The 10 best special interest holidays for 2016

, bird-watching in Champagne2, fly-fishing in Argentina3 and sketching in Morocco include day excursions and special experiences. A ballroom dancing tour to Tenerife4 offers a structured programme that includes daily dance instruction and evening practice sessions. Three tours coincide with cultural festivals: a steam train festival in northern France5, flower festivals in Japan6 and the biggest Indian religious festival in the world, the Kumbh Mela, where a former BBC photographer is on hand to help you compose and capture inspiring photographs.


Steam dreams

This five-day Baie de Somme Steam Festival itinerary visits the Festival of Steam in the Somme, a fair showcasing locomotives from across Europe. Based in the four-star Mercure Hotel in Abbeville, it visits this popular event which was launched in 1988 to mark the centenary of the R seau des Bains de Mer or the sea bathers railway. The Baie de Somme, a Grand Site de France, plays host to some of the finest steam locomotives, including trains, tractors, buses, steamrollers and steam-powered saw-mills. Watch the steam trains trundle across the middle of the Bay among reeds, willows, and the foreshore.

April 14, from 695 half-board, including Eurostar travel from London, rail travel. Ffestiniog Travel (01766 772030; ffestiniogtravel.com7).

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016

2. Ballroom and Latin American dancing in Tenerife

If you were inspired by Strictly Come Dancing, you might be tempted by this tour. The new eight-day itinerary provides daily dance tuition with experts Nick Miles and Fiona Millikin-Walker who are on hand to teach the steps, hold, posture, footwork and professional techniques. In the evenings there is dancing to live music. Based in the five-star Best Hotels Semiramis overlooking the sea, this Discount Holidays © holiday is aimed both at beginners and more experienced dancers looking to brush up their skills.

In between dance sessions, there will be time to explore the island on foot, take Spanish lessons or play a round of golf (extra fee applies).

April 26, from 769 full-board. Saga (0800 096 0084;

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016

3. Choral singing in Andalusia

Adrian Partington, the artistic director of the BBC National Chorus of Wales, is the singing tutor on this choral Discount Holidays © holiday in Andalusia. The tour spends five days in Malaga, rehearsing Mozart s Requiem and Coronation Mass, and finishes with a performance in St George s, the oldest Anglican Church in mainland Spain. Based in the four-star Hotel MS Maestranza, it includes singing tuition, all music scores and the services of a bi-lingual guide who is on hand to advise on local sightseeing and restaurants. Outside of music, there s a guided tour of the Picasso Museum, with time to visit Malaguesta beach and the Malaga bullring nearby.

March 30, from 789 including some meals but excluding flights. Authentic Adventures (01453 823 328;

4. Cranes and Champagne

This tour from wildlife specialist, Naturetrek, combines bird-watching with some extra fizz. The seven-day trip visits the lakes of the Parc Naturel R gional de la For t d Orient, looking for six species of woodpecker, firecrest, and short-toed treecreeper.

It then moves on to Giffaumont for a two-night stay near the Lac du Der, to spot raptors such as merlin and marsh harrier and to see the great congregation of common cranes that arrive at the lake to rest and feed before continuing their migration north. Near Lac du Der, there s the chance to see white-tailed eagle, rough-legged buzzard and hen harrier. Also included is a visit and tasting at the Champagne Drappier vineyard, hosted by proprietor Michael Drappier, and sightseeing in historic Troyes.

March 5, from 1,395 including Eurostar travel between London and Paris and most meals. Naturetrek (01962 733051;

5. Holland in bloom river cruise with Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh is the star attraction on this Telegraph Tours river cruise which wends its way through the Netherlands at the height of the spring flower season. Alan joins you for a visit to the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens – home to 800 varieties of tulips. There will also be a stop at Hortus Bulborum – a garden dedicated to the conservation of historical spring-flowering bulbs where Sarah Craven, The Telegraph s gardening expert, will talk about the best new varieties and the garden s history. The tour also takes in some of the country s great sights, from the Delta Works dam to the windmills of Kinderdijk.

April 19, from 1,495 including flights from the UK from a choice of airports, cruise-boat accommodation in a large suite and some meals. Telegraph Tours (0161 236 2444;

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016


Kumbh Mela in India

This tour coincides with the biggest Indian religious festival in the world, the Kumbh Mela, which occurs every three years. The festival rotates around four different holy sites: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain the venue for the 2016 event. You ll witness the holy men and Sadhus of India as they take their ritual dip in the Shipra river. Outside of the festival, there are visits to Delhi and the pink city of Jaipur and its most famous sites including the Amber Fort, the Palace of the Winds and Nahargarth Fort. There is also a trip to the holy town of Pushkar, guided by former BBC photographer David Short, who will share tips and help you take the perfect photograph a good introduction for keen amateur photographers.

April 15, from 1,750 including return flights from London and Delhi and b&b accommodation. Explore (01252 883 547;

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016

7. Painting in Croatia

This trip combines painting tuition with excursions by boat to the islands of Sipan, Lopud and Lokrum as well as Dubrovnik. Based in the three-star Hotel Cavtat in the town of Cavtat, this eight-day Discount Holidays © holiday includes a structured daily routine with painting demonstrations and one-to-one guidance in your chosen media, whether watercolour or pastels. Artists David Bellamy and Jenny Keal of the West Norfolk Arts Centre lead the tuition.

In addition to day excursions to Croatia s capital and islands, there is also a half-day to explore on your own, with the option of dipping in and out of the programme as you wish.

September 10, from 1,979 b&b. Travel Editions (020 7251 0045;

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016

8. Morocco Sketchbook

Led by artist Maxine Relton, this tour from Steppes Travel takes in Marrakesh, mountains and the coastline, as well as helping you develop your drawing skills. Rapid line and figure drawing, colour mixing and perspective are all covered and the eight-day Discount Holidays © holiday is based in Kasbah du Toubkal, an eco-retreat overlooking the Atlas Mountains. Visits include a Berber village, Yves Saint Laurent s Majorelle Gardens in Marrkesh, and Essaouira on the Atlantic shore.

May 8, from 2,495 including some meals but excluding flights. Steppes Travel (01285 601 495;

9. Blossoms in Japan

This10-day “Blossoms and Blooms in Japan” tour undertakes a botanical journey across the main island Honshu, from the capital Tokyo, via the Izu Peninsula, to the imperial city of Kyoto. The two departure dates coincide with either the Spring Peony Festival or the Autumn Chrysanthemum Festival, and include an Ikebana class to learn the Japanese art of flower-arranging; a hike along Jogosaki Kaigan coastal area with a local flora specialist to spot rare plants; and Mukojima Hyakka-en, the only surviving flower garden from the Edo Period. Other highlights include the neighbourhood of Yanaka, which is home to temple gardens, winding alleys and traditional houses; the Kiyosumi Teien Japanese, one of Tokyo s best-preserved formal gardens; and a stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn which features thermal hot spring baths.

April 16 and October 22, from 4,832 half-board.

Kuoni (01306 747008;

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016

10. Fishing in Northern Argentina

This nine-day fly fishing and conservation tour in northern Argentina takes in the Iber Marshlands, the world s second largest wetlands. Here expert fisherman, Charles Jardine, author of The Sotheby s Guide to Fly Fishing, is the guide as you fish for Dorado. Based in Estancia Rincon del Socorro, the Discount Holidays © holiday also includes opportunities for horse riding and bird-watching. Scientists from Salmon and Trout Conservation UK and Conservation Land Trust provide expert insight into the efforts being carried out in Ibera and draw similarities with wetland conservation aims in the UK. The Discount Holidays © holiday also includes a tour of Buenos Aires led by a local guide.

October 15, from 5,095 full-board. Cazenove+Loyd (02038135082; cazloyd.com16).

The 10 Best Special Interest Holidays For 2016


  • These trips are suitable for both beginners and those with more experience.
  • Do some research before your trip.

    It will help you get to grips with the technique or subject of the tour so that you gain more from it.

  • Most tours listed include free time to explore on your own or relax.

More of the best escorted tours for 2016

The 10 best art holidays17

The 10 best music holidays18

The 10 best introductory holidays19

The 10 best food and wine holidays20

The 10 best history holidays21

The 10 best cycling holidays22


How we moderate24


  1. ^ Malta (
  2. ^ Champagne (
  3. ^ Argentina (
  4. ^ Tenerife (
  5. ^ France (
  6. ^ Japan (
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  17. ^ The 10 best art holidays (
  18. ^ The 10 best music holidays (
  19. ^ The 10 best introductory holidays (
  20. ^ The 10 best food and wine holidays (
  21. ^ The 10 best history holidays (
  22. ^ The 10 best cycling holidays (
  23. ^ Telegraphtravel (
  24. ^ How we moderate (

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