Prague has come up trumps as the place where those planning a cultural city break can save money this autumn, according to the 2017 British Post Office Travel Money Cost of Culture Report.
The Czech capital emerges as cheapest in a survey of opera, dance, music concert, gallery and museum prices in 16 cultural cities, with runners-up Warsaw, Budapest and Moscow making it a clean sweep for Eastern Europe.
Research found that the cost of six world-class cultural highlights in Prague has fallen almost 26 per cent since last year to £93.58 – less than the cost of one ticket to see the English National Opera's The Barber of Seville at the London Coliseum (£96.50) or The Royal Ballet's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House (£119). London was placed 12th in the survey at a total of £282.30 – a rise of 10.5 per cent on a year ago.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK currency transactions, said,
More UK holidaymakers are taking city breaks than any other type of overseas trip and our latest consumer research confirms that a city's cultural attractions are the most important consideration when deciding where to visit. However, this year's Cost Of Culture Report found that performance and entry prices vary dramatically between cities. Culture vultures looking for good value can save hundreds of pounds by doing their homework before booking and swapping expensive cities for cheaper ones.
All very well and good, but homework would also include finding out whether the city has the event you are looking for. Obviously, if you want to see Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland — and who wouldn't — then the cheapest way to see it is to visit London if you live in Europe.
Compared with the cost of the six cultural highlights in Prague, for example, you can expect to pay over three times as much in four of the leading eurozone cultural capitals: Vienna (£281.91), Paris (£287.34), Madrid (£300.23) and Barcelona (£313.12).
Berlin emerges as best value in the eurozone. The low cost of tickets to see the Berlin State Ballet dance The Sleeping Beauty (£56) and The Magic Flute performed by Deutsche Oper Berlin (£70) mean the overall cultural cost of £204.46 is just three per cent higher than a year ago. In Rome, the Post Office has charted a year-on-year fall of six per cent to £223, boosted by a drop of 26 per cent in the cost of a ballet ticket (Giselle £39 at the Teatro dell'Opera).
Moscow is another city to see a sizeable fall in its cultural costs. Despite a nine per cent slide in sterling's value against the ruble, prices have fallen 19 per cent to £125.38 in the Russian capital since last year. Tickets for the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera are lower than a year ago – with good stalls tickets available for Don Pasquale at just £19.39.
By contrast, previous best value Cost of Culture cities Warsaw and Budapest remain good value but prices are much higher than a year ago. Costs have risen almost 46 per cent to £93.97 in second-placed Warsaw although this still means a ticket for the Polish National Opera or Ballet costs just £31. Similarly, while there has been a 43 per cent rise overall in Budapest's cultural costs (3rd, £111.58), visitors will pay less than £10 to see Ballet Pécs in The Taming of the Shrew. This year's higher price tag for a classical concert (Vienna Philharmonic at Béla Bartók Concert Hall, £70) accounts for the increased costs in the Hungarian capital.
New York is again the most expensive city of those surveyed at £342.26 for the six cultural highlights, £156.46 of this is for a ticket to see La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera. Despite this, the New York total is over 30 per cent lower than in 2015.
POST OFFICE COST OF CULTURE CITY PRICE GUIDE
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.