Wexford – The Opera Festival

Wexford Festival Opera - photo by Patrick Redmond
Wexford Festival Opera - photo by Patrick Redmond
National Opera House, Wexford
National Opera House, Wexford
Hook lighthouse, Wexford
Hook lighthouse, Wexford
Wexford bridge
Wexford bridge
A fiddle (violin) and bodhran (Irish drum made from goatskin and wood) rest on a black silk cloth.
A fiddle (violin) and bodhran (Irish drum made from goatskin and wood) rest on a black silk cloth.

If it were not for Compton Mackenzie, many an operatic masterpiece may have been forgotten. The writer, raconteur and commentator came up with the idea for the Wexford Opera Festival back in 1951, but wasn’t satisfied with it being just another opera event. From that first outing over 65 years ago to the present day, the Wexford Festival has operated on the same ideal - introducing audiences to neglected and unjustly overlooked works.

Opera is no longer an escape for the elite only. So, join us in Wexford to discover operatic treasures within a wonderful ancient Viking town, nestled on the banks of the River Slaney. Here, we meet the chairman of the festival, we are treated to a private tour of the city along with Selskar Abbey, and we get to attend impressive performances. There will also be the opportunity to take part in a workshop led by local Irish musicians. This tour offers a unique and exciting immersion into opera.

  • Accept a coveted invite to a private reception held just for us at the Opera House
  • Pay a visit to one of the world’s oldest working lighthouses, which has stood for almost 800 years now
  • Enjoy a privileged backstage tour of Wexford’s Opera House, which was opened back in 2008
  • Attend a total of three exciting performances on this tour and experience the electric atmosphere of opera
  • Spend time with a group of people devoted to the preservation & promotion of Ireland’s musical heritage

Themes

  • Cultural Excursion

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We arrive in Dublin this afternoon, and drive south of the Irish Sea to our luxurious four-star base at White’s Hotel, Wexford. Tonight we dine together at a local restaurant, for a chance to unwind and get to know the group.

Day 2

Following a comfortable night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we are met by a member of the Wexford Historical Society, who leads us on a fascinating guided walk around the town. As part of our tour we learn all about the significance of Wexford’s Viking-built harbour, as well as paying a visit to the now derelict Selskar Abbey, a 12th-century building at which, in 1169, the first ever Anglo-Irish treaty was signed.

Later we are treated to a lunchtime recital amidst the superb acoustics and Georgian interiors of St Iberius Church, before then accepting an invitation to a private reception at Wexford’s National Opera House. After a convivial dinner in the Opera House itself, we attend Mala Vita by Umberto Giordano andL’Oracolo by Franco Leoni.

Day 3

This morning we discover the secrets of opera production, with a backstage tour of the Opera House. Opened in 2008, this award-winning venue was declared Ireland’s national opera house as recently as 2014.

We pause for lunch at a local restaurant, before a special afternoon with the Wexford Comhaltas, a group which devotes itself to the preservation and promotion of Ireland’s rich musical heritage. With the friendly members of the Comhaltas as our guides, we enjoy a rousing introduction to the world of Irish dance, music and traditional instruments.

Tonight we dine at our hotel, before attending Dinner at Eight by Willian Bolcom.

Day 4

Our fourth day begins with an excursion to Hook Lighthouse, where the tip of Hook Peninsula protrudes out of Waterford Harbour. Established some 800 years ago, this is the oldest working lighthouse in the world. A climb to the top of its tower rewards us with astounding views across the water, with a chance to spot local whales and wildlife.

We take an early lunch on the peninsula, before returning to Wexford for a free afternoon to explore the town at our leisure, soaking up the festival atmosphere.

We are treated to our and final opera this evening, Il Bravo by Saverio Mercadante, as well as a fabulous farewell dinner with the group at our hotel.

Day 5

It may well be the last day of our tour, but there’s still time for another exceptional excursion. After checking out of our hotel, we make our way to the gorgeous Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow. Recently voted the third best garden in the world by National Geographic, the estate boasts 47 acres of sublime lakes, statues, hollows and plantings in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. The perfect place to pause and explore.

We enjoy lunch here before continuing on to Dublin airport. Our flight departs in the evening.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We fly to Dublin from London’s Heathrow airport in the morning. Upon arrival, we drive south of the Irish Sea to our luxurious four-star base at White’s Hotel, Wexford. After we have checked in, we sit down for our first group dinner at a local restaurant, where there will be time to get to know each other and unwind. Later, we make our way back to our hotel, where we will remain for the rest of the night.

Day 2

In the morning, we are greeted by a member of the Wexford Historical Society, who will lead us on a fascinating guided walk around the town. As part of our tour, we will learn all about the significance of Wexford’s Viking-built harbour and then we will pay a visit to the now-derelict Selskar Abbey, a 12th-century building at which, in 1169, the first ever Anglo- Irish treaty was signed. Later, we are treated to a lunchtime recital amidst the superb acoustics and Georgian interiors of St. Iberius Church, before then accepting an invitation to a private reception at  Wexford’s National Opera House. After a convivial dinner in the Opera House itself, we attend our first performance of the tour.

Day 3

Today gets off to an exclusive start as we explore behind-the-scenes secrets of opera production with a backstage tour of the Wexford Opera House. Opened in 2008, this award-winning venue was declared Ireland’s National Opera House as recently as 2014. We break for lunch at a local restaurant before spending a special afternoon with the Wexford Comhaltas, a group that is devoted to the promotion and preservation of Ireland’s rich musical heritage. With the friendly members of the Comhaltas as our experienced guides, we are treated to a rousing introduction to the vibrant world of Irish dance, music and tradition. Dinner this evening will be at our hotel and we will then make our way to the opera house for the second live performance of the holiday.

Day 4

We begin with an excursion to Hook Lighthouse. The tip of Hook Peninsula protrudes out from Waterford Harbour and the lighthouse itself was established some 800 years ago, making it one of the oldest in the world. A chance to climb to the top of its tower rewards us with views across the water, with the opportunity to spot local wildlife - and possibly even whales. We take an early lunch on the peninsular before returning to Wexford for a free afternoon to explore the town, soaking up the festival atmosphere. This evening we have dinner at our hotel before our final opera performance. 

Day 5

It may well be the last day of our tour, but there’s still time for one final excursion. After checking out of our hotel, we make our way to the gorgeous Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow. Recently voted the third best garden in the world by National Geographic, the estate boasts 47 acres of sublime lakes, statues, hollows and plantings in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. We have lunch here before continuing on to Dublin airport, where we catch our return flight home.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Hotels
  7. Flights
  8. Opera Tickets - Entry to all performances in the programme. We request the seats in the centre stalls as these offer the best view although seats in boxes are usually more expensive. There is no guarantee that we will get the seats requested as availability is often limited. Where it is possible to avoid boxes as an alternative we will, but in some cases it may be the only option.

Travel Information

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2018 Tour Details

Wed 24th October - Sun 28th October

Available

£2,195

inc.

sgl supp: £265

ZOW18A

Led By: Barnaby Rayfield

2019 Tour Details

Wed 23rd October - Sun 27th October

Available

£2,195

inc.

sgl supp: £290

ZOW19A

Led By:

Guide Lecturer

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