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London among the winners at Enjoy England awards

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London was among the cities recognised at this year’s Enjoy England Awards for Excellence, which were handed out at a ceremony in York last night (April 23rd).

The biggest success was enjoyed by London Walks for its provision of what the awards judges described as a “fun, green, entertaining and value for money experience all year round”.

Some 400 different walking tours of London are provided by the company, with some led by renowned actors.

Silver awards were given to a number of other institutions based in the capital, including the Science Museum, which was recognised in the section covering attractions with more than 100,000 visitors, and the National Theatre.

Sally Chatterjee, interim chief executive of Visit London, said: “We are delighted that such a diverse range of London attractions were successful in this year’s awards.

“London prides itself on offering a sheer range and depth of attractions, events and history in our city for both business and leisure visitors.”

The awards ceremony recognised a number of other attractions and experiences in southern England that may be of interest to travellers, including Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Brighton’s SailnetUK.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19138896-ADNFCR

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Spinal Tap to turn it up to 11 at Wembley

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Spinal Tap, the spoof glam rock band that featured in the mock documentary This is Spinal Tap, will reunite for a gig in London this year.

Rock and roll fans planning London tours should book tickets for the show at Wembley Arena on June 30th to see Nigel Tufnel, David St Hubbins and Derek Smalls doing what they do best live on stage.

Tufnel, St Hubbins and Smalls – also known as the actors Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer – will perform the “one night only world tour” show with support from the Folksmen.

Commenting ahead of the gig, Tufnel said: “If we’re going to do a world tour on only one night, at least it’s this world.”

St Hubbins added: “This show will be dedicated to all of our drummers who have passed on, either to their reward or to middle management at Sainsbury’s.”

The gig will celebrate the 25th anniversary of This is Spinal Tap, which was directed by Rob Reiner and followed the group as they set off on what would prove to be a fateful world tour.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19138429-ADNFCR

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Weak pound ‘did not discourage Brits over Easter’

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British travellers continued to take tours in Venice, New York and other destinations in Europe and the United States over Easter despite the low value of the pound, new figures suggest.

International Currency Exchange (Ice) revealed that the euro was the most popular currency among its customers ahead of the Easter holiday, accounting for 39 per cent of sales, followed closely by the US dollar with 38 per cent.

The Thai baht was in a distant third place with seven per cent of the currency firm’s orders, followed by the Australian dollar (four per cent) and the Mexican peso (three per cent).

Andrew Hamilton, Ice head of marketing, said: "We are in a recession but families want holidays that are low on stress and high in convenience and that means short journeys by train, car, sea or plane into Europe or guaranteed sunshine and family friendly holidays in the US.

"That said, Thailand is proving to be a popular destination after Europe and the US."

The exchange firm released figures last month which indicated that the Canadian dollar, the Czech koruna and the Polish zloty are also among the ten most popular currencies for Brits.

Venice – Fall in love all over again on a Gondola ride on the Grand Canal and lose yourself in the grand St Mark’s Square.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19138316-ADNFCR

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Doulos cruise ship to visit Hong Kong

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People on Hong Kong tours will be treated to an impressive sight this year when the ship Doulos arrives in the city.

Doulos is the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger vessel, having been built in 1914.

After filling various official capacities around the world during its lifetime, the ship now travels around the world as a kind of floating bookshop, carrying the biggest floating library in the world.

The liner has welcomed more than 20 million visitors onboard for tours, book sales and other events, stopping in over 500 ports of call in more than 100 countries.

Doulos will arrive at Hong Kong’s Ocean Terminal on June 6th and stay until July 4th, providing plenty of opportunities for visitors to come onboard and explore the unique ship.

As well as experiencing the many temporary events that take place in the city, visitors to Hong Kong can visit permanent attractions such as Victoria Harbour and the Peak, which offers stunning views over the city, harbour and surrounding mountains.

Hong Kong – Part mystical Chinese city, part 21st Century metropolis, Hong Kong combines temples and skyscrapers.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19136908-ADNFCR

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Discover the genius of Da Vinci in Singapore

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People planning Singapore tours this summer will have the opportunity to visit an exhibition in the city exploring the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Science Centre Singapore will host this travelling show, which is thought to be one of the most comprehensive touring exhibitions ever created on Da Vinci, from May 15th to August 16th.

Da Vinci can be considered the quintessential Renaissance genius, creating such iconic works of art as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper and dabbling in everything from mathematics and engineering to music and writing.

Highlights of the exhibition, entitled Da Vinci – The Genius, include a display exploring the times in which he lived, a section dedicated to his machine inventions and a showcase of his sketches and drawings.

The Science Centre Singapore is home to many other exhibits and sights that will interest people of all ages and tastes, with more than 1,000 interactive displays exploring various fields of science.

Singapore – Enjoy the wonderful shops or explore Singapore’s colonial history, whatever you do end the day with a Singapore sling at Raffles.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19136850-ADNFCR

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Meet an emperor in Rome

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People with an interest in ancient history should fit a visit to the Fori Imperiali complex into their Rome tours this year to learn about one of the leaders of the city’s ancient empire.

An exhibition exploring the rule of the Roman emperor Vespasianus will be open throughout 2009 and up to January 10th next year.

The display was launched to mark the 2,000th anniversary of Vespasianus’ birth and pay tribute to an emperor who is often overshadowed by the likes of Nero and Augustus.

Vespasianus played an important part in the development of the Roman empire, modifying the structure of its politics and its government.

Visitors to Rome will also be able to go on a journey back into its eventful history at an exhibition dedicated to Fra Angelico at the Musei Capitolini, which will be open until July 5th.

The showcase includes many pieces that have never been exhibited before and offers a fascinating introduction to one of the most important painters of the early Renaissance period.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19136350-ADNFCR

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British and Irish Lions squad announced

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An announcement has been made confirming the British and Irish Lions players that people on tours of Cape Town and other South African destinations will be able to see during the team’s visit to the country this year.

Irish second row Paul O’Connell will captain the British and Irish Lions this year, becoming the 10th Irishman to lead the team and the 27th captain overall.

O’Connell is one of 37 players picked to take part in the tour of South Africa, a squad that includes 17 backs and 20 forwards.

The captain is one of a record 14 Irish players selected for the team, joined by the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Tommy Bowe, Ronan O’Gara and Jamie Heaslip.

Thirteen Welsh players were named by head coach Ian McGeechan in this year’s British and Irish Lions squad, including Shane Williams and Andy Powell, while Joe Worsley and Andrew Sheridan were among the eight Englishmen picked.

Only two Scots – Nathan Hines and Euan Murray – were selected for the tour.

Travellers taking tours of South Africa this year will be able to see British and Irish Lions matches in destinations including Cape Town on June 23rd and Johannesburg on July 4th.

Cape Town – From the wine route to the game parks there is so much to see and do in Cape Town.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19134165-ADNFCR

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Visit ancient Egypt at the Louvre

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People planning Paris tours over the next couple of months will be able to visit the city’s iconic Musee du Louvre to explore an exhibition dedicated to ancient Egypt.

The expansive display was launched in the museum’s Napoleon Hall on March 6th and will be open until June 29th.

Entitled The Gates of Heaven: Visions of the World in Ancient Egypt, the exhibition takes its name from a phrase that the people of the ancient culture used to describe a passageway that led to the afterlife.

The Louvre has amassed a collection of some 350 artefacts from various collections across France and Europe for the showcase, offering a representation of ancient Egypt from the culture’s earliest times right up to the Roman period.

As well as displaying a variety of objects that had various uses and meanings in the culture, the exhibition places the items in their social, religious and artistic context to provide an additional insight into life in ancient times.

The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum, boasting a collection that encompasses artworks including the Mona Lisa.

Paris – Enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower or see the Mona Lisa in the "city of light".ADNFCR-1652-ID-19134042-ADNFCR

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Families urged to see Lake Balaton

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People looking for an affordable destination for family tours and getaways this summer have been urged to pay a visit to Lake Balaton in Hungary.

Balaton is central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, so large that it has reportedly been named the ‘Hungarian Sea’ by locals.

The location boasts an enjoyable resort atmosphere during the summer as many Hungarian people head there for their annual holiday, according to the country’s national tourist office.

Family groups will find plenty of activities to suit people of all ages, including sailing and kite-surfing on the lake and horse riding, hiking and golf on land.

Lake Balaton is surrounded by a number of resorts and towns that offer plenty of accommodation options, restaurants and amenities, the biggest of which are Balatonfured, Keszthely and Siofok.

The lake is also a couple of hours away from Budapest by car, meaning holidaymakers can set off on a day-trip to the capital city to see sights such as the Royal Palace and Matthias Church.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19133397-ADNFCR

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The King and I to be staged at Royal Albert Hall

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Musical fans will be booking their London tours to coincide with a new staging of a classic show later this year.

The Royal Albert Hall will host a production of The King and I from June 12th to 28th.

Originally staged on Broadway in 1951 and turned into a popular film starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner five years later, The King and I is a tale of two people from different worlds learning about each other’s cultures.

Anna, a British governess, is brought into the court of Siam to tutor the king’s many children and slowly begins to develop a relationship with the monarch that introduces her to a world very different from her own.

The tale is told by musical pieces including Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance and I Whistle a Happy Tune, which will be performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in the show.

After the run of The King and I has come to an end, the Royal Albert Hall will host a gig by rock and roll star Neil Sedaka on June 30th.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19131848-ADNFCR

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