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April 2016

Missed out on Glasto tickets?

Find music and sunshine at one of Europe's smaller festivals

No mud but lots of sun in Europe DID you miss out on those gone-in-a-flash Glastonbury tickets this year, get beaten to the box office for Bestival, or become teed-off waiting in a telephone queue for T in the Park touts to drop their prices?

Well, if you haven't managed to secure one of the hot tickets for any of Britain's big summer music events, don't despair.

For a whole range of boutique European festivals will give you the chance to see the sights as well as soaking up the sounds . . . and you won't have to get covered in mud in the process!

Down the Rabbit Hole, in Beuningen, Holland. Secret shows take place 24hrs a day Down the Rabbit Hole
Down the Rabbit Hole is a weekender, held beside a lake and in woodland and tending towards the surreal. Pop up parties and secret shows take place day and night and PJ Harvey and the National are among the performers. The 2,000 year-old city of Nijmegen is five miles away with its museums, gothic churches and Roman remains and you can explore the Kronenburgerpark. June 24-26, camping ticket £99 from downtherabbithole.nl. Fly to Amsterdam.

Love International, in Tisno, Croatia. The Garden Festival in Croatia, which put 'the new Ibiza' on the map a decade ago, bowed out last year and this is its spiritual successor. It takes place on the same site with similar dub, electronica and techno DJs and for a surcharge will offer boat parties. Day travel off site is encouraged, so hire a car and swim in the waterfalls at Krka (under an hour away) and hike around the lakes at Plitvicka Jezera. June 29-July 6, £120, camping £12 a night, tickets from loveinternationalfestival.com. Fly to Zandar or Split.

Vida, Vilanova, La Geltru, Spain. This relaxed family-friendly festival, now in its third year, takes place in a pinewood and beach site an hour along the coast from Barcelona. Villagers, the Divine Comedy and Wilco are among the acts due to perform on two ostentatiously decorated main stages. You can hire bikes to explore the countryside, swim in the sea and there are regular shuttle buses to the local train station so you can stay in Barcelona. June 30-July 3, entry £47 or £99 for two adults and two children. Camping £12 a night. Contact vidafestival.com and fly to Barcelona.

Weekend at the Edge of the Lake, Sierre, Switzerland. This gem of a festival turns 10 this summer so expect some special celebrations. The lake in the name is Lac de Geronde, set amid Alpine hills and vineyards 10 minutes from the town centre. An open air pool, grassy beaches, paddleboarding and a fiercely contested pentanque tournament are among the attractions at this weekender. July 1-3, camping ticket £57 contact aubordeleau.ch. Flights to Zurich or Geneva.

Mandrea, Lake Garda, Italy. This festival takes place in the foothills of the Italian Alps, overlooking Lake Garda. A shuttle bus runs throughout the five-day event to the nearby towns of Arco and Riva del Garda as well as Lake Tenno. Daytime activities include canyoning, climbing, mountain biking, swimming and yoga sessions. You can windsurf on Lake Garda and if you want to stay on site traditional food from local farms is served at the festival where music ranges from reggae to electronica. July 27-August 1, camping ticket £85 from mandreafestival.com/en. Fly to Verona.

A Summer's Tale, Luhmuhlen, Germany. The country is well known for its sprawling rock festivals, but smaller, artier events are creeping into this summer's calendar. After its acclaimed debut last year, A Summer's Tale looks like the best of the bunch. Held in the green forest of Luneburger Heide, 90 minutes south of Hamburg, the festival has the feel of a retreat with readings, poetry, installations, theatre, film screenings and meditation. Expect sets from Noel Gallagher, Sigur Ros and Jose Gonzalez. The ticket price includes rail travel to and from the event. August 10-13, camping ticket £133 from asummerstale.de. Fly to Hamburg.

Oasis, Marrakesh, Morocco. Cooling off in the Oasis This festival started last year in the grounds of the five-star Fellah Hotel, and its success has led to rivals following suit this summer. The music comes mainly from DJs - the techno maestro Derrick May among them - who provide the soundtrack for days spent indulging in dancing, yoga, wellness activities and dips in the stage side pools. There's a souk, a spa and henna body art, and Marrakesh's famous medina is only 10 minutes away by taxi. The more energetic can take a trip to the Atlas Mountains or out into the desert for dinner and camel rides. September 16-18, from £175 including three nights B and B. Contact theoasisfest.com. Fly to Marrakesh.

Don’t be a loser

ABTA’s warning as conmen set up fake travel websites

Don’t be a loser - ABTA’s latest fraud warning Watch out, the fraudsters are about. That’s the latest warning from ABTA as we head into the summer booking season.

This is traditionally the time of year that fraudulent websites pop up, often looking very attractive and quite authentic, with fake ABTA and CAA logos. They are designed to dupe unsuspecting and generally inexperienced holidaymakers into parting with their money.

So if you hear from a friend about an amazing deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is - especially if it’s a peak date with high prices. Conmen offer these dates at low prices and quickly rake in vast amounts of money before they disappear. If in doubt the best advice is to pay by credit card as payments are protected under the Consumer Credit Act.

We recall the famous advice of John Ruskin who said:

‘It’s unwise to pay too much but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money but that’s all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything because the common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot.

‘If you deal with the lowest bidder it is well to add something for the risk you run and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better!’

My best holiday ever

Call the Midwife star Jenny Agutter just loves being in and on the water and used to have snorkelling dreams ...

Your first holiday memories?
I was at a boarding school in Surrey from the age of eight to 16, and my summer holidays were all spent in Cyprus, where my father ran the Army's entertainment. Those years were like something out of a Gerald Durrell novel. Dad built a boat out of an old wooden pontoon and my mum made seats, cushions and curtains for the cabin. Sadly, it leaked like a sieve, so we spent most of our time bailing it out on trips around the coast.

Most memorable holiday experience?
In 1972 I went to live in Los Angeles. In my spare time I'd head out to the Mojave Desert which is lovely in Spring because, if there is any rain, the cacti flower. One year I took my parents up the coastal highway camping. I slept in the car because we only had a two-man tent. One night there was a loud rustling and a crashing of pans. I didn't go out to check because I knew there were bears around. I spent all night worrying that mum and dad had been eaten, but it turned out to be just racoons.

Call the Midwife star Jenny Agutter Favourite holiday?
It was the time I took a whaling trip - that sounds terrible, but no harpoons were used - on a boat called the Searcher out of San Diego down to Baja California and into the Sea of Cortez. The trip was astounding and every day was very different. We went out on a skiff to one bay where grey whales return their young and they come close enough to pat. A big beady eye would peer up from the water, then they would spout and you would get soaked. At night the sea had this incredible phosphorescence, so you'd see a glowing outline of a dolphin, like a ghost.

Most recent holiday?
I'm married to the Swedish hotelier Johan Tham and he has introduced me to parts of Scandanavia I would not have thought of visiting. Last summer we went sailing around the Lofoten Islands in the Arctic Circle. Up there it's like being on a different planet as you make your own way between huge snowy cliffs. We had a skipper, but we mucked in as it was good exercise. We had a wonderful encounter with orcas and we were able to drift slowly up to them, and they didn't seem to mind at all.

What do you like doing most on holiday?
I don't mind cold water and I've always loved snorkelling. It's the closest sensation to flying and I used to have snorkelling dreams as a child. I love being in or on the sea whenever I am away.

To read the full interview visit www.telegraph.co.uk

Travel Gossip

What's up? What's down? More visa mayhem and a promo video disaster

Rental cars are in short supply this summer Need a hire car this summer? Book it now.
A surge in bookings to safe destinations in peak seasons is already resulting in a peak season shortage of rental cars. Trouble in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia has boosted sales to Italy, Spain and Greece in particular and prices are rising due to demand.

The good burghers of Florence stand firm
The beautiful Italian city of Florence has declared war on foreign food, claiming that the proliferation of burger and kebab joints has caused 'a distortion of the city's food character'. New rules give restaurants three years in which to ensure that 70 per cent of their produce includes local items such as pecorino cheese and sorana beans.

A better French connection
Free Wi-Fi is now available on Eurostar trains to Paris and passengers can access more than 300 hours of on-demand TV and films. The wireless internet will work on both sides of the Channel as well as in the tunnel. An on-board entertainment system means passengers will be able to watch TV and films, play games and keep up with the latest news.

Seaworld scraps killer whale shows
The American theme park operator SeaWorld has announced that it is closing its controversial killer whale shows and ending its captive breeding programme. The decision comes after years of pressure from animal rights groups and increasing concern from the public, which peaked following the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish.

End to end in comfort and style
People have made the journey in prams, baths, fancy dress, on bikes, walking backwards and even in the nude . . . but later this month you will be able to travel from Land's End to John o' Groats in style, on board Fred Olsen's 880-passenger ship Boudicca. For the first time the popular cruise company is using the Cornwall port of Falmouth and the 10 night voyage to the tip of Scotland and back was a natural choice. Next Year Olsen's plans to start some other European cruises from the West Country town.

Fees do anything but drop off
Stansted airport has raised its fee for dropping off passengers by 50p to £3 for 10 minutes. The Essex airport, owned by Manchester Airports Group, says the increase is to "ease congestion and manage traffic flow." The increase puts Stansted on a par with Leeds Bradford airport for the country's highest set-down fees. Drivers exceeding the limit face a £50 exit fee. Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester are still free.

Say goodbye to seven quid in Dubai
Passengers flying out of Dubai airport will have to pay a £7 departure tax from June 30, the Emirate has announced. The new fee, which will apply to all travellers over the age of two, will be used "to improve airport infrastructure and boost its capacity.

Rhode awakening for tourist video
A video designed to attract tourists to Rhode Island in the US has been scrapped less than 24 hours after it was released when it was realised that a clip of Iceland had been included by mistake. The promotional video was pulled from You Tube after viewers spotted a skateboarder performing tricks outside the Harpa building in Reykjavik.

Visit these places in the Middle East and they won't let you into the US
If you have an Iranian visa in your passport or you have visited Iraq, Sudan or Syria in the last 5 years, a word of warning; they won’t let you into the USA. You’ll need to apply in person at the US Embassy in London for a visa before you can travel.

Quirkiest hotel of the month

Flying high in Costa Rica

Stay in a private jet high in Costa Rica's rainforest For a unique Costa Rican hotel experience, Costa Verde have transported and refurbished a 1965 vintage Boeing 727 fuselage to create a fantastic two-bedroom suite on a coastal rainforest bluff.

A favourite for weddings, honeymoons and romance, it's set on a concrete plinth that juts up 15m into the jungle canopy, so looking out of the windows feels like flying.

There's a wooden cabin built around the aircraft, with furnishings in hand carved teak. The rear bedroom has a handcrafted deck on the wing, from which guests can watch toucans, sloths and monkeys.

Stay from £72pppn (based on occupancy of 4)

Beware those sky high snack prices

Beware those sky high snack prices

Beware those sky high snack prices Beware those sky high snack prices It's worth taking a bit more holiday money with you these days when flying with budget airlines . . . for many will charge you up to a staggering 20 times as much for their snacks and drinks on board as you would expect to pay in the supermarket.

Research has shown that prices for plane refreshments can be marked up by up to 2,646 per cent with the worst example being soup, with 70g costing £2.50 on Flybe and with Thomas Cook a sachet of Cup a Soup is £2.40, but can be bought for just 12p in a supermarket multipack.

Drinks can also have sky high prices, with a 330ml can of continental lager setting fliers back up to £4.20, compared with supermarket prices as low as 83p.

Even soft options come with a steep mark up. Ryanair charges £2.34 for a 500ml bottle of water, according to the research, but if you buy 12 bottles in a supermarket each will cost only 16p - making the budget airline option nearly 15 times the price. However, since restrictions on liquids in hand luggage were introduced, travellers are barred from bringing a bottle with them.

Passengers are allowed to take food items through security, so it really makes sense to plan ahead and take your own snacks on to the plane. When it comes to drinks, get around the inflated prices by buying them in the terminal after you have cleared security."

What people are saying

A selection of customer comments from Trust Pilot

A decade of DialAFlight. And I still book from overseas

I have been using Harriet at DialAFlight for more than 10 years to book flights for all sorts of trips. She is always very quick to respond to requests and always resourceful in terms of finding the best options, with or without children in tow.

We moved to Indonesia and I always use her to book flights for children coming to visit unaccompanied, as well as for flights back to the UK for visits. She will always follow up on booking and there is always back up for her from the team at DialAFlight should she be out of the office.

Angus Mackintosh gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot


I’m a convert. It’s DialAFlight from now on

I am exceedingly impressed with both the price and the services offered by DialAFlight. I had previously always used another well known London-based agency (Trailfinders) but a fellow traveller mentioned DialAFlight to me 2 years ago. So I contacted both companies for this last trip.

I was surprised to find that DialAFlight were a full £50 cheaper for my return travel to India and that wasn't with a budget airline but with Turkish Airlines. The DialAFlight consultants also offer a personalised service - whereby you always speak to the same person (they automatically know this through your booking reference number) and they went out of their way to help me with the new ET visa scheme for India which I was having problems with.

All in all a brilliant travel agency which I'll definitely use again and would recommend to everyone!

Jenny Webb gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot


Trust DialAFlight. They know what they are doing and really deliver

Having had a great experience with a round-the-world trip organised by DialAFlight 5 years ago I had no hesitation in giving them the challenge to deliver a New York experience for a reasonable budget.

Tristan and his colleagues were a fount of information optimising flight schedules and hotel recommendations that delivered the trip of a lifetime. I particularly mention the New York Palace hotel as it was incredible value for the price, 5* and bang in mid town Manhattan offering easy access to all the must do sights and shops. Little things like taking the New Jersey Transit train from Newark Liberty airport to Penn Station saved a bundle on cabs or limos and was painless as well as avoiding the traffic.

These guys know about the places they're booking and bring to life what you look forward to from guide books. Trust DialAFlight to come up with a great plan to your budget. We wouldn't go anywhere else

Geoff Bewley gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot


Ronan's round- the-world planning was perfect.

We have just completed our RTW trip with no problems and enjoyed every second. Ronan got us from Fiji, where we were married, to Hawaii without a return to Oz which other tour designers couldn't do and saved us a really tiring flight schedule.

On one flight we did have to pay for our checked baggage, it was not included on the ticket but he had warned us this might be the case and it was only $50 in the great scheme of things. All connecting flights were perfect and do-able and so thanks DialAFlight and Ronan, we'll be back!

Stewart Blandamer gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

Sparkling footnote: Stewart's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way to him.

Read more reviews at https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.dialaflight.com

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