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Art and Culture Holidays: Top Destinations

Planning Your Cultural Holidays

Whether you are looking to discover the world's finest art, the most beautiful architecture, new exciting cuisines, groundbreaking theatre, or music that moves you, a cultural holiday expands the mind and makes a lasting impression. From family cultural holidays to group adventures or a romantic couples city break packed with culture, there are many excellent options.

The Best Destinations for a Cultural Holiday

It's not easy choosing a cultural destination, with so many options out there. Narrowing it down to the best for art, best for classical music, and best for diverse culture, here are four of the leading destinations for a cultural holiday.

  • 1. Florence

    As the birthplace of the Renaissance, a cultural explosion that pulled Europe into the modern era, there are few places on Earth as culturally significant as Florence, Italy. Home to some of the world's top art galleries, Florence (Firenze) is the perfect destination for art lovers. Discover the works of Botticelli, da Vinci, and Caravaggio at the Uffizi, Michelangelo's David at the Galleria del Accademia, and his Bacchus at the Bargello National Museum. Stroll the streets to admire Romanesque, Renaissance, and Mannerist architecture.

  • 2. Vienna

    The world's leading destination for classical music and opera, Vienna is the perfect place for fans of high-brow culture. Listen to the music of Austrian composers such as Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, and Haydn at the Vienna Philharmonic or the Vienna Opera House. Indulge in sachertorte or bundt cake at one of Vienna's famous coffee houses in the afternoon, and during the evening, catch a stage performance at the unfeasibly grand Burgtheater.

  • 3. New York

    From the stages of Broadway to the art of MoMA, one of the world's top museums for modern art, culture abounds in every corner of New York. The city's rich and varied culture has been moulded through waves of immigration, including those of Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Hispanic descent, as well as a significant African-American population. Travel out of Manhattan to discover the other side of New York in the vibrant boroughs of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. As the birthplace of many musical genres, including swing, hip-hop, disco, doo-wop, roots revival folk, urban soul, and funk, no New York trip is complete without some live music and dancing.

  • 4. London

    The UK capital is a melting pot of culture, thanks in part to its long history as a diverse, cosmopolitan city. From the fine art of the National Gallery to the modern art of the Tate Modern and the truly modern urban street art found all over the city, you'll find visual art to suit your tastes. Catch a West End show after enjoying afternoon tea in one of Mayfair's swanky hotels, discover global historic artefacts at the British Museum, and experience European LGBT culture in Soho. Head to Camden, Brixton, and Shoreditch to discover London's alternative and youthful heartbeats and to sample an array of global streetfood.

 

These bands went on to become megastars, but it all had to start somewhere—and first gigs don’t always go as planned. Let’s go back in time and find out what went down at the first ever gigs of some of the biggest musical legends.

1960 – The Beatles

the beatles first concert

Although many believe their first gig was in the famous ‘Cavern,’ The gang of four played first in Hamburg as the ‘Beatles.’1 On their arrival they played the first of 48 gigs at the Indra Club. Tired and hungry, the Beatles played for four-and-a-half hours huddled together.

To makes things worse, a neighbor complained about the racket, and the band was forced to turn down their amplifiers.2

The venue: Indra Club, Große Freiheit 64, 22767 Hamburg, Germany

1998 – Libertines

libertines first concert

Setting the standard for a career that can only be described as chaotic, the troubled foursome played their first gig in Carl Barat and Pete Doherty’s basement apartment.3

The debauched shindig was halted suddenly halfway through when the electricity ran out. To get the music going again, a hat was passed around to collect coins for the meter.4

The venue: The Delaney Mansions, basement of 236 Camden Rd, London, UK

1983 – The Smiths

the smiths first concert

Manchester in the 80s was grey and industrial, not a place where you would expect to find a bunch of guys in shirts making their live debut. But The Smiths did just that at the now legendary Hacienda nightclub in 1983.

Morrissey showered the shocked audience with confetti and then yodelled with his legs in the air.5

The venue: The Haçienda, 15 Whitworth St W, Manchester, UK

1986 – The Pixies

the pixies first gig

Alt-Rock legends The Pixies have been around the block a few times, but it all started in their home city of Boston in 1986 at the long-defunct club Jack’s.

They played to a tiny audience of family and friends and were hilariously mis-billed as “Puxies.”6

The venue: Jack’s Lounge, 952 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

1973 – AC/DC

acdc first gig

On New Year’s Eve 1973, heavy rock staples AC/DC played their first ever show at the now-defunct Chequers Nightclub in Sydney.

Their wild set was way too to loud for the aging club manager, who cut the power every 20 minutes to get some respite.7

The venue: Chequers Nightclub, 79 Goulburn Street, Sydney, Australia

2001 – Sébastien Tellier

stephane tellier concert

In 2001, the romantic multi-instrumentalist Sébastien Tellier began his touring career by opening for chillout pop heroes Air in front of a 3000-strong audience.

He didn’t exactly get off to the best start; his guitar amplifier exploded during the first song.8

The venue: Deep Ellum Live, 2727 Canton St, Dallas, Texas, USA

1985 – Depeche Mode

depeche mode concert

In 1985, the band that would become synth pop mega stars, Depeche Mode, started rehearsing at this school in Basildon, Essex.

Their first public performance was also here, delivered to an audience of 9-year-olds who were obsessed with the futuristic synthesizers and wouldn’t stop fiddling with buttons.9

The venue: Woodlands School, Takely End, Basildon, Essex, UK

From exploding amplifiers to power cuts, anything can happen at first gigs. Now you know what happened and where, why not visit the spots where history was made?

Footnotes

1 Lewisohn, Mark (1992). ttps://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Complete_Beatles_Chronicle.html?id=7D1mRwAACAAJ&redir_esc=y
2 Beatles Bible (2017). https://www.beatlesbible.com/1960/08/17/live-indra-club-hamburg/
3 Myers, Ben (2012). https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/oct/12/the-libertines-interview-doherty-barat
4 Denham, Jess (2016) http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/remembering-the-gloriously-horrendous-first-gigs-of-the-worlds-biggest-bands-a6881231.html. independent.co.uk
5 Simpson, Dave (2012). https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/jan/23/how-we-made-smiths-first-gig
6 Sullivan, Jim (2017). http://www.wbur.org/artery/2017/05/19/pixies-come-home-to-boston
7 Cashmere, Paul (2017). http://www.vintagevinylnews.com/2013/12/flashback-acdc-played-first-live-show.html
8 Barcode (2013). http://www.barcodezine.com
9 Depeche Mode Live (2017). https://www.depechemode-live.com/wiki/1980/1981_background_info

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