Irish folk music tourInterested in traditional Irish music? Take the “Irish Folklore and Music” tour, offered throughout the year by CIE Tours International. Highlights include a traditional evening at Bunratty Folk Park; a musical evening with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, a nonprofit group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music; trips to the Cliffs of Moher; the 19th-century Muckroos House in Killarney National Park; Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone; the cities of Dublin and Galway; Old Jameson Distillery; and Kilmainham Gaol, a prison that operated between 1796 and 1924.
The price for the first tour of the new year on March 26 is $975 per person, double occupancy. Through September, the price jumps to $1,365. It drops again to $975 in November. It includes six nights’ accommodations in superior first-class hotels, six Irish breakfasts, five dinners, an Irish evening with dinner and folkloric entertainment, a welcome drink, a panoramic tour of Galway, a tour of Dublin, whiskey tasting and tour of Old Jameson Distillery, a traditional Irish night in the village of Bunratty, visits and admission to sightseeing per itinerary, transportation by luxury coach and services of a professional driver and guide.
The CIE Web site also offers other escorted and unescorted tours. Details at www.cietours.com.
January salesIf you’re going to be in London, ease that dollar-to-pound rate by hitting the January sales. The most highlighted event is at Harrods in Knightsbridge, where sales run through Jan. 26.
Other favorites include Liberty (until Jan. 27), John Lewis (until Jan. 14), Harvey Nichols (until Jan. 31), Selfridges (until the stock runs out) and Peter Jones (until Jan. 14).
If you’re in Paris, the sales run Jan. 9 to Feb. 16. If you prefer the Italian fashions, the sales in Milan run Jan. 7 through February.
Low-cost travel siteLooking for low-cost travel advice? Try www.attitudetravel.com. The site lists guides to low-cost flights in Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as a guide to low-cost bus routes in the United Kingdom. The Low-Cost Travel Cafe lets travelers share information and advice.
Bard breaksIf you enjoy Shakespeare and plan to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company wants to help plan your trip with one of its “RSC Short Breaks.”
Choose a performance and you’ll be offered a choice of hotels and given a package price that includes accommodation and the play ticket.
The price for a performance of “Henry IV Part I” in January, for example, begins at 93 pounds (about $185) per person, double occupancy, for two nights. The price for a performance of “Hamlet” in July begins at 96 pounds per person for two nights.
Other plays this season are “The Merchant of Venice,” “Noughts and Crosses” and “Richard II.”
Find more details at www.rscshortbreaks.co.uk..
Best BetsENGLAND: In the Christian religion, Jan. 6, is Epiphany or Twelfth Night, the end of the Christmas season and a holiday that celebrates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. It is also a time of pagan midwinter festivals. To celebrate, London holds its annual Twelfth Night festival, one that mixes seasonal and contemporary themes, on the Bankside near the Tate Museum and Shakespeare Globe Theatre.
On the program are the arrival by boat of the folk figure Holly Man, dressed all in green; “Wassailing” (toasting) with actors from the Bankside Mummers, a performance of the traditional folk combat play based on the legend of St. George and the dragon, the choice of King Bean and Queen Pea from the audience and entertainment at the 17th-century George Inn near London Bridge in Southwark. The fun begins at 12:45 p.m. Find more details at www.visitlondon.com/events/detail/1439115.
GERMANY: From Jan. 6 to 9, Ellwangen’s “Kalter Markt” (Cold Market) offers a horse fair with a 1,000- year-old tradition. The highlight begins at 8 a.m. Monday when mares, some alone and some in pairs, compete for prizes. At 2 p.m., up to 400 costumed riders and their horses parade through the city center. On all days markets are set up with food and goods.
The market is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Ellwangen’s Web site is www. ellwangen.de. The market Web site is www.kaltermarkt.de (in German).