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Summer 2003: Handbell Tours
Touring with a handbell group “…is a great way to see the world”, says Melanie Bankston. “It takes a lot of desire to do the amount of planning and work involved, but it’s worth it in the end!” And Melanie knows a thing or two about handbell tours.
As director of Strikepoint of Texas, Melanie has traveled to England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Austria, and Belgium, performing at world-renowned churches and cathedrals. Here in the United States, Strikepoint has performed in Colonial Williamsburg, the United States Naval Academy, and in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Melanie also runs her own tour company, UK Holidays, which specializes in tours of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Using a tour company or travel agent to help plan your trip can help relieve the stress and headaches that go into planning the logistics of a tour: destination, lodging, travel plans, itinerary, and performance schedules and venues, just to name a few. Like UK Holidays, some tour companies specialize in specific destinations, while others offer customized tours to a variety of places in the United States and around the world.
If your group doesn’t have the budget for a world adventure, there are many opportunities for touring right here at home. Music festivals abound around the country and provide a great place for your group to ring. A little research can help you locate a festival just about anywhere you want to go. An easy way to set up a trip is to use your fellow directors: you can travel to their church for a concert, and they can return the favor. This allows your group to perform in a different venue and to see the country at the same time! In the internet age, it’s easy to make contacts with directors all over the United States!
The most important thing to remember when planning a handbell tour or trip is simple… Have fun! “Leave plenty of time for sight-seeing and limit the number of performances”, Melanie advises. “Your ringers can always play handbells at home, so give them lots of free time to see the sights and enjoy themselves.” By following this simple rule, you will ensure that your handbell tour is a ringing success!