If there are two things in life fully dedicated to indulging ourselves and leaving the 9-to-5 behind, it’s hobbies and holidays.
When else can you devote time completely to yourself and your interests? Whether you’re a football fanatic, ardent animal-lover or prolific painter, there’s sure to be a little corner of the globe where you can indulge your passion and holiday at the same time, meet like-minded people and make time for doing what you love all day, every day.
From specialist tours and retreats to one-of-a-kind destinations and inspiring mini-breaks, here’s the ultimate guide to taking your hobby on holiday!
For the filmophiles
If there’s no iconic line you can’t quote and your Netflix account is your most prized possession, why not take your film fanaticism on tour?
Fantasy films: Lovers of epic fantasy films flock to New Zealand to explore the mystical landscape used to bring the L ord of the Rings trilogy to life. The most authentic Tolkien experience has to be the small town of Mata Mata, better known to fans as Hobbiton. (2 hour tours start from £55)
Film-making : Learn to get the perfect take every time with a film-making retreat in Maine, USA. From documentaries to cinematography, you’ll leave with a portfolio worthy of being showcased in Hollywood itself. (2 day workshop prices start at £330)
Tip: Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, film-making courses range from basic DSLR video creation to directing and editing.
Adventure films: Dive into your own high-speed adventure in Havana, Cuba, b y retracing the route featured in The Motorcycle Diaries . The tours are run by the son of Che Guevara, who started a motorcycle trip company in his father’s honour! (A 9 day tour costs £2995 per person)
For the music buffs
Headphones are the first thing to be packed in your holiday holdall, and from jazz to rock, opera to blues and everything in between, no trip is complete without the perfect soundtrack.
Jazz: If nothing could ever be too jazzy for you, you need to head to Brussels for the annual Jazz Marathon Weekend at the end of May. Drawing musicians from across the globe, these open air concerts are amongst the top events of the jazz and blues calendar. (Entrance to the festival is free)
Opera: Indulge your love of all things operatic with a bespoke opera singing workshop in Florence, Italy, held at the enchanting Spirito Italiano school. (Singular workshops start at £29 per person)
Tip: If you’d like to take your opera skills further, the school offer packs of 12 lessons for a reduced fee of £26 each.
Drumming: Put your percussion skills to the test in Sokone, Senegal with a course in traditional African drumming and dancing. (Workshops can be booked through Les Palé t uviers
For the bookworms
A fan of all things written, you’d be adrift without a gripping novel or journal and pen under your arm. Make like Jack Kerouac, and take your passion for words on the road!
Reading : There’s nothing like finding that one novel that feels like it was written just for you. Mr B’s Emporium in Bath is a charmingly cosy bookshop, and offers private consultations with a literary expert, who will help you select a stack of novels to take home with you. (A 2 hour session costs £65 per person, including £45 worth of book vouchers).
Tip: Email Mr B’s in advance of your visit to give them an idea of what authors, genres and writing styles you like!
Storytelling: Marrakesh in Morocco has a history of ‘hikayat’ (storytelling) dating back thousands of years. Head to Cafe Clock from 7pm any Thursday, where you can watch hikayat professionals spinning traditional tales, or even join a workshop and have a go yourself!
Creative Writing: If you’re passionate about penning your own stories, head to Ystad in Sweden, the country’s fictional murder capital and home of Scandi crime fiction. Featured in the hugely popular Wallander series, the small town is an a tmospheric place to get started on drafting the next crime bestseller.
Tip: The easiest way to get to Ystad is to fly into Copenhagen, where regular trains depart from Koebenhavns Lufthavn Station.
For the art aficionados
Whether you frequent the finest art museums or enjoy creating your own masterpieces, artistic legacy is at the heart of every culture, ready and waiting for you to discover.
Photography: Why not take your zoom lens to the little-known, but overwhelmingly beautiful Tatra Mountains in Slovakia? A photography course here will see you make yourself at home in a mountain cottage, and spend your days snapping the atmospheric surroundings, where you might even get a shot of a wild brown bear. (3 day courses start at £845 per
Sketching: Inspiration doesn’t come much more majestic than within the open planes of Zambia, Africa. Explore your passion for putting pencil to paper on an ‘Art Safari’, searching for and sketching the legendary ‘Big Five’.
Tip: If big cats aren’t your thing, ‘zebra spotting’ sketching excursions are also available in Namibia.
Sculpture: Discover your inner Henry Moore whilst learning the art of sculpture on a workshop retreat in Powys, Wales, which offers everything from metal sculpting to stone carving. (4 day courses start from £400 per person)
For the crafters
For you, there is no better way to unwind than by creating, crafting and letting your imagination run wild around the world!
Crochet: If you’re no stranger to a hook and yarn, California’s World Famous Crochet Museum is a must-visit. Housed inside a converted photobooth, it may be small, but the contents are an explosion of quirky techniques, colours and styles through the ages. (Entrance to the museum is free)
Tip: You can follow the adventures of ‘Buddy and Bunny’, the museum’s crocheted mascots on their own talk show !
Carpentry: Budding carpenters take inspiration from nature’s design during t his incredible sustainable carpentry course in Dorset. Complete with your own woodland hut, you’ll learn the art of whittling, carving and joining in order to create your own forest-inspired furniture. (Courses are around £300 for 3 nights)
Tip: Courses in woodland carpentry are available for people of all abilities, from carving a humble bowl and spoon to chairs and tables!
Leatherwork: Why not make leather your media, and knock up your own wallets, belts and even shoes in Hanoi, Vietnam? The city’s Backstreet Academy offers workshops and courses to make all manner of leather-based products and learn the secret tricks of the trade. (3 hour workshops start at £21 per person)
For the foodies
As a self-confessed foodie, pleasing your taste buds is bound to be at the top of your priority list. Whether you’re a kitchen experimenter or more of a restaurant buff, why not find a new flavour on holiday?
Foraging: Finding the freshest ingredients possible is an important part of the cooking process. Get back to nature in Lisbon, Portugal with an olive-harvesting tour led by local farmers. (A day tour costs £55 per person)
Tip: Be sure to pick up a bottle of freshly pressed olive oil during the tour – it’ll be the best you’ve ever tasted!
Cookery: Combine your passion for food with a truly creative flare, and learn to make ‘art sushi’ in Tokyo’s Sushi Academy. Offering workshops all year round, the academy’s experts will show you how to turn sushi into edible works of art, with decoration and presentation techniques. (3 hour workshops cost £125 per person)
Food blogging: If you long to be the next Tom Parker Bowles, why not book a food blogging course in California’s ‘Eat Write Retreat’ event? Combining expert speakers with hands-on workshops, this is the perfect way to brush up on your culinary writing skills. (A weekend ticket costs £520 per person)
For the outdoor adventurers
With the great outdoors your true passion, you’re never happier than when out and about – the world really is your oyster.
History hunting: What could be better than discovering one of the world’s most ancient kingdoms, up close and personal? Cusco, Peru is home to the Saqsawaman Inca ruins, which can be explored on an atmospheric horseback tour. (4 hour treks cost £17 per person)
Tip: Try to book your tour as early as possible in the day – nothing beats the sight of the ancient ruins in the morning sun.
Astronomy: Stargazing gets a little more exciting when it features a spectacular eclipse. Dar el Salaam in Tanzania experiences an annular eclipse, and yearly tours to seek it out are conducted in the summer months. (A 9 day tour costs £2395 per person)
Geology: If, like Ross Geller, you think ‘geology rocks’, why not get a close-up view of a volcano chamber in Thrihnukagigur, Iceland? This town is home to the only volcano in the world you can explore from the inside ! (A 6 hour tour costs £225 per person)
Tip: To get a magnificent view of the volcano from outside as well as in, add a helicopter ride into your tour!
For the gamers
From Xbox tournaments to good old – fashioned chess matches, if your competitive streak is well versed, why not turn gaming into the ultimate adventure?
Arcade games: If you like your gaming with a retro twist, the Replay Museum in Florida is your little slice of heaven. Featuring arcade games from the last five decades, the crowning glory just has to be the world’s largest pinball machine.
Tip: Rather than paying per play, for £9 you can purchase an all-day-pass, which allows you unlimited access to all games for 24 hours!
Cosplay: Jump inside a real-life fantasy world and learn the art of warrior combat in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Completewith authentic, Genghis Khan costumes, you’ll feel every inch the Mongol hero. (A 9 day tour costs £2350 per person)
Board games: Roll the dice in Paris with the ultimate crawl of the best board game bars the city has to offer. From Chess to Cluedo and Backgammon to Boggle, the only thing you’ll need to bring is a worthy opponent!
Tip: If you have a penchant for less ordinary board games, L’Oya in the 13th Arrondissement is packed full of weird and wonderful games, collected from countries around the world!
For the sports fans
Whether you’re centre pitch or cheering your team on from the sidelines, sport is a passion universally shared.
Running: Fancy yourself as a marathon runner? Sign up for a running event with a twist – the Man vs Horse marathon in L lanwrtyd Wells, Wales. On foot and horseback, entrants compete in the ultimate battle of stamina! (Individual runner entry is £30)
Tip: It’s worth training for this marathon, as the jackpot for a runner winning has been increasing by £500 every year it hasn’t been won. It currently stands at £1,500!
Swimming: Why not swap the local lido for a dip in the Andaman sea, and swim with the ‘sea gypsies’ of Myanmar? This 10-day trip will fully submerge you into the lifestyle of these floating nomads, and allow you to experience swimming as a way of life, not just a hobby. (A 10 day tour costs £3295 per person)
Skiing: Head off on a ski holiday like no other, in the Indian region of Manali. As well as hitting the slopes in the breathtaking Himalayas, some tour packages offer the chance to try your hand at the adrenaline-fuelled ‘yak skiing’. (A 5 day tour costs £76 per person)
For the animal lovers
If taking your furry friend away with you is not an option, there are many other ways to indulge your passion for all things fluffy, feathered and scaly when on holiday!
Horse riding: Take your riding skills to the next level, and spend some time getting to know your hoofed companions with a ‘Horse whispering’ course in Andalucia, Spain. (1 and 2 week courses available)
Wildlife spotting: Real animal-lovers will be in seventh-heaven on the Bahamas’ Big Major Cay Island, the only place in the world where you can swim with wild pigs. These porcine paddlers spend all day splashing around in crystal clear waters – take a dip with them!
Tip: Regular boats to Big Major Cay leave from mainland Exuma throughout the day – set off early in the morning to avoid the crowds!
Herpetoculture: Reptile f ans will be immersed in the wild world of snake hunting on this specialist tour in Chennai, India – accompany local tribesmen into the forests to learn this highly skilled, ancient art. (Tours usually take place between April and June)
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