Formula 1 Season 2018: What to look out for!

Formula 1 2018 Season

The 2017 Formula 1 Championship gave us everything we could have wanted – controversy, quick cars and an array of winners – so it’s no surprise that we’re on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the 2018 season getting underway next month!

Although, in the end, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes emerged as Formula 1 World Champions once again, up until the Singapore Grand Prix it looked pretty close in the standings between the Brit and his rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
So, with new rules, tracks and drivers to be introduced this year, is there a chance for an even closer championship battle in 2018? We can only hope!
So, as we gear up for new season, here are a few things to look out for this year…

Formula 1 Rules & Regs


Once again, we’ll see some new rules and regulations introduced throughout the season. Although they’re nowhere near as drastic as the ones introduced last year, we’re sure that they’re still bound to get people talking… dare we mention the dreaded halo?
The first regulation change for 2018 is that each driver now has a limit of just three engines (rather than four) to use throughout a season. This is in a bid for new owners, Liberty Media, to reduce costs and make power units more reliable. Although this may benefit the smaller teams, this will more than likely just cause problems, as it poses the risk of drivers facing hefty grid penalties.
Speaking of grid penalties, the rules concerning these have also been given a well-needed tweak for the 2018 season, making it easier for stewards – and us fans – to get our heads around! In 2018, if a driver should have to change a power unit component, they will still receive a five to ten-place grid penalty. However, if they’re then to replace a second component, they will automatically be moved straight to the back of the grid, so, there’ll be no more drivers starting in 60th place when there are only 22 cars on the track.
Still with me? Ok, good!
Finally, we must say ‘hello’ to the already, much-hated halo. Designed to improve driver safety, the protection device will be located over the cockpit, with the intention of deflecting debris and ultimately, preventing drivers from being hit in the head!
Although a well-needed feature (which, in the long run, will do more good than harm), as the 2018 cars are revealed, we can see why they have received a lot of backlash from drivers, teams and fans alike, due to their ugly appearance.

Formula 1 Races

Formula 1 car on track
What we really can’t wait for this year, is the return of some legendary circuits to the Formula 1 calendar.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, it takes away some of the pain of saying goodbye to Malaysia, after the great races we’ve witnessed there over the years… I mean, who can forget Multi 21 Gate?
But, let’s not get hung up on that! Let’s rejoice in the fact that the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim will be back on our screens this year after a two-year hiatus, along with the French Grand Prix, after ten years away from the sport!
Not only that but the Paul Ricard Circuit, which will host the French Grand Prix, has not hosted a championship race since 1990! The re-admission of this epic track also means that Formula 1 will see its first-ever tripleheader this year, as the French, Austrian and British Grand Prix fall on consecutive weekends. So, make sure you have full control of the TV remote for those three Sundays.

Team Line-Ups

Finally, we’re on to the team and driver line-ups, and thankfully, the Silly Season was nowhere near as extended as the one we had last year, with all teams having now confirmed their drivers for the season ahead.
This year, we will see more new-comers entering the sport, with a total revamp of Torro Rosso, seeing the introduction of two-time Le Mans Champion, Brendan Hartley, and former Japanese Super Formula driver, Pierre Gasly.
Another new face which will be seen around the paddock is Sergey Sirotkin, former GP2 series driver, who has been confirmed as the now truly-retired Felipe Massa’s replacement for the season ahead.
Charles Leclerc will also join Sauber this year, making him the last of the rookies to join the grid in 2018.
Aside from that, there hasn’t been much of a shakeup within the teams, with the only other change being Carlos Sainz Jr moving to Renault to partner Nico Hulkenberg.
So, with car launches firmly underway and pre-season testing starting on Monday, we can only hope for a positively action-packed season!
For a truly unique experience and to witness the season unfolding first hand, why not join us on one of our European Formula 1 tours?

Formula 1 2017 – The story so far…

With ten of the twenty races of the 71st Formula 1 season complete, one point between the top two championship contenders and one race to go before the midseason break, what better time to take a look back at all of the goings on so far…

We’ve had controversy, quick cars, an array of winners and remarkable rookies in just ten races and with all that already gone, we really cannot wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us!

Mighty machines

Let’s begin with the real stars of the sport shall we, that’s right, the cars, as although the preseason testing saw the mighty machines travelling at speeds that were a whopping five seconds faster than last years recorded times, the start of the season was plagued with doubt as to whether the wider cars would mean that we would see less of the exciting over takes that we all love.
Well put it this way, in the Chinese Grand Prix, rising star Max Verstappen climbed 13 places from 16th to third, passing nine cars in the first lap alone…
…If that’s not over taking, we don’t know what is, and the race in Shanghai featured fifty four overtakes on the whole, of which just ten were done using DRS!
And the rest of the season has seen some amazing overtakes and wheel to wheel racing, so we really don’t know what we were worrying about.

And thanks to the nature of the new cars, we now have a truly unpredictable season on our hands.

The season got underway to a great start in Australia, when the Silver Arrows were finally thrown from the top spot, as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Things then only got better in the three races that followed, which again saw Vettel but also Hamilton and Bottas claim the top spot too, making it three different winners in four races.
Add Daniel Riccardo into the mix in Azerbaijan and we now have four championship contenders, with ten races to go!
And due to the crazy British Grand Prix, which saw Vettel’s tyre burst on the last lap, there is now only one championship point between the German and Lewis, leaving us extremely hungry to see what Hungary has to offer us on the 30th of July.

With unpredictability comes an epic championship battle…

…Which leads us nicely onto what is quite possibly one of the best title fights the sport has seen in years, yep, I’m talking about the one between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, who are currently running first and second in the standings.
Having an impressive seven championship titles between them, we knew that when the day came that these two were finally given cars that could compete with each other, we were in for some exciting, edge of the seat battles.
And the pair seemed to be enjoying the wheel to wheel racing as much as us, well up until Baku that is…
Yep, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw the championship battle turn a little bit nasty, when Sebastian Vettel saw red, and no we’re not talking about his Ferrari.
The German thought that Hamilton had break checked him, and retaliated by purposefully wheel bashing the Mercedes driver.
Vettel received a ten second penalty during the race but was met with an awful lot of backlash after the chequered flag, as people argued that the penalty wasn’t harsh enough.
Eventually Vettel was sent to stand before the FIA in Paris, where he received a slap on the wrist and a telling off from Jean Todt, before the matter was put to bed.
Although many people still think Sebastian deserved a harsher punishment, whatever your verdict, it certainly did get everyone talking about Formula 1 and at least the pair seem to be back on good terms, for now…
However, we really can’t wait to see what the following races hold for these two, we just hope the action is more civilised like the battle the pair had for first place in Barcelona, at the Spanish Grand Prix!

And we can’t forget about the amazing rookie performances

Force India are on course to clinch 4th place in the constructor’s championship, but it’s not just the competitive car that the team can owe their success too…
Sergio Perez continues to impress, being a consistent point scorer for the team but its new comer Esteban Ocon who’s got people talking in and out of the paddock.
The 20 year old has been putting pressure on his Mexican team mate ever since the season started in Melbourne, where he scored his first ever F1 point and obtained the first of his five straight top ten finishes.
After an unfortunate DNF in Monaco, he was back at it again in Canada, Azerbaijan Austria and now the UK, making us and his team very happy.
We’ve also been impressed by Lance Stroll, the 18 year old Canadian was brought to Williams to replace Massa and race alongside Bottas, but he actually ended up racing with Massa and replacing Bottas, confusing we know.
Anyway, at 18 years and 239 days old, Stroll become the second ever youngest podium finisher, when he came third place in Azerbaijan.
Scoring points in Montreal, Baku and Austria, it looks like the rookie is slowly but surely finding his feet and we are excited to see what’s to come for the 18 year old.

And finally, with the midseason break comes ‘Silly Season’

That’s right folks, it has quickly come back around to that time again and we are well and truly in silly season with the first driver who is up on the market, being the one and only, Fernando Alonso.
After three turbulent years with McLaren-Honda, we are not surprised that the double world champion wants to leave the team for pastures new…and a car that doesn’t breakdown almost every race… But where is the Spaniard rumoured to go?
Well we know that he wants to be in a race winning car next year, so if this season is anything to go by that just leaves Ferrari, Mercedes and Red bull as options, but all three teams seemed to have shut the door on poor Fernando at the Austrian GP weekend.
Ferrari’s ‘big boss’ Sergio Marchionne was even quoted saying that he isn’t interested in the slightest in having Fernando back at Ferrari.
Maybe he could leave the F1 scene altogether, he’s already ventured away from the sport this year, when he headed stateside to compete in the Indy 500, missing the legendary Monaco GP. Could this have been a sign of things to come?
Carloz Sainz Jnr is also another driver who is currently being discussed amid the 2018 season, after he said it was unlikely he would race with Toro Rosso for a fourth year.
And the rumour circulating at the moment is that he could be out of Red Bull’s sister team as early as the end of this month, with him set to replace Palmer at Renault in Hungary, but both Christian Horner and Renault’s Abiteboul have already quashed these rumours.
2018 is also looking uncertain for Kimi and it’s currently not looking good for the Finn, whose contract is up with Ferrari at the end of 2017.

The team feel that he is not providing the results that they are looking for, with Sergio Marchionne labelling him a ‘laggard’ just a few weeks ago.
Raikkonen has barley matched Vettel’s pace in 2017 and currently lags eighty eight points behind his team mate in the standings, with his best result being when he came 2nd place at the Monaco GP in May.
He provided an excellent drive in Silverstone though, after a random type blow out on the second to last lap, saw the Finn lose second place, he managed to bring the car home in third after an emergency pit stop.
Hopefully this will be enough for the mighty Marchionne to save his career for another year.
And, even after all that, the story of the year could still be to come, after claims that Robert Kubica could potentially be returning to the sport.
After seven years away due to a rally incident which left his right arm partially severed and led to a long rehabilitation process, is it even possible that the thirty two year old, Polish driver could make a full F1 return?
Well, he has been testing with Renault recently and has apparently clocked up some pretty impressive times, so who knows, it really would be great to see him back on the grid.
So, with 10 races still to go and by the sounds of it, a lot to look forward to next year also, make sure you don’t miss out on the action. Join Leger Holidays on one of our Formula 1 Motorsport breaks and be a part of this F1 era.
 

Best live events to catch in 2017

With some of the best live events of 2017 in our programme, if you’re looking for a trip with a little more than just stunning scenery, we’ve got you covered.

From high-speed action at the famous European F1 circuits, to the classical concerts of Andre Rieu and Andrea Bocelli and the grand finale of the Tour de France. We’ve got something for everyone looking for a live experience that will stay in your memories for a lifetime. But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at what to expect from the best live events of 2017, and see what takes your fancy…

Formula 1


After a Mercedes dominated season – which saw the now retired, Nico Rosberg finally beat Lewis to become the 2016 world champion – what can we expect from the 68th round of the sport?
With twenty races on the calendar this year, new regulations being introduced and new owners- Liberty Media, following Bernie Ecclestone’s departure after forty years running the sport- we’re sure to be in for a thrill.
New Year, new start, new regulations, yes, yet again we see major car updates coming into play. In 2017 the cars look a lot meaner, thanks to the wider tyres and revised bodywork. They’re also expected to be a lot faster, with teams hoping to take up to five seconds off their current lap times!
As well as regulation changes, there has also been a stir in the driver line ups. After an extremely extended ‘silly season’, which saw Nico Rosberg retire mere days after winning his first, and, well, only, championship, we were all left to wonder who would join his team mate Lewis at the mighty Mercedes.
With the likes of Fernando Alonso and Pascal Werhlien being rumoured to secure the seat, Toto Wolf and his team decided that the Finish driver, Voltari Bottas was the man for the job.
We also have some new-comers entering the sport, such as the likes of Stoffel Vandoorne, former GP2 champion, replacing the now retired Jenson Button at McLaren. And, with drivers like Max Verstappen already being one to watch, along with the uncertainty of how teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull will fare with the new car updates, we’re in for some ‘edge of the seat’ excitement and brilliant on track battles.
Will we see a shake up on the grid and will the Silver Arrows finally be thrown from the top spot? Although, at the moment, it’s a difficult question to answer, if the results of the pre-season testing are anything to go by, Ferrari certainly look like the team to watch, with Williams and Red Bull not far behind.
Wanting to see how the season will play out? Why not join us on one of our European F1 tours, and witness the on track action first hand.

Andre Rieu


The King of Waltz has inspired a generation with his beautiful music, but it’s his sheer love for his fans and his adoration for what he does that draws people in their millions to concert halls and arenas, all over the world.
Best known for creating the waltz-playing, Johann Strauss Orchestra, his early fascination with orchestra began at the tender age of five, when he first started playing the Violin. From then on he followed his love of music through school, studying under the likes of Herman Krebbers. But it wasn’t until university that he decided to pursue the waltz, and boy are we glad he did!
Forming in 1987, it’s no wonder that the Johann Strauss Orchestra’s range of work is astounding. And, over the years they have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring act.
Providing fans with an evening of spectacular showbiz, humor and audience interaction, Rieu’s ability to speak six different languages allows him to tap into the local feel of the place that he is performing so that each and every concert has an intimate feel, which you would struggle to find anywhere else!
So, if you’re looking for an evening filled with beautiful music and utter and sheer joy, then you do not want to miss out on one of Andre’s concerts.  With Vienna on our programme for 2017, enjoy an evening with the King of Waltz, on one of our fully escorted tours.

Moto GP


After an exhilarating 2016, with a total of nine different race winners, fans from all over the world have been left wondering just how the 2017 season is going to play out.
With over half of the twenty-three drivers starting the season in new teams, we’re ready to see familiar faces in new places. With Lorenzo’s move to Ducati meaning that he and his two main rivals, Marquez and Rossi, will all be riding for three different manufacturers, we’re sure this season will make for an exciting watch.
Over the last three years, Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo have finished first, second or third in the championship, albeit, not always in the same order. But, it wouldn’t be a surprise for any of us if the trio were to pull it off again this year. It’s certainly no guarantee that Marquez will be able to retain the championship that he regained last season, but, with such a strong field, we couldn’t possibly guess who will come out on top this season.
One thing we can say, with the preseason testing already underway, Rossi’s team mate Maverick Viñales, certainly looks like one to watch this year, posting some of the fastest times in testing at the moment. Rumoured to be the next big thing in Moto GP, he was a rookie in the Moto GP class last year with Suzuki, and could potentially be a threat to the triumphant trio.
New to our program this year, we are offering guests the opportunity to join the action at Assen, on our first, fully escorted, Motogp weekend break.
Redesigned in 2003 to comply with safety regulations, the original Assen track was built in 1955 (not including the road circuit that was first used to host racing in 1925), and had a length of 7705 metres. Part of the redesign involved shortening the track, which now has a length of 4555 metres, extending gravel traps and adding in a mixture of flat out and slow corners to make the racing more varied and exciting. However, there is one part of the original track which remains unchanged, and since it was first built, the location of the finish line has remained in exactly the same spot.

Andrea Bocelli


Registered blind after a footballing incident aged just twelve, there was no stopping Bocelli, who was already a confident musician. Having learnt how to play the piano, saxophone, trumpet and guitar, to name a few, the Italian is also blessed with a tone that is versatile and powerful, and which ultimately led to his big break in 1992.
This came after a tape of him singing, fell into the hands of arguably one of the most popular classical artists in history, the one and only, Pavarotti. They went onto perform a duet together, which led to Bocelli becoming a household name throughout Europe, and then the world.
Since his initial success he has gone on to record fifteen solo studio albums and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide! With massive hits, such as ‘Time to say Goodbye’, a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and a Golden Globe to his name, it’s no doubt that Bocelli is a classical music legend.
In 2006, helped by funds from the star himself, his home town commissioned the opening of the Teatro del Silenzio. Named the Theatre of Silence, the Italian open air amphitheater remains literally silent all year. However, on one spectacular night each summer, the Tuscan hills of Lajatico are brought to life, as Andrea Bocelli returns to his home town, with an abundance of famous guests, to provide fans with an evening of moving music, in the warm evening breeze. And this year, you could be there, too, as we head off to Italy for this incredible Tuscan show.

Tour de France


This year, the Tour de France 2017 will return to Germany for the first time in thirty years, as the Grand Départ gets underway from Dusseldorf.
The 104th round of the sport will see the riders being put to the ultimate test, as the men are separated from the boys, when they tackle Frances’ five mountain ranges, Vosges, Jura, Pyrenes, Central Massif and Alps, in that order.
Before they actually reach France, though, they will have to tackle the tough roads of Belgium and Luxembourg. From there they will spend many days enduring various different terrain, gradients, and time trials etc., before the traditional final day in Paris, with the finish along the Champs Elysee.
In 2017, join us in Paris and witness the grand finale of what is thought to be one of the most diverse and exciting routes the Tour has seen in years. With the likes of Chris Froome, who can climb with the best of them, being poised for the win again this year, it certainly is an exciting event to witness.
 
But, which live event has you all geared up for 2017? Let us know in the comments!
 

Formula 1 Vs. MotoGP: Four Wheels or Two?

Now, we don’t want to undermine the love that we have for things such as family, partners, friends, maybe even pets and personal belongings… but, does anything really compare to the passion you have for your sport?

How many times have we been known to utter the words ‘after the race’, or turned down plans because, lets face it, if it’s on the TV, we’re watching it. Maybe you’ve even combined two of your loves, treating your other half to a romantic break, enjoying a race weekend in Europe. If so, you’re our sort of person.
But, we’re about to get controversial. Kind of like a popular card game, we’re pinning two of Motorsports greatest against one another. So, what is better? Four wheels or two? Let the battle commence! Formula 1 Vs. MotoGP … who wins? Let us know in the comments.

Formula 1 cars and MotoGP bikes are powerful machines, built within their own regulations to produce and perfect the fastest, most streamlined piece of machinery in their field.

Every team looks to draw out that little bit of extra performance to put them ahead. Both of these unique motorsports are thrilling to watch, and the differences between four and two wheels can be seen below.
Formula 1 Vs. Moto GP Specs
But, that’s the machines. What about the circuits? Iconic tracks make for exciting races and we’ve chosen two of our favourite to battle it out below.
Formula 1 Vs. MotoGP Track Information
 
Click here to see our range of European Motorsports breaks available to book, now.

Best European Jazz Festivals

Some of the best jazz festivals in the world can be found in Europe, and many are right on our doorstep. Jazz music has seen a considerable revival across all age groups, with thanks to Jamie Cullum and many more helping to make the genre more popular to a wider audience.

Jazz music is a genre which spans all age groups and appeals to casual listeners, through to seasoned jazz aficionados. Many enjoy travelling far and wide to experience their favourite artists, whilst indulging in the festivities of a different culture.
So, whether you’re a fan of Glen Miller, Miles Davis, or you simply want to enjoy the atmosphere and culture, here are our top ten jazz festival picks to experience across Europe.

Copenhagen Jazz Festival (Denmark)

Copenhagen Jazz Festival
Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil, DR Koncerthuset. Foto: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen

Lasting ten days throughout July, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival has been heralded as one of the biggest and best jazz festivals in the world since 1979. With more than a thousand concerts across more than a hundred stages, there is something for everybody in the Danish capital. The concerts take place all over the city in bars, restaurants, concert halls and on purpose built stages.
The festival attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year and has welcomed prestigious acts such as Tony Bennett, Gilberto Gil, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea to name just a few. Whether you love traditional or freeform jazz, there are acts to cover all styles. You can also explore the city and take in the local culture whilst you listen to some of the finest acts from across the world.
Admission costs can vary and are dependent on the venue and artist. However, there are hundreds of free acts across the city, so you are never far away from the action. See the Copenhagen Jazz Festival website for more details.

Jazzahead (Germany)

jazzahead
jazzahead_clubnight_Lagerhaus ©Wolf

Held in Bremen for the last eight years, Jazzahead holds over 110 concerts across more than 30 stages throughout the city. The festival is considered to be a meeting point for some of the biggest names in jazz. Whilst it is mainly a trade fair, there is a broad programme that covers showcase concerts, visual arts, exhibitions and various cultural events across the city.
Attracting more than 16,000 visitors every year, the festival is famous for its global appeal in which it attracts businesses, acts and labels from across the world. It has also become a go-to event for the public, largely due to its cultural programme that spans a lengthy two and a half weeks throughout April.
You can also explore the sights, smells and sounds of Bremen. The city’s famous cathedral is a focal point and is situated near the market square. Bremen has a long-standing tradition of organ music and the cathedral has five organs in different areas of the property. There are also many museums to explore, such as the Kunsthalle and the Weserburg Modern Art Museum.
Ticket prices vary depending on whether you plan to go for a day or a whole weekend. For more information, head to this page of the Jazzahead website.

Bohemia JazzFest (Czech Republic)

Bohemia
Image courtesy of Bohemia JazzFest

Held in multiple cities across the Czech Republic, Bohemia JazzFest is a real gem for any jazz enthusiast. After its introduction in 2006 by accomplished jazz guitarist, Rudy Linka, the festival has become one of the largest festivals in Europe, with over 70,000 visitors attending every year.
The festival’s locations are incredible – the Old Town Square in Prague being the biggest. These beautiful backdrops can provide an unforgettable experience. You can also indulge in a bit of city exploration and take in some of the local culture.
Past performers across the different cities have included Larry Carlton, Roy Haynes and Stanley Clarke.
All of the concerts are free of charge, so you can relax, sit back, and enjoy the entertainment courtesy of the festival.
For more information, head to the Bohemia JazzFest website.

North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherlands)

North Sea Festival
Image courtesy of North Sea Festival

The North Sea Jazz Festival, held in Rotterdam, is considered to be one of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world. The first installment took place in 1976 and it has grown significantly since, attracting up to 70,000 visitors ever year throughout the second weekend in July.
The festival covers a wide range of musical genres including blues, soul, pop, jazz, hip-hop, world music and many more.  This year’s line-up is incredibly diverse and features major artists such as Simply Red, Gregory Porter, Buddy Guy, Level 42 and Joe Bonamassa. You may even wish to explore the cultural delights of Rotterdam. The city is known for its historic architecture, as well as its museums and well-connected travel links. At Leger, we host a number of trips to the Netherlands which include visits to Amsterdam and Valkenburg.
Whilst weekend tickets have already sold out for the 2016 event, single day tickets are still available. More information can be found at the North Sea Festival website.

Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland)

Montreux
©2015 FFJM Vincent Baily

Montreux is by far one of the biggest and most prestigious music festivals in the world. Created in 1967, the festival runs during the first two weeks of July, and whilst jazz and blues are at the roots of the event, other styles are present including rock, pop and soul.
Some of the most important live performances in the world were recorded at Montreux. These include performances from Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, David Bowie, and Stevie Wonder.
Situated on the shore of Lake Geneva, the festival attracts up to 250,000 visitors across all ages. A number of events are ticketed, but there are also hundreds of free events which run throughout the two-week period.
This year’s festival sees Muse headlining, alongside a jam-packed bill which will be released on April 14th.
Switzerland is an incredible country to explore. From alpine skiing to summertime railway adventures, there are so many different areas of the country to witness.

XJAZZ Festival (Germany)

XJAZZ
XJAZZ Festival ©Brand und Albrecht

XJAZZ is a very different kind of jazz festival which crosses every kind of style associated with the genre. Today’s understanding of the term “jazz” has become widely developed from its traditional meaning. XJAZZ incorporates contemporary styles such as soul, electronic, funk, and classical amongst many other genres, in an aim to cross musical and cultural boundaries.
The festival is based in Berlin and takes place from 5th – 8th May. The local music scene is pivotal to the festival’s philosophy, and approximately 70% of the line-up consists of local artists.  XJAZZ maintains its intimacy yet it has an international feel which attracts visitors from across the world.
Image courtesy of Brand & AlbrechtBerlin is rich in cultural history and is a perfect tourist destination to visit.
At Leger, we host a number of trips to the city in which we visit major attractions, including the Christmas markets and the Brandenburg Gate.

Umbria Jazz (Italy)

Umbria
Image courtesy of Umbria Jazz

Introduced in Perugia in 1973, Umbria Jazz Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in Italy. Held during the 8th – 17th July, this year the festival welcomes Mika, George Clinton & Parliament, and Buddy Guy. The event is perfect for any music fan as it combines a variety of jazz-influenced genres, which attracts a number of household names.
Each event is paid for separately, however, there are hundreds of free events across the city. There are free open-air concerts held in Piazza IV Novembre and at the Giardini Carducci as they are part of the festival’s rich history.
Food is very much a significant part of the festivities, which adds to the incredible atmosphere held at hundreds of venues across Perugia. There are also traditional street parades and various artistic performances.
Umbria is considered to be one of the most picturesque areas of Italy and is a popular tourist hot spot, famed for its landscape and historic traditions. At Leger Holidays, we host a number of trips to Italy, which include visits to Tuscany, Lake Como, Venice and Rome.

Gent Jazz Festival (Belgium)

Gent
Image courtesy of Gent Jazz Festival

Held in mid-July and lasting two weeks, the Gent Jazz Festival is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2016 with a host of top acts. Held at the side of the Bijloke in Ghent, the festival hosts a wide range of musical genres that diversify from jazz.
The festival attracts over 38,000 visitors every year and has seen a number of household acts perform, including Tony Bennett, Gregory Porter, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, and Van Morrison. This year’s event sees Ghent’s very own export, Balthazar, take the main stage alongside Ibeyi. The full line-up is to be announced in March. Tickets can be purchased online and prices vary dependent on age and the type of ticket you require. Visit the website for more details.
After visiting the festival you may wish to travel further afield at a later date. At Leger, we visit a number of cities around Belgium, including Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp.
One our tours includes a visit to the Brussels Jazz Marathon Weekend, which is held from 20th – 22nd May. Throughout the weekend, there are over 160 free performances that take place on a number of purpose built stages. Our four day trip costs £269 pp and includes three nights accomodation, continental breakfast and travel by executive coach.

Heineken Jazzaldia (Spain)

Jazzaldia
Image courtesy of Heineken Jazzaldia

Situated in San Sebastian on the coast of Spain, Heineken Jazzaldia is the longest running jazz festival in Spain, and also one of the oldest in Europe. The festival, which attracts over 124,000 people, has seen a number of major acts play over the years, including Gloria Gaynor, B.B. King, Patti Smith, and Jimmy Cliff.
The festival runs from the 20th – 25th July at a number of venues across the region. One of the main highlights of the festival is the free events at Zurriola Beach, which last until the small hours. This year’s event sees a fantastic array of artists take the stage, including Diana Krall, Gloria Gaynor, and Charles Bradley.
Prices vary depending on which venue you go to. Tickets can be purchased at the venue box office.
San Sebastian has been a tourist destination since the 19th century due to the region’s cuisine, historical importance, and stunning scenery. After the festival, you might consider a trip across the country to Valencia or Madrid. Our packages cover a variety of destinations across Spain, and there’s no doubt that you’ll be surprised how many hidden gems there are across Europe.

Rigas Ritmi Festival (Latvia)

Rigas Ritmi
Image courtesy of Rigas Ritmi

Rigas Ritmi is one of Latvia’s most attended and most loved music festivals. Every July, the festival hosts a number of different stages across Riga with world famous and award-winning acts. Since its inception in 2001, Rigas Ritmi has grown from strength-to-strength with more than 500 artists and 180,000 visitors.
In previous years, the festival has hosted Bobby McFerrin, Diane Reeves and Richard Bona on its main stages. 2016 sees yet another strong line-up with a string of international jazz artists that include piano prodigy Justin Kauflin and saxophonist Emile Parisien.
Children under 7 years old can attend the festival free, whilst tickets for adults and seniors can be purchased on the Rigas Ritmi website or at the venue box office.
You may want to consider a Trans-European trip to other jazz festivals, including Vilnius Mama Jazz (Lithuania), Festival Jazzkaar (Estonia) and Pori Jazz Festival (Finland).
 
 
 
 

Formula 1 – Open to All by Joseph Rogers

Thinking about heading out on a Formula 1 Race weekend with Leger Holidays? Formula 1 fan, competition winner and Leger Customer, Joseph Rogers can tell you all about it.

We recently ran a competition courtesy of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya offering an amazing experience to attend the Formula 1 pre-season testing in Barcelona with a VIP pass. Our lucky winner was Joseph Rogers, an avid Formula 1 fan. Joseph has been on two Leger See it Live tours previously and has kindly written a blog of his three Leger experiences for you to enjoy.

Formula 1 – Open to All

Since its inception in 1950, Formula 1 has been portrayed across the globe as the epitome of financial exuberance in sport. Even before the days of oily rags and hay bale barriers, it was very much the affluent proportion of society that guided motorsport from the comfort of English stately homes and large multinational companies.
Now with worldwide sponsorship, superstar drivers, and events spanning almost every continent, the story of Formula 1 is still very much bound to that of money… and lots of it.
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Today, this can sometimes give the impression that to enjoy the sport outside of the television requires as much money as it does to run a team. Ticket prices, whilst always the subject of change, are often advertised to draw eccentric business-owners, corporate heavy-weights and those in the higher tax bracket.
On top of that, flights and hotels with links to the sport do little to encourage a cheap motorsport themed getaway and the logistics of getting to circuits outside of major city boundaries get ever more complicated.
Thankfully, this creates a niche in the market for companies offering Formula 1 holidays. With financial predicaments at the forefront for many in the UK, getting value for money on something as important as a once-in-a-lifetime trip is of crucial importance.
For a Formula 1 fan, who has to account for the price of a ticket on top of the travel costs, value for money can make-or-break the experience.
Enter: Leger Holidays. A company that not only provides seamless travel arrangements to places all over Europe, but does so with utmost enthusiasm and professionalism.

Belgian Grand Prix, 2013

I first travelled with Leger to the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix and was blown away not only by the screaming pitch of the soon-to-be-axed V8 engines but also the ease with which the whole experience was conducted.
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I was picked up from a location close to my home, by taxi and taken to the coach waiting for me at the nearest motorway junction. There, I was greeted by 2 drivers as keen to get the track as I was and who clearly has a passion for what they did.
After a cup of tea, we were on our way to Dover and onwards to Belgium, where Formula 1 became a reality for the first time and sheer pleasure resulted from knowing that Leger were allowing me to see my cherished sport first-hand.

Monaco Grand Prix, 2014

I didn’t hesitate in booking again for 2014, this time; Monaco. In my mind, seeing the world-famous Monaco Grand Prix, was the stuff of dreams. By far the most exotic race on the calendar, I was astonished to find it in Leger’s list of See It Live events and at only a slight increase in price on Belgium.
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What resulted was some of the most euphoric days of my life. Even the monumental coach journey from Taunton down to the south French coast, was full of sights, laughter, a pub-quiz and the perfect amount of service stops before our hotel over the border in Italy.
At the race, joy erupted at the thought of being amongst the rich and famous. Even from the general admission area, celebrities and drivers could be seen a few feet away amongst the super yachts and champagne-covered balconies.
A reflection of the thought, that I was there, and (at the time) unemployed, amateur author in the middle of the world’s most exuberant show of wealth, was simply life-changing. The experience promptly inspired 2 chapters of A Spectrum Of Settlements, my second publication and the first on the subject of travelling.
2 years later, I’ve just come back from Barcelona and the 2016 Formula 1 pre-season test, again courtesy of Leger.
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What Leger Holidays offer, with each and every package whether it be the Monaco Grand Prix or a French Battlefield tour, is the opportunity to experience your life’s passion within financial comfort and peace in knowing that from door-to-door you’ll be taken care of by happy, hard-working people that are as excited to travel as you are.
Formula 1 is not out of reach and not for the privileged few. It’s an enthusiast’s sport, supported by the fans and enjoyed by those truly passionate about motorsport. Thanks to Leger Holidays, we can all enjoy the sport we love.
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Seen it Live: Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix

The end of the Formula 1 season may be upon us as the countdown to Abu Dhabi is underway, but it doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to next season. We’ve just launched our new F1 page on our website, launched our social pages and Leger HQ has been fully submerged in Grand Prix chat, predictions and rumours.

Our E-commerce Executive Richard Mansfield took our ‘See it Live’ tour to the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year and has kindly answered some of our questions to celebrate the launch of the new pages.

What made you want to take a See It Live tour?

I have always loved the atmosphere and thrill of live sporting events such as football, rugby, and Supercross. An F1 weekend was one of those spectacles I have always wanted to experience, and since working at Leger I have always said after my trip to Paris a few years ago, my next tour would be a See it Live weekend.

IMAG1631How long have you been interested In Formula One?

I have watched it from a very early age, I remember watching Damon Hill win his first title in 96, sat with my dad on the sofa, pretending to drive an imaginary car and crossing the line to win.

Why did you choose the Spanish Grand Prix?

One of my favourite drivers is Fernando Alonso and to see him at his home Grand Prix was something I couldn’t miss. I also saw this as the perfect Grand Prix for the weather, although not guaranteed.

How would you describe the atmosphere from the coach to the track?

Electric! From the minute we got on the coach at Leger HQ to walking in to the track, we knew we were going to be amazed by the whole experience. Discussions around the coach of favourite drivers and favourite tracks didn’t take long to get in full swing. It was also interesting to hear the stories of fellow travellers who have been to other F1 weekends with Leger.

Do you have a team you support or was there a certain driver that you were looking forward to seeing race?

I don’t have a favourite team. My favourite drivers are Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

How was the weather whilst you were there? Does it have an effect on your visit?

The weather was perfect! The sun was out all weekend, couldn’t have asked for better. I would imagine the weather could play apart in your race weekend. But as long as you are prepared for it the racing will always be an unforgettable experience.

How much of the track did you get to see whilst there?

I was pleasantly surprised as to how much of the track I could see, bearing in mind I opted for the general admission ticket. The track walk at the end was also a bonus, especially walking up the start and finish straight.IMAG1639

Which part of the track did you enjoy the race from?

Through the Gp2 and GP3 and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup we took in as much of the track as we could then for the BIG ONE we sat at corner 8 with the in view of 7 and 9.

What was your best experience of the trip?

(Apart from the big race itself) Without a doubt the buzz and build up on race day, from arriving to the track to sitting on the coach on our way home the atmosphere and excitement is something I will never forget.

What advice would you give to people heading off to the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time?

Take in the track and views during qualifying and early races to guarantee you find your favoured spot for the big race. Also, be sure to pack sun cream! I lost mine on the way in to the circuit and as you can imagine it was VERY hot. There are places for cover from the sun, but I would certainly recommend a hat sun cream and plenty of liquids.

Do you have to be a F1 super fan to enjoy a Grand Prix See It Live experience?

Certainly not, as much as I love the sport and follow every race. I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘Super fan’. A See It Live weekend can be enjoyed by anybody, I am sure there are many others who would agree in saying once you have experienced one, you are itching for the next opportunity.

Would you go on a Grand Prix tour again? If so, which one do you fancy?

I certainly would, on our way back my Dad was already looking at our next race weekend with Leger. From start to finish it was such an unforgettable weekend. At present we are stuck between Belgium Grand Prix or my Dads favourite the German Grand Prix.
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Follow our See it Live pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

 

Seen It Live – The German Grand Prix

Zara Thompson, Reservations Supervisor, has worked at Leger for 6 years. Enjoying the races on TV, she wanted to experience the real thing.

My husband and I had our first Grand Prix experience at Hockenheim, Germany in 2012 and had such an amazing time, so decided to go again this year.
 
Which tour did you go on?
The German Grand Prix 2013 at the Nürburgring.
How did you get there and how long did it take?
We drove to the Holiday Inn at Ashford North the day before and were collected at 1pm by a feeder coach. This was a leisurely start and not too tiring on the first day. The Channel crossing was by ferry from Dover to Calais, during which we had time to relax on board and start to take in the atmosphere of the avid Grand Prix fans all travelling to Germany. We arrived at our hotel around 11pm, which was reasonable for the distance we had travelled to be close to the circuit.
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the 4-star Ramada Hürth-Köln which was in a great location, with places nearby to get our evening meal and only a 1-hour drive from the circuit. After a lovely breakfast, we left the hotel in good time to beat the traffic to get to the Nürburgring.
How does actually seeing it live compare to watching on TV?
It’s such an incredible difference, being at the circuit to watching the race on TV. From the sounds of the roaring engines to the smell of the fuel, you get to feel the intensity of the F1 cars and see just how quick they fly around the track. It’s such a good atmosphere, with all the different supporters of teams, drivers and nationalities. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and mutual respect between each supporter, all together, just there to have a good time and enjoy the race. Before we went, we knew we wouldn’t get to see as much of the race as you do on TV, but the atmosphere more than made up for that. At qualifying, we walked around the circuit to work out the best places to stand to see the race. On the race day we found where we wanted to be and managed to get in front of a screen and saw more or less everything they showed on the TV as well!
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Did you go to watch a certain driver or team?
I will always be patriotic and support McLaren, but this season, I have had to follow my not-so-secret crush: Lewis Hamilton! Kitted out in Mercedes gear with a huge Hamilton flag was a bit daunting in the middle of a crowd of Vettel fans… in Germany! When Lewis got pole position on the Saturday we wanted to discreetly slope away back to the coach… to our surprise, all the German fans were cheering with us and had a few beers with us at the bar!
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What was the weather like? Did it affect your visit?
As we had this as our main holiday this year, we were really hoping to get some sunshine. The whole weekend was glorious from when we arrived in the morning until after the race ended in the late afternoon. It made the experience more enjoyable and worthwhile, rather being in rainy Silverstone back in the UK!
Please sum up your tour in five words?
Atmospheric, surprising, experience, thrilling, loud!
Would you do a Grand Prix tour again?
Definitely! Nürburgring was top of the list, but I’d love to go to the Belgium Grand Prix and The Monaco Grand Prix.
 
 

Belgium Grand Prix with Leger Holidays – Neil Martin

Neil Martin (Daily Star) – Belgium Grand Prix press trip blog post

Many people who go to a Formula One event for the first time talk about the noise – but no-one ever seems to mention the deep rumble you actually feel in your chest.

It was certainly a shock to me at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium as the cars came out onto the track for a practice session on Saturday.
Sitting just a few metres away on the bank beside the lightning-fast Kemmel Straight, the roar of the engines can make your whole body rattle.
So God only knows what it must feel like to strap yourself into the cockpit of one of those amazing machines, basically rockets with wheels, and blast down the track at more than 200mph.
Lewis Hamilton at Belgium GP
I’m not an obsessed F1 fanatic, but will watch the Grands Prix on television on a Sunday afternoon and follow who is doing well.
I was always interested, though, in knowing what it might be like to get up close to the action – and Leger’s three-night trip from the UK gave me the opportunity.
Spa is certainly a great place to experience everything that top-level motor racing has to offer.
Make sure you bring your hiking boots, though, as the circuit is nearly 4.5 miles long and extremely hilly as it winds its way through the Ardennes forest.
You’ll discover that immediately as you walk alongside the famous Eau Rouge corner that climbs steeply to a height of nearly 120 feet, about the size of a 13-storey building.
From there, you can walk all along the Kemmel Straight – the fastest part of the track – where drivers are able to put their foot right to the floor for more than 22 seconds to build up mind-blowing speeds.
At the highest point of Spa, pass through a tunnel underneath the circuit itself and walk downhill to the sweeping Pouhon corner that provides a natural amphitheatre for spectators.
Crowd at the Belgium Grand Prix
From there you can weave your way out through the trees to the remote Stavelot corner, or go back below the track and then uphill again on the elevated pathway that runs parallel to the long Blanchimont section.
That will take you to the Bus-Stop Chicane, where the cars make a dramatic right/left swerve before crossing the finishing line.
And all of that was accessible with the general admission ‘Bronze’ ticket, included for Saturday and Sunday as part of the trip.
Best to wander around and see it all on Saturday, though, when the crowds are not quite as dense as they are for Sunday’s big race-day.
That’s when the real hardcore F1 petrol-heads get up bright and early to bag the very best spots to watch the action, getting their places by 6am as soon as the gates open.
And they come from far and wide with French mixing with Finns, Germans chatting to Spaniards and English alongside Italians – all cheering on their favourites when the race begins.
From our hotel in Antwerp we were coached the 100-mile journey down to Spa each day, arriving at around 10am.
Having walked around most of the circuit on Saturday and identified our favourite corners, it was heads down and straight to the location (Pouhon) on Sunday before luckily finding a few spare square feet of space to squeeze into.
Those who prefer to be a bit more civilised can upgrade to Silver/Gold tickets which guarantee a specific seat in a grandstand – and also offers the additional benefit of shelter from any rain which famously develops out of nothing around Ardennes.
On this occasion the wet stuff, which can really spice up the race as drivers battle to keep their cars on the track, stayed away on Sunday and Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a processional victory.
But that’s the beauty of live sport – you just never know what is going to happen – and being there in person was certainly a much different experience to watching on TV from the comfort of the living room.
For more information on any of our Formula One tours please visit our dedicated Formula One tour page.

The Chelsea Flower Show

With the Chelsea Flower Show getting underway next week, I thought I’d take a look at the history behind this annual event and have a look at what attracts so many visitors year after year.

The Chelsea Flower Show is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London. The show was formally known as the Great Spring Show, and is known as the most famous flower show in the UK attracting visitors from all over the world.
The flower show was first held in Chelsea in 1912, as a one off event but as the location was such a success it has stayed there all most every year since.
The show has up to 157,000 visitors each year, and all tickets must be bought in advance. The duration of the show was originally four days but from 2005 onwards it was increased to five. Members of the Royal Family attend a preview day each year as the royal patronage of the RHS (Royal Hortical Society).
There are five award categories at the event. They are:
Flora – Gardens and floral exhibitions
Hogg – Exhibits of Trees
Knightian – Exhibits of vegetables, including herbs
Lindley – Exhibits of special educational or scientific interest
Grenfell – Exhibits of Pictures, photographs floral arrangements and floristry.
Other awards are known as the Special Awards, which include Best Show Garden Award, Best City Garden Award, RHS Junior Display Trophy and many more.
The Chelsea Flower Show is included on our Chelsea Flower Show, Henley and Oxford Tour, for more information or to book your place for next years event please visit our website.
If you have been to the show before, we would love to hear your experience please leave your comments section below.