Aviv (including theDiasporaMuseum, beachfront, trendy sidewalk cafés, world-class shopping, and a lively nightlife with an array of bars, restaurants, musical theaters, and concert halls)
  • Haifa, Acco, Caesarea, Golan Heights,Mount Hermon: Enjoy Israel’s northern region, which offers panoramic views, grueling but gorgeous hiking, ancient synagogues and cities, bed-and-breakfast lodgings, and more
  • Gulf of Eilat: Israel’s southern resort town where you can swim with the dolphins, scuba dive in Israel’s world-renowned coral reefs, go jet skiing, windsurfing, parasailing, banana boating, and soak up the sun
  • Masada: Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, it was on this mountain-top fortress built by Herod that the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans took place in 66 CE, wherein a small band of 1,000 Jews held out against the mighty Roman Legions, ultimately committing mass suicide rather than surrendering. Still today a symbol of Jewish strength and the Jews’ fight for freedom in their own land, you can climbMasadaby foot or ascent to the top by cable car.
  • Ein Gedi (a beautiful natural oasis in the middle of the desert featuring one-of-a-kind flora & fauna and hiking trails for the whole family)

africaI had arrived in South Africa after deciding that I needed to break free from mortgage payments and a job that I didn’t particularly like. I had made the decision to live a frugal life for 3 month, raising enough money to buy myself a plane ticket to South Africa, where my journey began. This is a short account of my travels from Cape Town, through 4 countries and back again, whilst living out of an ammo crate and on a diet of tinned tomatoes.

Cape Town > Namibia

giraffeWith a population of around two Million people, Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world which would explain the distance between villages and petrol stations – we could drive for hours and not see a single person.  Namibia is a place that will take your breath away but by presenting you nothing but arid desert and lots and lots of dust! The people here are extremely friendly and very proud of their country.  As you make your way up to the top of Namibia you reach Etosha which is a National Park, originally established in 1907. Etosha is the home to lots of different animals, including lions, elephant’s, giraffe and rhino – all of which we were lucky enough to have seen.  It does cost to enter the park but I feel this is completely justified; after all you are getting to see animals in their true environment.

Namibia > Botswana

AfricaOriginally Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa, but after gaining independence in 1966 Botswana has developed into a beautiful and booming country. Botswana is completely landlocked and surrounded by South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

We only spent a couple of days in Botswana as we were making our way back into South Africa but most of our time there was spent mingling with locals and taking walks into the local town of Kasane which is home to a fair amount of Zimbabwean’s who had been told to leave Zimbabwe. The locals here, again, were very friendly, even offering to take us fishing – If only we hadn’t got so drunk with them the night before and not missed the boat!

Botswana > Swaziland

africa 4x4I will simply describe Swaziland as a teeny little bit of paradise nestled away in the depths of South Africa. Swaziland is very green, with lush trees, waterfalls and farming landing everywhere which explains why 75% of its population are famers of some kind. Swaziland is home to some of the most amazing and breath taking views you can find.

Whilst there we stayed with a local guy called Mutunzi – Mutunzi had BIG dreams about opening a water sports centre for exchange students – He really did have huge plans, but sadly I don’t think these will ever come true. He lived on the side of a mountain in a mudded hut and worked as a farmer. He took us right to the top the mountain before we left to visit a local school. This school was the only school for miles and miles and the children would walk up to 10 miles a day just to go to it. Muntunzi also took us to see some waterfalls, he welcomed us to ‘paradise man’ – Did I forget to say he was a Rastafarian? He was very much in love with his home, we felt very lucky have seen it.

Swaziland > Mozambique

A Country that is still very much battling the effects of Civil War. Mozambique stretches down the coast of South Africa facing the Indian Ocean. Sadly our experience of Mozambique was somewhat unfortunate, mostly due to the weather. Within hours of getting across the border the heavens opened and we were stuck in a tropical storm. Our car was swept along sandy roads and we battled to even see past our noses.  One of our biggest problems of travelling car was that we had over packed. We had bought with us lots of things we didn’t need and when driving on sand and other difficult surfaces it important to pack right – Travelling in bad weather in Mozambique was not helped with the fact we had lots useless items with us!

On that note…

5 Things you do not need on a 12000km, 4×4 journey through Africa

  • Hair Straighteners – I did not even remove these from the box. I was incredibly foolish in even thinking that the road side of a desert would have electricity. Plus, even if your hair is straight, it’s going to be full of dust.
  • Lap Top – Shut yourself off from the world. Not only will you not use it for the lack of electricity but you will be having so much fun and seeing so many new things, why would you need to check ‘Facebook’.
  • Endless amounts of Cable and adaptors – Think about what you are packing because chances are you can probably use one cable or adaptor for most things. Your camera may well have the same charger as a phone or a Travel Kettle.
  • Expensive Clothing – Everything in Africa is dusty, you’ll find dust in places that you wouldn’t have even thought of. Its gets in your hair, your eyes, your food, your bed… it gets everywhere – Those expensive threads you want to take have no place on a trip like this. What you will also find as you interact with the local people is that they really like your clothes and you will, out of generosity come away with less than you went with. I handed down many of my things to local people, they are really grateful for these kinds of gestures.
  • Bling – Just leave it in the UK. A couple of the countries have great policing but others are still a little shady. When entering borders you are required to pay a ‘visa’ for you and your belongings. They are very clever at looking at your jewellery, watches, laptops, cameras etc. and making amendments your visa fee – Be warned.

5 Things you definitely need on a 12000km, 4×4 journey through Africa

  • Sun Cream – Don’t be burned. Temperatures reached 45degs in Namibia and there is absolutely no wind in the day.
  • Water – Always make sure you have plenty of water when travelling by car. We had an extra 2 ltr water tank in the boot of our car to make sure we weren’t caught without it, you never know when your car my break down.  When reaching a petrol station don’t be fooled into thinking that they have fuel or water as occasionally they will have neither  – Only drink bottled water
  • A Map – Don’t worry about a Sat Nav, you definitely don’t need one of those. Pick up an up to date map before you start your journey and plan out where you are going to be heading. Most of the places you’ll be driving through will only have one way in and one way out, with the occasional detour when you reach larger towns or cities. Many of the roads are merely dusty tracks in Namibia so it’s important that you know the direction that you’re heading in.
  • A Fridge – If you have room, take one. This won’t allow you to keep lots of meats, cheeses and treats, but it will allow you to keep water, sandwiches and the occasional bit of ham or cheese fresh. The fridge runs off of your car battery and was a god send for us, living off of tinned tomatoes is ok when broken up with the occasional cheese sandwich.
  • First Aid Kit – included in your kit: insect repellent, bite cream, plasters, bandages and surgical sprits. Africa is an amazing country but don’t under estimate its ability to make you feel awful. There are lots of mosquitos and other bugs that love nothing more than biting you. It’s also not always easy to access clean or sanitised places when you cut yourself, so make sure you have anti septic with you.

Kate Knight writes for Savoo.co.uk, the money saving, voucher code and destination site for savvy shoppers.

When dreaming of the perfect holiday, many of us have the beach in mind, so it’s worth doing some research into beaches before booking your holiday. The beach forms a large part of holiday-life, especially if you have young children to keep entertained, so it’s worth finding out if the beach has soft sands, if there are cafes and toilet facilities nearby, and how the beach fairs in terms of cleanliness and water quality.

Mellieha Bay beach, Malta

Malta holidays are popular with those who want a balance of sightseeing and beach life. Mellieha Bay boasts the largest sandy beach in Malta and its shallow, clean waters make it perfect for children. There are also a variety of water sports on offer for active couples and families, including some of the best scuba-diving opportunities in the Mediterranean. There are also good facilities on offer including sun beds and umbrellas available for rent and a selection of cafes and snack bars. Apart from the sandy shores on Mellieha Bay, Malta has stretches of sandy beaches at Golden Bay on the west coast of the island. For more information about things to do in Malta, click here.

Cala Mondrago beach, Majorca

Cala Mondrago, MajorcaThe ever popular Balearic island of Majorca is a beach lover’s paradise with over 120 beaches and coves scattered along its coastline. Cala Mondrago is one of two stunning beaches in Mondrago National Park on the south eastern coast of the island, and well worth exploring. Surrounded by pine trees and accessible by car it’s perfect for family holidays to Majorca, especially if you have young children. The fine white sands and shallow waters are perfect for the little ones and also for parents in search of rest and relaxation.

Cala d’en Serra beach, Ibiza

Cala d'en Serra, IbizaThe Island of Ibiza is another mecca for beach-lovers with its most famous beach being Salinas, peppered with hip bars and restaurants. However those in search of peace and tranquillity should head to Cala d’en Serra. Not far from the resort of Portinatx, it boasts a secluded bay with a pretty sandy beach. It’s quite hard to find, and is accessible only on foot, but it is well worth the effort and is perfect for couples in search of solitude and tranquillity.

Skala beach, Kefalonia

Skala beach, KefaloniaThe Greek Islands also rate highly when it comes to fabulous beaches and many have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for their cleanliness. Kefalonia, inspiration and setting for the film and book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, has more than its fair share of sparkling sands. Skala beach is a sun-worshippers favourite, with its Blue Flag Status, water sports galore and shallow waters, it’s great for families, couples and groups.

Curonian Spit, Lithuania

Curonian Spit, LithuaniaOne of Europe’s more unlikely beach destinations is Lithuania’s Curonian Spit. Reached by a ferry crossing from the port of Klaipeda, it’s perfect for those in search of tranquillity. The calm waters are perfect for swimming and there are numerous cafes nearby when you’re in need of some refreshment. Active travellers may wish to hire a bike from the fishing village of Nida and explore the coast in search of their own spot of beach paradise.

The UK is bursting with unique and fascinating cities whose culture and heritage provide a wealth of theatrical delights. Whether you’re mad about musicals, besotted with ballet, or just a fan of the theatre in general, we take a look at some of the best UK city break destinations for fans of the performing arts.

West End

Ambassadors Theatre London West EndHome to some of the biggest and best commercial theatres in the country, London is the obvious choice for fans of the stage. Theatreland comprises over forty venues between The Strand and Kingsway, plus there are plenty more prestigious playhouses beyond these boundaries, including The Old Vic and The Barbican. Most West End theatres boast perfectly-preserved Victorian facades and intricately-detailed interiors. Popular long-running shows include Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Make your way to the birthplace of the bard for a truly Shakespearean experience. You can explore the various dwellings of the playwright and his family, many of which provide an intriguing insight into Tudor life. The Royal Shakespeare Company has two prestigious theatres here, both of which offer tours, or you can enjoy a pre-theatre meal overlooking the meandering river. 2012 is set to be an exciting year, with a jam-packed programme of plays from the great man’s body of work, all of which have a contemporary twist or a multi-cultural perspective.

Edinburgh

A metropolis of Georgian grandeur and medieval alleyways, Edinburgh is ideal for a cultural excursion — even if just for the impressive architecture and spectacular skylines — and the city’s theatres are just as grand as their surroundings. The Festival Theatre is the largest performance venue in Scotland, a gleaming glass-fronted building that’s home to the Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera. Check out the exquisite Edwardian King’s Theatre for touring dramas, or The Traverse Theatre for homegrown contemporary plays. Serious theatre-lovers should not miss the Edinburgh Festival in August, when the city becomes a vibrant hub of drama, comedy and the arts.

Glasgow

A lively and cosmopolitan destination, Glasgow is a nerve centre of cultural activity, with a varied range of venues for all theatrical tastes. From sumptuous Victorian auditoriums like the Theatre Royal to cutting-edge arts venues like the CCA, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to booking a show. History fans must not miss a trip to The King’s Theatre, designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham, and music-lovers should head to the Royal Concert Hall, home to some of the finest musical performances in the world.

Cardiff

The Welsh capital is a lively nucleus of arty happenings, with venues that span the spectrum of arts and culture. The Wales Millennium Centre is at the forefront; a stunning example of modern design and home to the Welsh National Opera and the best of Welsh arts. Beyond the waterfront there’s the majestic New Theatre, or St David’s Hall for classical concerts. The Chapter Arts Centre is a great place to rub shoulders with arty-types; a lively complex of theatres, cafes and bars.

Oxford

Famed for its stunning architecture, the City of Dreaming Spires offers an eclectic mix of the ancient and the modern. Don’t miss outdoor productions in the summer months at the Creation Theatre, plus there are coffee concerts on Sundays at the Holywell Music Room Chamber Music Hall. For big name shows, check out The New Theatre or The Oxford Playhouse, or head to The Sheldonian Theatre — an architectural gem designed by Christopher Wren, which hosts an exciting programme of orchestral performances.

Birmingham

This vibrant, stylish city offers a wealth of theatrical venues, catering for all tastes. The Birmingham Hippodrome hosts hit musicals and pantomime plus opera and ballet, selling more seats each year than any other British theatre. The Alexandra is an exquisite Edwardian venue hosting a range of drama and concerts, whereas the Birmingham Repertory Theatre stages innovative new plays and world premiere shows. Alternatively, check out The Old Rep, The Crescent, The Drum, The Mixing Bowl Theatre or The Old Joint Stock Theatre, which doubles as a pub.

Brighton

Alongside lively nightlife and seaside glamour, Brighton offers plenty in the way of theatre and entertainment. The Brighton Theatre Royal is a prestigious Grade II listed building in the heart of the cultural quarter. For side-splitting laughs, try Komedia in the North Lanes, or for something a bit different, head to Voodoo Vaudeville at The Warren — a crazy mix of puppets, burlesque, circus and rock. For live music, Brighton Dome Concert Hall has an excellent programme of shows throughout the year.

Liverpool

Steeped in maritime history and musical heritage, Liverpool is the perfect city break destination. The Everyman and Playhouse Theatres offer a range of plays for all tastes, including the acclaimed ‘Made in Liverpool’ series. The Empire is home to big budget musicals, while The Unity Theatre stages independent dramas. For a spot of comedy, try Rawhide at The Royal Court Theatre, or if you prefer classical music, don’t miss the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Bristol

Renowned for its buzzing culture and nightlife, Bristol is the cultural hub of the South West. The city is home to Arnolfini, one of Europe’s leading contemporary arts centres, offering a programme of ground-breaking and innovative work. The Hippodrome is known for its musicals, ballet and opera, or alternatively there’s the Bristol Old Vic for regional plays with worldwide acclaim. Music lovers must see Bristol’s largest concert venue Colston Hall, regularly hosting performances by big names in the music world.

These great theatre ideas have been provided by Show and Stay, the theatre break specialists.

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