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Venice: Pageantry & Piety - Seven concerts of Venetian music in palaces, churches, great halls and St Mark’s Basilica

Seven private concerts in appropriate and beautiful halls and churches in Venice, including the Basilica di San Marco.

Participating ensembles are among the world leaders in Venetian repertoire – Gabrieli Consort & Players (Paul McCreesh), The Taverner Consort & Players (Andrew Parrott), La Serenissima (Adrian Chandler), The Monteverdi String Band (Oliver Webber), Il Pomo d’Oro (Francesco Corti), Modo Antiquo (Federico Sardelli), In Echo (Gawain Glenton).

Soloists so far confirmed include: Roberta Mameli (soprano), Joanne Lunn (soprano), Renata Pokupić (mezzo-soprano), Sioned Gwen Davies (mezzo-soprano) and Ashley Riches (bass-baritone). More to be announced. 

Talks on the music by Dr David Vickers and Professor John Bryan, and optional walks in the company of art historians Dr Michael Douglas-Scott and Dr R.T. Cobianchi.

Accommodation for five nights from a choice of six carefully selected hotels, flights between London Heathrow or Gatwick and Venice (optional), transfers by water taxi and a range of other services and optional extras.

  • Renata Pokupić ©Chris Gloag.
  • La Serenissima ©Eric Richmond.
  • Gabrieli ©Andy Staples.
  • English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble ©Kippa Matthews
  • Il Pomo d’Oro.
  • Joanne Lunn ©Redpath.
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If hearing music in the place for which it was written is a special joy, imagine the experience when that place is the most beautiful city on Earth.


Venetian music in Venice

This festival provides a unique opportunity to hear the authentic sound of La Serenissima. The city may be utterly enchanting to look at and its art and architecture among the finest achievements of western civilisation, but the maritime republic happens also to have been the centre of European musical life from the Renaissance to the Age of Baroque.

Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Vivaldi – the early music revival has placed these names alongside the great names of the Classical and Romantic periods. But they were not alone: for over 200 years there were countless other composers and performers in Venice, an astonishing profusion of talent which fed the voracious appetite for spectacle and beauty that so distinguished Venetian life, both public and private.


The performers are among the finest living interpreters of Venetian music

From Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players performing A Feast for San Rocco in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco itself, to Vivaldi specialists Modo Antiquo. This veritable roll call of the greatest performers of this repertoire also includes Il Pomo d’Oro, with star soprano Roberta Mameli, the Monteverdi String Band and the ensemble La Serenissima, the UK’s leading exponent of the music of 18th-century Venice.


A private concert in the Basilica di San Marco

This is the glorious culmination of this superb programme of seven concerts in seven contrasting venues. A fitting finale, Monteverdi’s ‘1610 Vespers’ is performed by Andrew Parrott and the Taverner Consort, whose seminal recording of the piece is arguably the greatest version of all time. For some, a private out-of-hours visit to the Byzantine majesty of St Mark’s is among their lifetime highlights – the addition of sublime music by outstanding artists elevates this experience to indescribable heights.


Musical insight from leading experts

Daily talks by lecturers Professor John Bryan and Dr David Vickers elucidate the programme of music and its Venetian context.


A meticulously and thoughtfully curated experience

The performances are private, being exclusive to participants who take a package which includes accommodation, flights from London, airport transfers, lectures, dinners, interval drinks and much else besides. You may also sign up to walks and visits led by art historians and outstanding guides, and join a pre- or post-festival tour.


Discover Venice, the world's most beautiful city

There are not half-a-dozen cities in the world which surpass Venice for the sheer number of major works of architecture, sculpture and painting.

For the world’s most beautiful city, Venice had an inauspicious start. The site was once merely a collection of mudbanks, and the first settlers came as refugees fleeing the barbarian destroyers of the Roman Empire. They sought to escape to terrain so inhospitable that no foe would follow.

The success of the community that arose on the site would have been beyond the wildest imaginings of the first Venetians. By the end of the Middle Ages Venice had become the leading maritime power in the Mediterranean and possibly the wealthiest city in Europe. The shallow waters of the lagoon had indeed kept its safe from malign incursions and it kept its independence until the end of the eighteenth century. ‘Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee, and was the safeguard of the West, Venice, eldest child of liberty.’

Trade with the East was the source of that wealth and power, and the eastern connection has left its indelible stamp upon Venetian art and architecture. Western styles are here tempered by a richness of effect and delicacy of pattern which is redolent of oriental opulence. It is above all by its colour that Venetian painting is distinguished. And whether sonorous or poetic, from Bellini through Titian to Tiepolo, there remain echoes of the transcendental splendour of the Byzantine mosaics of St Mark’s.

That Venice survives so comprehensively from the days of its greatness, so little ruffled by modern intrusions, would suffice to make it the goal of everyone who is curious about the man-made world. Thoroughfares being water and cars nonexistent, the imagination traverses the centuries with ease.


Meet the musicians

La Serenissima

Established in 1994, La Serenissima is recognised as the UK’s leading exponent of the music of 18th-century Venice and connected composers. Uniquely, the group’s entire repertoire is edited from manuscript or contemporary sources. La Serenissima has performed nationally and internationally to great acclaim; recent highlights include concerts at Bridgewater Hall, Sage Gateshead and Wigmore Hall, festivals in Franconia, Sablé, Swansea, Valetta and Venice. La Serenissima is proud to have the backing of its Honorary Patron, His Excellency The Italian Ambassador.

Director and violinist Adrian Chandler has dedicated his life to Italian Baroque music.While a student at the Royal College of Music, he founded La Serenissima with whom he has since performed numerous recitals, concerts and operas in major festivals in the UK, Belgium and Italy, as well as in concert series at home and abroad. He has appeared as guest director with various ensembles and in 2020 will make his debut directing Concerto Copenhagen in Denmark.

Joanne Lunn is one of Britain’s leading Baroque sopranos. She performs regularly with the Dunedin Consort (John Butt), Concerto Copenhagen, Tafelmusik (Toronto), Cappella Amsterdam, Ensemble Pygmalion and Knabenchor, Hanover. Joanne has also appeared regularly in concert in Moscow as well as with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Croatian mezzo-soprano Renata Pokupić is praised for her engaging and expressive interpretation of Baroque, classical and coloratura repertoire. She has appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in The Marriage of Figaro and Faust. An accomplished recitalist, Pokupić works regularly with the internationally acclaimed pianist Roger Vignoles.

Coupled with a beautifully rich voice and an impressive range, Welsh mezzo-soprano Sioned Gwen Davies is equally at ease in lyric and dramatic roles. Formerly an Emerging Artist with Scottish Opera, Sioned represented Wales at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2017 at St David’s Hall.

British bass-baritone Ashley Riches read English at the University of Cambridge, where he was a member of King’s College Choir. He went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and subsequently joined the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House. He has appeared with the English National Opera, Berlin Philharmonic, and Gabrieli Consort.


Gabrieli Consort & Players

Gabrieli are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day. Formed as an early music ensemble by Paul McCreesh in 1982, Gabrieli has both outgrown and remained true to its original identity. Over 35 years, the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded beyond any expectation, but McCreesh’s ever-questioning spirit and expressive musicianship remain constant features in the ensemble’s dynamic performances and award-winning recordings. They have been performing on Martin Randall Festivals for over 20 years.

In addition to the Gabrieli, director Paul McCreesh has guest conducted many of the major orchestras and choirs across the globe. He has also established a strong reputation in the opera house and has conducted productions at the Teatro Real Madrid, Royal Danish Opera and Opéra Comique. McCreesh has his own record label, Winged Lion, whose recordings build on his already large catalogue with Deutsche Grammophon.

A full list of soloists will be available here in autumn 2019.


Modo Antiquo

In the 30 years since its formation, period-instrument orchestra Modo Antiquo has established a worldwide reputation under the direction of flautist Federico Maria Sardelli. Vivaldi and his Roman contemporary Corelli have always been central to its activities, in the concert hall and on disc. Its vibrant recordings of Vivaldi and Corelli concertos have received US Grammy nominations, while Sardelli has directed the orchestra in modern world premières of Vivaldi operas including Motezuma (Rotterdam, 2005) and L’Atenaide (Florence, 2006).

Director Federico Maria Sardelli is also Italy’s leading Vivaldi scholar. He has made his own performing editions of several operas, performed and recorded his own reconstruction of Orlando furioso, and recorded two discs of Vivaldi Discoveries, works unearthed in European archives during the last two decades. He has written a monograph on Vivaldi’s music for flute, and since 2007 has been in charge of the monumental undertaking of assembling a complete list of Vivaldi’s works for the revised Ryom (RV) catalogue – the Vivaldian Köchel.


Monteverdi String Band

Known for its unique sound and creative programming, Monteverdi String Band is that relatively rare bird: a string ensemble specialising in the early Baroque. Their core repertoire spans from the grand courtly celebrations of the late Renaissance to the virtuosic ensemble counterpoint of the late 17th century, and their unique programmes, featuring poetry, swordsmanship and innovative lighting, have been described by reviewers as an ‘utterly gripping mixture of eroticism and violence’ and ‘the very embodiment of sprezzatura’.

As well as directing Monteverdi String Band, Oliver Webber appears regularly as guest leader with many ensembles specialising in the music of Monteverdi. Putting research into practice lies at the heart of his work, both in his own performances and in those of the next generation, through his teaching at London’s Guildhall School.


In Echo

Formed by cornetto player Gawain Glenton, In Echo is a diverse ensemble that explores the rich repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries. Specialising in Renaissance and Baroque music, the ensemble also commissions and performs new music for old instruments. Their debut album Music in a Cold Climate: Sounds of Hansa Europe was released in 2018.

Gawain Glenton is a specialist cornetto player whose work as a soloist and an ensemble musician takes him all over the world. He performs and records with many leading international groups, such as Il Giardino Armonico and The Taverner Consort. Gawain teaches cornetto at the annual Dartington International Summer School and is a co-founder of Sherborne Early Music.


Il Pomo d’Oro

Founded in 2012, the ensemble is characterised by its authentic, dynamic interpretation of operas and instrumental works from the Baroque and Classical period. The musicians are all well-known specialists and are among the best in the field of historical performance practice. Il Pomo d’Oro is a regular guest in prestigious concert halls and festivals all over Europe. Their many recordings include the recent Voglio Cantar (2019) with soprano Emöke Barath on the occasion of Barbara Strozzi’s 400th birthday.

Born in Arezzo, conductor Francesco Corti studied organ in Perugia, then harpsichord in Geneva and in Amsterdam. Since 2015 he has regularly conducted Les Musiciens du Louvre in a repertoire that spans from A. Scarlatti and Handel to Galuppi and Mozart. He has been invited as a soloist and conductor by the Holland Baroque Society for two European tours of the Brandenburg concertos, and by the Nederlandse Bachvereniging.

Soprano Roberta Mameli graduated in singing at the Nicolini Conservatory in Piacenza, and in violin, followed by masterclasses with Bernadette Manca di Nissa, Ugo Benelli, Konrad Richter, Claudio Desderi and Enzo Dara. She is currently considered one of the spearheads in the Baroque repertoire for her versatility and crystalline voice as well as for her great interpretative and acting qualities.


Taverner Consort

Founded by Andrew Parrott in 1973, the Taverner Choir, Consort & Players, notably in the field of period performance practice, has achieved a fuller understanding of Europe’s vast musical literature. Its work encompasses repertoire from over seven centuries – from early medieval music to new commissions, from intimate chamber music to large-scale choral and orchestral works.

Conductor Andrew Parrott is perhaps best known for his recordings of pre-classical repertory from Machaut to Handel with the Taverner Consort, principally for EMI. He is a former music director of both The London Mozart Players and the period-instrument New York Collegium, and has been Honorary Conductor of the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra since 2006.


English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble

Since its formation in 1993, the English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble has been at the forefront of the early music scene. The group has performed at many major music festivals and concert halls in the UK and abroad, sometimes in collaboration with other ensembles including I Fagiolini, Alamire and Cantus Cölln. They have been involved in many memorable recordings, including Flowers Of Cities All with music from Shakespeare’s London and the award winning Striggio Mass in 40 Parts with I Fagiolini.

Arrive a day early: Sunday 1 November

We are offering the option of arriving at your hotel in Venice a day before the festival begins.

Take one of our festival flight options from London, or make your own way independently – see Practicalities.

If you choose one of our flights, you are met at Venice Marco Polo airport by our festival staff.

Transfer to Venice by motoscafo.


Day 1: Monday 2 November

Take one of our festival flight options from London, or make your own way independently – see Practicalities.

If you choose one of our flights, you are met at Venice Marco Polo airport by our festival staff.

Transfer to Venice by motoscafo.

For those already in Venice, the day is free until the evening, unless you opt to participate in optional walks or visits.

Settle into your chosen hotel before welcome drinks and dinner. If you choose option 6 flights, you may arrive late to the welcome drinks and dinner.


Day 2: Tuesday 3 November

The first concert is preceded by a lecture by Professor John Bryan.

Concert, 11.30am and 3.00pm: Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Derelitti
Vivaldi: Sonatas & Concertos

Modo Antiquo
Federico Sardelli director

The Red Priest’s music written for the Ospedale della Pietà encompassed almost all genres. A selection from the abundant sonatas and concertos for assorted mixed instruments will be performed by Modo Antiquo, including Federico Maria Sardelli’s new reconstructions of incomplete works found in a book that reputedly belonged to Vivaldi’s pupil Anna Maria.

Santa Maria dei Derelitti is the church attached to the Ospedaletto, one of the four orphanages which were renowned as centres of musical excellence (of which the Ospedale della Pietà was also one). The institution survives as a hospital. The church probably has the best acoustics of any in Venice, and the original screened musicians’ gallery survives.

The concert is followed by free time and an independent dinner, unless you choose to attend an optional dinner.

We gather in the evening for our concert at the most magnificent of all confraternity premises, La Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Constructed in the 16th century, it was adorned with a magnificent cycle of dynamic and highly-charged canvasses by Tintoretto. In combination with the carved and gilded woodwork, this created one of the most lavish interiors in Venice, and one of the largest.

Concert, 8.00pm: Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Feast for San Rocco

Gabrieli Consort & Players
Paul McCreesh director

An Englishman at the feast of San Rocco in 1608 praised that the music directed by Giovanni Gabrieli ‘did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like.’ The splendid celebration is recreated in the original venue with a rich variety of exquisite instrumental sonatas, delectable solo motets and spectacular polychoral masterpieces.


Day 3: Wednesday 4 November

The Ateneo Veneto was built in the 1590s as the Scuola di San Fantin. Since the confraternity’s dissolution in 1806, the building has become the seat of various cultural societies. The main hall is decorated with elaborate woodwork and paintings (artists include Veronese and Palma Il Giovane). As the hall is small, this performance is to be repeated on consecutive mornings.

Concert, 11.00am: Ateneo Veneto
The Fugitive & the Maestro: Rosenmüller & Legrenzi

The Monteverdi String Band
Oliver Webber director

Diverse chamber sonatas for two to five instruments by Rosenmüller and Legrenzi illustrate the exceptional qualities of two late 17th-century musicians employed at St Mark’s under dissimilar circumstances. The disgraced Leipziger fugitive was in exile whereas the maestro was admired across Italy before he settled in Venice.

Concert, 5.30pm: La Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista
Lotti: Music for Venetian Vespers

La Serenissima
Adrian Chandler director, violin

Joanne Lunn soprano
Renata Pokupić mezzo-soprano
Sioned Gwen Davies alto
Ashley Riches bass-baritone

Lotti’s famous eight-part Crucifixus is popular with choirs as a Renaissance-style motet, but he was an influential contemporary of Handel and Bach – both of whom admired and copied out his works. Seldom performed but preserved in libraries all over Europe, Lotti’s Venetian vespers music in the modern baroque style is brought back to life by La Serenissima.

La Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista was one of the greatest of the Venetian scuole – charitable, religious and social institutions that provided platforms for much of the city’s cultural life. The Renaissance transformation of their premises which began in the 1480s culminates in a glorious hall, which was further embellished in the 16th and 18th centuries. The building is not generally open to the public.

The concert is followed by a gala dinner in the Sala delle colonne within the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista.


Day 4: Thursday 5 November

A plenary lecture precedes the repeat concert (at 11.00am) of The Fugitive & the Maestro for the second half of the audience. For those who attended this concert yesterday, the day is free after the morning lecture until this evening’s concert.

The afternoon is free. There is the chance to sign up for optional walks and visits nearer the time.

Concert, 6.15pm or 9.00pm: Ca’ Sagredo
Unica lux Venetum: the Myth of Venice

In Echo
Gawain Glenton director, cornetto

The image of Venice as a great Renaissance power was cultivated not only in the architecture of Palladio and the art of Veronese, but also in secular and sacred music by Willaert, Cipriano, Donato, Croce and both Gabrielis – all employed at St Mark’s, and whose talents advocated the glory of La Serenissima.

Situated on the Grand Canal, the Ca’ Sagredo was largely rebuilt and decorated in the first half of the 18th century. A Baroque stairway leads to a sequence of frescoed halls – one with a ceiling by Giambattista Tiepolo – and culminates in the ballroom, glorious if endearingly past its prime in a quintessentially Venetian way. Again, due to the size of the hall, the concert will be repeated.


Day 5: Friday 6 November

The penultimate concert takes place in baroque Palazzo Pisani a Santo Stefano, home to the Venetian conservatoire, which was established in 1876 and named after the Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello. Many of its spacious rooms are decorated with frescoes and the large ballroom is now used as a concert hall. Its now-lost rich art gallery included works by Titian, Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese.

Pre-concert drinks, 11.30am or 2.30pm.

Concert, 12.00 noon or 3.00pm: Conservatorio di Benedetto Marcello
The Harmony of Venice: the inspirations and songs of Barbara Strozzi

Il Pomo d’Oro
Francesco Corti conductor

Roberta Mameli soprano

The extraordinary composer-performer Barbara Strozzi (1619–77) published eight collections of works. She studied with Cavalli, who had studied with Monteverdi. A selection of secular music by all three of them recreates the atmosphere of the Venetian academies at which Strozzi unveiled her sophisticated union of poetry and harmony.

The rest of the afternoon is free, unless you join an optional dinner.

Our closing concert takes place in St Mark’s Basilica. St Mark’s was built as the Doge’s chapel and shrine of Venice’s patron saint, Mark the Evangelist, and is now the cathedral. With its quincunx of domes and acres of mosaics, it is the most glorious Byzantine-style building in the West. Begun in the 11th century, embellishment continued through the Middle Ages and beyond.

Concert, c. 8.30pm: Basilica di San Marco
Monteverdi: Vespro della beata Vergine (1610)

The Taverner Consort & Players
Andrew Parrott director

The Monteverdi String Band

The English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble

Monteverdi’s virtuoso collection of motets, psalms and Magnificat was printed shortly before his momentous move from Mantua to maestro di cappella at St Mark’s in Venice. The glorious music of the so-called 1610 Vespers will be presented by scholar-performer Andrew Parrott and his Taverner Consort, in collaboration with the Monteverdi String Band and the English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble, as an imagined liturgical celebration of a Marian feast in the early 1600s.


Day 6: Saturday 7 November

Transfers to the airport by motoscafo.

Fly back to London on one of the festival flight options – see Practicalities – or leave the festival independently.

The festival package


All seven performances

Daily lectures on the music

Accommodation for 5 nights – choose between 6 hotels

Return flights between London and Venice (reduced price if you arrange your own)

Breakfasts, two dinners and interval drinks

Water taxis between the airport and hotels, and unlimited free use of the vaporetti (water buses)

All tips, taxes and obligatory charges

A detailed programme booklet

The assistance of a team of Italian speaking festival staff


Optional extras:

A choice of pre- and post- festival tours or London Day.

Arriving a day early at your festival hotel.

An optional package of three extra dinners on 3, 5 and 6 November, which means that every evening is spent in the company of other festival participants – full information and prices will be sent to all those booked closer to the time of departure.


Accommodation and prices

We have selected six hotels for this festival. All are 4- or 5-star. The hotel is the sole determinant of the different prices for the festival package.


Notes on hotels

WiFi. Complimentary at all hotels.

Quiet? Though blessedly free of the sound of vehicular traffic, motor boats and street life mean that few hotels can be guaranteed to be absolutely quiet.

Rooms vary. As is inevitable in historic buildings, rooms vary in size and outlook. Suites and rooms with views. Some hotels have suites and rooms with views of the Grand Canal. All are subject to availability at the time of booking. For some, prices are only available on request. There is also the option of arriving at your festival hotel a day early (1 November).


NH Palazzo Barocci (4*)

A contemporary conversion of a 19th-century palace on the Grand Canal and part of a reliable hotel group. It is next door to the Palazzo Sant’Angelo (also used on this festival) with a vaporetto stop directly outside as well as its own mooring. Rooms follow the modern theme with light, neutral colour schemes; most bathrooms are equipped with stand-alone showers. Public areas include a breakfast room, a bar – which serves snacks – and a garden. There is no restaurant. Some rooms do not have lift access.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Premium room: £3,340
Or if arriving a day early: £3,490

Premium room with Grand Canal view: £3,480
Or if arriving a day early: £3,660

Junior Suite with Grand Canal view: £3,710
Or if arriving a day early: £3,950

Single occupancy

Superior double for sole use: £3,690
Or if arriving a day early: £3,910

Premium double for sole use: £3,740
Or if arriving a day early: £3,970

Premium double for sole use with Grand Canal view: £3,940
Or if arriving a day early: £4,210


Splendid Venice (4*)

A delightful hotel situated between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge. Despite the central location the hotel is quiet, with rooms overlooking side canals or an internal courtyard. Public areas include a good restaurant, bar and lounge, library and roof terrace. Bedrooms are light, well-appointed and decorated in a contemporary style. The majority have a bath with shower fitment, though a small number have a stand-alone shower.

Although the hotel has its own mooring point, water taxis are not always able to arrive at the door during particularly severe acqua alta (high tide) as they cannot pass under the nearby bridges. Hotel and festival staff will be present to assist if we encounter difficulties.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe double: £3,730
Or if arriving a day early: £3,970

Single occupancy

Superior double for sole use: £4,180
Or if arriving a day early: £4,510


Palazzo Sant’Angelo (4*)

The smallest hotel on the festival with just 26 rooms, the Palazzo Sant’Angelo has a warm and personal atmosphere and will exclusively accommodate our group (if all rooms fill). It is well located on the Grand Canal near the Campo Sant’Angelo, less than one minute from the Sant’Angelo vaporetto stop. Rooms are richly decorated in a classic Venetian style, and have views of the canal or hotel courtyard and garden. Bathrooms have sizeable jacuzzi-style bathtubs with an overhead shower fitment. Public areas include a small bar and lounge but no restaurant. 

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room: £3,960
Or if arriving a day early: £4,240

Junior Suite: £4,070
Or if arriving a day early: £4,370

Junior Suite with Grand Canal view: £4,710
Or if arriving a day early: £5,080

Deluxe Suite with Grand Canal view: £4,860
Or if arriving a day early: £5,300

Single occupancy

Classic double for sole use: £4,320
Or if arriving a day early: £4,670

Deluxe double for sole use: £4,640
Or if arriving a day early: £5,050


Hotel Luna Baglioni (5*)

A luxurious hotel that manages to combine Venetian splendour with warm and friendly service. The location is excellent, minutes away from Piazza San Marco and the Royal Gardens but removed from the main thoroughfare. Rooms are spacious and richly furnished in a classic Venetian style; the marble bathrooms are equipped with a bathtub with shower fitment. Public areas are again opulent and attractive, and the restaurant is excellent.

Rooms with lagoon or side canal views, or suites, are available on request.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room: £4,160
Or if arriving a day early: £4,410

Single occupancy

Superior double for sole use: £4,580
Or if arriving a day early: £4,920


Hotel Danieli (5*)

In a central location on the Riva degli Schiavoni, steps away from the Palazzo Ducale and Piazza San Marco and with views over the lagoon. Made up of three ornate palazzi, the Danieli has a wonderful 14th-century staircase and impressive public areas which include a rooftop bar and restaurant, a bistro and ground-floor piano bar. Bedrooms are particularly generous in size, and are comfortably furnished in a traditional Venetian style.

Suites are available on request.

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Premium room: £4,430
Or if arriving a day early: £4,720

Deluxe room with lagoon view: £5,140
Or if arriving a day early: £5,570

Single occupancy

Premium double for sole use: £5,090
Or if arriving a day early: £5,510


Hotel Gritti Palace (5*)

The most venerable hotel in Venice situated at the mouth of the Grand Canal just opposite the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute. Occupying the elegant Gothic palace of a 15th-century doge, the style is one of restrained luxury, and with excellent, discreet service. Sensitive restoration has retained its Venetian character; rooms and public areas are sumptuously decorated with Rubelli fabrics, Murano chandeliers and antique furniture. There is a bar, lounge and two restaurants with a terrace area.

Suites are available on request. 

Prices, per person

Two sharing

Deluxe room: £5,220
Or if arriving a day early: £5,680

Deluxe room with Grand Canal view: £6,150
Or if arriving a day early: £6,820

Single occupancy

Deluxe double for sole use: £6,540
Or if arriving a day early £7,260


Travel options: joining and leaving the festival

Flights with British Airways from London Heathrow or Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo are included in the price.

There is also the option to fly out on Sunday 1 November, the day before the festival begins – see above for accommodation prices.

Or you can choose to make your own arrangements for travel to and from the festival, for which there is a price reduction.

Flight changes. It is not possible for us to book flights until late 2019, so times are subject to change.


Arrive a day early

Option 1
1st November: depart London Heathrow 09.00, arrive Venice at 12.10 (BA 578).
7th November: depart Venice 12.50, arrive London Heathrow at 14.20 (BA 579).

Option 2
1st November: depart London Gatwick 12.35, arrive Venice at 15.40 (BA 2584).
7th November: depart Venice 12.50, arrive London Gatwick at 14.00 (BA 2583).

Option 3
1st November: depart London Gatwick 16.55, arrive Venice at 20.00 (BA 2586).
7th November: depart Venice 17.15, arrive London Gatwick at 18.30 (BA 2585).


Arrive on the first day of the festival

Option 4
2nd November: depart London Heathrow 09.00, arrive Venice at 12.10 (BA 578).
7th November: depart Venice 12.50, arrive London Heathrow at 14.20 (BA 579).

Option 5
2nd November: depart London Gatwick 12.35, arrive Venice at 15.40 (BA 2584).
7th November: depart Venice 12.50, arrive London Gatwick at 14.00 (BA 2583).

Option 6
2nd November: depart London Gatwick 16.55 arrive Venice at 20.00 (BA 2586).
7th November: depart Venice 17.15, arrive London Gatwick at 18.30 (BA 2585).


The no-flights option

You can choose not to take any of our flights and to make your own arrangements for joining and leaving the festival. Should you decide to join the festival at Venice Marco Polo Airport at a time which coincides with our flight arrivals, you are welcome to join one of our water-taxi transfers to your hotel. Price reduction for ‘no flights’: £160


Pre- & post-festival tours

You do not need to choose a flight option, if you choose to book one of these tours. When combined with the festival, they have their own separate arrangements – full details of these tours can be found by clicking on the titles below:

Tintoretto, Titian & Veronese
26 October–1 November 2020 (MG 521)
Lecturer: Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

Historic Musical Instruments
29 October–1 November 2020 (MG 545)
Lecturer: Professor Robert Adelson

Naples: Art, Antiquities & Opera
29 October–2 November 2020 (MG 548)
Lecturer: Dr Luca Leoncini

Venice Revisited
9–14 November 2020 (MG 559)
Lecturer: Dr Susan Steer

Venetian Palaces
10–14 November 2020 (MG 560)
Lecturer: Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

We charge for return flights (if you are taking them) as part of the tour booking – therefore you pay the ‘no flights’ price for the festival.


More about the concerts

Private. All the performances are planned and administered by us, and the audience consists exclusively of those who have taken the festival package.

Seating. Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want.

Comfort. Seats in the churches are likely to be pews. In another couple of venues heating is inadequate; expect to wear coat and gloves during those concerts.

Acoustics. This festival is more concerned with locale and authenticity than with acoustic perfection. The venues may have idiosyncrasies or reverberations of the sort not found in modern concert halls.

Changes. Musicians fall ill, venues may close for repairs, airlines alter schedules: there are many circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.

Repeated concerts. Four of our venues are not big enough for the whole audience, so at these, the performance will be repeated.


Optional walks and visits


Dr Michael Douglas-Scott. Associate Lecturer in History of Art at Birkbeck College, specialising in 16th-century Italian art and architecture. He studied at the Courtauld and Birkbeck College, University of London and lived in Rome for several years. He has written articles for Arte Veneta, Burlington Magazine and the Journal of the Warburg & Courtauld Institutes.

Dr R. T. Cobianchi. Art historian and researcher specialising in Italian art and architecture of the Renaissance and Baroque. His particular interests include the iconography of the late Middle Ages and Neoclassical sculpture.

More to be confirmed. Full information about walks and visits, with prices, will be sent to all those booked at a later stage.


Further practicalities

Fitness for the festival

We must stress that it is essential to cope with the walking and stair-climbing required to get to the concerts and other events. The hotels we have chosen are situated in the San Marco and Castello districts, whereas some of the concert venues are on the other side of the Grand Canal in the San Polo district.

Venice covers a large area. There are the steps of numerous bridges to negotiate. Water taxis are not always an option.

You should be able to walk unaided for at least 30 minutes and to be able to get on and off (sometimes pitching) water buses and taxis.

We ask that you take these simple fitness tests before booking.

If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.


Participation in our festivals is a very different experience from conventional group travel

No repetitive or redundant announcements, no herding by elevated umbrella, no unnecessary roll calls, little hanging around. We work on the assumption that you are adults, and our staff cultivate the virtue of unobtrusiveness.

Though this is a large event, you will often find yourself in smaller groups – the audience is divided between six hotels, and into different restaurants for some of the dinners.

For those who are not averse to group activities there are extra meals, walks and visits to sign up to. You choose the level of participation that suits you.

We provide sufficient information to enable you to navigate the festival events without needing to be led. However, festival staff are also stationed around the events to direct you if needed.


Why November?

November is relatively low season in Venice. Fewer visitors and fewer cruise ships make it much easier to get around and to visit places for which queues or congestion are standard for much of the year.

Temperatures can be mild and blue skies can be expected at least for part of the time, though rain is likely. Important for the festival is that at this end of winter unheated buildings may retain a trace of their summer warmth.

November is the peak month for acqua alta, the rise in water levels in the canals is such that some streets and squares are inundated. This flooding is related to tides and therefore lasts only for a few hours, but we strongly recommend that you bring waterproof footwear such as full-length wellington boots. Floods of 2–3 feet or more above street level are very rare.


Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.


‘The attention to detail, the intelligent and creative programme, the kindness of the staff, and the unstinting standard of everything made me feel extraordinarily privileged.’ 

‘Top quality, private performances and immaculate planning and organisation in amazing places.’

‘The organisation – travel, accommodation, meals – was impeccable.’