Something To Declare: Perth, London Eye

The column that gives the global picture

Simon Calder
Saturday 04 January 2003 01:00
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Destination of the week: one stop to Perth for live culture

The warm, sunny version of Perth – as opposed to the cool, damp Scottish original, is easy and cheap to reach now that the Christmas and New Year rush is over. The 50th Perth International Arts Festival begins in Western Australia's capital on 16 January and continues for a month. The musical offerings are diverse, with Marianne Faithfull and Laurie Anderson headlining.

One part of the festival is taking place hundreds of miles west of Perth, at Lake Ballard near Kalgoorlie. In this wilderness, the sculptor Antony Gormley has created an installation of abstract, black steel figures – "life-size in height but reduced to one-third of their original body volume", say the organisers.

You can reach Perth with a single stop in Singapore from Heathrow, on British Airways/Qantas or Singapore Airlines. They are currently having a fares war, with prices to Perth as low as £650 for flights between late January and June – book through a discount agents before 24 January.

For more information on the festival, call 00 61 8 9380 2000 or visit the website www.perthfestival.com.au.

Warning of the week: sunset for Waterloo's big draw

Britain's top paid-for tourist attraction closes each year for maintenance. The British Airways London Eye shutdown takes place in January, when demand is lowest. It will grind to a halt at close of business tomorrow and stay closed until Monday 27 January. More details: 0870 5000600, www.londoneye.com.

Bargain of the week: first class on Virgin Trains

You may not be entirely certain when you will arrive, but at least if you are sitting in First Class you will be waited upon while you wait outside Wolverhampton. Virgin Trains now sells pre-bookable "Value Advance Upgrades" for its weekday train services. These apply even on the cheapest tickets. The price is £10 each way for shorter journeys, £15 for middle distances and £20 for longer trips. Between London and Glasgow, you pay £69 return, compared with a normal First Class return fare of £273; from Bristol to Leeds, £55 (usually £217); and from Birmingham to London, £26 (instead of £158). Book on 08457 222333 or www.thetrainline.com.

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