Savonlinna

Finland: a Cultural Walking Tour with 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 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 boat trips to explore this idyllic region of silver birch forest and tranquil lakes, 3 chamber music concerts, plus 2 opera performances:

MUSSORGSKY: BORIS GODUNOV       MOZART: THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

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 17C Swedish and 18C Russian architectural influences.

We finish the trip in the 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. It is delightful to 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 steak, fabulously fresh seafood, wild forest mushrooms and tangy Arctic cloudberries.

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour include:  

  • A visit to Sibelius’ atmospheric former country home at Ainola
  • Accompanying a naturalist guide in the Linnansaari National Park, with an al fresco lunch in an island croft
  • Visits to the illuminating Winter War Museum and the modern Museum of the Forest
  • A traditional ferryboat trip on the lake and visiting a major international exhibition at the Retretti Arts Centre
  • Strolls in the silver birch forest and around the 17C wooden architecture of towns along the old King’s Road to Helsinki
  • Exploring the galleries and museums of Helsinki whilst based in the historic 5 star Hotel Kamp (a member of the Luxury Collection)

Guests’ comments on this trip:

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

Frances was an excellent leader - knowledgeable, helpful and attentive to detail and she produced incredible picnics. The performances at Kuhmo were very good indeed and the concert hall is a joy - quite superb.’

DAY 1  
D included
We meet at Kuopio airport in the late afternoon and transfer by road (2.5 hrs) to Kuhmo, close to the Finno-Russian border. We have a light supper on arrival at our hotel, a contemporary Finnish wooden design idyllically situated on a lake.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
A gentle walk from the hotel after breakfast introduces us to the lakeshore and surrounding forest and we visit the Winter War Museum which documents a campaign little-known outside Finland. We attend a short morning concert (programme published January 2014) in Kuhmo’s handsome yellow wooden church and then there is an opportunity to walk a typical forest trail and have a picnic. There is time to relax, or swim in the lake, before attending our late afternoon concert.  

DAY 3
B, L, D included
This morning we attend our third Festival performance in Kuhmo church, before setting off for the drive south cross-country: 2 hours before lunch, then 3.5 hours in the afternoon, arriving at our small new, family-run hotel in time for a swim in the lake or a traditional sauna. Dinner on the terrace overlooking the harbour is a typical Finnish ‘Robbers Roast’, elk cooked very slowly with herbs and served with a chanterelle sauce, perhaps followed by cloudberries marinated in cognac.

DAY 4
B, L, D included
A boat takes us across the lake in the Linnansaari National Park and if we are lucky, we may see the endearing Saimaa ringed seal on the way to the island. Wewalk on a nature trail where the deciduous forests, the bare rocks parched by the sun, and the open meadows offer a good habitat for many rare plant and animal species, and visit Linnansaari Croft to see the traditional self-sufficient way of life of the inhabitants in the old times. After driving to Savonlinna, we have an early dinner before attending our first opera performance, Mussorgsky’s ‘Boris Godunov’, an unforgettable experience with the floodlit castle reflected in the still waters of the lake.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
After breakfast outside on the terrace 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 excellent Museum of the Forest. After a light lunch we visit the Retretti Arts Centre which annually hosts a major international exhibition. We travel to Savonlinna by traditional ferryboat, enjoying the peaceful scenery and sparkling water, before attending the second opera in the castle, Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’.

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 small restaurant in the old town (the Fortress) of Lappeenranta - there are opportunities to shop here for ceramics and Finnish handicrafts. We also look around Hamina, with its unique circular town plan dating from the early 18c Russian 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’ delightful former country home, full of evocative mementoes of Finland’s greatest composer, and have a light lunch before driving on to Helsinki where our 5 star hotel (a recently refurbished historic hotel, now a member of the Luxury Collection) is perfectly situated for exploring the historic city centre. We begin with an orientation walk from our hotel, visiting Senate Square, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the picturesque waterfront before returning to prepare for our farewell dinner of Finnish specialities 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, 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 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.

£2,990 per person sharing
£500 deposit per person
£340 
single room supplement

Please note that the 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. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible, but hotels in some countries do have single rooms that are small and less well positioned - in this case the supplement is simply ensuring your privacy.

Price includes

  • All accommodation for Days 1 through 8, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals with wine at lunches and dinners, other than those excepted in the daily notation
  • All land and water transportation as described except during free periods all entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • Good category tickets for 2 opera performances and 3 chamber music concerts
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff (appreciation for tour leaders/managers is entirely at your discretion)

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 near Savonlinna, in a small new, family-run hotel (where we stay in spacious apartments)

  • 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 5 star hotel (a recently refurbished historic hotel, now a member of the Luxury Collection)

 

 

 

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. Once released, 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, US, 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.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Finland. Residents of countries in the EU can only claim free (emergency) medical treatment in Finland by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is issued in the UK by the Department of Health. 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. 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 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.


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