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Strictly Come Dancing’s Dianne Buswell has travelled to many destinations with P&O Cruises, and while she loves being at sea, she also loves to watch traditional dancing in her favourite Spanish cities.
‘Cádiz is an amazing place to watch flamenco dancing,’ she says.
Flamenco is Andalusia’s living history and has been recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. To experience the cante (songs), baile (dance) and toque (music) of such a remarkable artform, is to witness the creative fusion of southern Spain’s cultural past and present. You’ll often be able to catch an impromptu performance – a riot of colour and passion - on the streets of the old town while sitting at a buzzy terrace bar. For the chance to see live flamenco and enjoy a memorable lunch, visit Taberna El Marques de Cádiz. Decorated with photography and memorabilia, this authentic 18th-century tavern is evocative of traditional flamenco gatherings.
In the Canary Islands, you’ll marvel at many natural wonders as you explore the wild interiors and coastlines. However, one of the finest shows is found offshore in the Atlantic deep. The waters around the Canary Islands teem with marine life and are home to at least 20 of the world’s 90 known species of ceteans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). The Teno-Rasca Marine Reserve off Tenerife’s west coast is a designated Special Conservation Zone and is one of Europe’s most important marine conservation areas. The mild climate, consistent water temperatures and deep seafloors are a safe haven for Bottlenose dolphins and Pilot whales all year round and, depending on the time of year, you may also spot Humpback whales, Fin whales, Bryde’s whales, Sperm whales and a wide variety of other dolphins. Orca have also been known to make a rare appearance. To observe these astonishing mammals in their natural habitat, book a boat trip with trusted guides who know the waters and respect the sea creatures.
Italy is the birthplace of opera and a trip to an Italian city wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of these historic houses to witness the emotional roller-coaster that is an opera performance. Extraordinary costumes and sets are just as impressive as the singers who take to the stage, and while many of the classic Italian operas are full of pathos and tragedy, there are some excellent comedies for all the family to enjoy. If you don’t manage to time your visit with a performance, then a visit to the houses themselves could prove just as entertaining. The largest of them all is in Palermo, Sicily. Aptly named Teattro Massimo (maximum theatre in Italian), it is said to have the best acoustics of all the European opera houses. You may even recognise it from the final scene of The Godfather film. Naples is the oldest operating public opera in Europe, and one of the most beautiful. Look up to see an incredible fresco of Apollo and his muses on the ceiling, while Genoa’s Theatro Carlo Felice shows the classics, from Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca and Madame Butterfly.
Come rain or shine and even snow, Stavanger is a delight at any time of year, particularly when seen from on high. Some of Norway’s most stunning scenery can be viewed from the flat-topped Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen – a head-spinning 600m above Lysefjorden, the deep blue waterway below. The gateway to Norway’s spectacularly scenic fjordland, Stavanger is known as the 'Cradle of the Vikings': it’s all too easy to imagine yourself as a Viking warrior surveying the land from this incredible spot. Lonely Planet once named this the world’s most breathtaking viewing platform and it’s not hard to see why. The chance to stand back and survey these impressive vistas is one not to be missed.
Perched on the waterfront at Hamburg’s Elbe River, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall cuts a dramatic shape against the cityscape with its wave-like glass design – or do you see a cruise ship? The Elphie as it’s affectionately known to locals stages a kaleidoscope of musical performances including intimate chamber music, jazz and family concerts year round, as well as musical workshops for all ages. If you’re lucky enough to be in port in September you’re in for a real treat, as the Reeperbahn Festival welcomes the most thrilling international bands and performers to the Elphie’s Grand Hall. If show schedules don’t match your itinerary then the public viewing gallery the Plaza is just as exciting with its 360° view of the city and the harbour, 37m above ground level.
Dominicans need little excuse to celebrate the swaying beats of Creole music and break out in song and dance. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of their festivals, you’ll get a fun-filled blast of Dominica’s culture and heritage as the streets come alive with music, colour and events for all to enjoy. Independence Celebrations run from October through November, preceded by a week-long fiesta of music, Creole in the Park. Independence celebrations conclude with The World Creole Music Festival, a three-day musical extravaganza over the last weekend of October. The biggie all over the Caribbean is Carnival, hosted in the month before Ash Wednesday. Known in Dominica as Mas Domnik or ‘Real Mas’, it draws on traditions of the past. Prepare for a heady mix of street parades, village feasts, local pageants, calypso music, activities and competitions leading up to the grand finale, an epic two-day street jump-up (street party).
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