Tag: cultural tourism

How to spend a cultural weekend in Galway, Ireland

I’m just back from a weekend in Galway, the southern Irish city that will be next year’s European Capital of Culture.

The west-coast city has always been something of a cultural hub with its annual summer arts festival. It’s also known, of course, for its traditional pubs [pictured above] and hospitality.

But, as I found over a couple of days in the city, the whole cultural regeneration associated with the European title comes at an interesting time for a place outside of the Westminster-Brexit bubble.

As Bridgette Brew, Head of Tourism for Galway 2020, told me:

“Galway has always had a freedom of mindset, an ability to see a different perspective. It comes from our hinterland looking out to The Atlantic.”

From the Wild Atlantic Way coastal driving route to an interesting take on the burgeoning slow-food scene via a Sunday morning stroll with Galway Food Tours, the weekend offered me plenty of new angles on the familiar story of the illusive Irish craic.

Read the full story in Telegraph Travel soon and look out for other stories over the next few months.

Read more:

Galway2020

Galway Food Tours

Five great reasons why Montpellier is the best city break this summer

I’ve got form with Montpellier, where I spent an early summer visit on assignment for a couple of publications.

I remembered it from student days as my favourite French city, but then had a mixed experience on a more recent visit.

I was back in early July on a group press trip with tourism officials for the opening of the city’s new contemporary art museum, MOCO.

The city has certainly grown, expanding into new districts towards the beach and bustling with language-exchange students.

I still love the Old Town with its cobblestone backstreets and labyrinthine passageways. But I was less grabbed by some of the modernist architecture of somewhat soulless outer districts.

Here’s a taster of my story:

The opening of the art museum, Montpellier Contemporary (MOCO) is the latest development in a city embracing art. There was always a flirtation with street art and a regular summer arts festival but MOCO has really put the city on the map as a hub for all things conceptual.

I finally feel like I’ve got a better sense of what makes Montpellier tick.

Just in time to recommend some places to visit, such as the new Marché du Lez [pictured above], to my daughter, who is due to visit on a school exchange next Easter.

Read my Rough Guide feature.

Read the Independent Travel article.

How to see Durham in a new light

Recognise the image above?

It’s the cathedral city of Durham, host of the bi-annual Lumiere Festival.

The UK’s largest outdoor light festival returns in November 2019, celebrating its tenth anniversary of transforming the historic city into a nocturnal art trail.

I was there this week, writing a series of articles for a paid-content supplement in The Times.

My stories take a cultural angle to mark the tenth anniversary of the festival — read more on December 29.

It was also my last job before signing off for the Christmas break. And a reminder why Sir Walter Scott was moved by a visit to the city to pen these festive words:

Grey towers of Durham! Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles.

Why 2019 is the best time to discover Ruskin’s Cumbria

I started the year with an assignment in the Lake District and I was back this weekend for probably my last freelance job of 2018 — a feature for Discover Britain magazine.

This time it was Coniston water [pictured above] and a visit to Brantwood for a preview of events to mark the bicentenary of the birth of John Ruskin in 2019.

Ruskin was a hugely influential figure but has fallen out of fashion compared to the Romantic Poets.

Next year is a chance to put his legacy back on the map of the Cumbrian fells.

Inspiring landscape

While the Romantics were busy crafting purple prose about the beauty of the Lakes, a new movement of artists was also discovering Cumbria.

JMW Turner, Gainsborough and, later, Constable all journeyed north in search of those quintessentially brooding Lakeland vistas.

Most importantly, it is the Victorian polymath, John Ruskin, who picked up the mantle and took the Romantic Movement forward to a new era.

Lakeland home

When Ruskin moved to Brantwood House, the elegant, stately home on the peaceful eastern shore of Coniston Water, the Lakes Poets had waned.

Wordsworth had become increasingly disillusioned with what he saw as the invading hordes and Coleridge, a victim of ill health and opium addiction, had settled into a steady decline.

But Ruskin, the artist, writer and social reformer, took their ideas, blending them with his patronage of Turner and his friendship with Charles Darwin.

His ideas would inspire a new generation of thinkers, writers and activists, Ghandi and Tolstoy amongst them.

Brantwood Director, Howard Hull, explains:

Ruskin evolved the ideas of the Romantics. His vital role was taking the notion of nature as an inspiration to the human spirit and reconciling it with the scientific world.”

Accommodation at Badger’s Cottage, Coniston, provided via The Coppermines & Lakes Cottages Ltd.