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special events

Hot Entertainment: Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossom tree photo by Tom Ryan courtesy Tourism BC

Snow may be falling elsewhere in Canada, but here on the West Coast only cherry blossom petals are falling. In the 1930s, Japan gave Vancouver more than 37,000 ornamental cherry trees. An additional 3,000 trees were planted last year for the city’s quasquicentennial (125th birthday). The annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (Apr. 5 to 28) celebrates the delicate pink blooms with a bouquet of special events, everything from zen yoga to heritage walks to bike tours.—Sheri Radford

Canada’s National Parks

Photo by ShutterRunner

Canada’s National Parks show the beautiful variety in our country’s topography—from British Columbia’s turquoise-tinged glaciers and Alberta’s jagged mountains to the coasts of Ontario’s lakes and seaside in the Maritimes. Among them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites recognized for their unique natural beauty, and while some are easy to access others are located in remote corners of our untamed nation. A full list of all 42 National Parks of Canada, which was the world’s first national park service, can be found at www.pc.gc.ca. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada, and to celebrate there are special events and celebrations—don’t think just because summer is over the fun is done, many parks are at there most stunning when the snow falls—check out a list of upcoming events here. (more…)

Hot Entertainment: Hit the Slopes

Photo courtesy Tourism Vancouver and Tourism Whistler

What do you get when you take the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, throw in some fabulous fashion shows and rockin’ parties, then add outdoor concerts by the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Gogol Bordello, Black Mountain, Broken Social Scene, Fort Knox Five and Mat the Alien? You get the 10 fun-filled days (and nights) of the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival (Apr. 15 to 24) in nearby Whistler. Party on.—Sheri Radford

Ha ha Halifax

Bob Marley headlines the Halifax Comedy Fest. Photo: Chris Smith

Top comics from across the country descend on the city for a side-splitting month

By Trevor J. Adams

Spring is always a laughing matter in Halifax. Every April, comedians from across the country (and further afield) take over the city’s stages for the Halifax Comedy Fest.

The festival kicks off on April 13 with the Opening Gala at Casino Nova Scotia. Comedian Bob Marley (not to be confused with a certain reggae singer) headlines the lineup. A darling of the 2009 festival, Marley is a local favourite. Lately, Marley has been winnning fans stateside with a successful nightshow circuit, performing on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Craig Kilborn. Joining him are John Wing, Andrew Grose, Derek Edwards, Doug Funk, Elvira Kurt, Mike Wilmot and Pete Zedlacher.

On April 14, the show goes back to the Casino for Comedy All Stars. One of the highlights of that show is sure to be the insanely funny Sean Cullen, most famous for his raucous parody songs (such as the Meatloaf send-up “Never Too Fat to Rock and Roll”). The lineup also includes comedian Trevor Boris, the acerbic pop-culture commentator from Much Music’s Video on Trial. On the same day, the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street hosts Dylan Mandlsohn, Graham Clark, Jon Steinberg, Jonny Harris, Ted Morris and Lachlan Patterson.

The party moves to the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue on April 15. Newfoundlander Mark Critch, famous for his portrayal of firebrand Danny Williams on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, headlines The Gala of Laughs. Marley, Edwards and Kurt also return for encore performances.

The Lower Deck pub in the Historic Properties hosts a comedy matinee on April 16. With two live shows in the afternoon, the cozy pub
welcomes Dylan Mandlshon, Graham Clark, Heidi Foss, Jon Steinberg, Peter Anthony, Sunee Dhaliwal, Debra DiGiovanni, Graham Clark, Jen Grant, Lachlan Patterson and Nile Seguin. DiGiovanni, another Video on Trial alumnus, is one of Canada’s top unappreciated comics and at her best in a small venue like this—it’s sure to be a memorable show.

The festival concludes on the evening of April 16 with the Gala Finale at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Several festival favourites return for one last laugh. Mark Critch hosts; the roster includes DiGiovanni, Jonny Harris, Jen Grant, Wing, Nile Seguin, Scott Falconbridge, Cullen, Stewart Francis and Greg Hahn.

A MONTH OF COMEDY
In addition to the Halifax Comedy Fest, the city hosts great live comedy events throughout the month.

•    Joker’s Comedy Club on Spring Garden Road and Yuk Yuk’s on Hollis Street host regular shows, with new comics weekly.
•    The Newfoundland comedy group Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers bring their warm-hearted take on East Coast life to the Dalhousie Arts Centre on April 8 and 9.
•    Montreal’s fabled Just For Laughs comedy festival presents Irish hot shot Tommy Tiernan at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on April 29.

Ready, Set… Go!

Halifax hosts the 2011 Canada Games—the biggest sports event in Nova Scotian history

By Christina Copp and Trevor J. Adams

In February, all eyes will be on Halifax as it hosts the Canada Games. Running from February 11 to 27, the Games will be the largest multi-sport competition in Canada in 2011.

Sports fans have lot to look forward to during the Games. “Essentially, [there are] 20 different sports, so it’s like putting on 20 national championships over 18 days,” says Melissa MacKinnon, director of communications for the Games. She suggests that outdoor sports fans head over to the long-track speed skating at the new Oval on the Halifax Common. Admission is free.

All of the events at both ski venues are also free for fans. A 45-minute drive northwest of Halifax, Martock in Windsor hosts cross-country, biathlon and snowboard competitions Freestyle and alpine skiing take place at Wentworth, an 80-minute drive north.Other highlights include gymnastics, badminton and synchronized swimming at the new Canada Games Centre in Clayton Park, hockey at the Dartmouth Sportsplex and Halifax Metro Centre and boxing at the Halifax Forum. A 40-minute drive west of the city, the St. Margaret’s Centre in St. Margaret’s Bay hosts short-track speed skating and figure skating. The Metro Centre also hosts the opening ceremonies.

The party will continue after the athletes’ days are done, too. “Celebration Square in Grand Parade will be the place to be each evening,” says MacKinnon. The concert venue in front of Halifax City Hall will feature acts like The Stanfields, Christina Martin and Matt Mays. Martin, a multiple Nova Scotia Music Award Winner, was one of more than 300 acts who submitted their names to perform during the Games cultural festivities.

“I applied to perform during the Canada Games because I want to be a part of this monumental event that is taking place on my home turf,” says Christina Martin. “After experiencing the excitement from performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic event.”

Games CEO Chris Morrissey is excited about the potential to bring Haligonians, athletes and visiting sports fans together. “Everyone can come together to celebrate athletic achievements while enjoying live entertainment that showcases Nova Scotia talent and culture,” he says.

Running from February 11 to 27, the Games embrace a wide variety of disciplines. For schedule and venue details, click here or phone 902-490-2011.