Magical Mystery Tour

Dunno about yourself, but the brevity of the Christmas break always sends me straight to the travel websites – as usual planning holidays around the music calendar. Though conversely, the first few weeks of the year would be an ideal time to get away with next to no gigs and a general scarcity of new releases.

For anyone that doesn’t want peace and quiet there are quite a few options for a music-themed holiday – no, I’m not talking about festivals, there’s plenty of that all summer. Mind you, a trip to Coachella looks like Hades – nice and toasty being set in a polo club in California, it’s become a place for Paris Hilton and the Kardashians to show off their latest fashionwear. There’s little solace in a line-up which could be described charitably as ‘eclectic’, with Guns ‘n’Roses, LCD Soundsystem and Lush reuniting while Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris and Disclosure sit alongside more credible acts like Young Fathers and Chvrches.

The smaller the festival the better I reckon – Wickerman, No.6 and Insider will beat any of your massive lager-fuelled events (and the one I’m planing in my garden will be awesome).

But you can combine a holiday with some rock tourism – why not visit the site where the White Album (the Beatles one that is) was conceived. The forest where the not-as-Fab-as-everyone-seems-to-think Four visited Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is now a tourist hotspot.
If you’re looking for popular musical heritage, there are two obvious places to head (Salzburg’s Sound of Music trips aside).
An eight-hour flight will get you to the USA, where you’ll be bundled in a van and spirited around areas frequented by Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix by the folks at stalkingseattle.com.

On the other (nearer) coast, rockjunket.com will take you round East Village in the footsteps of The Ramones, New York Dolls and Velvet Underground. Though soon you may not need to leave Newark International Airport, as a CBGBs-themed lounge is apparently planned for hard-core rock travellers. The scenario sounds similar to the Cavern Club, which is now actually across the road from the original site. Though a more obvious fake is the version of The Cavern floating in the Mediterranean – recreated by a Norwegian Cruise Line, with pretty convincing tribute act Them Beatles as house band.

But there’s plenty of good music closer to home to investigate. Glasgow (ok, I’m biased) has a rich heritage – it’s a UNESCO City of Music after all. Guided tours are available, though you might prefer to go solo. www.walkingheads.net (a nod to local-ish lad made good David Byrne) will guide you around points of interest via a mp3 soundtrack.

The London Rock Legends tour takes you round the capital where you’re spoiled for choice, while what’s on offer in Liverpool is a bit more specific – a Magical Mystery Tour, of course. Manchester offers various options including one run by Inspiral Carpets drummer Craig Gill, a man well-placed to offer guidance as well as gossip with Smiths and Oasis trails.

Though Birmingham’s take on the music heritage must be pretty short – prizes if you can get past Black Sabbath and UB40 (and no, Slade doesn’t count, despite the accent). Maybe someone could organise a visit to Noddy’s house…

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