Learning holidays have become fashionable in the last few years. It’s all about picking up new skills in a convivial, unpressured environment, with good food and top class accommodation. You can learn almost anything – from Italian to opera, patisserie to path laying or yoga to yodelling (okay, maybe not yodelling…)
Cookery in Umbria
How about heading to the sun-warmed slopes of Umbria to learn to cook a few gourmet dishes while exploring some of Italy’s best vineyards? The combination of luxury accommodation in an 18th century villa and spa, with days spent under the tuition of some of the region’s most accomplished chefs or exploring the local wine estates could be the break you’re looking for. There are three cookery classes over the week and two days dedicated to a wine tasting self-drive tour in Umbria and Tuscany. Flights aren’t included in the prices, which start around £800 per person, but you’ll come home with new skills, a book of recipes and an apron as a souvenir of your cookery holiday. www.golearnto.com has the details of this and many other learning holidays.
Painting in Portugal
Why not reconnect with your creative side on a painting break? Bettina Schroeder teaches small groups in Olhão, a picturesque Portuguese working town and fishing port in the Algarve, which offers up a wide range of subject matter. The week long course also includes excursions to Culatra, Tavira, and the peaceful island of Armona.
Bettina also offers courses on Scotland’s west coast at Brynaport, just across the water from the island of Skye. She has been teaching and running painting holidays for over two decades and is both supportive and encouraging of even the most inexperienced artist. www.art-holidays.com
Wild Photography specialise in small group photography expeditions to some of the most dramatic landscapes and colourful cultures in the world. Demand is so high that some trips sell out within a day of launch, so registering your interest and booking well ahead is advised. You could find yourself shooting icebergs and Inuits in Greenland, surrounded by a riot of colour in Rajasthan, taking close ups at the Camel Fair in Pushkar or composing shots of Iceland’s wildlife. Closer to home, there are holidays in the west of Ireland or the Highlands to choose from, all under the guidance of amazing photography tutors, specialising in landscapes, seas or wildlife.
Stand up on Skyros
Drenched in Aegean sun, Skyros is a small Greek island where the concept of learning holidays began with yoga and wellbeing retreats. These days, the Skyros foundation hosts courses and holidays spanning everything from salsa and singing glee clubs, to windsurfing and starting that novel you’ve talking about for the past decade.
If you could use a laugh, one of the more unusual holiday options is Stand-up Comedy. For around £650- £700, plus your flights and transfers, you can learn some of the techniques employed by professional comedians to engage an audience, get them on your side and have them rolling in the aisles. There are classes on writing techniques, stage presence, keeping an audience in check, building performance skills and you can show off your skills to the rest of the participants. Your new skills could lead to a new career, or at least stop people sliding into a coma during your PowerPoint presentations. www.skyros.com
Whatever you choose, you’ll come back refreshed and feeling creative. Isn’t that better than getting a bad case of sunburn on a crowded beach on the Costa del Sol?