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Christmas

Christmas by the Sea

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With the decades-old traditions and exciting new events, Halifax gets in the holiday spirit

Whether you’re making family memories or enjoying a romantic evening out, Halifax abounds with Christmas celebrations throughout November and December. Read on for our favourites.

 

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Photo: Will Roberts

FAMILY FIRST

The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 18 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as thousands of spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts (and, of course, Santa Claus). Back downtown on November 25, Grand Parade Square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. Also on November 25 (and 26), Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing holiday traditions dating back to colonial days.

The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 2, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.

 

Ben-Caplan

SEASONAL SYMPHONY

Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore. Singer/songwriter Ben Caplan gets things started on December 1 and 2, joining the orchestra for Ben Caplan’s Holiday Classics. They’ll perform old favourites in the tradition of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole and clever new arrangements. Up next is perennial favourite The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) running from December 8 to 10 and 14 to 17. As usual, the Symphony’s holiday calendar concludes with Handel’s classic oratorio, but this year with a twist: Mozart’s Messiah, a 1789 arrangement of the masterpiece.

 

Barra-Macneils

MORE MERRY MUSIC

And there’s lots more music: A King’s Christmas is back on December 17. A guest narrator joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. Paul Halley directs. The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 18, as the Barra MacNeils bring their annual Christmas tour to the Dalhousie Arts Centre in Halifax.

 

CHRISTMAS COMEDY

December sees the return of a popular holiday-themed comedy show. On December 9, the World Trade & Convention Centre on Argyle Street hosts Ha Ha Halidays. The gala evening includes stand-up comedy with Trent McLelland and Jay Malone, buffet dinner, and live music and dancing with The Hopping Penguins.

 

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FESTIVE THEATRE

Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 21 and continues until December 31. Artistic director George Pothitos adapts the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life for the stage. Concurrently, Neptune’s studio stage hosts another holiday mainstay: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by Jeremy Webb. The pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is an annual family favourite. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, see Alice In Wonderland from November 23 to December 9.

 

 

5 things to do in Calgary this week: Dec 11 to 17

By SILVIA PIKAL and MICHAELA RITCHIE

THE SANTALAND DIARIES

This Lunchbox Theatre show is stirring up some laughs by playing to the naughty elf in all of us. Based on the bestselling adventures of David Sedaris, who once worked as an elf at a Macy’s Santaland himself, this story follows a down-on-his-luck New York City actor as he finds himself in the exact same predicament. The show runs select dates until December 23.

Lunchbox Theatre, 115 – 9 Avenue SE, lunchboxtheatre.com

DINNER AND A FLAMES GAME 

On December 14, watch the Calgary Flames take on the San Jose Sharks. Enjoy dinner (and dessert!) before the game at Cardinale, a new Italian restaurant. Cardinale is a short walk away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. From 3 to 6 pm, Cardinale’s happy hour features $6 glasses of red and white wine, $8 Negroni cocktails and more.

Cardinale, 401 – 12 Ave SE, cardinale.ca
Scotiabank Saddledome, 555 Saddledome Rise SE, ticketmaster.ca   (more…)

Holiday Gift Guide – Souvenirs

Explore Toronto’s fantastic shopping scene to find gifts for friends, family and anyone else on your list.

Toronto subway buttons ($2 each)
Spacing store, 401 Richmond St. W., spacingstore.ca

View a slideshow of great clothing items and other cozy gift ideas:

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Kids

Explore Toronto’s fantastic shopping scene to find gifts for friends, family and anyone else on your list.

Raccoon hand puppet ($61.95)
ShopAGO, Art Gallery
of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., shop2.ago.net

View a slideshow of great toys and adorable gift ideas:

Toronto’s Best Christmas Market

Eat, drink and be merry at the Distillery District’s holiday bazaar

Bundle up and walk the cobblestone streets of the historic Distillery District during the most magical time of year. From Nov. 16 to Dec. 23, the Toronto Christmas Market offers shoppers a chance to browse local handicrafts and sample hearty fare like poutine and schnitzel. You can also sip mulled wine under one of the city’s largest real Christmas trees, as carollers, brass bands and choirs fill the air with holiday cheer. If the weather gets chilly, you can always warm up in one of the cosy nearby boutiques, restaurants or bars.

2017 Warm & Cosy Holiday Gift Guide

Explore Toronto’s fantastic shopping scene to find gifts for friends, family and anyone else on your list.

Wolf-pompom knit toque ($99)
Simons, Square One Shopping Centre, 100 City Centre Dr.,
Mississauga, m.simons.ca

View a slideshow of great clothing items and other cozy gift ideas:

2017 Food and Drink Holiday Gift Guide

Explore Toronto’s fantastic shopping scene to find gifts for friends, family and anyone else on your list.

Nuremberg-style Lebkuchen cookies ($24 and up)
Pusateri’s Fine Foods, 57 Yorkville Ave.; other locations, pusateris.com

Click below to view a slideshow of great food and drink gift ideas:

Must-See Performances in November and December

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER ARE FULL OF EXCITING PERFORMANCES FROM BALLET TO ACROBATICS TO MAGIC, AND MORE  

dl_Cuisine&Confessions_DSC_2280┬®Alexandre-Galliez(1)

The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions merges acrobatics with the art of cooking. Photo by by Alexandre Galliez.

Mirvish Productions, Toronto’s largest theatre company, is closing out 2016 with a program of more esoteric—yet still ambitious—shows to complement its typical grander-scale fare. The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions (November 1 to December 4), for instance, blends acrobatics and cooking in a theatrical feast for the senses, while Fight Night (November 4 to 20) concocts an immersive exploration of democracy—just in time for the fireworks of the U.S. presidential election. And there’s more spectacle to be found in The Illusionists (starts December 13), which features awe-inspiring tricks by seven of the world’s top magicians.

Aligator Pie, Soulpepper

Soulpepper’s Alligator Pie is fun for the whole family. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The spotlight also shines on sleight of hand courtesy of Soulpepper Theatre Company and magic maestro David Ben’s Hocus Pocus (starts December 10). Equally inventive—and family-friendly—are Rose (December 16, 17, and 22), a concert presentation based on The World Is Round, a children’s book by Gertrude Stein, and Alligator Pie (starts December 27), an award-winning adaptation of Dennis Lee’s poems. 

And for more adult-oriented fare, turn to the Canadian Stage and Daniel MacIvor. His solo show, Who Killed Spalding Gray? (November 30 to December 11), combines the Canadian playwright’s uniquely disarming scripting with some of the titular character’s famed monologues in an interrogation of truth and fiction.

ENCORE PERFORMANCES

A pair of repertory remounts round out the National Ballet of Canada’s year-end slate—alongside its annual production of The Nutcracker (December 10 to 31), naturally. Most recently performed in 2014, James Kudelka’s Cinderella (November 12 to 20) offers a thoroughly modern interpretation of the age-old fairy tale, and later, the expressive Onegin (November 23 to 27)—John Cranko’s adaptation of the Pushkin novel, Eugene Onegin—aims for emotional and psychological nuance even while its dancers push the boundaries of what the human body can do.

Sharing the Four Seasons Centre stage with the National Ballet means that the Canadian Opera Company has for the time being ceded the spotlight, but the COC presents a great reason to return in 2017: its ever-popular production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (January 19 to February 24).

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES

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Itzhak Perlman enchants audiences with his performances of beloved movie scores.

The popular music of previous centuries—that is, classical music—is always in vogue with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. But the venerated ensemble keeps up with the times, too, by presenting contemporary scores. Among this winter’s biggest tickets are Itzhak Perlman’s “Cinema Serenade” (November 22)—in which the famed violinist performs themes from films, including Cinema Paradiso, Sabrina and Schindler’s List—and screenings of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with live TSO accompaniment (December 1 to 3). Christmas classics also get an airing in variety show-style concerts hosted by Colin Mochrie (December 9 to 11) and Jann Arden (December 13 and 14).

Meanwhile, another hallowed musical institution hones in on jazz. The Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall schedule features the likes of Joe Lovano’s quintet with Afro-Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés (November 9), a cabaret-style pairing of vocalists Laila Biali and Pilar (December 1), and explorations of the trio format with threesomes led by pianist Stefano Bollani, bassist Roberto Occhipinti (both November 18), organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophonist Christine Jensen (both December 10).

—Craig Moy

Winnipeg’s Drummer Boy

Sean Quigley has turned his viral internet success into an opportunity to change the world and explore his passion, one song at a time.

Photo courtesy Sean Quigley

Photo courtesy Sean Quigley

By Joelle Kidd

When asked, “why The Little Drummer Boy?”, a grin creeps over Sean Quigley’s face.

“Do you want the cheesy answer—or the real answer?”

The question, of course, refers to Quigley’s video of the same name, which as racked up almost 3.3 million views to date on YouTube. In it, the then 16-year-old, clad in shorts, a toque, and Hudson’s Bay Canada mittens, carries a drum through snowcapped scenes of a Winnipeg winter while an updated version of the carol—complete with buzzy guitar and a drum solo—plays. The video has resonated with a huge number of people, winning internet fame, and has had long lasting impact on many fans.

At the time, Quigley had not the faintest idea that his project would be so successful. “To be honest, I chose the song because of the Boney M Christmas album,” he says. “I just wanted to put my own spin on it.”

Armed with nothing but a borrowed video camera and a school computer covertly loaned by one of his High School teachers, the teenager set out to make a music video. The original plan was to shoot indoors, which turned up too dark on camera. Then, the morning of the planned shoot, Sean awoke to a dazzling snowfall. “I just knew, we can’t miss this,” he says. He and his sister formed a makeshift film crew, loading his drums into the back of her car and driving to his favourite spots around the city.

“I think people relate to its authenticity,” he says. The video was made on a whim, with DIY spirit, at next to no cost, by a young musician. For Quigley, the video’s story is one of searching and finding—a version of his own personal journey. “At the time, I felt like I didn’t have anything to offer the world except music,” he remembers. At the end of the video, the lone drummer stands, overlooking the city, playing his snare drum, his voice finally heard.

In the five years since The Little Drummer Boy was originally posted, Quigley has come a long way. The burst of success that followed his viral video sensation originally took him to Los Angeles, where he ended up on the edge of a quarter million dollar record contract.

But this record deal required compromising the authenticity that had won him fans in the first place. “I couldn’t do it—it didn’t feel right,” he says. “So I walked away.”

Quigley has never regretted turning down the offer. Instead, he has found purpose and the freedom to express himself here in his hometown of Winnipeg.

Online success opened the door to promoting charitable organizations. In one instance, he was offered a partnership deal with Hudsons Bay Company, after they saw the iconic Canada mittens featured in the Little Drummer Boy video. Like the rest of the video shoot, the mittens were chosen for practical reasons—Sean’s hands were cold and he grabbed some mitts out of the car. But he used his newfound clout to collect mittens for Winnipeg’s homeless, and held a special concert with proceeds going to local shelter Siloam Mission.

He has also worked with World Vision, and while travelling with the organization met fellow Winnipegger Karli Gerbrandt, who was working at a non-profit in Cambodia. The two musicians and world travellers reconnected when they returned home to Winnipeg, got married, and began playing music together.

Under the name Bold As Lions, the duo released a full studio album in 2014 called The Hope Movement, a collection of crisp harmonies, earworm hooks, and poignant lyrics. Another album is in the works to be released this year.

For this couple-turned-band, roots in this city go deep. “There’s something special about Winnipeg,” Sean says. “I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world, but I never feel there’s anything I can’t do right here.”

Find concert schedule and music online at boldaslions.ca.

See the video that started it all:

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‘Tis the season

By Trevor J. Adams

Parades, live theatre, concerts galore and more—Halifax is abuzz with Christmas magic.

November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events to celebrate the holiday season. Read on for our favourites. With an exciting mix of traditional classics and new events, there’s plenty here for the whole family.

YULE PARTIES

Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 21 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as some 100,000 spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts. Also on November 21,

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing Christmas traditions dating back to colonial days. The event continues on November 22.

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Back downtown on November 28, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 5, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.

CRAFTY CHRISTMAS

Back for its 38th year, Christmas at the Forum is one of Canada’s largest annual indoor markets of its type, with some 450 vendors offering art, gifts, antiques, and food. The Halifax Forum on Windsor Street hosts on November 6 to 8.

THERE’S A SONG IN THE AIR

Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann joins Symphony Nova Scotia for Handel’s Messiah

Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore, with Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on November 28 and 29, The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) on December 4 to 13, and Handel’s Messiah on December 18 and 19.

A King’s Christmas is back on December 13. A special guest narrator joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. Paul Halley directs.

The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 20, as the Barra MacNeils perform A Cape Breton Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Barra MacNeils

Barra MacNeils

MAKING MERRY

Beloved humourist and storyteller Stuart McLean brings his Vinyl Café Christmas Show to the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street on November 20. December sees the return of a popular holiday-themed comedy event on December 11 and 12. The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 11 and 12, with a lineup that includes Australian funny guy Jim Dailakis and Newfoundlander John Sheehan.

PLAY ON

Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 28. A Year With Frog and Toad brings Arnold Lobel’s character to the stage in a Tony-nominated musical. The holiday pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another seasonal mainstay. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, The Emperor’s New Clothes runs from November 26 to December 12.

 

Where to Get the Best Holiday Drinks + Treats

Edmonton’s local dining destinations are showcasing the familiar flavours of Christmas in innovative new ways. Here are 12 mouth-watering holiday treats to help you have a delicious 12 Days of Christmas!

1. The Grand Basil Poinsettia Martini can be enjoyed in the luxurious Confederation Lounge at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald (10064-100 St.). The mix of strawberries and basil give the the drink a tangy, lemonade-like flavour and, though the drink is made with an elaborate mix of vodka, Chambord, and Grand Marnier, it is an easy drink to sip and savour. WHERE Edmonton attended the Fairmont’s media holiday party where this festive drink was served and eagerly enjoyed by everyone at the event!

The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald has a festive holiday display in their lobby that includes an elaborate gingerbread replica of the hotel. Be sure to stop and check it out on your way to the Confederation Lounge for a Grand Basil Poinsettia Martini!

Hot Tip: You don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy a drink in the Confederation Lounge! Everyone is welcome!

(more…)

Unique Holiday Shopping: Ten Thousand Villages

With trends towards “responsible consumerism”, and avoiding big-box stores in favour of local or socially-concious retailers, shopping at Ten Thousand Villages (10432-82 Ave) is an easy choice this holiday season. This not-for-profit, fair trade retailer promotes “giving back”, carrying only products that are handmade in developing communities all over the world. If you’ve made a commitment to shop responsibly this Christmas — or perhaps you’re looking for a unique gift for the person on your list who is impossible to buy for — the products at Ten Thousand Villages can help make your whole holiday socially-concious.

Unique gift ideas and holiday decor await at Ten Thousand Villages, where everything is handmade and fair trade.

(more…)