Savonlinna

A Cultural Walking Tour of Finland: Opera at Savonlinna and Music at the Kuhmo Festival


The midsummer Opera Festival at Savonlinna in Finland is internationally famed, not just for the calibre of the performances, but also for its magical setting in a mediaeval castle rising dramatically out of the lake. Further north, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival attracts artists and audiences from all over the world – it has consistently been ranked amongst the world’s top music festivals. Our visit features forest walks and a boat trip to explore this idyllic region of pine and silver birch forest and tranquil lakes, 3 chamber music concerts, plus 2 opera performances:

VERDI: OTELLO      TCHAIKOVSKY: THE QUEEN OF SPADES
 

In Kuhmo, we encounter the vast forests of the archetypal Finnish landscape and between Savonlinna and Helsinki we travel along the old King’s Road, where the brightly painted wooden houses reflect both Swedish and Russian architectural influences.

We finish the trip in Finland’s lively and very attractive capital, Helsinki. In summer, the city enjoys long hours of sunshine, pavement cafés flourish and impromptu art shows and street theatre entertain passers-by. We wander the wide, tree-lined avenues admiring the beautifully preserved Art Nouveau facades, Alvar Aalto’s contemporary architectural masterpieces, and the fine Neo-Classical buildings which line the busy quaysides. During the week, we sample Finland’s summer specialities including reindeer, fish from the lakes, wild forest mushrooms and tangy Arctic cloudberries.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS of our Finland walking tour include:  

  • Hearing Sibelius’ music and learning about his life in the atmospheric museum in his family country home at Ainola
  • Visits to the illuminating Winter War Museum and the modern Museum of the Forest
  • Admiring the architecture of the world's largest wooden church in Kerimaki built in 1847
  • A scenic trip on the lake in Punkaharju on a traditional ferry boat
  • Strolls in the silver birch forest and around the 17C wooden architecture of towns along the old King’s Road to Helsinki
  • Exploring the architecture of Helsinki whilst based in a central 5 star hotel 
 

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘Savonlinna is a lifetime experience -  castle, singers, acoustics, settings and costume.’

'An absolutely splendid trip with pleasant walks, marvelous music, wonderful food and wine. Best tour I have ever been on.

 

If you are looking for more flexible tour arrangements in Finland, why not check out offers from our colleagues at Baltic Travel Company on www.baltictravelcompany.com/finland-holidays.

DAY 1  
D included

We meet at Kuopio airport in the late afternoon and transfer by road (2.5 hrs) to Kuhmo, the cultural heart of Northern Karelia. We have dinner on arrival at our hotel, a contemporary Finnish wooden design idyllically situated on a lake.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included
 
A leisurely start allows us, after breakfast, to wander from our hotel along the lakeshore and in the surrounding forest. We attend a morning concert (programme published January 2018) in Kuhmo’s handsome yellow wooden church or the new Arts Centre and have lunch in a summer café popular with the festival musicians and audience. There is an opportunity to walk a typical forest trail, swim in the lake or relax, before attending our second concert.

DAY 3
B, L, D included

This morning we visit the nearby Winter War Museum, which documents a campaign little-known outside Finland, before attending our third Festival performance. We set off for the cross-country drive south. We drive for 2 hours before a lunch break in the Koli National Park, then continue for 2.5 hours in the afternoon. We arrive at our quiet lakeside hotel in Kerimaki in time for dinner featuring game, wild berries, mushrooms or vendace from the nearby Lake Puruvesi.

DAY 4
B, L, D included
In the morning, we walk from the hotel on trails through forest and open areas with bare slabs of granite parched by the sun. In nearby Kerimaki, we visit the world’s largest wooden church built in 1847. A short drive takes us to Savonlinna, where we have an early dinner in an excellent restaurant before crossing two bridges on foot to attend our first opera performance, Verdi’s ‘Otello’, an unforgettable experience with the floodlit castle reflected in the still waters of the lake.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
We drive to the Punkaharju esker, one of Finland’s natural wonders, and walk along this sand ridge, a remnant of the Ice age, before visiting the informative Museum of the Forest. After a lunch of seasonal fresh produce in a charming historic building, we enjoy a scenic cruise (1.5 hrs) in the peaceful scenery of sparkling water and the surrounding islands. This evening we return to Savonlinna for our second opera in the castle, Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Queen of Spades’.

DAY 6
B, L, D included
Today, we travel west on a day’s drive through a classic Finnish landscape of forests and lakes, pausing en route for lunch in a lakeside restaurant in the old town (the Fortress) of Lappeenranta - there are opportunities to visit Finland’s oldest Orthodox church, South Karelian museum or to shop for handicrafts. We also look around Hamina, with its unique circular town plan dating from the early 18th century Swedish period, before arriving at our hotel (4 star, a converted Manor house set in ten acres of grounds leading down to the sea) in time to swim, use the spa facilities, or go for a short walk before dinner.

DAY 7
B, L, D included

In nearby Porvoo, once an important mediaeval trade centre and now a picturesque small town, we walk the cobbled lanes and along the river to admire the red ochre painted grain warehouses. In Ainola, we visit Sibelius’ atmospheric former country home, full of evocative mementoes of Finland’s greatest composer, and have a light lunch before driving on to Helsinki where our luxury hotel (a recently refurbished historic hotel, now a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World) is perfectly situated for exploring the historic city centre. We begin with an orientation walk from our hotel, visiting Senate Square, the Orthodox Cathedral and the picturesque waterfront before returning to prepare for our farewell dinner in an elegant restaurant.

DAY 8
B included

Our final day is spent exploring Helsinki – either independently, or joining our Kudu guide on a gentle walk (6 kms) that takes in some of the most iconic monuments of the city, including Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall and the Central Railway Station, considered by many to be the crowning achievement of architect Ariel Saarinen. We cross some of the city’s delightful green spaces, embellished with sculpture, and pass the National Museum of Finland and Ateneum that houses the National Art Collection with pictures from the ‘golden age’ of Finnish art. The trip concludes with a private transfer to Helsinki airport. 

Note: The Savonlinna Opera and Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival events described in the itinerary are subject (rarely) to change by the organisers. Actual performances or their order may therefore vary from those described in the itinerary.

£3,190 per person sharing
£360 double for single supplement 
£800 
 deposit per person

Please note that the double for single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable.

Price includes
  • All accommodation for Days 1 through 8, on a shared basis
  • All meals with soft drinks at lunch and wine at dinner, as listed in the daily notation
  • All land and water transportation as described, except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees, except during free periods
  • Top category tickets for 2 opera performances and 3 chamber music concerts
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff (appreciation for Kudu tour guides is optional)
 
Price does not include
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • International transport to Kuopio and from Helsinki
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol other than wine with group meals, free time activities)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Finnish departure tax, if any

VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED

On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 2 nights in Kuhmo, in a hotel with contemporary Finnish wooden design, idyllically situated on a lake

  • 3 nights in Kerimaki, in a peaceful lakeside hotel with a pool and a restaurant menu featuring game, wild berries, mushrooms and fish from the lake

  • 1 night in Porvoo, in a 4 star hotel, a converted Manor house set in ten acres of grounds leading down to the sea

  • 1 night in Helsinki, in a centrally located luxury hotel (a recently refurbished historic hotel, now a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

PLEASE NOTE THAT EARLY BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR MUSIC AND OPERA TRIPS

Kudu Travel reserves a block of seats for each performance, approximately 1 year in advance, and unsold seats will eventually be released.

Late bookings will be subject to an administrative fee of £ 30 per person. In addition, please be aware that it may not be possible to retrieve seats in the same category, or indeed, to obtain any tickets at all for sold out performances.

Visa and Health Requirements 

Visitors from the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand currently require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Finland. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Finland.

Residents of countries in the EU can claim free (emergency) medical treatment in Finland by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).         

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Finland. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.      

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. We can arrange comprehensive cover for UK residents. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 14 guests.


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