Archive | Travel


CT Oktoberfest Begins Thursday in New Britain

NEW BRITAIN —  Want to be a part of the state’s largest Chicken Dance? Or sample the best in German specialty foods from Frank ‘n Stein? Or listen to the sounds of Schactelgebriger Musikanten-even if you can’t pronounce this authentic German ban’s name?

Then pack a picnic basket this weekend and trek to downtown New Britain at the Connecticut Oktoberfest. Thousands are expected to take advantage of nonstop live entertainment, great food and German specialty beers in the center of the city Friday through Sunday, September 13-15.

Admission to Oktoberfest New Britain is free — this includes two stages of entertainment for the three days of the festival.  Secure parking is FREE in the three city garages.

The City of New Britain and the New Britain Lion’s Club is sponsoring  this event, with almost two dozen bands ranging from authentic German to funk, foods from the Frank ‘n Stein menu (many varieties of hot dogs and cold beer, get it?), and activities for kids, such as the Rock Cats Fun Zone, and on Sunday at 2 p.m., the formation of Connecticut’s largest chicken dance.

“New Britain will find its niche with Oktoberfest,” said Nick Augustino, the festival’s organizer. Augustino’s East Side Restaurant will provide the food and beer for the celebration, which will be served by volunteers from local churches and non-profit organizations, which will benefit financially, too.  Augustino, who has been contracted to host Oktoberfest for next eight years, said the festival will create long-term business in the city.

“I have been bringing people into the city with my advertising and billboards for 13 years,” said Augustino. “I expect we will see 12,000 people over the course of three days, and I’m prepared for more. Our forefathers built New Britain as a center for industry. Now, with all the highways coming through the city, I think we have the infrastructure to be a center for festivals.”

The New Britain Rock Cats will be coming to this year’s Oktoberfest, along with Petco. Petco will have a petting zoo set up as part of a “fun zone” for children. The festival, he said, coincides with National Dog Adoption Weekend.

Ann Pilla, volunteer and entertainment coordinator at the festival, said there would also be a gigantic chicken dance Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Nick will lead the largest chicken dance in Connecticut in a parade from the VIP area,” she said.

To check out this year’s  exciting lineup, go to


Posted in Business, TravelComments (0)

Tags: ,

Fête the Fall Harvest in Newport, Rhode Island: Food & Wine, Fairs and Festivals

NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND — – As the summer sun starts to give way to crisp, saltwater breezes and the tree tops are painted in vivid hues of crimson red, brilliant yellow and burnt orange, Newport, Rhode Island enters into what many consider its most majestic season.

While Mother Nature shows off, enjoy awe-inspiring architecture, rich history, enchanting wineries, coastal charm, miles of trails, farm to fork dining and fine boutique shopping—it’s all here in the City-by-the-Sea. Some of the upcoming world-class events include:

The 43rd Annual International Boat Show, Sept. 12-15, 2013, is one of the largest in-water boat shows in the country. Held throughout Newport’s downtown waterfront locations, the impressive show is mariner’s paradise, showcasing domestic and foreign goods as well as a variety of sail and powerboats. Visit for a complete list of exhibitors and boats.

The Coggeshall Farm Museum 40th Annual Harvest Fair, Sept. 14-15, 2013, in nearby Bristol, unfolds at a living-history farm that depicts agrarian life in 1799. Activities for all ages including hay rides, face painting, craft-making, a chance to see the farm’s animals and hand-milk a cow, hay bale toss, sack races and other traditional games. Attend a cooking demonstration with farm-raised products, listen to traditional music and watch the Ladies of the Rolling Pin dance. See the work of Rhode Island artisans and enjoy local foods. For more information, visit

The 8th Newport Mansions Annual Wine & Food Festival will be held September 20-22, 2013 at The Elms, Rosecliff, and Marble House mansions, featuring over 100 of the finest New England restaurants and wines from around the world. One of the most anticipated food festivals in the country, guests will savor the opportunity to enjoy cooking demonstrations Food Network “Iron Chef” Alex Guarnaschelli and James Beard Award winner Michel Richard—hosted by Claudine Pépin. The festival will also feature a Sunday Brunch with Guarnaschelli, various celebrity chef appearances, seminars with wine experts, a two-day Grand Tasting on the Marble House lawn, a gala at Rosecliff and much more, all in Newport’s  most spectacular locations. for a complete itinerary.

The Norman Bird Sanctuary Annual Harvest Fair, October 5-6, 2013, carries on tradition of family fun as it kicks off the fall with a local “small-town” festival.  Enjoy town-fair entertainment in its freshly plowed fields, a plethora of food stations as well as jam and baked good tastings, craft stations, games, home & garden competitions, and hay rides. A staple of New England fall festivals, the two-day Harvest Fair provides family activities all weekend long, including old-time favorites like Tug-O-War and the Mud Pit. Visit for more information.

oktoberfest-newportInternational Oktoberfest, Oct. 12-13, 2013, welcomes fall with the celebration of German cuisine, brews, and entertainment at the Newport Yachting Center overlooking the harbor. A celebration for all ages, this year organizers are touting Sunday as the designated “family-oriented” day. Visit the Biergarten to taste seasonal and international brews along with other American favorites. Also savor beloved brats, schnitzel, sauerbraten, potato pancakes more German cuisine.  Listen to traditional German music all weekend long in a fall celebration and reunion of family and friends.  Visit  for a complete list of activities, vendors, and musicians throughout the weekend.

The Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival, October 19-20, 2013, celebrates autumn’s bounty with seafood dishes and live music celebrating Newport’s “Harvest of the Sea.”  Local restaurants and fishermen prepare their best dishes under colorful tents around the wharf accompanied by live folk, Celtic, “sea-shanty,” and blues music all weekend long.  Spirits, soft drinks, and desserts are all available, as well as seating throughout the wharf.  Come and enjoy many local restaurants’ most prized lobster dinners, clam chowders, “stuffies,” clam cakes, shrimps, scallops, raw oysters, and even some landlubber-friendly dishes. Visit for a complete list of vendors and performers.

There’s no better time to savor New England in the fall than during Newport Restaurant Week, Nov. 1-10, 2013. Enjoy more than 50 restaurants offering 3-course $16 lunches and $30 dinners throughout the week as well as the opportunity to sample new seasonal items from Newport and Bristol County’s most talented chefs. Cooking classes, walking tours, and lodging packages will also be available in conjunction with restaurant meals.  Visit for participating restaurants, events and special offers throughout the week.

 Photos courtesy of Discover Newport

Posted in Business, Featured, TravelComments (0)

Tags: ,

Cooking Channel Serves Up Recipes for Caribbean and Carnival Cuisines

TV WORTH WATCHING, Caribbean Cuisine — This Wednesday, tune into the Cooking Channel, as Kelsey’s Essentials features a “Jamaican” cuisine.  In this episode, Kelsey visits Melvin at Melvin’s Juice Box where he is adding the mouthwatering tropical flavors of Jamaica into his juices.

Kelsey heads back to her kitchen inspired to make Fried Fish with Carrot Escovitch using some of the same Jamaican flavors as Melvin.  Kelsey then meets with the queen of jerk cooking, Suzanne, at Miss Lily’s to try her hand at the staple technique of Jamaican cuisine.  Back in her kitchen, Kelsey makes Grilled Lobster Tails with Jerk Sauce and Coconut Rice.


Airing Wednesday, August 21st – 8:00 pm ET | 5:00 pm PT

Also on Wednesday, check out Cuban cuisine on Not My Mama’s Meals.  Bobby Deen and his Cuban comrade, Sabrina Soto, are taking a stroll down Havana on the Hudson! They’re picking up some authentic ingredients for a Cuban inspired meal. Later, Bobby invites Sabrina over to taste some of his masterpieces. He makes his famous Lean Pressed Cubans and Cuban Cheesecake- Flan de Queso. It’s Cubano Nights in Brooklyn y’all.

Cubano Nights
Airing Wednesday, August 21st – 9:00 pm ET | 6:00 pm PT
And don’t forget the “Carnival” theme featured on the Donut Showdown. Donut-makers Robert from Florida, Carrie from Albuquerque and pastry chef Josie from Montreal compete in a mystery ingredient elimination round. The final two standing have to impress the judges by making three donuts with a “Carnival” theme. The winner takes home $10,000.





Airing Wednesday, August 21st – 10:00 pm ET | 7:00 pm PT


Posted in Featured, TravelComments (0)


Taste of Hartford to Begin Jan. 21

HARTFORD — Food lovers can sample meals at their favorite restaurant, especially those with good customer service and exquisite cuisines.

Thanks to the Greater Hartford Arts Councils annual Taste of Hartford.

From Jan. 21 to February 3, participating restaurants will offer special multi-course, price fixed tasting menus, including thier signature dishes for $20.13.

From dishes ranging from home-style barbeque to world-class sushi, Hartford’s finest restaurants prepare three-course tasting menus that showcase  variety of culinary experiences the city has to offer.

Participating restaurants include Black-Eyed Sally’s, Casa Mia Ristorante, CASONA, City Steam Brewery and Café, Costa del Sol,  Hot Tomato’s, The Royal Masala,  and Tisane Euro Asian Cafe.

Interested food connoisseurs can visit for the most up to date list.


Posted in Hartford, TravelComments (0)

Stellar Performances From Beres, Maxi, Shaggy and UB40 at Historic Reggae Concert

By Anthony Turner, Contributor

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As the reggae thirsty crowd from the tri-satate area slowly filed out of the arena at 12:05 a.m. early Wednesday morning, their excitement for the concert’s solid lineup was palpable.

The newly minted Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn was the venue for the Sounds of Reggae Concert on 12.12.12 with headliners Beres Hammond, Ali Campbell, Shaggy and Maxi Priest.  And what a smasher it was. Jay-Z and the incomparable Barbara Streisand are just a few of the marquee stars who have played sold out dates at the new facility that is now home for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

Maxi, who got the concert started threw down a glittering performance for more than 10,000 screaming fans in a glam-filled coming-out reggae party. His energy ricocheted throughout the jam-packed venue as the legendary reggae crooner belted out classic hits like “How It Feel To Be Loved,” “Just A Bit Longer” “Wide Wide World,” “I Believe In Love” and “She Gives Me Love.” Maxi was later joined by NJ based dj Beniton who lite up the stage, partnering with him on crossover hits ‘House Call” and “Jamaica Nice.”

ISHAGGY - Ajamu photot was a homecoming party of sorts for international reggae star Shaggy, who at one time called Brooklyn home. Performing with his long time friends from the area Rayvon and Red Fox, the former US Marine demanded the entire arena get on their feet during his energetic set and fans obediently obliged, danced up a storm for the duration of his performance. Shaggy’s set was spiced with all his big hits and more including ‘Mr. Boombastic,’ ‘It Wasn’t Me,’ ‘Big Up,’ ‘Angel,’ ‘Church Heathen’ and the ballad Strength of A Woman that he dedicated to Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller who celebrated her birthday last Wednesday.

Reggae singer Beres Hammond, who made a scheduled stop at NBC’s Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots band prior to his performance, had the women in the palm of his hands from the moment he crooned his first note. The Grammy-nominated reggae hit maker could do no wrong as he reeled of hit songs from his catalogue including ‘Step Aside,’ ‘Putting Up Resistance,’ ‘Come Back Home,’ ‘Give Thanks,’ ‘Doctors Orders’ and ‘Rockaway.’ 90 minutes later when the sweat drench singer made his way off stage, the consensus was he was the “Boss” for the night.

BERES HAMMOND - Ajamu photoHaving Ali Campbell close a reggae concert in downtown Brooklyn could have been a dismal disaster. Campbell, being the consummate performer, pushed those concerns aside. While he did not enjoy the same crowd support that Beres or Shaggy enjoyed, he certainly made a good first impression and connected with fans as he belted out ‘Would I Lie To You,’ ‘Running Free’ and the curtain closer ‘Red Red Wine.’

Earlier, Ann-Marie Grant, Executive Director of the American Friends of the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) organization accepted a $10,000 donation from title sponsor BioLife for the University of the West Indies Scholarship fund.

Also present at the concert was the Hon. Herman LaMont, Consul General of Jamaica, New York who endorsed the event. Promoter George Crooks and his hardworking team at Jammins Entertainment must be congratulated for producing one of the biggest reggae concert for 2012 inside the tri-state area.

Photo Credit – Ajar

Posted in A & E, Featured, Nation, TravelComments (0)


African Travel Supports Earth Day With Special Tour Packages

On April 22, more than one billion people around the world will participate in the 42nd annual Earth Day to help raise awareness of global environmental concerns.

For Earth Day and every day, African Travel, Inc. will work to bring more awareness to the plight of Gorillas and Chimpanzees in the wild, organizers said.

This plan is a part of their efforts they offer special packages to see incredible creatures in their natural habitats while simultaneously working to protect them.

Mountain gorillas are among the most famous of all endangered animals. These majestic animals are lately finding it very hard to survive, and as recently as 2006, they were at the brink of extinction. Fortunately, recent conservation efforts have been quite successful, the primary factor responsible for this positive trend being an effort by organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda to protect the gorillas and their habitat.

Another significant contributor towards protection of the Mountain Gorillas is tourism. When travelers visit Africa using a knowledgeable company such as African Travel, they are making a huge contribution to the conservation of Mountain Gorillas. Despite these positive efforts, Mountain Gorillas are still under threat of extinction, and more conservation efforts will be necessary to remove gorillas from the endangered animals list.

Organizers said it is now an excellent time to visit these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

By joining an African Travel safari to view Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, Americans can help the cause while enjoying an exotic vacation.

Two African Travel, Inc. safaris where you can see these beautiful animals in the wild:

The Pearl Of Africa—8 days. Uganda, Rwanda. Renowned for its physical beauty, Uganda offers a variety of wildlife viewing experiences in the Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi . The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a sanctuary for 13 different species of primate, colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many birds (such as hornbills and turacos).  The photographic opportunities are plentiful as you experience Uganda, a country considered to be a source of the Nile River.

Remote Tanzania: Katavi and Mahale—9 days. Tanzania is one of the most spectacular places for wildlife viewing in Africa, and African Travel Inc.’s unforgettable adventure to Remote Tanzania: Katavi and Mahale will surpass your wildest expectations. Wildlife viewing in Katavi can be nothing short of breathtaking, especially the huge herds of buffalo and amazing numbers of hippo. Observe them as they groom, wrestle and forage across the leafy floor.

For more information and reservations contact your favorite Travel Professional, or visit


Posted in Featured, TravelComments (0)


Choice Hotel Kicks off Facebook Caribbean Vacation Giveaway

As winter wanes and warmer weather beckons weary travelers, Choice Hotels is looking to send one lucky Facebook user on a wonderful Caribbean vacation getaway.

From now through April 30, 2012, Facebook users who “Like” Choice Hotels can learn how to enter into the “Caribbean Dreamin’ Sweepstakes” where they’ll have the chance to win a trip for two to the Caribbean.

The sweepstakes grand prize winner will receive cash for round-trip airfare for two and 100,000 Choice Privileges rewards points to redeem at one of our 11 different Caribbean island hotels.

Don’t like your odds? Well in addition to one grand prize winner, Choice Hotels will also give away instant prizes right on its Facebook page. After each consumer enters the sweepstakes, they’ll have a chance to play an instant win game where they can win dozens of travel prizes including Amazon Kindles, Apple iPod Shuffles, and Gift Cards.

What’s more, consumers who enter the sweepstakes and then share the promotion with their family and friends will get a bonus sweepstakes entry.

For more information, go to


Posted in Featured, TravelComments (0)


Film Festival To Serve Up Film Feast

CAPE ANN, MA. — Feel like going to the cape to catch crisp ocean breeze and watch films? You might want to check out the Cape Ann Film Festival.

The Cape Ann Film Festival kicks off this week at the Cape Ann Community Cinema at 21 Main St. in Gloucester, and anyone who wants to catch all 24 movies is going to have to rest up and do some serious planning.

That’s because there is so many movies and so little time to see them all.
“Consider it a glimpse at how I spend some of my days,” says Robert Newton, the creative director of the Festival and the Cinema. “Wake up, watch a movie, watch a movie, watch a movie, and if there’s time, do silly things like eat and sleep.”

For every film that screens at the Festival, Newton notes, another ten don’t make the cut. That means that a line-up of 24 films represents about 500 hours, or about 3 solid weeks spent watching.

The three weeks that comprise the Festival open on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. with a Festival Trailer Round-Up, followed by a short documentary to commemorate 20 years since the actual Perfect Storm (of Oct. 31, 1991). There will be prizes (such as movie passes and a private movie party at the Cinema) and surprises, and the night is sponsored by Cape Pond Ice of Gloucester.

Political satirist Jimmy Tingle opens the first official night of the Festival on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. with an encore of his JIMMY TINGLE’S AMERICAN DREAM: LIVE ON STAGE & SCREEN. October’s show that marked the CACC’s 3rd birthday was sold out. Tickets are $22.00 and are available in advance at

Writer-director Jay Burke presents a work-in-progress version of his fishing drama WHALING CITY on Saturday, November 12th at 7:30 p.m.. This dramatic narrative feature film is set in New Bedford, Mass. in the rapidly-changing world of the modern fishing industry. It tells the story of a 3rd-generation independent commercial fisherman, struggling to keep a grasp on his way of life – and a long-held family boat – as costs rise and the heavily-regulated fishing industry is pushed towards a corporate model of efficiency. While developing an unlikely relationship with a marine biologist, he is tempted to do whatever it takes to keep his boat.

Other Festival guests include “Who Does She Think She Is?” director Pamela Tanner Boll (Sat. Nov. 12 @ 2:30pm), “The True 1692” writer/director/producer Paul Van Ness (Sat. Nov. 19 @ 5:00pm), “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” star Gunnar ‘Leatherface’ Hansen (Sat. Nov. 19 @ 10:00pm), “Nuremberg” restorationist Sandra Schulberg (Sun. Nov. 20 @ 2:30pm) and “Take Shelter” producer Sarah Green (Sun. Nov. 27 @ 5:00pm), who will close the Festival.

As has been part of the Cinema’s mission since it began in 2008, this year’s Festival features three fundraisers for local organizations. “The Legend Of Pale Male” (Sat. Nov. 12 @ 5:00pm) benefits Kestrel Educational Adventures, “The Economics Of Happiness” (Sun. Nov. 13 @ 5:00pm) benefits Cape Ann Timebank and for the fourth Thanksgiving running, “Alice’s Restaurant” (Thurs. Nov. 24 @ 6:30pm) benefits Cape Ann’s food bank, The Open Door.

On Sunday, November 20th at 7:30pm, the Festival offers a sneak preview of the new sports drama “The Hammer,” a Massachusetts exclusive. The film is based on the life of the UFC fighter Matt Hamill, and is a coming-of-age drama about the first deaf wrestler’s journey to win a National Collegiate Championship. Raised among those with the ability to hear, Matt finds himself no less an outsider amidst the Deaf community. But through sheer determination, he turns what could be a disability into an asset and in the process serves as an inspiration for both those who can hear and those who cannot. The film will encore at 7:30pm on both Friday and Saturday and Sunday, November 25th and 26th.

The Festival features a series of five film classics: “His Girl Friday” [1940] (Mon. Nov. 14 @ 2:30pm), “Meet John Doe” [1941] (Tues. Nov. 15 @ 2:30pm), “Detour” [1945] (Wed. Nov. 16 @ 2:30pm), “The Inspector General” [1949] and “D.O.A.” (Fri. Nov. 18 @ 2:30pm). All films in the Free Classics series, which continues in January, are completely free to attend.

The rest of the films playing at this year’s CAFF are “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” “Chico & Rita,” “Mia And The Migoo,” the ‘restored’ “Monty Python & The Holy Grail,” “My Afternoons With Margueritte,” “Weekend,” “The Whale” and “The Women On The 6th Floor.” A full schedule, including synopses and trailers, is available at

In that the Cape Ann Community Cinema is “the film festival that never ends,” the magic continues this winter. On Saturday, December 3rd at 7:30pm when the Cinema hosts Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton and filmmaker Alexia Anastasio and her new documentary about Plympton called “Adventures In Plymptoons.” On Wednesday, December 28th at 7:30pm, the CACC welcomes Oscar-nominated writer/producer/director John Sayles and his creative/partner Maggie Renzi, with whom he has been working since they made “The Return Of The Secaucus Seven” together in 1979. They will host a Q&A (moderated by Sarah Green) after a screening of their new film “Amigo” (his 17th). On Saturday, January 14th at 7:30pm, former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci lands for a screening of the documentary “Buddy,” a Q&A and a book signing. Tickets for all of these post-Fest events are available at

Tickets for most films are $9.50 adults, $8.00 students & seniors (60+) and $6.50 for Cinema Members. For a full list of films both regular price and premium-priced, visit

For more information on the Festival or the Cinema, contact Robert Newton at (978) 309-8448.

Posted in Featured, TravelComments (0)

Montreal: Multicultural Capital On Display

By Harold Gellis, Travel Writer

Montreal, the world’s second-largest French-speaking city after Paris, is in the mood to celebrate. Canada’s festival capital hosts unique multicultural events and exhibitions all year round. Both its summer and winter festivals transform the city into an international stage. Montreal is easily accessible by car for a long weekend getaway or mini-vacation.

Multi Cultural Capital

Montreal is the most unique city in North America. It  is a melting pot of cultures from around the world. The population consists of one hundred nationalities. One hundred and nine different languages are spoken in the city. After Toronto and Vancouver, Montreal is the third most multi-ethnic city in the world.

But, overwhelmingly, Montreal is French. Sixty percent of the population speak French as their first language. Only thirty percent speak English as their first language. Despite the preponderance of French speakers, Montreal is the only functional bilingual city in North America – most people also speak English!

Montreal is situated on an island.  But it is anything but insular. The city consists of a  mosaic of forty one different neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is distinguished by its lampposts!

In the old city, where Montreal was founded, the lampposts look like street signs. In Chinatown, the lampposts look like pagodas. Boulevard Saint-Laurent is a kaleidoscope of different cultures,  ethnic enclaves and lampposts.

Reliving History in Montreal

Montreal is a contrast in old and new architecture spanning four centuries of history. Vieux-Montreal – Old Montreal, founded in 1642 by French missionaries, consists of narrow, winding streets with two or three storey red and rust stoned buildings. Beyond the medieval streets are towering skyscrapers silhouetted against the sky. And beyond the skyscrapers and in the distance, a mountain rises majestically upward.

Rue Saint-Paul, the Oldest Street in Montreal, Photo by Harold Gellis

The oldest street in Montreal is Rue Saint-Paul, in the heart of the old city. Reminiscent of a medieval street in England, Rue Saint-Paul winds its way along many cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.

Bonsecours Market, with its silver domed structure, alongside the Old Port, stands out as a unique landmark along the Saint Lawrence River waterfront. Bonsecours Market has an indoor building and an outdoor promenade and contains thirty art galleries, boutiques, and sidewalk cafes.

Located in the center of the commercial section of the city and sprawled across Mount-Royal is a unique recreational wonderland – Mount-Royal Park. The Park features a vast network of walking paths and stairs leading to wooded areas and landscapes. Vantage points in the park offer breathtaking views and panoramas of the city.

Gateway to the Laurentians

To the north of Montreal lies a wonderland – the Laurentian Mountains. Driving on Highway 15 past the crowded blocks of apartment houses and commercial buildings, the urban neighborhoods of Montreal gradually give way to an open flat plain. The landscape becomes increasingly dramatic with the rural serenity of the mountains and lakes of the Laurentians.

In the heart of the Laurentians is Mont Tremblant, an international tourist skiing resort and recreational area. Activities at Mont Tremblant include swimming, skiing, hiking, boating, and kayaking. Both in the summer and winter, Mont Tremblant is a unique playground and entertainment center with parades, concerts, magicians and an almost infinite variety of activities for everyone.

But the highlight of Mont Tremblant is the gondola ride to the top of the mountain. At the summit of Mont Tremblant, an incredible panorama unfolds. A rolling carpet of green stretches towards the horizon framed in the distance by a range of blue mountains. Spectacular billowing cloud formations hug the peaks of the Laurentians with the inky blue sky as a backdrop.

Atop the summit are paths leading to various vantage points. One path leads to a thirty foot high tower. As winds howl and gradually diminish, and as the clouds roll by overhead, a brilliant sun illuminates a landscape of rolling hills and valleys stretching endlessly toward the horizon. Contemplating this majestic panorama, one is gripped simultaneously by a sensation of awe of puniness.


The Just For Laughs Festival is the world’s largest and most prestigious comedy event. The Festival consists of 1,600 shows, including 1,200 free outdoor performances, theater, stand-up performances and street entertainment. 1,700 artists come from 19 countries. Over two million spectators attend this unique Festival. It is held July 5 till July 31.

Montreal Fashion and Design Festival is Montreal’s premier fashion event. The Festival features the latest fashion shows and live performances from well-known artists. There are also parties in bars and lounges and a shopping event in the city’s trendiest boutiques. The Festival will be held Aug. 3 to 6.

Montreal’s Italian Week Festival celebrates the proud Italian heritage of the Italian Canadian community. The festival provides a  wide array of activities throughout the city celebrating cultural diversity, sporting prowess, fashion, gastronomy, world-class music, the great outdoors, children, arts and Italian heritage. The Festival will be held Aug. 5 until Aug. 14.

The Hellenic Flame Festival celebrates Hellenic culture. The Festival highlights an array of activities, portraying the colorful and rich culture of Montreal’s Greek population. It is designed to spotlight the customs, music and traditional dishes of Greece, and provides cultural activities for all ages. The Festival will be held Aug. 14 to Aug. 16.

The Montreal Jewish Music Festival, which will be held August 28 to September 1 along Boulevard Saint-Laurent, transforms the historic Jewish neighborhood into a holiday of song and dance. The downtown streets reverberate with the sounds of traditional klezmer and folk music, as well as rock, Sephardic, hip-hop and jazz from top local and international artists in Jewish music.


Montreal is a city of museums and exhibitions. Visitors can get the Montreal Museums Pass, a cultural passport that opens the doors to thirty four museums in the city. There are museums for every kind of interest.

The McCord Museum, located in the heart of Montreal, is home to one of North America’s finest historical collections, including the most comprehensive collection of clothing made and worn in Canada. The Centre D’Histoire De Montreal captures the entire city’s turbulent history and multiple identities in one place with three floors of permanent and temporary exhibits. And the Biosphere, located in Jean-Drapeau Park on Sainte-Helene Island, displays unique and spectacular technologies, exhibitions, and tours of green technologies and environmental protection.

Many of Montreal’s museums can be reached through the city’s underground. The underground city consists of twenty miles of walkways lined with stores, shops, eateries, hotels, and downtown attractions all connected to the Metro transportation system. Montreal’s underground city is immune to inclement weather and cold temperatures.

Montreal also showcases unique exhibitions. Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology is a fascinating exhibition that displays the vast and exclusive collection of props, models, drawings, and concept and set designs used in the movie for Indiana Jones. It is also on a wealth of historical and cultural facts. The exhibition is open until Sept. 18.

For further information on Montreal and the Quebec region, visit, and, or call (877) 266-5687.

Harold Gellis is an authority on international travel and geopolitical events and trends.

Send comments to


Posted in Featured, Nation, TravelComments (1)


Mayan Countdown to 2012 Spurs Mexican Tourism Industry

By Gardenia Mendoza Aguilar, La Opinión

MEXICO CITY — For 20 minutes, Mexican President Felipe Calderón transformed himself into an experienced Mayan tour guide, taking advantage of the highly publicized end of the Mayan 400-year cycle, called the baktún. The end of the Mayan cycle, which has been interpreted as the end of the world, actually marks the beginning of a new era.

“As Mexicans, we want to share with the world the unparalleled grandeur of the Mayan civilization,” he said during an announcement of the Maya World Program, launched June 21 with a countdown to Dec. 21, 2012, when the baktún ends.

The goal is to create a new experience that will attract the greatest possible number of tourists and increase the tourism potential of the region. Guatemala launched a similar campaign last month.

Mexico will host international expositions, conferences and events featuring specialists and researchers as part of the promotion of the Mayan archaeological areas, which can be found in five states: Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Yucatán.

Through this campaign, the Mexican government hopes to elevate the country’s status from the tenth most popular tourist destination in the world to a spot in the top five.

Among the new attractions is a tourist hotel in the ecological reserve of Calakmul in the state of Campeche and a new archaeology museum in Cancún. Several new archaeological areas will also be open to the public, including Lagartero and Plan de Ayutla in Chiapas, and Ichkabal in Quintana Roo.

These new sites add to the six sites in the Maya region that are already UNESCO World Heritage sites: Palenque, Chichén Itzaá, Calakmul, Uxmal, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and the city of Amurrada de Campache. Together, these six sites receive a total of 250,000 tourists monthly, both Mexican and foreign.

With facts and figures, Calderón styled himself as the region’s chief promotor.

“The Mayan pyramids symbolically represent [the civilization’s] knowledge: For example, the solar year has 365 days, and each of the four sides of the Pyramid of Kukulkán has 91 steps, which multiplied by four is 364, plus the roof, equals 365 days of the year,” he said.

“Chichén Itzá is a testament to the grandeur of the Mayans, in the pyramid of Kukulkán, with its perfect measurement of time, in the observatory, the temple of warriors, the ball court, and the sacred cenote (waterhole), which was considered to be the entrance to the Mayan underworld.

“And the ceiba (sacred Mayan tree), that is present in each of the Mayan sites, from La Venta to Tikal,” he continued, “is the great millennial tree of the Maya, and their branches touch the sky, which we might call heaven, while its roots are in the underworld.”

Jorge Hernandez, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV in Spanish), hopes that the project will help the regional economy, which has not recovered from the hit it took during the swine flu crisis in 2009.

“The health issue, the economic recession and instability have hurt tourism,” Hernandez said, “but with the Maya project, we can return to the numbers we had in 2008.”

In that year, income from tourism came to $13.5 billion. That number dropped to $10 billion in 2010.



Posted in A & E, Featured, TravelComments (0)

  • Latest News
  • Tags
  • Subscribe
Advertise Here