Monthly Archives: May 2015

Astoria Music Festival – A Premium Musical Event in Portland, Oregon

Portland plays host to numerous colourful events, where music buffs get the chance to enjoy a variety of musical performances. Astoria Music Festival is one such event. Into its 13th year, this


festival is scheduled to be held from 13th to 28th June, 2015. This notable summer event is among the biggest music celebrations in Oregon and features numerous highlights and surprises for music aficionados. Let’s check out a few of them.

Gala Opening – All Beethoven

On 13th June, Liberty Theatre will host this gala event where the melodies of Beethoven, played by violinist and concert master of Los Angeles Philharmonic, Martin Chalifour, are sure to captivate your senses. This beguiling performance will be followed by a symphony.

Chamber Music Workshop

This 5-day workshop will begin on 24th June and allow you to participate in intensive coaching offered by the globally famous musicians, Cary Lewis and ENSO Quartet. The participants will also get to rehearse for ‘the Concert for Family and Friends’ as well as the Closing Ceremony. The tuition fee of the workshop includes admission to the festival events and entry to the chamber music concert where the workshop coaches perform.

Collaborative Keyboard Apprentice Program

This apprentice program is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for keyboard players to assist the chamber music preparation and performances by notable artists. Besides, they will get to help the participants of the Vocal Apprentice Program in rehearsals. Musicians selected for this apprentice programme are entitled to full scholarship on tuition fee.

Grand Finale – Donizetti’s MARIA STUARDA (Mary, Queen of Scots)

Scheduled for 28th June at Liberty Theatre, this concert portrays a fascinating political story, which features famous characters such as Queen Elizabeth I, Duke of Leicester, Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Cecil to name a few. The music is played by Astoria Festival Orchestra, Festival Chorus and Apprentice Vocal Artists.

Important Things Holidaymakers Need To Know before Visiting the Seychelles

seychellessSo you’ve finally decided to explore the astounding charms of the Seychelles. However, before you finalise your itinerary, it’s imperative to know certain things about the island nation for planning a perfect holiday. Here, we have presented a short travel guide for people planning to visit the Seychelles.

When to Go

seychellesBlessed with a year-round warm, tropical climate, the Seychelles can be visited any time of the year. The temperatures usually range from 24°C to 32°C, with no extreme winters or summers. The scenery is breathtaking all year-round, but if you plan to try scuba-diving or snorkelling in Seychelles, then the best time to visit would be the months of April to May and October to December. The water temperature during these seasons reaches up to 29°C, while the visibility remains above 30 meters.

How to Go

With a number of reputed airlines including Air Seychelles operating regular flights (indirect) between London Heathrow and Mahé (the main island of Seychelles), reaching this Indian Ocean destination is no hassle for Britons. Besides, British passport holders don’t need visas to visit the Seychelles. The passport must be valid for the proposed duration of the stay.

Things to Keep in Mind

  1. The local language is Seychellois Creole. However, English and French are also widely spoken.
  2. The Seychelles is one of the safest travel destinations. The people are warm and friendly. However, it’s good to stay vigilant and take care of one’s belongings, especially at crowded places. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  3. The local currency is Seychelles Rupees. One British Pound is equal to around 22 Seychelles Rupees.
  4.  Mahé is the national capital of the Seychelles and boasts most facilities typical of a big city, including an international airport, plenty of hotels, restaurants, bank ATMs, car rentals and more.

Popular options for getting around the island of Mahé include buses, cabs and taxis. To travel from one island to the other, tourists can take a ferry. Self drive cars are also available for hire. However, make sure that you are experienced in driving on the narrow and winding mountainous roads.

Tongariro National Park – Attractions and Some Handy Tips

Tongariro National Park is one of the few places that have dual World Heritage Site status. UNESCO considered Maori’s fascinating cultural and spiritual elements as well as the region’s breathtaking volcanic features equally worthy of the title. The park has some of the most contrasting and dramatic landscapes across New Zealand.

Highlights of the Park

Tongariro’s prime attractions can be classified under three categories – the spectacular volcanoes, incredible flora and fauna, and the fascinating history and culture.

The park has three andesitic volcanoes named as Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. If you have a love for skiing, you must visit Mt Ruapehu. Boasting two of the largest ski fields in New Zealand, Mt Ruapehu offers gorgeous views. Mt Tongariro is famous for the iconic Tongariro Alpine Crossing tracks. Mt. Ngauruhoe is the youngest and the most active volcano amongst the three.

When it comes to flora and fauna, there is a bewildering variety to see. Endangered birds like Whio, alpine plants, mountain beech forests and a wide variety of flowers are to be found at the park. Some of flowers that you may look forward to are sundews, orchids, and mistletoes to name just a few.

Maori culture and the history of the park is another draw among the holidaymakers. It is said that the Maoris gifted Tongariro National Park to the country. Visitors can explore the fascinating Maori way of life by visiting their villages and sampling tantalising tribal cuisines.

Important things to know

  • Before you book tickets, check the latest weather alerts.
  • Tongariro National Park is a place of both natural and cultural importance. Plan your trip in the most eco-friendly way possible.
  • Being a mountain area, avalanches are not uncommon here. Though not frequent, Avalanches may occur during any season.
  • Wildfires can have devastating effects. Call 111 if you see a wildfire.

Tours and Cruises to Explore Diverse Facets of Muscat, Oman

Muscat is widely known for its centuries-old Arabian charm as well as captivating natural attractions and world-class hospitality. Tour operators in the Omani capital offer an array of tours and cruises to help tourists explore various facets of the city. We have selected the most popular tours and cruises that cover major attractions in and around Muscat. Choose the ones that best suit your plans.

Half Day City Tour

omanThis is perhaps the most common tour in Muscat. Usually, such tours span both modern and ancient sights. Muttrah Souk, Grand Mosque, Bait Al Zubair Museum and Al Alam Palace are among the integral parts of these guided tours. Buy spices and perfumes at Muttrah Souk, take a look at the world’s second largest hand-woven carpet at Grand Mosque and explore the extensive collection of cultural artefacts at Bait Al Zubair Museum. Nature buffs must opt for the tours that offer a visit to Hajjar Mountains and the harbour’s forts.

Wahiba Sands Day Tour

Wahiba Sands makes for an impressive day trip from Muscat, especially for the ones who crave adventure. Sit in a 4×4 vehicle to enjoy a bone jarring drive amidst towering sand dunes. Besides the thrilling dune bashing experience, the tour offers one the chance to experience Bedouin culture and lifestyle at Bedouin hamlets. Set aside a few moments to admire the beguiling aura of the arid desert. Lunch is complimentary but you may need to pay for soft drinks.

Dhow Sea Cruise

The evening trip on a traditional Arabian Sailing ship, known as dhow, is sure to add a differentiating touch to your holidays in Muscat. Board a dhow and watch the sun set behind the hills and observe the stunning spectacle of how the rays of the setting sun bathe historical structures in a soft light. The cruise starts from Marina Bander Al Rowdha, Muscat and will pass by notable attractions such as twin Portuguese forts, Al Alam Palace and the grand Al Bustan Palace Hotel. All tour operators do not offer complimentary dinner or snacks. Also, the timing and duration of the cruise depend on the weather conditions.

Liveaboard Trips and More from the Maldives

A liveaboard trip is a lovely way to spice up your holidays in the Maldives and many visitors are waking up to the charm of booking such trips around the archipelago. Simply put, liveaboard trips are mini cruises, which take guests on an island-hopping spree and offer a first rate diving experience. This way, one gets to enjoy almost all the facets of this delightful island nation.

Popular Liveaboard Trip Routes

Popular routes for liveaboard trips lie along the colourful atolls surrounding the capital city of Malé, with the Ari atoll being a pretty famous one. A couple of other popular trips are to the Rasdhoo Atoll and Baa Atoll. Travellers looking for long distance liveaboard trips may sign up for a voyage to the recently formed Huvadhoo atoll to the far South or the Haa-Alifu atoll to the far North of the island.

Best Time to Go….

maldivesThe best time to enjoy liveaboard trips in the Maldives is between November and April as the weather is quite pleasant. The prices are high during this period but one also gets to enjoy various other delightful activities.

Top Dive and Snorkel Spots

  • Kudarah Thila (South Ari Atoll) and 5 Rocks for watching incredible coral formations and unique species of fish
  • Cocoa Corner (South Malé Atoll) and Guraidhoo Kandu for exciting drifts and watching sharks and rays
  • Fotteyo (Felidhoo Atoll) and Dhiga Thila for colourful soft corals and near-vertical drop-off diving
  • Madhivaaru Rangali (Ari Atoll) and Lankan Caves (North Malé) for snorkelling

Other Sights and Sounds….

maldivessBesides a celebrated diving, surfing and snorkelling scene, the Maldives has many other charms. The capital city of Malé alone spoils one for choice with wonderful attractions such as Sultan’s Park, Grand Friday Mosque, Fish Market, National Museum and the Graveyard. The ones looking for more adventurous pursuits may try out canoeing and wakeboarding.

June Holidays in Western Cape: Top Three Events for Wine Lovers

In June 2015, the Western Cape will host some of the most notable wine festivals in South Africa. Let’s check out three of them.

Wacky Wine Weekend

wineThis regional event is one of the biggest wine festivals in the Western Cape. Visit the town of Robertson from 04th to 07th June, 2015 to enjoy the myriad offerings of this event. Kranskop Wines, Arabella Wines, Excelsior Estate and De Wetshof Estate are some of the venues, where you will get to enjoy a variety of wines and savour delicious food. Besides food and wine, this festival also features an impressive range of activities for families as well as adventurers. During the weekend, you will also get an opportunity to participate in interesting and unique competitions like ‘longest drive blind folded’ and ‘longest drive standing on one leg.’

Taste of the Helderberg

Helderberg, a popular South African wine region, hosts the ‘Taste of Helderberg’ event annually. At the festival, visitors get an opportunity to sample the best of wines coupled with scrummy local dishes. In 2015, NH Lord Charles Hotel will be the venue for this event, which is scheduled on 11th June. Limited tickets are available for the show, book early; guests will get complimentary wine glasses with tickets.

Calitzdorp Port & Wine Festival

Generally, tourists visit Calitzdorp, the Port Capital of South Africa, to peep into the rich past of Western Cape; but on 13th and 14th June 2015, Calitzdorp is going to be a sought-after venue among wine connoisseurs. During these two days, the historical town will host the Calitzdorp Port & Wine Festival, where you can enjoy a variety of interesting activities and wine tasting sessions. Guided tours through the Village Venue, Gourmet Street Food Market, Food Demonstrations by Celebrity Chefs and Barn Dance are some of the major highlights of this wine festival.

Portland’s Top Three Annual Events in the Month of June

Despite being the largest city in the state of Oregon, Portland has that small-town feel to it, which appeals to a large number of tourists yearning to experience a rather laidback holiday. The events and festivals, hosted by the city, further enhance its charisma. If you are in Portland in June 2015, there are numerous events you can add to your travel plan. Whether you are travelling with friends or family, you will easily find a suitable event that can be enjoyed by all. Let’s check out a few of the most prominent ones.

Portland by Razvan Orendovici/ CC BY

Portland by Razvan Orendovici/ CC BY

Festival of Flowers

This two-week festival will commence on 29th May at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Visit the square in the heart of the downtown to admire the way colourful flowers are used to create impressive shapes and designs. This annual event is one of the major festivals in Portland and this year’s highlight is the design called Doughnut Trip.

Scandinavian Festival

Officially known as Portland Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, this annual festival celebrates the Summer Solstice in the traditional Scandinavian style.The 87th edition of this cultural extravaganza is scheduled to take place at Oaks Park on 13th June. Visit with your family and have a great time dancing to the tunes of traditional music, savouring delicious Scandinavian dishes and participating in a variety of games.

Astoria Music Festival

Music lovers visiting Portland in June must consider adding this festival to their schedule. From 13th to 28th June, you will get an opportunity to enjoy the 13th edition of this prominent summer event, to be held in Astoria. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Verdi’s Otello, and Wagner’s Die Walküre are some of the popular acts that you can enjoy here. Besides, classical chamber music and orchestral works by Sibelius and Beethoven are sure to catch the attention of ardent fans.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival 2015 – World’s Largest Jazz Festival is here!!

You simply cannot afford to miss the Montreal International Jazz Festival if you love this genre of music. Being the largest jazz festival in the world, it’s like Mecca for jazz fans. This year round, hundreds of renowned artists from all across the world will come together to treat over two million jazz fans.  There will be as many as 1000 concerts and related events, including the much sought-after outdoor performances. Here is a quick look at the highlights.

A Peek into the 2015 Line-up


Like its previous edition, the Montreal International Jazz Festival 2015 is packed with iconic artists. Speaking of iconic, let us delight you by announcing that the 2015 line-up features Dee Dee Bridgewater. The three-time Grammy winning, UN ambassador, radio host is the queen of jazz music. Then we have Wayne Shorter, the standard-setter jazz saxophonist and composer; Al Di Meola, the guitar magician; and Jamie Cullum, the charmer. Bebel Gilberto, daughter of the legendary Joao Gilberto, will also be there. And guess who else is making headlines this year? Huey Lewis! If the music of the Eighties has a special place in your heart, don’t miss this performance. Huey Lewis and the News will perform on 1st July at Place des Arts’ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. For a detailed look at the line-up, you can visit the website


26th June to 5th July, 2015


Montréal – one of the loveliest cities in Québec province, Canada.

Important Information

  • The first aid stations are at De Bleury Street, south of De Maisonneuve Boulevard and Clark Street, at the corner of De Montigny Street.
  • If you misplace your belongings, contact L’Équipe Spectra at 514 288-1971 or email objetstrouves@equipespectra.
  • Information KIOSKs are conveniently located at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Ste. Catherine, and on the Place des Arts esplanade.
  • Guests with limited mobility will have access to a specially designated area near the main stage on the Place des Festivals.

The Highlights of Summerfest 2015 – World’s Largest Music Festival

Drawing thousands of fans from around the world each year, Summerfest is the record-holder of ‘The Largest Music Festival’ by Guinness World Records.Summerfest is known for its hot line-up of performers.  Read on to check out the highlights for 2015.


Summerfest 2015 is an 11-day event. The first part will kick off on 24th June and go on till 28th June. After a break of single day, the second part will start on 30th July and continue till 5th July.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Highlights of 2015

Live music. Cold beer. Great food. And intoxicating music all around. With an impressive line-up (as always), the Summerfest 2015 is all set to entertain its massive audience. Over 800 acts will be played out across 11 stages.

Summerfest  by Robert Bejil/ CC       BY

Summerfest by Robert Bejil/ CC BY

The performances are diverse and include everything from rock and country to R&B, pop, and reggae headliners. Music is best enjoyed with food here. At Summerfest 2015, more than 45 food and beverages vendors will ensure that fest-goers have a wide array choice. Miller Lite is the Official Beer of the Summerfest. If you are a beer drinker, you would love the cold beer served here.

The Incredible Marcus Amphitheatre

Marcus Amphitheatre is the hottest stage at the Summerfest. Some of the biggest names in the music world perform on this stage in front of a huge crowd. This 23,000-seat amphitheatre hosts grand performances and provides the best of sound, lighting, and overall ambience. Besides, Marcus Amphitheatre also features stunning views of Lake Michigan and Henry Maier Park.

Highlights of the Line-up

The 2015 line-up is huge and impressive and boasts big names. Some of the most popular performers, who will unleash their magic at the Marcus Amphitheatre, are Linkin Park, Kendrick Lamar with Schoolboy Q, Zack Brown Band, and Kings of Leon. At the Ground Stage of Summerfest 2015, the prominent performers include Jane’s Addiction, The Flaming Lips, Public Enemy, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Nas.

Travel Trolley Offers Cashback Rewards

Travel Trolley Offers Cashback Rewards – Earn Money On Flight and Holiday Bookings!

quidco-offersNow earn cashback rewards with flight and hotel bookings with Travel Trolley. The online travel agency has partnered with Quidco, one of the UK’s leading cashback rewards platforms, to launch exclusive cashback deals for you.

Cashback deals are available on standalone flight and hotel bookings as well as holiday packages (hotel + flight). You can earn up to £30 in cashback under the offer.

Travel Trolley’s cashback vouchers are available for a limited period. You need to hurry up to earn your cashback rewards; the deal expires on 17th May, 2015. Visit and become a member of the website by signing up. Simply type in ‘Travel Trolley’ in the search box to access the cashback deals promoted by Travel Trolley.