CEL­E­BRATE WITH US:

CANADA’S VI­BRANT FES­TI­VALS

2017 Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY DIANE SLAWYCH

Canada is a coun­try of fes­ti­vals. What­ever the sea­son, there’s a cel­e­bra­tory event go­ing on some­where. You’ll find har­vest fes­ti­vals in the fall, Abo­rig­i­nal pow­wows start­ing in spring, car­ni­val and ski and snow­board fes­ti­vals in win­ter, plus theatre and mu­sic events all sum­mer long. Here’s a sam­ple:

IN THE LAND OF ICE AND SNOW

“My coun­try is not a coun­try, it’s win­ter.” You’d have to live in Québec to truly ap­pre­ci­ate the fa­mous line from French Cana­dian singer Gilles Vigneault’s song

“My Coun­try” (“Mon pays”). While cold, snowy days may seem to drag on for months, that hasn’t stopped Québe­cers, known for their joie de vivre, from turn­ing win­ter into a time for cel­e­bra­tion. The cen­ter­piece of the Québec Win­ter Car­ni­val, a 17-day event in Québec City which be­gins in late Jan­uary, is the mag­nif­i­cent Ice Palace—made from 300 lb. blocks of ice—which ev­ery­one en­joys ex­plor­ing. Other must-sees in­clude the in­ter­na­tional snow sculp­ture com­pe­ti­tion and the night pa­rades. Else­where, check out the ice ca­noe and dogsled races, try ice fish­ing and have your photo taken with Bon­homme—the friendly snow­man mas­cot (www.car­naval.qc.ca).

WIN­NIPEG’S INDIGE­NOUS EX­TRAV­A­GANZA

Lively singing, danc­ing and drum­ming are all part of the pow­wow, along with colour­ful and imag­i­na­tive Indige­nous re­galia, from the elab­o­rate feather head­dress to beaded moc­casins, and the jin­gle dress. Ev­ery year dozens of pow­wows take place in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try, but the one billed as the largest in Canada hap­pens in Win­nipeg dur­ing May. The Man­ito Ah­bee Fes­ti­val presents hun­dreds of dancers who com­pete for cash prizes in nu­mer­ous cat­e­gories, along with award-win­ning drum groups from across the con­ti­nent. The event also rec­og­nizes the ac­com­plish­ments of Indige­nous record­ing artists and mu­sic in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als from around the globe, and fea­tures a mar­ket­place and trade show. New to the pow­wow is the Mu­sic and Arts Pro­gram which in­cludes a mu­sic con­fer­ence and mu­sic show­case along with an art expo and tra­di­tional art com­pe­ti­tion with quill­work, bead­work, rib­bon skirts and star-blan­kets. There is also a square dance and jig­ging com­pe­ti­tion in hon­our of the Métis com­mu­nity (www.man­i­toah­bee.com).

BOLDLY GO­ING WHERE NO PRAIRIE TOWN HAS GONE BE­FORE

How did a quiet south­ern Al­berta town with a pop­u­la­tion of 1,836 peo­ple be­come “the Of­fi­cial Star Trek Cap­i­tal of Canada?”

It helps to have a name like Vul­can, the home planet of Mr. Spock, one of the show’s main char­ac­ters. Played by the late Leonard Ni­moy, as it turns out, he sup­ported the idea. For three days in late July fans of the pop­u­lar Amer­i­can TV se­ries, and the fran­chise it spawned, flock here for the Vul­can Con­ven­tion, known as Vul-Con. This year’s lineup is still be­ing fi­nal­ized, but last year’s con­ven­tion in­cluded guest celebri­ties from all five Star Trek se­ries. The week­end in­cludes aca­demic pre­sen­ta­tions, cos­tume and trivia con­tests and, of course, a ven­dor’s room.

While there, see the U.S.S. En­ter­prise replica lo­cated near High­way 23, Vul­can’s space-themed wa­ter park and the space­ship­shaped Vul­can Tourism & Trek Sta­tion— a com­bi­na­tion vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion and Trekkie mem­o­ra­bilia cen­tre, with a com­mem­o­ra­tive Gene Rod­den­berry plaque (www.vul­can­con­ven­tion.com).

“PARTY IN APRIL, SLEEP IN MAY”

Among the many en­ter­tain­ing win­ter sport­ing events in Canada, noth­ing quite com­pares with the scale of the World Ski and Snow­board Fes­ti­val (WSSF) in Bri­tish Co­lum­bia. This 10-day marathon in April doesn’t just cel­e­brate sports, but mu­sic and art are in­cluded as well, with ath­letes and artists alike push­ing the lim­its of their abil­i­ties. And it all takes place in Whistler, one of North Amer­ica’s top-rated ski re­sorts, which was the host moun­tain re­sort of the 2010 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games. Events fea­ture high-in­ten­sity board­er­style and freeski events, roller derby show­downs, and ski and snow­board com­pe­ti­tions on big moun­tain ter­rain. It be­comes non-stop en­ter­tain­ment when com­bined with con­certs —from in­die acts to Juno award-win­ners, ex­cit­ing pho­tog­ra­phy events, the sig­na­ture Mul­ti­plic­ity event, and the Olym­pus 72

Hour Film­maker Show­down con­test for pre-as­signed groups to pro­duce short ski/ snow­board films near Whistler, which are screened and judged cul­mi­nat­ing in a grand prize win­ner (www.wssf.com).

FALL MAGIC IN AN HIS­TORIC SET­TING

En­joy­ing the fall colours and boun­ti­ful ap­ple har­vest is all the more en­tic­ing within the set­ting of a 19th cen­tury vil­lage. Wel­come to Kings Land­ing in New Brunswick. The pop­u­lar Thanks­giv­ing week­end in Oc­to­ber is the har­vest cel­e­bra­tion—a time to par­tic­i­pate in pump­kin carv­ing, games of skill and chance, a turkey shoot, a Thanks­giv­ing English-style coun­try dance and chil­dren’s games. Vic­to­rian and Loy­al­ist tra­di­tional din­ners are pre­pared in se­lect homes. Re­serve in ad­vance for a tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing din­ner with all the trim­mings at the King’s Head Inn. The week­end be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, dur­ing Ap­ple Fest, you can join in the ap­ple dance, help the vil­lage ladies bake an ap­ple cake, or try your hand at Ap­ple­wood carv­ing (www.kings­land­ing.nb.ca).

THE PLAY’S THE THING

Cow Head, New­found­land might nor­mally be a blip on the map ex­cept for the fact that it is lo­cated within a na­tional park and is host to an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar theatre fes­ti­val that high­lights plays with a con­nec­tion to the prov­ince. The Gros Morne Theatre Fes­ti­val’s eclec­tic pro­gram is a mix of drama, com­edy, mu­sic and din­ner theatre. This year’s lineup in­cludes “New­found­land Vinyl”—with hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s by New­found­land’s big­gest record­ing stars. A crowd favourite is “S.S. Ethie,” a true story about a ship that ended up on the rocks near Sally’s Cove in 1919. The fes­ti­val runs for 16 weeks from early June to late Septem­ber with 160 per­for­mances in two in­ti­mate 90-seat venues. The plays are stag­gered so you can see two dif­fer­ent shows in one night, or, if you’re in town for three days, you can see all six shows. And some vis­i­tors do (www.the­atre­new­found­land.com).

SEAFOOD CEL­E­BRA­TION IN THE MAR­ITIMES

Where can you in­dulge in 35 va­ri­eties of oys­ters, chow down a por­tion of the world’s longest lob­ster roll, or si­dle up to a bar for an award-win­ning Cae­sar, all in one place? Try the Prince Ed­ward Is­land In­ter­na­tional Shell­fish Fes­ti­val—a four-day culi­nary smor­gas­bord from Septem­ber 14 - 17 in Char­lot­te­town. It is packed with culi­nary demos, din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, celebrity chefs, and non-stop East Coast en­ter­tain­ment all week­end long. Cu­rate your own ex­pe­ri­ence, whether at­tend­ing one of the culi­nary com­pe­ti­tions, watch­ing some of the world’s best oys­ter shuck­ers and finest chefs com­pet­ing for cash prizes, claim­ing brag­ging rights for help­ing make an­other record­break­ing lob­ster roll, or sam­pling an ar­ray of fresh lo­cal seafood from the Shell­fish Pavil­ion. Oh, and new this year is PEI’s longest oys­ter bar (www.peishell­fish.com).

ALL THAT JAZZ, AND THEN SOME

Ten days, some 1,500 mu­si­cians and more than 350 con­certs make the TD Toronto Jazz Fes­ti­val one of the coun­try’s most ex­cit­ing mu­si­cal events. Did we men­tion there are dozens of free con­certs? The mu­sic on of­fer is more all-en­com­pass­ing than the name sug­gests, with other gen­res also rep­re­sented, in­clud­ing blues, gospel, swing, rock, R&B, soul, hip-hop, pop, ca­lypso, funk, big band, cabaret, and fla­menco! The core of the fes­ti­val takes place at Nathan Phillips Square in down­town Toronto, but in­cludes more than 30 other venues across the city. The fes­ti­val starts in late June. This year’s com­plete lineup has yet to be fi­nal­ized but will in­clude Mavis Sta­ples, Joss Stone and Gre­gory Porter (www.toron­to­jazz.com).

For more in­for­ma­tion on fes­ti­vals, see the Spe­cial Events head­ing in each of the provin­cial sec­tions.

CAR­NAVAL DE QUÉBEC

AL­LI­SON CROWE, NEW­FOUND­LAND VINYL, GROS MORNE THEATRE FES­TI­VAL • THEATRE NL/PB PRO­DUC­TIONS

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