Sunday Special – Quebec City, Canada


I could not let “Q” go by without showcasing Quebec, “la belle province”. On my list of places to see in my own country is the province’s capital of the same name: Quebec City/Ville de Québec (or simply Quebec) and it’s annual winter festival of Carnaval de Quebec. I want to meet Bonhomme, the mascot of Carnaval.

Quebec City, from what I have heard, is a wonderful gem. Overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway the city was settled by Europeans (France) in 1608 with First Nations people living in the areas for centuries before. One of the oldest cities in North America, Quebec also also retains its ramparts around the Old City (Vieux-Quebec) to this day. In 1985 the “Historic District of Old Quebec” was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

An annual and much loved event of Quebec City is its annual winter Carnaval, which runs from end of January to mid-February each year. Growing up I became familiar with images of Bonhomme and his bright red toque. Many events and activities are yours to enjoy during this 100+ year old celebration. Some things to look forward to include:

  • The International Ice Sculpture Competition – amazing creations by artists around the globe
  • The Snow Sculpture Competition – its not just ice that gets turned into art
  • Various Night Parades throughout the weeks – with Bonhomme often leading the way
  • The much loved Canoe Race on the icy waters of the St Lawrence where 60 teams in several categories compete
  • Visit Bonhomme’s Ice Palace and the art it houses
  • How cold can ya handle it? Find out by partaking in the Snow Bath with nothing on but your swimsuit
  • Carnaval related shopping, dining, concerts and more
  • Check the website on January 12, 2018 when the official program will be posted
  • Don’t forget to use #CarnavalQC when posting on social media
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Bonhomme!! – Photo credit – Laserpdb, Carnaval Québec 2011, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Ice sculptures at Carnival – Photo credit: Matias Garabedian from Montreal, Canada, Le 60e Carnaval de Québec (12665475763), CC BY-SA 2.0

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Ice canoeing competition at Carnaval de Quebec – Photo credit:  Cephas, Ice canoeing Quebec 2016 2, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Sunday Special – Glastonbury Festival


“G” takes us to England for the ever popular Glastonbury Music Festival. I’m not much for music festivals…that I’m aware of as I’ve never been to one. That being said, this is one that I would consider attending should I decide to take the festival plunge.

This past June the festival had hundreds of stages over 5 days with an incredible line up of musicians such as Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, The Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Goldfrapp, Kodaline, and much much more. The very first time this festival was held was back in 1970 (the day after Jimi Hendrix died) and was called the Pilton Festival. It was held over two days with several acts and 1,500 people coming basically by word of mouth. Over forty years later its size has flourished to 175,000 attendees  at this now iconic event. It’s meager start was hit or miss until it became annual event in the 1980s, with the exception of “fallow” years to allow a break for the land and the organizers. It was then that a charity aspect was introduced and has since supported charitable works including Greenpeace, Oxfam and Wateraid.  

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Glastonbury Festival 2011 – Photo credit: jaswooduk from UK, Glastonbury Festival 2011CC BY 2.0

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Aerial view of 2002 Glastonbury Festival – Photo credit: Chris Drake, Overhead Glastonbury Festival site (2002) – geograph.org.uk – 210700CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Sunday Special – Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Scotland


January can be a dreary month in the northern hemisphere, what with its short days of sunlight, frigid cold air and in many places with snow but no place to ski or snowboard. So what does one do to help pass the dreariness? Well in Lerwick, Scotland they hold a fire festival on the last Tuesday of January (that is January 26 for the 2016 festival). The Up Helly Aa Festival has been a Shetland tradition since the 1880s. An homage to days of Viking glory this 24 hour period sees “squads” of men dressed up in Viking gear marching through town with torches ablaze and songs being sung. A full day of revelry, food and drink awaits participants. The evening is topped off with a Viking-style ship is set ablaze and the sky filled with fireworks. It sounds grand.  I have just decided that I am going to head to the Shetland Islands one Januray to attend this fun and crazy Up Helly Aa Festival.

Photo credits: Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons

Burning the galley at Uyeasound Up Helly Aa - geograph.org.uk - 1706017

Procession at Uyeasound Up Helly Aa - geograph.org.uk - 1706007

Guisers in the procession at Uyeasound Up Helly Aa (geograph 3848202)

A WORLD OF FESTIVALS


Who doesn’t like a good festival? Big ones, small ones, free ones, music ones, food ones, holiday ones, religious ones, cultural ones and even silly ones. I would guess that there is one for just about everyone.  And to list them all would be a serious feat, one which I will not attempt. Every village, town and city has one so a quick Internet search should do the trick. Here is a listing of Vancouver’s festivals.

Now, how about those really big festivals? The ones you may spend several days enjoying or making a specific trip for? You hear about them from friends, on social media or even on travel/tourism websites. Today I will post a few of the big ones I’ve heard of and a great website that I found that lists even more!!

Here are some BIG festivals that I am aware of:

GLASTONBURY MUSIC FESTIVAL (U.K.) -This is a 5 day music festival held at Pilton, Somerset (England) and has been around since the 1970s. It is a huge celebration of music and performing arts. This year’s festival (June 25-29, 2014) is already sold out.

LA TOMATINA TOMATO THROWING FESTIVAL (Spain) – FOOD FIGHT!! This festival just screams FUN! I may not be into the music festival scene but I could go for throwing tomatoes at people around me. It is always held on the last Wednesday of August near the town of Bunol, Spain.

ROSWELL UFO FESTIVAL (USA) – I learned of this festival after being invited to attend.  I am not a UFO enthusiast, though, I think it would be interesting to check it out. Perhaps I will make there sometime. This 3 day event is being held July 3 – 6, 2014.

TOMORROWLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL (Belgium) – since 2005 electronic music fans have been able to revel in not only music but the creative psychedelic-type lights and decorations. With numerous stages and musicians this festival is bound to be fun! This year has the event over two weekends in July in Boom, Belgium.

BURNING MAN FESTIVAL (USA) – I know quite a few “Burners”. I am intrigued by Burning Man but am not certain I am Burning Man material – I am not one to really dress up in costume/cosplay but I heard such tremendous things about this particular festival. Held in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada during the last week of August, it draws tens of thousands of people looking for “radical self expression”. Incredible art sculptures, a focus on community and expression it certainly is attention grabbing.

SANTA CON (various world cities) – Somehow I have missed Santa Con every year since I heard of it about 5 years ago. Every year! Now it may not be your typical festival (its actually a pub crawl) but how can one not want to dress up like Santa with dozens of others and go from pub to pub? This is, of course, held in December.

So these are some of ones I have heard of time and again. There are many many more. Upon some Internet research I found a great site that has done all the work for you. They list loads of festivals all over the world. This is probably your best one-shop stop for world festival info!! Fest 300 has plenty of information for you to find out about a great festival.