Three Choirs Festival


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Activity types:

  • Central location
  • Culture
  • Free WiFi
  • Indoors

Holiday overview

No other music festival in the United Kingdom has the history and tradition to match that of the Three Choirs, nor concert venues as beautiful as the three medieval cathedrals. 2017 will be the 301st anniversary of the meeting of choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, the venue being Worcester. A very English festival, and the oldest choral festival in the world, the core programme of music features work from English composers.

The 7-night holiday includes tickets to five concerts, the 3-night holiday to two concerts and the 4-night holiday to three concerts. 

Holiday highlights:

  • Soak up the festival atmosphere with a group of like-minded people
  • Get more from the festival with pre-concert talks and informal discussions with our expert leader 
  • Enjoy free time to explore the local area of relax in the Country House 

Great reasons to join us:

  • Great value: all prices include Full Board en-suite accommodation, all essential transport and concert tickets 
  • Expert leader: we carefully select friendly and knowledgeable leaders for each holiday
  • Accommodation: enjoy high-quality accommodation and excellent food at our Country Houses
  • Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays - enjoy music together, eat together and relax together


HF Holidays' Harrington House in Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham

Dating from the Tudor period and of, considerable historic interest, Harrington House mirrors the mellow architectural style of the Cotswolds. Its peaceful atmosphere and proximity to the charming centre of Bourton-on-the-Water make it ideal for those who prefer a less active holiday.

Harrington House has 29 bedrooms. Most are located in the main house, with others in the adjacent cottages. 

Choose your room

Classic Rooms
• Check-in from 2:30pm
• Comfortable accommodation
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• TV
• Hairdryer
• Tea and coffee-making facilities
• Single rooms are available at no extra charge
Premium Rooms
• Check-in from 1:30pm
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views
• Toweling robe Complimentary slippers 
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Available from an extra £10 per person per night
Family Rooms
• Check-in from 2:30pm
• 3 or 4 beds
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk or occasional beds for children


• Excellent boot and drying rooms 
• Main house there is a lounge, dining room and a bar
• Ballroom
• At the very top of the house is the observatory 
• Free WiFi in public rooms
• Range of board games and books
• At the rear of the house there is an attractive walled garden with a large croquet lawn


All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.

Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
 Take your fill from our famous self-service picnic lunches
A relaxed social dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses

An example of Bourton-on-the-water evening meal

Your evenings

Make the most of your evening or join us at the bar

Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.

All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.


Due to the layout and age of Harrington House, it is not recommended for wheelchair users or anyone with restricted mobility.

Although one bedroom has wheelchair access, the access to the main house has some steps and internally there are some steps to negotiate.

More details on Bourton accessibility

Additional information

  • Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
  • Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
  • Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
  • Information can be provided in large print
  • Staff have received disability awareness training
  • Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
  • Fridge for medication can be supplied


This is the 2017 itinerary, to give you a flavour of how the holiday runs, including talks in the house and visits to the festival. The 2018 events will be published soon.

Friday 21 July: Arrival day
Welcome to Harrington House. Your room will be ready from 2.30pm onwards (1pm for premium rooms). Afternoon tea will be provided so you can meet your fellow guests and leader. If you need assistance carrying your luggage to your room, please speak to the house manager when you arrive to arrange this. Your leader will talk you through the holiday, including its timetable, on the first evening. After dinner, enjoy an introductory talk about the Three Choirs Festival.

Saturday 22 July: Tippet A Child of Our Time
9.30am – 12.15pm: Illustrated talk on Britten and Tippett, with coffee break
12.30pm: Enjoy a 3-course lunch
5.30pm: Leave the Country House for Worcester

7.45pm – 10pm: A Child of Our Time
Worcester Cathedral

Sarah Fox soprano
Hilary Summers alto
Andrew Tortise tenor
Neal Davies bass
Three Choirs Festival Chorus
Philharmonia Orchestra
Peter Nardone conductor

Elgar Great is the Lord 10’
Britten Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes 16’
Tippett A Child of Our Time 72’

Elgar’s opulent 1912 anthem contrasts with the distinct musical styles of Britten and Tippett, marking changes in the musical landscape influenced by two world wars. Taken from Britten’s opera, the Four Sea Interludes depict both the moods and tempers of the North Sea and the opera’s dark protagonist, Peter Grimes. By contrast, Tippett’s contemplative oratorio is a shifting tapestry of light and shade, its spirituals acting like chorales in a Bach Passion and its text reflecting on the individual’s fate, ending with a plea for pacifism.

10pm: Leave Worcester for the Country House

Sunday 23 July: Mendelssohn St Paul
9.30am – 12.15pm: Illustrated talk on Mendelssohn, with coffee break
12.30pm: Enjoy a 3-course lunch
2.45pm: Leave the Country House for Worcester

5.30pm: Evensong

7.45pm–10.30pm: Mendelssohn St Paul
Worcester Cathedral

Judith Howarth soprano
Yvonne Howard mezzo-soprano
John Mark Ainsley tenor
David Stout baritone
Three Choirs Festival Chorus
Philharmonia Orchestra
Geraint Bowen conductor

Mendelssohn St Paul 130’

A rare chance to hear Mendelssohn’s first oratorio rather than the more frequently heard Elijah. Influenced by Bach’s Passions (of which Mendelssohn was an early champion), the work is full of dramatic writing. It contains some glorious melodies, including How Lovely are the Messengers and one of the most beautiful choruses Mendelssohn ever wrote: Happy and Blest are They Who Have Endured.

10.30pm: Leave Worcester for the Country House

Monday 24 July: Departure day/Free day/Arrival day
We say goodbye to our 3-night guests as they depart after a leisurely breakfast, and welcome our 4-night guests to Harrington House. Your room will be ready from 2.30pm onwards (1pm for premium rooms). Afternoon tea will be provided so you can meet your fellow guests and leader. If you need assistance carrying your luggage to your room, please speak to the house manager when you arrive to arrange this. Your leader will talk you through the holiday, including its timetable, this evening. After dinner, enjoy an introductory talk about the Three Choirs Festival.

For those on the 7-night holiday, enjoy a Free Day to relax in the Country House, or explore the area independently using the Discovery Point in the house.

Tuesday 25 July: Elgar The Dream of Gerontius
9.30am – 12.15pm: Illustrated talk on Elgar, with coffee break
12.30pm: Enjoy a 3-course lunch
2.45pm: Leave the Country House for Worcester

5.30pm: Evensong

7.45pm–10pm: Elgar The Dream of Gerontius
Worcester Cathedral

Susan Bickley mezzo-soprano
David Butt Philip tenor
Roderick Williams baritone
Worcester Cathedral Girl Choristers
Three Choirs Festival Chorus
Philharmonia Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins conductor

Elgar The Dream of Gerontius 100’
In the heart of ‘Elgar country’, Gerontius is perhaps the work most synonymous with today’s Three Choirs Festival. In turn both theatrical and breathlessly delicate, earthly and ethereal, there is no wonder this work has endured in audiences’ hearts decade after decade. Conducted tonight by a celebrated champion of British music, Martyn Brabbins, alongside a stellar cast of soloists this is sure to be a memorable performance of a festival favourite.

10pm: Leave Worcester for the Country House

Wednesday 26 July: Janáček Glagolitic Mass
9.30am – 12.15pm: Illustrated talk on Janáček, with coffee break
12.30pm: Enjoy a 3-course lunch
5.30pm: Leave the Country House for Worcester

7.45pm– 9.40pm: Janáček Glagolitic Mass
Worcester Cathedral

Natalya Romaniw soprano
Sarah Connolly mezzo-soprano*
Claudia Huckle contralto
Daniel Norman tenor
Ashley Riches bass
Christopher Allsop organ
Three Choirs Festival Chorus
Philharmonia Orchestra
Frank Beermann conductor

Strauss Metamorphosen 26’
Torsten Rasch A Welsh Night* (version premiere) 14’
Janáček Glagolitic Mass 40’

Janáček’s towering Glagolitic Mass is in turns raw, triumphant and affirmational. After its Prague premiere, Janáček wrote that he ‘did not take the path trodden by slippers… we were a fresh spring breeze’. Similarly heartfelt is Strauss’ Metamorphosen, an anguished elegy to a ruined Europe in the closing months of WW2. The premiere of Torsten Rasch’s orchestration of his song cycle A Welsh Night (premiered at the festival in 2015) takes an altogether more private tone, setting lines of fond remembrance from Welsh poet Alun Lewis.

9.40pm: Leave Worcester for the Country House

Thursday 27 July: Tudor Masterpieces The Cardinall’s Musick
9.30am – 11am: Illustrated talk on Tudor Music, with coffee break
11.30am: Leave the Country House for Worcester
Free time in Worcester
3pm – 4.50pm: Tudor Masterpieces The Cardinall’s Musick
Worcester Cathedral

The Cardinall’s Musick
Andrew Carwood director

Sheppard Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria 14’
Cornysh Ave Maria, mater Dei 3’
Tye Ad te clamamus 3’
Mundy Vox patris caelestis 18’
Taverner Mater Christi sanctissima 6’
Byrd O gloriosa Domina 5’
Tallis Euge caeli porta; Gaude gloriosa 21’
16th century England stood apart from the European mainland with a musical inheritance which was radically different. During the life of Henry VII, English composers produced huge and awe-inspiring settings of texts in honour of the Virgin Mary that influenced Tallis, Sheppard and Mundy. This is a rare opportunity to hear some of these magnificent Tudor ‘symphonies’ in one concert. Full of colour and drama, they push the limits of invention. The programme is punctuated by more modest ‘sorbets’ – the English could excel at miniatures as well!

4.50pm: Leave Worcester for the Country House

Friday 28 July: Depart after a leisurely breakfast

Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.



Local area

Discover the Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water is situated at the heart of the Cotswolds, a beautiful area of rolling green hills and attractive stone towns and villages.

Harrington House is located in a quiet street, just 100 metres from the centre of Bourton. This is one of the most popular villages in the Cotswolds, frequently busy with visitors. The River Windrush winds its way through the central village green and is crossed by a series of attractive stone bridges.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a popular destination in its own right with its specialist shops and attractive village  green. Local attractions include the motor museum, model village and Birdland wildlife park, all within easy walking distance.

The village has a good range of facilities including a small supermarket, post office, newsagent, pubs and bank.

During your stay at Harrington House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:

Chipping Campden
The mellow market town of Chipping Campden, about 30 minutes' drive north of Bourton-on-the-Water, is one of the most visited towns in the Cotswolds.

Pathway through elegant gardensHidcote Manor Gardens
Owned by the National Trust, Hidcote is a small manor house with an exceptional garden designed in the Arts and Crafts style. Around 35 minutes' north from Bourton-on-the-Water. 



Rolling hills and Broadway TowerBroadway
Considered as one of the most beautiful villages in Britain it is easy to see why so many visitors are attracted to Broadway. Don’t let this put you off; Broadway is still worth a visit. To get away from the crowds, consider a walk to Broadway Tower for stunning views of the Vale of Evesham. Around 30 minutes' drive from Bourton.


Inside the Royal Shakespeare TheatreStratford-upon-Avon
Famous for its Shakespeare connections, Stratford is an attractive town spanning the River Avon. Of particular interest are the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Shakespeare Birthplace Museum. Around 40 minutes' drive from Bourton. or



Exterior and gardens of Blenheim PalaceBlenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is one of the grandest and best-known stately homes in Britain. It sits in extensive parkland and is also famous as the ancestral home of Winston Churchill.



The fine Regency spa town of Cheltenham has an excellent range of shops and facilities. Cheltenham is around 25 minutes' drive from Bourton, and can also be reached by an hourly local bus.

The Cathedral city of Gloucester is about 35 minutes' drive to the west of Bourton. The fine Norman cathedral is well worth visiting, as is the National Waterways Museum. or

Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway
Ride the steam railway through attractive Cotswold countryside from Cheltenham to Toddington about 30 minutes' drive from Bourton. Now restored, this was once the Great Western main line to Birmingham.

The famous university city of Oxford is about an hour’s drive from Bourton-on-the-Water. You may wish to stroll through the historic colleges or visit the Ashmolean Museum.


Hidcote Gardens image ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Buckley


Travel to Bourton-on-the-Water

Our address is: Harrington House, Sherborne Street, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, GL54 2BY

How to get to us by train

By train:

The nearest railway station is Moreton-in-Marsh. However, the nearest mainline station is at Cheltenham Spa which may be more convenient. For train times and general rail enquiries visit or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

Get to us by Taxi

By taxi:

From Moreton-in-Marsh station a taxi takes approximately 20 minutes and costs £21 if pre-booked. From Cheltenham Spa station a taxi takes around 30 minutes and costs £42 if pre-booked. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Harrington House Manager.


By bus:

From Moreton-in-Marsh station catch the 801 bus to Bourton-on-the-Water,from where it is a short walk to our Country House. Alight next to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Shop. Cross the road to the war memorial and continue across the bridge. Follow this road for 150 metres until the road forks. Harrington House is on the left.

Driving to us

By car:

From the A429 take the road into the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water.  At the war memorial by the village green, turn into Sherborne Street. Follow this road for 150yds, crossing the river and passing the motor museum until the road forks. Harrington House is on the left before the fork.  Look out for our sign. A car park is available in the grounds with free parking.

 Travel by plane

Travelling from overseas

For most guests, travelling to London Heathrow airport is the most convenient option.

From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. From here there are direct trains to Moreton-in-Marsh. It's a relatively straightforward journey - just over 2 hours. See for train times.

From Moreton-in-Marsh you can travel on to Bourton-on-the-Water by bus or taxi (see above).


Steven Robinson

Steven Robinson is a freelance music lecturer. Following the completion of a PhD on the symphonies of Beethoven's pupil, Ferdinand Ries, he taught for 10 years at Liverpool University and also contributed to undergraduate courses at Manchester University and the Royal Northern College of Music.  He has led for HF Holidays since 2002, presenting holidays on Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Ries, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Bartok and Shostakovich, as well as general surveys of the main periods of music history (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century), and Festival holidays including Cheltenham Music Festival, Three Choirs, Welsh National Opera and Opera North. Steven teaches piano at home and plays the organ at several churches in the Manchester area. 

Dates & Prices

We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.

Prices are per person


  • Premium single room: £15 per night
  • Premium twin/double room: £10 per person per night
  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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