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Three Choirs Festival in Hereford, EnglandThe city...


Three Choirs Festival in Hereford, England

The city of Hereford, in Great Britain, shoehorned into the soft English hillside between the Cotswold Hills and the Welsh border, is playing host to Europe's oldest choir festival, the 267-year-old Three Choirs Festival, to take place Aug. 21-26.

The annual event, which rotates between Hereford and the nearby cities of Gloucester and Worcester, has highlighted English choral music since its inception, listing among its first performances the works of Sir Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams, both of whom were born in the region.

This year's festival includes performances by the cathedral choirs of the three cities and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, in addition to performances by national youth choirs and local church choirs.

A two-hour drive north and west of London, Hereford boasts myriad historic buildings, some dating to the 11th century, a 17th-century library, small shops selling English bric-a-brac and local artwork, and quaint narrow streets that support restored, half-timbered medieval houses. Hereford also is home to a thriving apple-cider industry, and visitors can learn about apple milling and enjoy some samples at the Cider Museum.

For more information about the festival, tickets and accommodations in Hereford, call the British Tourist Authority, (800) 462-2748. Now, leaving home without your American Express traveler's checks is still no problem. The credit card company, in tandem with Electronic Data Services, has begun a project to make the checks available at select automated teller machines nationwide. The amount available and fee charged will be set by individual banks, and in most cases will mirror numbers set for checks bought from a teller. Typically, there is a $1,000 maximum and a 1 percent service fee. Currently, Boston, Hartford, Conn., and San Antonio are serving as test markets, and the project is scheduled to be extended nationally later this summer.

Shopping on Rodeo Drive

If you've made shopping trips to all the outlet centers and the Mall of America, make a concession to haute couture by visiting 2 Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Shoppers don't have to worry about eye-popping prices. This "European shopping village" is being billed as an affordable Beverly Hills and boasts a frescoed sidewalk and open-air courtyard. Tiffany & Co. serves as the flagship store, and the roster of merchants includes Cartier, Valentino, Christian Dior, Gianfranco Ferre, Jessica McClintock, and Davidoff of Geneva. The shopping mecca also has an outdoor restaurant and sushi bar overlooking Wilshire Boulevard. located at 268 North Rodeo Drive, between Wilshire Boulevard and Dayton Way, in the heart of Beverly Hills, 90210.

Space at camp

Although the Space Shuttle Pathfinder and Rocket Park are big attractions at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, what really makes this Alabama's No. 1 tourist attraction is Space Camp, a program that allows budding astronauts the chance to experiment with the latest space technology. Space Camp allows participants to use full-scale shuttle mock-ups and high-tech learning tools to re-create the sensations of astronaut training. In three-, five-, or eight-day sessions, campers learn the basics of rocketry and shuttle operations, and develop teamwork and communications skills. The program is open to children 10 and older and adults. A five-day summer session for a fifth-grader is $600, including meals, accommodations and educational materials. A three-day adult session runs $500, and a three-day session for a parent and child is $500. For more information about the program, including dates and tuition, call (800) 637-7223.

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