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Long Weekend Trip - Advent in Vienna
Wednesday 2 December 2009 - Sunday 6 December 2009
Dress: Please see event instructions

To spend a weekend in Vienna at the start of Advent is a dream come true. Add to this the glamour and splendour of visiting private palaces not generally open to the public and the markets that are known and loved by the Viennese themselves, and the experience will be one to be treasured forever. In recent years Vienna has become acclaimed as the finest city in Europe for its Christmas lights and Christmas markets, with the streets quite spectacularly lit up. The Graben, for instance, is lit as a ballroom, with chandeliers and candelabra so that the whole street seems to be three-dimensional. The lights really have to be seen to be believed!

Countless thousands now flock to Vienna to see the lights, but the Master proposes to lead a short but unashamedly romantically-themed visit to the city at the beginning of December, just before the crush! Furthermore, the visit will not be to the usual tourists' sights and markets, but will include visits to private palaces and markets patronised by the Viennese themselves.

Day One

Fly to Vienna and transfer by private coach to the hotel. This will be the 5* Hotel de France, which has offered us very favourable rates, is very traditional and is situated on the Ringstrasse next to the famous Rathaus Christkindl market. (The whole Rathaus is lit as a giant advent calendar, with a new window being opened every day.) Dinner will be at a restaurant in the old city.

Day Two

Drive a short distance outside Vienna to Schloss Rohrau, residence of Countess Stephanie Harrach. (Haydn was born in Rohrau, the son of the Harrachs' cook!) The Countess, subject to her health (she is 92) will receive us. After refreshments we shall view the palace, which houses the greatest private art collection in Austria.

We then drive a few minutes to Schloss Halbturn, the seat of Their Illustrious Highnesses Count and Countess Markus zu Koniggsegg-Auenfeld. The baroque palace was built by the great Lukas von Hildebrandt for the favourite daughter of the Empress Maria Teresia, and contains a famous baroque hall. Surrounding the palace is Austria's largest and arguably finest vineyard.

The Count and Countess will host us to lunch, which will be followed by a wine-tasting. At precisely 4pm the public will be admitted to the courtyard of the palace for the opening of possibly the loveliest of all the Christmas markets.

Dinner - to be arranged.

Day Three

A private visit will be made to the great collection in the Palais Liechtenstein. This remarkable private collection only moved back to Vienna a few years ago, and new acquisitions include the world's most valuable piece of furniture, the legendary Badminton Cabinet.

At dusk there will be a visit to the Christmas market at the Palace of Schonbrunn.

Dinner will be at a heurigen (wine-tavern) patronised not by tourists but by the Viennese. We shall be entertained by a typical schrammel orchestra and singers.

Day Four

In the morning there will be a private visit to the Belvedere Palace where we shall be shown around by the Director, Countess Agnes Arco-Hufslein, a specialist historian.

In the afternoon there will be a private visit to the Spanish Riding School. We will be received by the Director, Frau Guertler, the owner of the famous Sacher Hotel, and will meet the riders and be shown around by them. There will then be an entirely private performance for us in the Imperial Riding Hall!

Dinner - a private visit to the Palais Auersberg where we be received by Her Serene Highness Princess von Auersberg before enjoying a formal dinner in the state dining-room. We hope to be joined by our other hosts and, as guests of honour, family representatives of His Imperial and Royal Highness Crown Prince Otto, the last Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and an illustrious Freeman of the City of London.

Day Five

Additionally, possibly on the last morning, the Master, who was educated for a time in Vienna, will lead any who wish to some of the lesser Christmas markets and to some of the famous coffee-houses.

Afternoon. Drive to the airport for the return flight.

Price and booking information only available to members.

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