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family fun

Kick Off Your Fun at the 100th Grey Cup Festival

The Toronto Argonauts celebrate their 1996 Grey Cup win

NOVEMBER 15 TO 25  Hailing itself an “invitation to the nation,” the 100th Grey Cup Festival promises to be a cultural extravaganza uniting football fans, cinephiles, foodies and music lovers alike. Even if you don’t know a slotback from a safety, you’ll still have a ball at this pigskin-inspired party.

The Nissan Family Zone at Yonge-Dundas Square boasts a mini football field where kids can learn to kick or throw a football.

Hit the Adrenaline Zone at Nathan Phillips Square to brave the tallest urban zip line in North America; it’s suspended 725 feet in the air between the two towers at City Hall, and runs all the way down to Queen Street. If you’d rather stay on the ground, why not test your athleticism on the obstacle course created by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.

Revellers can also crowd the Scotiabank Fan Zone at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, while the Telus Street Party, along King Street from John to Simcoe streets, gets everyone into high spirits with live shows, team celebrations, and food and beer tents. A tailgate party presented by Frank’s Redhot and an outdoor ribfest are sure to create a frenzy in the lead up to the big game, which takes place on November 25.

Jolly old St. Nick and his reindeer have a special item aboard their sleigh this year: the Grey Cup trophy makes a special appearance during the Santa Claus Parade (click here for the route) on November 18.

Cinephiles can catch game in all of its Hollywood glory at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.) during the Football Film Festival, which includes screenings of Any Given Sunday, The Longest Yard, Remember the Titans and Jerry Maguire. Toronto Argonauts alumnus Mike “Pinball” Clemons is on hand for the tragic yet endearing Brian’s Song.

A varied lineup of performers takes to stages throughout the city for ticketed and free concerts. Count on acts such as Burton Cummings, K’Naan, Sam Roberts Band, Matthew Good, Treble Charger, Kreesha Turner, Big Sugar, April Wine and Kim Mitchell to bring crowds to their feet.

Chefs and culinary students from George Brown College team up at Nathan Phillips Square’s High Octane Food Zone, where individual servings of comfort foods with a twist cost no more than $5 apiece.

Feast right on the field of the Rogers Centre during the exclusive Scotiabank 100th Grey Cup Gala on November 21. Celebrated chefs Mark McEwan of Bymark and Rob Gentile of Buca team up to offer a sophisticated menu while chart-toppers Chris Willis and Brad Mates provide the dinner music.  —Linda Luong

Hot Date: Rural Revelry at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

There’s much ado about horses (and a whole bunch more) at “The Royal”

NOVEMBER 2 TO 11  The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair celebrates its 90th year of bringing the best of rural life to the big city. The largest event of its kind in the world, it combines a farm and livestock show with and equestrian competition, plus delicious food, giant vegetable displays, dog shows, a rodeo and more. Exhibition Place, $14 to $20, Royal Horse Show $38 to $57 and up; call 416-263-3400 or click here for more information.  —Ana Taveira

Hot Date: GlobalFest at Elliston Park

The tenth annual GlobalFest fireworks competition is on now, taking place at Elliston Park in the city’s southeast. Nightly presentations include a spectacular fireworks display set against a backdrop of powerful music.

Beginning at 6 pm nightly, the festival includes the OneWorld night market, showcasing numerous global food and artisan vendors as well as four performance stages with music and dance performances. Fireworks commence at sundown, between 9:30 pm and 10:30 pm. Tickets $15, children under five free. Parking available along 17th Avenue SE. Shuttle buses run between Marlborough Mall and Elliston Park each night, $6 for a round-trip ticket.

The finale at last year’s GlobalFest. Photo: Courtesy J&J Photography Ltd.

Don’t miss this week’s presentations from: China, tonight, Brazil Wednesday, August 22 and The United States, Friday, August 24.

Where Recommends: The Eclipse finale show (Sunday, August 26), designed by Canadian Patrick Brault. The show features a stellar playlist including songs by indie-pop rockers Modest Mouse and Icelandic vocalist-guitarist Jonsi.


Weekend Roundup August 10 – 12

Enjoy Calgary’s beautiful August weather at these great outdoor events this weekend and relax on Sunday by watching the Summer Olympics’ closing ceremonies.


On Saturday, the Afrikadey! Festival at Prince’s Island Park celebrates Calgary’s rich African culture, 10 am until 10 pm. Merchants and food vendors will be set up around the park, and the main stage features a star-studded lineup including Sudanese hip-hop act Emmanuel Jal and contemporary Ethiopian ensemble Krar Collective. Tickets $25 adult, $20 youth, available at the gate.

MARDA GRAS Sunday Aug 12

Experience that vibrant New Orleans Mardi Gras atmosphere right here in Calgary at this weekend’s annual Marda Gras festival. The event will be held between 33rd Avenue and 34th Avenue SW in the Marda Loop neighbourhood. (more…)

SMASH! at Telus Spark

Telus Spark. photo: Courtesy Telus Spark.

This weekend, TELUS Spark hosts the destruction-themed SMASH!event, from 9 am until 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The event focuses on the science behind destruction with trebuchet launches and karate demonstrations. Museum staff will also spectacularly take a hammer to objects frozen solid with liquid nitrogen. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own objects to destroy.

In what’s sure to be a “smashing” success, members of the Calgary Stampeders join the fun for a special appearance on Saturday, 2 pm until 4:30 pm.

The event is included with museum admission, visit the Telus SPARK website for more information.

Calgary Attractions: Discover Ralph Klein Park

The Environmental Education and Ethics Centre. Photo: Courtesy Ralph Klein Park.

Located in the city’s southeast, the Shepard Wetlands at Ralph Klein Provincial Park is the largest man-made urban wetland in the country and the cornerstone of the city’s wetland conservation efforts.

The wetland was created to control flooding and naturally purify urban runoff as it flows toward the Bow River.

Opened in 2011, the park is named for former Calgary mayor and Alberta premier Ralph Klein and is home to the Environmental Education and Ethics Centre. The interpretive learning venue houses an art studio, classrooms, meeting rooms and viewing decks. (more…)

Discover the Calgary Folk Music Festival

The crowd at The Calgary Folk Music Festival. Photo: Lynne Hawrelko.

One of Calgary’s most beloved summer events, The Calgary Folk Music Festival, runs Thursday through Sunday at Prince’s Island Park. Music fans and families flock to the city’s large urban park to enjoy the warm weather, take in music and comedy performances on seven stages, sip suds in the beer garden and savour the tastes of numerous food kiosks. The festival’s Johanna Schwartz gives Where Calgary the inside scoop on what 2012 festival attendees absolutely must see.

Twilight Stage programming
On Friday and Saturday night our Local 501 Stage 4 becomes the Twilight Stage, where the vibe is an up close and personal dance party. On Friday it’s funk night with Blitz the Ambassador, Shad and Melvin Gibbs Elevated Entity. On Saturday (more…)

Sunny Swim in Jasper

courtesy Tourism Jasper

A hit with locals, tourists and wildlife alike, Lake Annette boasts one of Jasper’s few sand beaches. Watch scuba enthusiasts and osprey dive into stream-fed waters that warm during sunny days. Bring a picnic. The playground is a big hit with kids. By James Kallenbach

Family Summer Survival Kit: Top Theme Park Tips


Playland, Vancouver (Photo: Tiffa Day)

Family travel guru and Budget Travel contributing editor Fran Golden has some excellent tips for surviving theme parks with the kids this summer. And with the opening of the largest roller coaster in Canada this summer and upgrades at the World Waterpark at the mammoth Edmonton Mall, Canadian kids have good reason to beg for a trip to an amusement parks this year. (more…)

11 Rainy Day Activities in Montreal


Photo: Rachel Barenblat

1. Bowl and dine at Notre Dame des Quilles. Throw a strike at this hip new bowling bistro. It serves classy comfort food, like mac ‘n’ cheese with jalapeño chutney, alongside real ginger ale and cheap pints. It opens at 3 pm for afternoon fun. Cash only. 32 Beaubien St. E., at St. Laurent; 514-507-1313. Open daily from 3 pm.

2. Pamper yourself with a massage. Massages at Bota Bota spa ($90 for 60 minutes) are accompanied by a live harpist and you can also tack on a sauna or eucalyptus steam bath. Once a seaworthy vessel, this five-storey ship was retrofitted as a chic spa in 2010. 358 Commune St. W.; 516-284-0333. Open daily by appointment. (more…)

Babies, Babies Everywhere: What’s New at Canada’s Zoos and Aquariums this Year


The Calgary Zoo's new Penguin Plunge exhibit (Photo: Sergei Belski/Calgary Zoo)

Spring may be the best time of year at zoos: it’s when many of the babies (baby animals, that is) are born or are newly on display, the weather is warming up and many zoos (and aquariums) are unveiling new attractions in anticipation of the busy summer season. (more…)

Hot Attractions: Sugar Bushes In Town and Out

There's plenty to see and do at the Vanier Sugar Shack.

No need to trek out of town for an authentic Canadian experience. The Vanier Sugar Shackthe only urban sugar bush in North America — is located right in the city. Explore the grounds and see how they produce syrup from more than 1,000 tapped maple trees in the surrounding forest, then chow down on delicious pancakes and other seasonal offerings. If you’re in town March 25 to April 1, check out Maple Sugar Fest. Richelieu Park, 300 des Pères Blancs Ave., 613-580-2424 ext. 32001.

Heading out of the city? Check out three other nearby sugar shacks.

1. Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane farm
This beautiful estate is just 30 minutes south of Ottawa and provides sleigh rides through the forest where the maple trees are tapped, as well as an annual Easter egg hunt. Runs until April 8. 2452 Yorks Corners Rd., Edwards, 613-821-2751. www.stanleysfarm.com

2. Proulx Farm
Thirty minutes east of Ottawa, this sugar shack is the perfect place for the kids to run off some energy. Featuring a petting zoo, a giant slide, play structures, and the traditional pancake meal. Maple syrup season runs until April 16. 1865 O’Toole Rd., Cumberland, 613-833-2417. www.proulxberryfarm.com

3. Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush
Just over an hour west of the city, this farm offers all the traditional aspects of a sugar bush retreat, plus a boutique with maple products and a maple bakery. Spring season runs until April 22. #291, 6th Concession Rd., Pakenham, 613-256-3867. www.fultons.ca