Three Choirs Festival


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Activity types:

  • Culture
  • Free WiFi
  • Hills & moorland
  • Indoors

Holiday overview

No other music festival in the United Kingdom has the history and tradition to match that of the Three Choirs Festival, nor concert venues as beautiful as the three medieval cathedrals. 2018 will be the 302nd anniversary of the meeting of choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, the venue being Hereford. 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 

Price includes

  • High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
  • The services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
  • Coach transport to and from the festival
  • Good quality tickets for performances and festival sessions
  • Illustrated talks from your HF Holidays’ leader


HF Holidays' Nyftha House in Brecon, Wales

Nythfa House is a charming Country House, located on the edge of the market town of Brecon. Spacious public rooms, attractive gardens and indoor swimming pool make it a popular and relaxing place to stay.

Nythfa House has 28 bedrooms. Most are located in the main house, with others in garden annexes.

Choose your room

Classic Rooms
• Check in from 2:30pm
• Comfortable accommodation 
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• 23 inch TV
• Hairdryer
• Tea and coffee-making facilities
• Double or two single beds
• Toiletries
• Single rooms are available at no extra charge
Premium Rooms
• Same facilities as our classic rooms plus...
• Check in from 1pm
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views 
• Larger beds
• Toweling robe, complimentary slippers
• Ultradown pillows
• Smalls drying rack
• Small welcome gift
• Luxury tea tray
• Enhanced toiletries
• Available from an extra £15 per person per night
Family Rooms
• Check-in from 1:30pm
• 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 
• Large upstairs lounge 
• Dining room and bar 
• Ballroom 
• Conservatory which looks out onto the garden
• Free WiFi available in some public rooms
• Range of board games and books
• Indoor swimming pool in a separate building 
• The house is surrounded by extensive gardens
• Putting green and croquet lawn
• Mini-golf


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 Brecon 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.


More details on Brecon 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 on request. An under-pillow vibrating pad is available on request
  • A fridge is available in the first floor lounge for storing medication
  • Good signage for fire escape routes
  • One bedroom key issued per room (second key available on request)
  • 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 has had disability awareness training


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

You’re welcome to check-in from 2.30pm, or 1pm if you’re staying in a Premium room. Please join us for afternoon tea.

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 Brecon Beacons

During your stay at Nythfa House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest, either in your free time, or on your journey to and from Brecon:

Canal boat on Brecon canalBrecon is a quaint market town at the foot of the Brecon Beacons; an area of sweeping high moorland, and beautiful green valleys. The town has a good  range of facilities including shops, supermarkets, post office, chemists, banks, pubs and cafés. During your stay you may enjoy visiting Brecon Cathedral or take a scenic cruise from Brecon along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. or


Visitors in hard hats exploring the mineBig Pit Mining Museum
Travel underground at the excellent Big Pit museum in Blaenavon and discover the life of a South Wales coal miner. Blaenavon is around 45 minutes' drive from Brecon.



The quaint small town of Hay-on-Wye is about 30 minutes' drive from Brecon, and can also be reached by bus every 2 hours. The town is now famed for its annual literary festival, and extensive selection of second-hand book shops.

Hereford is an attractive city, around an hour's drive from Brecon, whose cathedral houses the famous Mappa Mundi, a 12th century map of the world.

Visitors walking through an impressive caveDan yr Orgof Caves
An impressive show-cave, one of the largest in Europe, with fine stalactites and stalagmites. The caves are around 30 minutes' drive from Brecon.



Exterior of Tretower Court historic houseTretower Court
Located near the village of Crickhowell, about 20 minutes' drive from Brecon, Tretower Court is a fine Medieval fortified manor house.



The vibrant Welsh capital of Cardiff is also around 40 miles or 1 hour’s drive from Brecon. A visit could include the St Fagan’s National History Museum, Castell Coch, or the National Museum.


Tretower Court image © Crown copyright (2016) Welsh Government, Big Pit image ©Big Pit National Coal Museum


Travel to Brecon

Our address is: Nythfa House, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7NN

How to get to us by train

By train:

The most convenient railway station is at Abergavenny. 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:

The 20 mile journey from Abergavenny railway station takes approximately 45 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £36 per taxi. 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 Nythfa House Manager.


By bus:

The X43 bus operates from Abergavenny station to Brecon. Alight at the bus interchange in Brecon. Facing the road, head left along Heol Gouesnou to the traffic lights. Turn right heading uphill along Cerrigcochion Road for around 70 yards, and then turn left into Belle Vue Gardens. Head along the road and turn right at the T-junction (still Belle Vue Gardens). Head up the road to another T-junction and turn left into Cerrigcochion Lane. Walk for about 15 yards and you will see the Nythfa House sign on your right. For bus times see

Driving to us

By car:

Most guests approach Brecon via the A40 from Abergavenny or the A470 from the northwest. These two roads converge at a roundabout on the Brecon bypass. At the roundabout follow the B4601 into Brecon. Pass the army barracks on your right, then turn right at the mini-roundabout (B4601). Continue ahead at the second mini-roundabout. Turn right at the traffic lights (B4602), then take the first left into Bell View Gardens. Take the next road on the right, then at the next T junction turn left. The drive to Nythfa House is ahead on the right.

 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 trains to Abergavenny (1 change at Newport) - allow 3 to 3½ hours. See for train times.

From Abergavenny you can travel on to Brecon 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. Steven teaches piano at home and plays the organ at several churches in the Manchester area. 

This was my third break with Steven Robinson and I hope to do many more. He is a brilliant leader, friendly and inclusive and he imparts his knowledge with such enthusiasm, pitching the subject so well.

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: £15 per person per night
  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

We like to reward early bookers with our best rooms so book early to avoid disappointment.
Please note that we aren't able to take room number requests as we are unable to guarantee them. 

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