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Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival: Race to the music

By Chris Lackner

Come for the races, stay for the music.

Ottawa’s Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival (June 23-26) is for people who like music, competition… and a water view.  The dragon boat races on Mooney’s Bay are the festival’s pied piper, but the real winners are found in the cultural programming and family entertainment.

We got an insider’s scoop from Antony Cooper, artistic director for the festival:

July Talk headlines the opening night of the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

July Talk headlines the opening night of the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Q: What makes the festival special? 

A: What makes the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival special is not only the presentation of traditional dragon boat races in competitive, corporate and community categories, but also all of the other free programming including the family entertainment, heritage performances and free concerts.

Q: What will surprise visitors about the festival?

A: Each year we hear from visitors how surprised they are that this quality and quantity of programming is free including the high profile artists in our main stage free concerts. This year our headliners include huge Canadian acts such as July Talk, Mother Mother, Alvvays and A Tribe Called Red.

Alvvays headlines the Saturday night of the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Alvvays headlines the Saturday night of the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Q: What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s festival?

A: There are so many components to enjoy — from the races to delicious foods, a bicycle stunt show and the RCAF Pipes and Drums. There are also so many incredibly cool, unusual and inspiring artists as part of our lineup of free concerts.  This year I’m really looking forward to various acts, including Modern Space on opening night and JUNO-nominee Ria Mae on Day 2. On Day 3 we have Pony Girl, who had their most recent album rated 9/10 by Exclaim!, followed by Nap Eyes, who have been getting great reviews from publications like Pitchfork, SPIN and Fader. On the final day we have Ottawa’s own Loon Choir, a nine-piece band who were featured on CBC’s 2015 “Hidden Gems” list.

Competitors heavy and ho at the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Competitors heavy and ho at the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Where Ottawa’s take: Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

Can’t Miss: The beach-side bar and stage; the idyllic setting of Mooney’s Bay Park and its the sandy volleyball courts and welcoming picnic tables.

For the Kids: All-day inflatable games and a bicycle stunt show – not to mention reptiles, fairytale princesses, magicians and puppets.

Local Wisdom: A rare festival for lovers of both athletic competition and culture. One of Ottawa’s most striking natural settings, Hog’s Back Park is also only a short walk away.

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival: 3 Things You Need to Know

By Chris Lackner

The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival is all that jazz — and a whole lot more.

The 36th annual festival (June 23 – July 3) offers some of the world’s best jazz, including Wynton Marsalis (June 29) and Trombone Shorty (June 27). But it also hits so many other notes – from the soulful Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (June 26) to the master class Canadian songwriting combo of Buffy Sainte-Marie (June 28) and Sarah McLachlan (June 25).

We got an insider’s scoop from executive producer Catherine O’Grady:

Buffy Sainte-Marieplays TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Buffy Sainte-Marie plays TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Q: What makes the festival special?
A: Our festival is special because it’s people sized, not super sized, and it offers an experience of neighbours getting together to share the first beautiful days of summer out of doors listening to the best music we have found for them from all the corners of the globe! Our festival is a jewel of curated artists and music experiences arranging from jazz to blues to hip contemporary indie music to full on big presentations of major artists working today. The Jazz Festival has always valued the audience experience above all else ensuring we act as the connective tissue between the audiences and the artists who absolutely need each other to make the experience complete.

Sharon Jones plays TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Sharon Jones plays TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Q: What will surprise visitors about the festival?
A: Our brand new venue at the National Arts Centre, called “the Back Stage” which is hosting our new “discovery” series and some select performances to be presented in the theatre at the NAC; opening night music around the fountain; our new “mystery” series of free concerts on Marion Dewar Plaza!

Q: What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s festival?
A: Actually, the moment I most look forward to with every festival is the night before opening. The park is quiet, we’ve done everything we can to make it look good, feel good, and the first group of artists are just arriving at the airport and it’s always a beautiful night – it’s the sense of anticipation that gives me the greatest joy in what we do! And the next thing I’m looking forward to is welcoming the wonderful and beautiful Sarah McLachlan to the Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage. She is the epitome of everything that’s musically brilliant and successful in this country. She’s a superstar and she’s done it all her own way in an incredibly competitive environment and I think she’s just extraordinary.

Sarah McLachlan plays TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Sarah McLachlan plays TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Where Ottawa’s take: TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 

Can’t Miss: Brian Wilson celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic Beach Boys’ album, Pet Sounds. Sorry, no dogs allowed. (July 3)

For the Kids: Confederation Park offers a relaxed, family-friendly environment. Plus, every child loves a brass band.

Local Wisdom: True jazzophiles should embrace the more traditional programming inside the nearby National Arts Centre, including the new, intimate Back Stage. The real music treasures (often indie and roots artists) are unearthed in the OLG After Dark Series at the Laurier Avenue Music Stage.

Ultimate Dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature

By Chris Lackner

Ottawa is home to a new predator: the Austroraptor, a cross between a Velociraptor and a Tyrannosaurus.


The Austroraptor, part of the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit at the Museum of Nature.

No, someone didn’t just open a Jurassic World in the Gatineau Hills (we still have our fingers crossed!). The Canadian Museum of Nature is welcoming visitors into the lost world of Ultimate Dinosaurs. These dinos are bigger, badder, meaner… and one-of-a-kind.

Meet uncanny dinosaurs from the ancient continent of Gondwana, from the Austroraptor to the Giganotosaurus  who dwarfs your average T-Rex. From full skeletons and fossils, to digital video walls, these unique creatures are recreated in this special exhibit open to September 5.

We got the inside scoop from Jordan Mallon, the Museum of Nature’s palaeontologist: 


Ultimate Dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature.

Q: What will surprise visitors about this exhibit?

A: Ultimate Dinosaurs is so great because it offers visitors — particularly those of us here in North America — something we haven’t seen before. Predictably, most museums in North America feature dinosaurs from our own continent. But Ultimate Dinosaurs features fossils from the southern hemisphere, including Africa, South America, and Madagascar. You’d have to travel thousands of kilometres across the equator to see the same fossils displayed elsewhere. Ultimate Dinosaurs brings these strange, alien creatures to us.


The Amargasaurus, with twin sails running down its spine, is part of the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit at the Museum of Nature.

Q: Why is this exhibit important? 

A: Beyond simply featuring bizarre dinosaurs, the exhibit relays an important story about evolution and the interconnectedness between life and earth. Ultimate Dinosaurs shows how continental drift over the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods led to overall increased biodiversity and endemism on each of the continents. That is, as these landmasses became more isolated, the dinosaurs associated with each of them grew increasingly different. The fact that the Earth continues to change today (with sea level rise ever a looming threat) demands that we look back to the fossil record to learn about how life responded to such major environmental changes in the past. Ultimate Dinosaurs isn’t just fun; it delivers an important message relevant to our modern concerns.


Ultimate Dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature.

Q: What are your favourite aspects of the exhibition?

A: It’s difficult to choose. I think most people will be impressed by the full skeletal mount of Giganotosaurus, which was a meat-eating dinosaur that exceeded local favourite T-Rex in length. The long-necked Amargasaurus, with twin sails running down its spine, will be popular, too. But I think my favourite has to be Austroraptor, which was a close relative of the familiar Velociraptor, only much larger – about the size of a polar bear [in comparison, Velociraptors — unlike those portrayed in Jurassic Park — are actually the size of a large bird]. Jurassic World introduced us to the idea of dinosaur hybrids last summer, but Austroraptor is about as close as you can get to a cross between a Velociraptor and a Tyrannosaurus… and it really lived!

The Giganotosaurus, part of Ultimate Dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature.

Ultimate Dinosaurs at the Museum of Nature.

Saks Fifth Avenue Opens in Toronto



The Shoe Salon at Sak’s Fifth Avenue at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Photo credit: David Pike, Newswire)

The hotly-anticipated debut of Saks Fifth Avenue was met with much rejoicing by local fashionistas with the opening of its flagship location on Queen Street (there is also a second location at Sherway Gardens). The famed American retailer known for its emphasis on luxury offerings and pristine customer service pulled out all the stops for its Canadian launch, including a dazzling lighting fixture in the fragrance department and a Murano glass display in the ladies shoe department, home to Saks’ signature 10022-Shoe experience. Count the likes of shop-in-shops from Céline, Saint Laurent Paris, Bottega Veneta, Chopard and Boucheron, alongside such exclusive brands as Nest, Meira T, Orsini and Marli among others. —Linda Luong Luck


Niagara is for Everyone: Entertainment at the Falls


Great Canadian Midway

The exciting Great Canadian Midway.

Dino Adventure Golf

Golf with towering dinosaurs at Dinosaur Adventure Golf.

Clifton Hill is arguably Niagara’s most colourful street, providing a touch of Vegas with its blazing lights, eclectic attractions and themed restaurants. Non-stop campy fun and plenty of stimulation can be found at the Great Canadian Midway, which has more than 300 games primarily of the arcade variety, as well as rides. The ‘Street of Fun’ as Clifton Hill is sometimes referred to, proudly claims two Canadian records: the Niagara Skywheel is the largest observation wheel sitting 175 feet above the falls, while the Dinosaur Adventure Golf is the largest mini golf attraction with 50 dinosaurs throughout the course, some of which stand more than 30 feet high. Take a selfie with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson at Movieland Wax Museum of the Stars, which pays homage to celebrities and beloved film characters like Harry Potter and Indiana Jones.



Fallsview Casino Resort has an unbeatable view.

Fallsview Casino Resort offers grown up stimulation by way of 3,000 slot machines, a dedicated poker room, and table games like blackjack and roulette. A 1,500-seat theatre hosts more than 250 shows   each year ranging from musicians and comedians to dance. Catch the likes of Jeff Dunham (May 19 and 20) and Flatley Lord of the Dance (May 25 to June 5), among other performances. Over at the Greg Frewin Theatre (5781 Ellen Ave., 1-905-356-0777), watch a magic show complete with a rare white Siberian tiger and exotic birds.

Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood are two popular chain restaurants in the area. The former is known for its musical memorabilia complete with a mural of rock stars, while the latter is dedicated to celebrities. The laid back vibe of Jimmy Buffet’s three-level Margaritaville with its island-themed decor is an ideal place for a burger, and of course, a slushy alcoholic beverage.

—Linda Luong Luck




Royal Portraits at the National Gallery of Canada

By Chris Lackner

The National Gallery of Canada has dealt Ottawa a royal flush with its new exhibit: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.

Best known as the court painter to Marie Antoinette, Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) had a long, turbulent, and historically significant career. Her work took her from Revolution-era Paris, to the art academies of Rome, to the palaces of Russia. Here are 6 reasons you need to get to know this unsung portrait artist:

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun Countess Tolstoya, 1796 oil on canvas, 137.7 × 104 cm National Gallery of Canada. Gift of an anonymous Canadian collector, 2015.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Countess Tolstoya, 1796, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Canada, Gift of an anonymous Canadian collector, 2015.

1. She was Self-Made. She was self-taught and “extremely sensitive to the beauties of the human form,” according to exhibit’s co-curator, Joseph Baillo, a Vigée Le Brun expert.

2. She Captured a Queen. She painted the doomed French queen four times, including the family shot below:

A portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, currently on display at the National Gallery of Canada.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Marie Antoinette and Her Children, 1787 oil on canvas, 275 × 216.5 cm, Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, France (MV 4520). © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY. Photo: Gérard Blot

3. She’s Overdue. This is the first large-scale retrospective of one of the great portrait painters of the 18th and early 19th century, and arguably the “most important” female artist of the 18th century, according to Paul Lang, chief curator of the National Gallery.

The Marquise de Pezay and the Marquise de Rougé with Her Two Sons, 1787 oil on canvas, 123.4 × 155.9 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of the Bay Foundation in memory of Josephine Bay Paul and Ambassador Charles Ulrick Bay. (1964.11.1)

The Marquise de Pezay and the Marquise de Rougé with Her Two Sons, 1787 oil on canvas, 123.4 × 155.9 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of the Bay Foundation in memory of Josephine Bay Paul and Ambassador Charles Ulrick Bay. (1964.11.1)

4. She Played Money Ball. Her commissions ran as high as 24,000 French livre — literally a fortune at the time — and prompted jealousy from contemporaries in the art world.

5. She Practically Invented the Selfie. Beyond painting royals in a positive light, her exquisite self-portraits confirm her reputation as one of the most beautiful Parisian woman of her time. Here’s one example from the exhibit:

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun Self-Portrait with Cerise Ribbons, c. 1782 oil on canvas, 64.8 × 54 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (ACK 1949.02). In recognition of his service to the Kimbell Art Museum and his role in developing area collectors, the Board of Trustees of the Kimbell Art Foundation has dedicated this work from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Kay Kimbell, founding benefactors of the Kimbell Art Museum, to the memory of Mr. Bertram Newhouse (1883–1982) of New York City

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun Self-Portrait with Cerise Ribbons, c. 1782 oil on canvas, 64.8 × 54 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (ACK 1949.02). In recognition of his service to the Kimbell Art Museum and his role in developing area collectors, the Board of Trustees of the Kimbell Art Foundation has dedicated this work from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Kay Kimbell, founding benefactors of the Kimbell Art Museum, to the memory of Mr. Bertram Newhouse (1883–1982) of New York City

6. She was a Survivor: Vigée Le Brun survived the French Revolution because she opted for exile when it started. While most of her French patrons and allies were killed, she spent from 1789-1807 painting portraits across Europe.

For the kids: Children will enjoy the exhibit, too, with an activity area allowing them to dress Royal courtiers, pose for photos in period cutouts, and even don costumes — all in a mock version of Marie Antoinette’s palace bedroom.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is on display the National Gallery until September 11.

Ottawa Fringe Festival: 3 Things You Need to Know

By Chris Lackner

Ottawa Fringe Festival (June 15-26) is for people who like originality.

With 60 eclectic shows in a dozen downtown venues, risk and reward go hand-in-hand. We got an insider’s scoop from Patrick Gauthier, festival director:


Margo MacDonald’s The Elephant Girls / Credit: Andrew Alexander

Q: What makes the festival special?

A: Performers keep 100 per cent of their ticket sales.

Q: What will surprise visitors about the festival?

A: That not even Ottawa Fringe staff have seen these shows before! Fringe is open-access. There are no curators. In fact, we draw names from a bingo wheel to decide who will win a spot in one of the festival’s venues. And then more artists submit Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) shows.


Theatre Arcturus performs at Ottawa Fringe Festival.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most this year?

A: A brand new venue, La Nouvelle Scène on King Edward Avenue.


Jessica Gabriel performs at Ottawa Fringe Festival

Where Ottawa’s Take:

Can’t Miss: Fringe is all about discovery. There are no hits and misses. Choose from the absurd to drama, comedy to youth theatre, clowns to classical.

For the Kids:  There are always some family-friendly oddities, but check the lineup first. Some shows may be too fringe for young minds.

Local Wisdom: Buy a multi-show pass. Fringe productions are short but sweet, and variety is the spice of this festival’s life.

Highlights of the 10th Edition of the Luminato Festival

The James Plays Trilogy (credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan)

JUNE 10 TO 26  For the last 10 years, the Luminato Festival has captivated audiences with a range of dance, music, theatre, literature and visual arts. In all, the event has commissioned nearly 100 new works of art, and hosted more than 3,000 performances by 11,000 artists from 40 countries, and inspired a cultural dialogue about the nature of art and how it can be shared and consumed by the masses. The milestone is a bittersweet one however: it also marks Jorn Weisbrodt’s swan song as the organization’s artistic director, a position he’s held for the last five years.

For the first time in the event’s history, it’s taking up residency at The P.L. Hearn Power Generating Station (440 Unwin Ave.) in the Port Lands, which will house a 17-day programming hub that includes a 1,200-seat theatre, a second floor art gallery, a stage for music and dancing, along with a beer garden, bars and restaurants.

Among this year’s highlights—and North American premieres—is the award–winning video installation Situation Rooms (June 10 to 19), in which the audience donning earphones and equipped with iPads—become the protagonists, seeing first hand the lives of individuals from different countries whose lives are shaped by weapons and violence, including an Israeli soldier, a Pakistani lawyer and a member of a Mexican drug cartel.

Scotland’s reign under three generations of Stewart kings during the 15th century is the inspiration for The James Plays (June 16 to 26), a trilogy of theatrical works written by Rona Munro. The only North American stop for this touring production from The National Theatre of Scotland examines the nature of Scottish culture and independence. The three works, James I—The Key Will Keep the Lock, James II—Day of the Innocents, and James III—The True Mirror, can be seen independently or in its entirety over 11 hours in a single day.

Modern dance work Monumental (credit: Yannick Grandmont)

In Monumental (June 15 and 16), a dark and somber take on modern life is presented through dance and music. Oppression, isolation and mistrust are among the themes explored by Vancouver–based company The Holy Body Tattoo, who is backed by music by Montreal’s post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Weisbrodt’s farewell season includes a special show by his spouse, Rufus Wainwright. For the first time, Toronto audiences can see Rufus Does Judy (June 23 and 24), a homage to Judy Garland’s 1961 spectacle at Carnegie Hall. Wainwright has previously mounted the production in New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles.

For a complete schedule of Luminato programming, visit luminatofestival.com.

Niagara is for Everyone: Wine and Dine your way Through Niagara


PondView Estate Winery


Among the area’s mainstays, visit Marynissen Estates, which boasts the oldest commercial planting of cabernet sauvignon in the country; Peller Estates, which also has a sister vineyard in British Columbia’s Okanagen Valley; Château des Charmes, which is owned by the Bosc family whose winemaking roots date back to the 1840s; and Pondview Estate Winery, which has been run by the Puglisi family for three generations.


Sunset at Southbrook Vineyards

Other wineries may not have decades of experience, but they take great pride in crafting nuanced vintages nonetheless. Frogpond Farm is the province’s first winery to produce certified organic wines; Southbrook Winery is also an organic and biodynamic-certified winery; Two Sisters Vineyards is set on 76 acres with a beautiful estate; while Cornerstone Estate Winery counts their fruit wines among their best sellers.

Jackson-Triggs is internationally recognized for its award–winning chardonnays and Rieslings among others, but also has an engaging summer concert series at its outdoor amphitheatre with Canadian musicians, such as the Sam Roberts Band (June 9), Steven Page (June 17) and Whitehorse (June 18).

Ravine VineyardPizza

The restaurant at Ravine Vineyard

Wine and food are a natural pairing, and select wineries can deliver both in a single visit through on-site restaurants. Each month, The Good Earth hosts the Good Girth Supper Club, a monthly themed dinner at the bistro and orchard (May 25 focuses on soul food while June 11 is a tapas tasting). Trius Winery offers a variety of experiences like sip and snack events, or book a table at its fine dining restaurant where chef Frank Dodd prepares a seasonal menu that compliments winemaker Craig McDonald’s carefully-crafted vintages. Over at Ravine Vineyard, the local eats movement is taken quite literally—in addition to its vineyard, there is also a farm where pigs are raised and organic vegetables are grown for both the restaurant and The Canning House shop.

Treadwell is a much-respected restaurant in the region, co-owned by chef Stephen Treadwell and his sommelier son James. The wine list is comprised primarily of Niagara offerings with an emphasis on vintages from smaller producers, such as Five Rows and Lailey. Chosen as Where Toronto’s Best New Restaurant of 2015, Backhouse is the brainchild of husband and wife team Ryan Crawford and Bev Hotchkiss; she runs the front of the house while as the chef he creates their seasonally changing cool climate menu. Most wineries offer tours of their vineyards, but call ahead to confirm the schedule and fees.

—Linda Luong Luck



Things to Do in Toronto: Shows & Events in June 2016


Le Petit Prince is a new work commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada. (credit: Barbara Cole)

JUNE 1 TO JULY 3  Pride Toronto commemorates two monumental firsts this year: a 30-day celebration of diversity with the kick off of Pride Month beginning on June 1, and for the first time in Canadian history, when a sitting prime minister, Justin Trudeau, marches in the Pride Parade on July 3 joined by Ontario Premiere Kathleen Wynne and Toronto mayor John Tory. All month long, some of the city’s leading cultural organizations, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Harbourfront Centre, host a variety of events in conjunction with Pride Month.

JUNE 3  National Doughnut Day means that a visit to Jelly Modern Doughnuts is a must for gourmet goodies in such flavours as maple bacon and s’mores.

JUNE 4 AND 5  Head to Historic Fort York and Garrison Common for Field Trip, a two-day, family-friendly event, featuring live concerts, art displays, comedy acts, a marketplace and lots of food. Among the scheduled performers are The National, Basia Bulat, Jazz Cartier, Robyn, Kalle Mattson and Brave Shores among others.


Hops of Fun: 7 Stops for a Refreshing Pint of Craft Beer



Photo Credit: Amsterdam BrewHouse

In Toronto, both supply and demand have noticeably increased over the past half-decade. Though corporate beers remain predominant, most respectable establishments now serve at least a couple of options for more discerning drinkers, and connoisseurs can look to any of the bars and brewpubs recommended below for some truly memorable beer-based experiences.

1 Indie Ale House is a straightforward name for a joint that specializes in decidedly non-standard bevvies. Look for rare releases like its “Fates and Furies” series—barrel-aged beers brewed using ancient techniques.

2 Though relatively new, Bloordale’s Burdock has already established itself as a microbrewery and resto-bar to watch. Eight taps pour its “approachably experimental” offerings while the kitchen serves gourmet comfort fare.

3 Still a foodie favourite, Bar Isabel is also very well known for its craft beer list, which, among other things, has many bottles from top-tier Quebec brewers Trou du Diable and Dieu du Ciel.

4 Toronto hipsters’ beers of choice come from Bellwoods Brewery, which offers exceptional drinks—the Farmhouse saison and Witchshark IPA are both classics—in its brewpub and bottle shop.

5 Amsterdam Brewhouse is a massive Harbourfront hub—with three lakeside patios—for enjoying beers by Toronto’s oldest independent brewery. Try a flight of four beers, or see what’s new in the tanks.

6 Family-owned Bar Volo is one of the city’s more venerable spots for craft brews. Can’t decide from among the 100-plus taps and bottles? Its house line of cask-conditioned ales are always intriguing. (Volo is closing it’s Yonge Street location in September; a new location is yet to be announced.)

7 Just outside the Financial District, Beerbistro entices area hot shots with brasserie-style fare and a massive selection of everything from local lagers to trappist ales.

Niagara is for Everyone: A Kid-Friendly Itinerary


Hornblower CHP_4974

No visit to the region is complete without seeing the falls. The sight is awe-inspiring from afar, but it’s even better to feel the thundering spray aboard Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which carries poncho-donning passengers to the base of the Horseshoe Falls and past the American and Bridal Veil falls. Or experience the action from the observation decks of Journey Behind the Falls, which traverses 45 metres down through bedrock to the foot of the falls where 2,800 cubic metres of water crashes to the ground every second.

Feel like diving right into the water instead of just watching it? Waves Indoor Waterpark is an expansive playground with kiddie pools and slides that are as tall as three storeys.

Butterfly Conservatory NPC_6067Immerse with nature at the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory or Bird Kingdom. The former is home to more than 2,000 tropical winged creatures, while the latter is the largest indoor free-flying aviary in the world. Experience animals of the amazon at the Rainforest Café, a family-friendly restaurant adorned in a canopy of trees and animatronic elephants and gorillas serving up pint-sized portions of hot dogs, burgers and pasta.


hershey-milkshakeHershey’s Chocolate World is a perfect spot for an afternoon pick-me-up. All manner of cocoa confections can be found here from chocolate-dipped strawberries and pretzels to cookies and milkshakes. Of course, there’s a lot of goodies to take home, too, including Kisses, Reese and Jolly Rancher products.

— Linda Luong Luck






Romance at the Falls