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travel: Euro stars; THE 52ND EUROVISION SONG CONTEST TAKES PLACE TONIGHT IN HELSINKI KEN BENNETT GOES ON A MUSICAL JOURNEY TO SOME OF THE NATIONS PART.

TO some, it's the Yawn of the Year, full of dreary middle-of-the-road pop crass with the winner sinking to oblivion. To others it's a riveting battle, pitting the UK against its European musical rivals.

Like it or loathe it, it's hard to avoid tonight's Eurovision Song Contest on BBC1 - even Dr Who's been shifted from the schedules. To celebrate the musical diversity of some entrants, here's a list to get your holiday feet tapping...

SWEDEN An international music festival will take place in Slottsskogen City Park, Gothenburg, on August 10-11. About 30 bands will be appearing in Way Out West (www.wayoutwest.se) including Lily Allen, Mika, Primal Scream, The Hives and The Pogues.

Stay at the City Hotel (www.cityhotelgbg.se), just off Gothenburg's main street. Rooms cost from about pounds 33 per night B&B at weekends. Get to Gothenburg with Ryanair from Stansted from just pounds 25 return including taxes, or check our flights from Manchester. For more information on Gothenburg visit www.gothenburg.com and www.west-sweden.com.

ROMANIA Todomondo are not likely to represent truly authentic Romanian music so head to Sibiu, a delightful 12th century Saxon town with its own thriving music scene. Here you will find a lively cafe culture with gypsy music usually performed by violin and accordion in restaurants. Nominated as the European Capital of Culture for 2007, Sibiu is also wonderfully romantic. Seven nights B&B at Hotel Imparatul Romanitor in Sibiu costs from pounds 727 a head in May, based on two sharing and includes car hire and return Heathrow BA flights to Bucharest. Call Sunvil Discovery on 020 8758 4722 or visit www.sunvil.co.uk.

FINLAND AND THE BALTIC Sit back to enjoy the programme of daily concerts during Kirker's Baltic Music Festival cruise. The eclectic music mix might be more Beethoven than Bucks Fizz, but the 11 performances promise a musical treat. The cruise sails from Dover on August 28 and makes seven ports of call, firstly to Mariehamn, on the remote and beautiful Finnish island of Ahland, then Helsinki. Next is St Petersburg, then the elegant medieval city of Gydnia in Poland, Sassnitz on the German island of Ruegen, Copenhagen and finally Oslo. The cruise returns to Dover on September 10. Prices start at pounds 1,580. Call 0870 421 1201 or visit www.kirkerholidays.com.

UK For more traditional sounds than the UK's entry by Scooch, enjoy the Polperro Festival Cornwall from June 16-24. Stay nearby at The Wagon House (Classic Cottages: 01326 555 555 or www.classic.co.uk, from pounds 450 total), which sleeps three.

ARMENIA This country's entry to Eurovision, Anytime You Need, is all about eternal love. Specialist operator Explore (0870 333 4001, www.explore.co.uk) also offers something everlasting: memories from one of its adventure holidays. Try a last-minute five-night break to Armenia and discover a rugged, remarkable and rarely-visited land. Departing May 22, the tour costs pounds 782 a head.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)promise their150members could offer you exciting deals to the musical high notes of Europe, from Mozart in the Marches to the Danube Music Festival. Call 0208744 9280orvisit www.aito.co.uk

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Clockwise from above: The Way Out West festival in Gothenburg, Wagon House in Cornwall, Armenia and UK Eurovision entry Scooch
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 12, 2007
Words:553
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