Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

A whirling and colorful kaleidoscope of music, dance and display set against the world famous backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favorite for over 60 years!

Against the spectacular backdrop of Scotland's top tourist attraction, performers from four continents, including participants from as far afield as South Africa and South America, together with the finest modern production technology, are set to provide an abundance of matchless entertainment at next year's Tattoo (5-27 August) on the floodlit esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.

The show is always fresh, exciting and alive. Performers from over 40 countries have presented here, delivering a new and unique show every time. Types of performances range from exciting, with daredevil motorcycles at top speed and the breathtaking re-enactment of battles, to exotic, with Turkish music or Chinese dancers; or simply the best of Scottish, with Scottish Highland dancers wheeling and swirling to a fiddle orchestra. This years action packed program features exciting performances from the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Highland Dancing, the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the stirring music of the world-famous Massed Pipes and Drums. An international flavor will be added by, amongst others, a Dutch Mounted Bicycle Band and South Africa’s Navy Band.

You are not going to want to miss this once in a lifetime experience. With the show generally selling out early, Celtic Tours is pleased to announce the extended availability of our Edinburgh Military Tattoo packages. With three vacation packages to choose from, we offer plenty of opportunity to explore Scotland and its famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Edinburgh Festivals

There are 7 festivals that run throughout the Edinburgh summer season. Kicking off with the Edinburgh International Film Festival and finishing off with the Edinburgh Mela and the International Festival fireworks, when you choose to visit will provide you with a vastly different experience. Dates for the 2011 festival season are as follows:

Edinburgh International Film Festival- 15-26 June 2011

Born alongside Edinburgh’s International Festival in 1947, EIFF was one of the world’s first international film festivals, and helped to define the type of event that has since become so pivotal to film culture in nations all over the world.

Edinburgh Art Festival- 4 August - 4 September 2011 * provisional dates
Edinburgh Art Festival is Scotland’s largest annual festival of visual art and has something for everyone. Established in 2004, the Festival works in partnership with the city’s artists, galleries, museums and visual art spaces to present the best, exciting and most intriguing in visual arts practice.

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival- 22 July- 31 July 2011
Spanning the earliest jazz forms to the thriving creativity of today, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival presents the UK’s biggest jazz event.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo- 5th- 27th August 2011
A whirling and colorful kaleidoscope of music, dance and display set against the world famous backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favorite for over 60 years!

Edinburgh Festival Fringe- 5th -29th August 2011
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city.

Edinburgh International Festival- 12th August- 4th September 2011
Every August, the Edinburgh International Festival transforms one of the world's most beautiful cities, presenting three exhilarating weeks of the finest creators and performers from the worlds of the arts - for everyone.

Edinburgh International Book Festival- 13-29th August 2011
The Edinburgh International Book Festival began in 1983 and is now a key event in the August Festival season, celebrated annually in Scotland's capital city and is the largest public celebration of books in the world. Every August Edinburgh International Book Festival brings writers and thinkers from across the planet together to rub shoulders with you, the audience.

Edinburgh Mela Festival- 2-4 September 2011
The Edinburgh Mela was founded in 1995 by members of the city’s minority ethnic communities. The first festival was held in Meadowbank Stadium and quickly grew to attract 20,000 people each year. It was the first Mela in Scotland and has gained a strong reputation in the UK.

The Edinburgh Festivals offer endless possibilities for your Scottish vacation. With Celtic Tours, you can plan a self-drive vacation or gather your favorite group of people to visit Scotland and enjoy these amazing festivals with.

We also offer a brilliant Edinburgh Tattoo and Festival Package with summer dates still available. This combination package allows for plenty of time to experience the Edinburgh Festival atmosphere. Enjoy the stunning Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the Castle Esplanade. Plus discover the best shows as chosen for you personally by the festival critics with the Festival Passport.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wexford Opera Festival

Situated in the south east corner of Ireland, Co. Wexford has a wonderful mix of mountainous scenery, river valleys and unspoiled sandy beaches. The Hook Lighthouse, Irish National Heritage Park and Dunbrody Famine Ship attract many visitors, along with the world famous Wexford Opera Festival.

The Wexford Festival Opera has been running since 1951, playing a central role in the cultural life of Ireland and in the world of Opera and Arts internationally. From small and humble beginnings it has achieved world-wide success and critical acclaim by demonstrating passion, innovation and a willingness to lead audiences and artists into neglected territories to explore the rich vein of operatic work worldwide.

The 60th season of the Wexford Festival Opera opens on Friday, October 21st and runs until Saturday November 5, 2011. This year’s festival will fun for 16 days. The 3 main stage operas will run in 4 cycles of 12 evening performances in total. Evening dress and black-tie are the recommended dress code for the evening operas.

Situated on the same site as the previous Theatre Royal, the Wexford Opera House plays host to this famous event. The Opera House has been designed to provide a world-class acoustic environment for opera by international acoustician Arup Acoustics. A state-of-the-art auditorium tactfully inserted into a dense, historic urban plan; a “secret gem” tucked away behind a reinstated streetfront. From Wexford Opera House there are views of Mount Leinster and of Tuskar Rock lighthouse. The Opera House offers productions of varying scales and art-forms featuring individuals and performing groups of local, national and international origin.

With Celtic Tours your vacation has endless possibilities. Visit our website for more information on self-drive vacations to Ireland.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Top Attractions in Belfast

From small beginnings, industrious locals developed a boat building trade and the rest is history. Belfast is a Victorian city rich in architectural heritage, reflecting Belfast’s prosperity, status and pride during its era as a world-class industrial powerhouse. Today Belfast is rich in ancient sites, beautiful scenery, amazing architecture and some of the best craic in Northern Ireland. For your next self-drive vacation with Celtic Tours, let this list of attractions guide you through the best of the city.

Ulster Museum
Come face to face with dinosaurs, meet an Egyptian Mummy and see modern masterpieces with a visit to the Ulster Museum. As Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and present, the museum is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences and free to all visitors. From Ireland to the South Pacific, ancient relics to hands on activities, the museum offers something for everyone from the simply curious to the enthusiast. And best of all, it is free!

Titanic Dock & Pump House
Today the Pump-House comprises of a Visitor Centre & CafĂ©, Interpretative Centre, meeting rooms & event space. Titanic Dock & Pump House is the only publicly accessible intact piece of the Titanic's great legacy which is open in the city of her birthplace – Belfast.

Belfast Castle
Located 400 foot above sea level, and offering stunning views over Belfast, the castle also makes a great base for a fun day out, offering plenty of things to do, whether you're taking the kids to Cave Hill Adventurous Playground, visiting Cave Hill Visitor Centre or thinking about climbing Cave Hill itself!

Belfast Botanic Gardens
First established in 1828, the gardens have been enjoyed as a public park by the people of Belfast since 1895. There is an extensive rose garden and long herbaceous borders and the tree enthusiast can seek out the rare oaks planted in the 1880s, including the hornbeam-leafed oak.

Victoria Square Shopping Centre
Belfast’s number one shopping destination, anchored by House of Fraser department store. Fantastic shops are split over four levels (including 2 levels of food operators) with covered, pedestrianised streets and topped by an iconic dome, with panoramic views across the city, the river Lagan and even to the Mournes beyond.

Crown Liquor Saloon
Like stepping into a different time the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast is a unique visual gem, a veritable masterpiece known to millions all over the world. No trip to Belfast would be complete without stopping in for a pint or two.

Giants Ring
The big earthwork circle, roughly 200m across, is a beautiful example of a 'henge' monument, built in about 2700BC during the Neolithic period. Similar monuments are found elsewhere in Britain and Ireland, but this is one of the finest. In the middle is a tomb made up of five upright stones and a large capstone, the bare frame of what was originally a chambered grave, covered with a cairn of stones and earth. Located a mere 3 miles south of city center Belfast, this is one attraction you shouldn’t miss.

St. Anne’s Cathedral
St Anne’s Cathedral, sometimes called Belfast Cathedral, was erected at the turn of the century upon the site of the original of St Anne’s Parish Church. Inside, there are captivating mosaics, created in the 1920′s. One mosaic is made up of more than 150,000 pieces. It covers the ceiling of the baptistery in grand style. Irish marble and Canadian maple decorate the nave and aisles.

Lyric Theatre
The Lyric Theatre is Northern Ireland’s only producing building-based theatre. Originally created with the ambition of creating ‘a style suitable for dramatic poetry’, particularly the work of WB Yeats, it has built strong associations with many of the major actors and writers to emerge over more than five decades.

St. George’s Market
St George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. It was built between 1890 and 1896 and is one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland. It has been voted for numerous local and national titles and awards for its fresh, local produce and great atmosphere. Originally, St George’s Market was an open market with stalls similar in style to May’s Market and certainly included a meat market and slaughter house. Although St George’s Market is primarily used as a market, it is also used for a whole range of events including food festivals, art initiatives, exhibitions, charity launches, fashion shoots and live music gigs.

Visit Belfast with Celtic Tours on your next self-drive vacation to Ireland.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Discover the Natural Wonders of the North Antrim Coast, Ireland

The natural wonders along the North Antrim coast are aplenty, awe-inspiring rocky coastline juxtaposed with lush green glens and forests. Considered one of the most scenic coastlines of Ireland, the North Antrim coast is well worth a visit. Here are just a few of the natural wonders you will see along the way.

The White Rocks
The "White Rocks" of Portrush in County Antrim, Northern Ireland are cliffs made of chalk. The natural formations of White Rock’s coastline provide a fascinating and breathtaking insight into the natural landscaping talents of the sea. These soft, sedimentary rocks have been carved through centuries into labyrinths of caves and arches. Shelagh’s Head, the Wishing Arch, Elephant Rock and the Lion’s Paw are headlands of distinguishable forms which rise out of the ocean. The Whiterocks Beach was recently awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award making this a worthy natural attraction.

The Glens of Antrim
Comprising 9 glen valleys that radiate from the North Antrim Coast, the Glens are an area of outstanding beauty. Within twenty square miles you can enjoy natural landscape that covers glacial valleys, sandy beaches, vertical cliffs, tundra plateau, boglands, wooded decidious glens, coniferous forests, waterfalls and picturesque villages. Ancient sites and places of intrigue abound. In the Glens there is evidence of Neolithic communities from megalithic tombs in the uplands to settlements near the coast.

Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island, an island off the Coast of Antrim, is the northernmost point of the region and is 15 miles from Scotland. Rathlin Island is known for being the first place of Viking raid in Ireland in 795. Over the centuries the strategic island has suffered turmoil from the warring Scots, Irish and English, as well as suffering during the famine years which decimated its population. The wildlife and natural environment is something to behold, from the colony of seals basking on rocks at Rue Point to the vast colonies of seabirds nesting at Bull Point or the lone buzzard hunting above rare orchids on Altacarry Head. It's shorelines and landscapes are a naturalist's paradise and its ambience precious. Many shipwrecks have taken place around the island which in summer attracts divers from all over the world.

White Park Bay
White Park Bay is among the most painted and photographed scenes in Northern Ireland. The spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. The beach is backed by ancient dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life. White Park Bay was one the first settlements of man in Ireland and evidence of these Neolithic settles are continually exposed on the raised beach and sand dune system. Three passage tombs stand on the high points of surrounding hills overlooking the bay. The most striking and well-known being the dolmen known as the Druids Altar.

Layde enjoys a secluded coastal site nestled among the scenic Glens of Antrim. A path runs from the National Trust car park to a small beach, passing the ruins of Layde Church which dates from around 1300.

Fair Head
Fair Head is one of the great headlands of Ireland, its sheer face rising some 600 feet above sea level, making it Northern Ireland’s tallest cliff face. From the top spectacular views can be had of Rathlin, Scotland and Murlough Bay. Its impressive profile can be seen from Ballycastle and many other points along the North Coast.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
Spanning a chasm some 80 feet deep, the famous and vertigo-inducing 66 foot Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge once consisted of a single rope hand rail and widely spaced slats. It was originally a seasonal working bridge for fishermen, since the demise of salmon fishing along the north coast, the bridge is nowadays used and marketed as a tourist attraction.

Giant’s Causeway
Popular in myth and modern culture, the Giant’s Causeway offers one of the most unique natural landscapes in Europe with over 40,000 hexagon-like basalt columns interlocked in a honeycomb fashion.

Antrim Coast Road
Often considered the most scenic stretch of road in the British Isles, the Causeway Coastal Route, aka Antrim Coast Road, meanders almost the entire length of Northern Ireland’s Coast with rolling green hills dotted with sheep, cottages enclosed by short stone walls and Norman castles in varying stages of decay.

As we said, the natural wonders along the North Antrim coast are aplenty. Discover them with a Celtic Tours Northern Ireland self-drive tour.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dublin Museums, Cultural & Literary Attractions

Discover Ireland through its cultural attractions. From writer’s museums to the Museum of Modern Art to the world’s only Leprechaun Museum, Dublin’s cultural attractions await your discovery.

1. Trinity College and the Book of Kells: The 690 page Book of Kells is the centerpiece of the “Turning Darkness into Light” exhibition which attracts over 500,000 visitors to Trinity College every year. Written around 800 AD, the Book of Kells contains a richly decorated copy of the four gospels in a latin text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin). The script is embellished by the elaboration of key words and phrases and by an endlessly inventive range of decorated initials and interlinear drawings.

2. Dublin Writer’s Museum: Situated in a magnificent Georgian Mansion on Parnell Square, the Dublin Writer’s Museum is an essential visit for anyone who wants to discover, explore or simply enjoy Dublin’s immense literary history. Swift, Sheridan, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett are among those exhibited through their books, letters, portraits and personal items.

3. Leprechaun Museum: Discover the stories and magic of mythical Ireland, land of the leprechaun.

4. The Shaw Birthplace: Birthplace and childhood home of renowned playwright George Bernard Shaw has been, it was in the is house that Shaw began to gather the store of characters that would later populate his books.

5. The James Joyce Museum: The James Joyce Museum is located in the Martello Tower which was featured in the opening chapter of Ulysses. It is considered one of the world’s most famous literary landmarks.

6. The National Library of Ireland: No exploration of Dublin’s literary history would be complete without a visit the National Library of Ireland.

7. Irish Museum of Modern Art: The Irish Museum of Modern Art is Ireland’s leading institution for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. The museum is housed in the magnificent 17th century Royal Hospital building, whose grounds include a formal garden, meadow and medieval burial grounds.

8. The National Gallery of Ireland: Housing some 13,000 works of art, among the Irish artists represented are James Barry, Nathaniel Hone, William Orpen, Roderic O’Conor and Louis le Brocquy. The European Collection includes pieces by masters such as: Fra Angelico, Titian, Caraviaggio, Rembrandt, Poussin, Vermeer, Goya, Murillo and Gainsborough.

9. Abbey Theater: The Abbey Theater, Ireland’s national theater was founded by WB Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904.

10. Literary Pub Crawl: Compliment your literary tour of Dublin with a Literary Pub Crawl. Enjoy some of Ireland's best literature acted out as you travel from one famous Dublin pub to another.

Discover these great Ireland attractions on your next vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Journey Through Northern Ireland with the Celtic Sojourn

Journey Through Northern Ireland 

Discover the charm and zest of Northern Ireland with our Celtic Sojourn. Northern Ireland is a land of immense variety with wave swept coastal drives, hazy mountains, vast open moorland, loughs and glassy lakes and charming towns. Visit WB Yeats country of Sligo, the charming town of Donegal, the historic and scenic Inishowen Peninsula and the spectacular Malin Head. Experience the magic of the North Antrim coast and take a historical tour of Belfast, its harbor and dock area, where the Titanic and her sister ships were built.

Enjoy a medieval castle banquet and traditional Irish entertainment.

Visit the majestic Cliffs of Moher

Pause for morning tea and scones at Rathbaun Farms

Travel north via Sligo, birthplace of WB Yeats

Continue through Donegal Town.

Visit Glenveagh Castle and National Park

Travel via Buncrana the principal town and resort of the peninsula to Dunree, where we visit the military fort with scenic views over Lough Swilly. The fort has an array of large guns and artifacts from the 20th century. The fort and lough below is of immense historic interest which dates back to the Norsemen, the Angle Normans and the Flight of the Earls.

We continue on via Clonmany, Ballyliffen and Carndonagh where we view the 7th century St. Patrick's Cross.

Our tour continues via Malin to Malin Head, a spectacular headland on Ireland's most northerly point.

We continue on via Coleraine to Portrush on the Atlantic Ocean.

Visit the Giants Causeway museum before we a transferred by a small bus to the Causeway and its volcanic columns, which were formed over 60 million years ago.

Take a historical tour of Belfast, its harbor and dock area, where the Titanic and her sister ships, Britannic and Olympic were built.

This journey through Northern Ireland is not to be missed. Join Celtic Tours on the Celtic Sojourn

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