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festivals

Festival fever

Halifax’s summer festival season heats up with food, culture, film, music, and more

By Janice Hudson

 

With warm weather and sunny skies upon us, Halifax pulses with new energy. Festivals and special events are happening throughout June, making summer a great time to learn about the vibrant cultures and the dynamic people that make this city so exciting. Here are top picks of what to see, do, and discover in the city this month.

June 1 to 4 is the 11th-annual Cedar Festival (page 45), a fun-filled weekend of entertainment, mouth-watering Lebanese cuisine, dance lessons, live performances, cultural demonstrations, plus a cooking competition and fashion show. Hosted by Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Joseph Howe Drive, this free festival includes plenty of activities for little ones, too, including a bouncy castle, magic show, carnival games, and face painting.

Now in its fifth year, Doors Open Halifax (page 45) lets you explore some of the city’s prominent buildings and landmarks. On June 3 and 4, over 30 venues representing Halifax’s history, culture, and industry will participate in this free event. New this year, see inside Canada Border Security Agency’s Marine Centre of Expertise on Marginal Road. Meet the people who search marine vessels and cargo containers for weapons, drugs, and contraband. Or stop by the Hope Blooms greenhouse and gardens on Brunswick Street, and meet the youth entrepreneurs who grow herbs for the successful line of salad dressings.

A 45-minute drive east of Halifax on Highway 7, Memory Lane Heritage Village (page EC9) hosts the fourth-annual Eastern Shore Cold Waters Seafood Festival (page 45) on June 3 and 4. Sample some of the tastiest seafood in the region, with fresh clams, lobsters, mussels, and haddock prepared numerous ways, plus historic foods like smoked fish and Solomon Gundy. Kids will love the on-site demos and activities, including dory rides, buoy painting, net knitting, and lobster-trap building.

Continuing through June 11, the Scotia Festival of Music (page 46) celebrates chamber music with 50 events, including concerts, recitals, open rehearsals, and master classes. Halifax’s first family of classical music, the Djokic family take the stage on June 9. Parent musicians Philippe Djokic and Lynn Stodola perform with their talented children, violinist Marc Djokic and cellist Denise Djokic. For the closing gala on June 11, many top musicians will join forces, including pianist John Novacek, cellist Ani Aznavoorian, and violinists James Ehnes and Giora Schmidt.

Celebrating 31 years, Halifax Greek Fest returns to St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church on Purcells Cove Road from June 8 to 11. Enjoy live music, traditional dancing, art and cultural exhibitions, language workshops, religious artifacts, and tasty Greek cuisine. While noshing on souvlaki, watch dancers take the stage with their high-energy moves. Kids will love the Olympic area that includes face painting, an inflatable ride, cool treats, and balloons.

Now in its sixth year, the OutEast Queer Film Festival (page 45) celebrates queer independent cinema from local, national, and international filmmakers. Happening June 15 to 17, the festival showcases a range of films, including documentary, fiction, and animation, that will challenge, educate, and entertain audiences. Venues include Halifax Central Library, the Museum of Natural History, and Good Robot Brewing.

On June 29 to July 3, Bedford Days has lots of spirited family fun, including two fireworks shows, a dog show, face painting, train rides, bicycle stunts, ice cream, and much more. At the Convoy Quay, Theodore Too (the tugboat replica of Theodore Tugboat based on the popular kids’ TV series), is back for free deck tours during the Kids’ Extravaganza on Wednesday, June 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Taking place June 29 to July 6, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is the world’s largest annual indoor show of its type. Known for its pomp, precision, and bag pipes, the event brings together military and civilian performers from around the world, including pipe and military bands, acrobats, trapeze artists, gymnasts, choirs, and more.

HOPE Volleyball at Mooney’s Bay

HOPE Volleyball

The HOPE Volleyball Summerfest brings thousands of people together to support charities while enjoying some sport and live music.

The annual HOPE Volleyball Summerfest is one of Ottawa’s most exciting events of the year, bringing everything fun about summer to one place. The event attracts over 25,000 players, spectators, and beach lovers looking to catch some rays. This year’s musical acts include Matthew Good and The Glorious Sons. Most importantly, as a volunteer-run event, HOPE raises money for a number of local charities and plays a leading role in supporting the community.
•Mooney’s Bay Park, 613-742-4673. hopehelps.com

Travis Persaud

Off to the Races: Ottawa’s Dragon Boat Festival

Dragonboat

This year’s competition includes over 200 teams and features live entertainment from the Arkells, the Sheepdogs and others.

Welcome to North America’s largest dragon boat festival. With over 200 teams competing throughout the weekend, amusement attractions, extreme sports demonstrations, culinary treats, and a beach side bar, it’s no wonder why people head to Mooney’s Bay Park in droves annually. This year’s entertainment includes concerts by the Arkells, The Sheepdogs, Hey Ocean, Northecote, and Cuff the Duke. Oh, and it’s all free!
•Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival runs from June 19 to 22. dragonboat.net

—Travis Persaud

Big City Laughs: Guide to the YYComedy Festival

By ADELE BRUNNHOFER

Alternative comic Andy Kindler performs in Calgary. Photo: courtesy YYComedy Festival.

Alternative comic Andy Kindler performs in Calgary. Photo: courtesy YYComedy Festival.

Following a successful launch last year, the YYComedy Festival is back and even bigger. September 9 through 15, the festival features over 80 comics at 15 venues.

Whereas last year’s festival was largely a showcase for local talent due to its association with the Calgary 2012 Cultural Capital campaign, this year’s roster has expanded to include several big names from across North America. “It really opened the doors for us to bring in whoever we want,” says festival organizer Harry Doupe of its inaugural 2012 success. (more…)

Long Weekend Roundup August 31 – September 3

Calgary’s annual BBQ On The Bow is this Sunday. Photo: John Rajic.

Friday, August 31  After a stellar opening last weekend, the international Hidden Gems Film Festival continues this weekend at the Cardel Theatre with three film screenings. On Friday at 7 pm, the award-winning Bengali film Ranjana, Ami Aar Asbo Na tells the story of an unconventional relationship between an arrogant, aging celebrity singer and an aspiring small-town songstress. On Saturday, Graamam tells the story of a widow challenging the patriarchal system in India in the mid 1900s, and in the Bangladeshi MeherJaan, a girl who fell in love with an enemy soldier reunites with her daughter almost four decades later. Tickets $12 per film, call 403-457-3036 for more information.

Friday also marks the grand opening of Canada’s second Free People clothing boutique at Chinook Centre. The American label is known for it’s bohemian California-chic apparel and accessories. (more…)

Top Canadian Summer Music Festivals

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts, Montreal (Photo: ©Tim Snow)

Sure, it’s still technically spring, but if you want to attend some of Canada’s biggest music festivals, you’ll have to get your tickets (and book a hotel or campsite) now. Mark your calendars!

(more…)

10 Best Places in Canada to Stop and Smell the Flowers this Spring

By CARISSA BLUESTONE

Tulips of the Valley Festival, Seabird Island, BC (Photo: Dru!)

The winter jackets may not be in storage yet, but April brings a few harbingers of spring in most of Canada, in the form of daffodils, tulips, flowering trees and those first hardy wildflowers. (more…)

Exciting 60th Season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Opens this Week

By SHANNON KELLY

Christopher Plummer stars in a one-man show at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival this season (Photo: Andrew Eccles/Stratford Shakespeare Festival)

Think Shakespeare is boring? Think again. First of all, despite its name, the venerable Stratford Shakespeare Festival is featuring only three plays—of fourteen total—by the Bard this year. That may be disappointing for some, but this season promises to be like no other, with a one-man show starring Christopher Plummer (veteran of the festival since 1956); Wanderlust, a world premiere Canadian musical; and MacBeth as performed by characters from The Simpsons (see the video). (more…)

The Best of Ontario Spring Festivals and Events

By MEGHAN WILSON-SMITH

Canadian Tulip Festival (Photo: John Talbot)

As the weather warms in March and April in Ontario, there is a bit more spring in our steps, a renewed bustle on sidewalks and park trails and a general loosening of the scarves.

(more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for March 2 to 4

This photo shows actors from Orpheus Musical Theatre Society rehearsing for "Rent."

Friday, March 2
Orpheus Musical Theatre brings its rendition of the Tony Award-winning Rent to the stage. Based on Puccini’s La Bohème, this rock opera follows a group of young, struggling artists trying to make it in New York City. Gritty and modern, the friends face challenges that range from relationships to money to the health threat of HIV and AIDS. See why the musical lasted 12 years on Broadway when this local theatre group takes on the show. (And don’t be surprised if you start humming songs like “La Vie Bohème B” and “Seasons of Love” and dreaming of running away to the Big Apple.) Opening tonight and running until March 11.

In 1971, Pink Floyd played two shows in Quebec, one in Montreal and one in Quebec city, for the first time ever. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of these legendary concerts with the 2011 travelling show Eclipse – The Pink Floyd Story, on at Casino du Lac-Leamy. This commemorative performance demonstrates the band’s evolution, with a live band performing the best of Pink Floyd from the early days to the later years. Moving lights, spectacular lasers, and video projections make this a complete sensory experience.

Enter the musical universe of Kyssi Wète this Friday at the National Arts Centre. Wète mixes the sounds and rhythms of blues, reggae, rumba, soul, raga, and pop to transport his audiences somewhere between France, Jamaica, and the Congo. Using human diversity and relationships as his inspiration, he relays messages of interracial harmony with his unique voice.

Saturday, March 3
Celebrate International Women’s Week on the opening day of the Celebrate HER Charity Music and Art Festival. The festival celebrates outstanding women in the Ottawa community with a week full of art, music, dance, theatre, and spoken word poetry. Check out this year’s centrepiece: the “Amazing Women-Femmes d’exception” photo installation at Alpha Soul Café, which includes women such as University of Ottawa professor Constance Backhouse and children’s author Naomi Guzman Poole. (more…)

5 Insider Tips to Quebec’s Winter Carnival

Bonhomme, the Winter Carnival mascot (Photo courtesy of Carnaval de Québec)

The local dish on what to see and do at Québec City’s famed Winter Carnival.

By Amanda Halm

The Québec Winter Carnival, opening this weekend for its 58th year, brings a flurry of wintry activities to Quebec City. It is the city’s version of Mardi Gras, sans debauchery simply because it’s just too darn cold to bare it all. Ice-canoe races, snow baths, zip lining, night parades and more make it one of the most unique festivals in the world. Locals love it, even though swarms of shutter-snapping visitors descend on the city each year. (more…)

Hot Date: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

A still from the film "Sfinga."

Jan. 23 and 24. The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour travels across the world, hitting 32 different countries and presenting audiences with films on exploration and adventure, culture and environment, and winter sports. Programming for each stop on the tour is tailored to suit each and every locale, meaning the experience is never the same. Besides the beautiful cinematography, the joy of this yearly film fest is that you get the experience of climbing a mountain without having to leave your seat!