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A round up of the globe’s greatest aural adventures, from serious superclubs to a Presley pilgrimage

New Orleans, USA

New Orleans USA

For Jazz and brass at its most joyous and jubilant

New Orleans: the birthplace of jazz. Unsurprisingly, you can’t turn a corner here without encountering another brilliant band, whether playing on the street, or wailing the night away. Frenchmen Street is the classic place to go – try Snug Harbor for modern jazz giants or Three Muses for great cuisine and brilliant gypsy jazz. Also get a cab out of town to the tumbledown Maple Leaf Bar if you’re about on Tuesday night: here, old and young alike pack themselves in to enjoy loud, funky stuff from the fabulous Rebirth Brass Band, Maple Leaf residents since 1990. Don’t miss one of the nightly gigs in the French Quarter’s 18th-century Preservation Hall either, a short walk from the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and the beloved Maison Bourbon (pictured above), and stay at the Hotel Monteleone, which has a revolving carousel bar, and music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Finally if you’re lucky enough to be in town over the last weekend of April or first weekend of May, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been a must-visit since 1970. So much music, so little time.

Berlin, Germany

For superclubbing, and harmonious relaxation

If you want to do clubbing properly, you have to do Berghain. Housed in a cavernous, abandoned power plant on the borders of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain (get it?), it boasts a dancefloor 18 metres up in the air, a bar with panoramic views of East Berlin, and regular gigs from the world’s greatest techno and dance DJs. Its door policy is famously strict and there are no hard and fast rules to guarantee entry, but casual clothes (black doesn’t hurt) and the odd word of German are a good place to start. Failing that, top alternatives include Tresor (pictured) or Watergate. Wherever you end up, recover at the nearby nhow Music Hotel, which houses music studios, a recording booth, and fabulous sound systems in every room. Need to recuperate more gently? Tour the fascinating collection of orchestral instruments through history at Tiergarten’s Kulturforum.

Memphis, USA

For The full-blown Elvis Presley experience – and a deep journey into the heart of the blues

Everyone knows about Graceland, but it’s a touching experience to go there – it’s relatively small in modern superstar terms, and the King’s grave sits in the humble garden. Still, the Jungle Room’s waterfall wall, the three TV-set living room, and the pleated billiards room walls are all as outrageous as you’d wish. Stay in the Heartbreak Hotel across the highway, where Elvis films play all day in your room, and hilarious lookalikes fill the chintzy bar. While in town, don’t miss the fabulous Sun Studios tour, or the memorabilia-filled Stax Museum of American Soul Music. And if you can spare an extra day, drive 90 minutes south-west to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where you’ll find the fascinating Delta Blues Museum, the brilliantly quirky Cat Head Records, and the crossroads where blues pioneer Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil.

Liverpool, UK

Liverpool UK

For The tiny, terrific stories behind the world’s greatest band

The already brilliant Beatles Story museum opened a new site at Liverpool’s Pier Head in 2009, and its joys keep on coming. There’s an excellent exhibition of how ’60s beat groups broke America, plus the Beatles’ story told through music, animation and four-dimensional effects. After that, pick up the equally psychedelic Magical Mystery Tour bus, a tour of the Fab Four’s hometown led by a guide who remembers the boys before fame. Finish up at the brilliantly rebuilt Cavern Club for some live music, then have your dinner at Blakes (named after Sergeant Pepper cover artist, Peter). Rest your head in the adjoining Hard Day’s Night Hotel, then get up early the next day for a National Trust tour of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes – you too could play Let It Be at the piano on which McCartney wrote it.



For Learning to sing with the stars

Fancy five days singing with the Mercury-nominated darlings of folk music? Radio 2 award-winners The Unthanks are one of many prestigious acts leading courses for the brilliant Singing Holidays team, this year in the gorgeous setting of Abruzzo (pictured above), the greenest region of Europe. No musical training? Fear not. Just turn up, and morning singing sessions, stunning Italian dining, and accommodation in gorgeous village homes are yours. Classical courses with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and professional singers are also available on the site, every one ending with a stellar concert performance.

Ready to face the music? Let us take you there – click ‘book your trip’ now

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