Inside Bonaire Carnival 2015

Bonaire Carnival Holidays are celebrated all through the month of February leading up to Ash Wednesday. Almost every day, there are events happening around the island. Carnival celebrations start with the Tumba Festival and the Queen’s and King’s Elections and children carnival parade.

Below are photos from the Children’s parade in the Centrum of Kralendijk. Toddlers to elementary age kids wear colorful costumes, parading across streets of the city center, moving their bodies to the rhythms of blaring music. DJ floats sign and play Spanish, hip hop and Papiamentu songs. Families sit at the sidewalks cheering on the crowds and having picnics.

The grand parade commences with an adult carnival that is filled with celebrations, costumes, and partying ending with the burning of the King Momo at the parking lot of the Kralendijk Stadium. This symbolizes the end of the carnival and beginning of Lent.

carnival

carnival Bonaire

carnival princess

carnival parade

carnival bands

carnival winners

carnival boys

carnival girls

carnival Bonaire

carnival costumes

carnival bonaire

carnival 2015

carnival babies

Visit Bonaire Tourism website to see a complete list of Carnival related and other events in Bonaire.

Trinidad: Small but Diverse

The country of Trinidad, sometimes called the “rainbow island,” has a reputation of incredible diversity in regards to its music, food, and population. Located just eleven kilometers off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad has a total population of 1.3 million. The makeup of its people ranges from African and East Indian, to European, and a variety of overlap of all of these. The main religion of the island is Roman Catholic, with Protestantism, Islam, and Hinduism also practiced.

Location of Trinidad
Location of Trinidad

History:

The original name for the island was “Iëre,” or Land of the Humming Bird, but Christopher Columbus changed it upon his arrival in 1498 to “La Isla de la Trinidad,” or The Island of the Holy Trinity. Today, Trinidad is a thriving Caribbean nation that bases much of its economy on gas-based export.

Although native Amerindians originally populated the island, Spanish, British, and French forces came to colonize it. They shipped the native Amerindians off to other colonies in the Caribbean to work and over time imported mass amounts of African slaves to labor on sugar plantations. After the British abolished slavery, indentured laborers were imported from India, China, and the Middle East. In 1889, England joined Trinidad to the nearby Tobago as an administrative ward, with which it stayed connected even after its independence from England in 1962. Over time, the descendants of the many non-native groups came together and fused their cultures, creating a melting pot that is the status quo in Trinidad today.

Culture:

All throughout the year, festivals take place that represent a variety of Trinidadian culture. Many of these festivals celebrate religious holidays, while others celebrate the traditions, customs, and music of Trinidad. The more popular religious festivals include Santa Rosa Festival, Christmas, Easter, Divali, and the Muslim celebration Eid Ul Fitr. There are multiple festivals that are based around the music of the Caribbean, such as Carnivale, J’ouvert and the national steel pan competition Panorama. In addition, the people of Trinidad also celebrate festivals pertaining to their history and customs, such as Emancipation Day and Arrival Day. No matter what time of year, there is sure to be a celebration happening in the streets of Trinidad.

Diwali in Trinidad
Diwali in Trinidad

Food:

The food of Trinidad is just as diverse as its population. Its history of colonization and labor importation led to a cuisine that contains a vast array of influences, including East Indian, Spanish, African, Chinese, and Middle Eastern. The most well known is Creole, a cuisine developed from robust stews and one pot comfort foods brought to the island by African slaves. Signature Creole dishes include pelau (a spicy dish consisting of meat, rice, and pigeon peas), macaroni pie (baked macaroni and cheese), and callaloo (a stew made with leaf vegetable, coconut milk, crab, chili pepper, lobster and many more). Another popular form of cuisine is street food, such as barbecue and jerk meats, homemade ice cream and coconut water.

Famous doubles with chickpeas
Famous doubles with chickpeas

Music:

Like much of the Caribbean, Trinidad has a lively music scene. Many varieties of music in Trinidad are a result of its historical influences, such as African and Indian based folk and classical forms. However, the mixing of cultures has led to the development of several indigenous forms of music as well, including soca, rapso, parang, chutney, and other derivative and fusion styles. The steelpan drum , a chromatically pitched percussion instrument made from  55 gallon drums that formerly contained oil and similar substances, also originated on the island. Oftentimes, local communities fuse the steelpan with international classical and pop music. The music of Trinidad provides something for every taste, once again illustrating the diversity of the culture of Trinidad.

Trinidad can be characterized as a beautiful Caribbean nation with a population whose spirit is just as impressive. The people are friendly and upbeat, and filled with a pride so strong that they celebrate almost constantly. The music, food, and ethnicity of the small island combine to create a culture that gives anyone visiting a vast amount to experience. I know I would love to see firsthand the diversity of this small Caribbean nation. On July 19, Go Eat Give is hosting Destination Trinidad at Tassa Roti Shop in metro Atlanta, where the public can witness live music, speakers and an authentic Trinidad buffet. For more information about this event, click here.

~ By Allie Williams, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. Allie explores her passion for food, travel, and learning about different cultures though her internship with Go Eat Give.

The Antiquity of Modernity

The minute I step out of my hostel, I’m engulfed in a tightly packed crowd lining the sidewalk. I push my way through, passing parents hoisting their kids up on their shoulders and volunteers passing out food. Bewildered, I crane my neck to peer through the crowd and see the procession passing. Flashes of multi colored saris, metallic shrines and bundles of flowers make up the parade. A loud splitting crack sets off thunderous cheers and I look up to see fireworks illuminating the night sky. It was midnight and the celebrations of the Thaipusam Festival had begun as the devotees begin their pilgrimage on foot to the Batu Caves, eight miles north of Kuala Lumpur.

Thaipusam Festival devotees at Batu caves in Malaysia
Thousands of devotees ascend the 280 steps leading to the Batu Caves

Thaipusam Fesitval is a Hindu celebration that is held each year during the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar. Primarily held in the Tamil-speaking communities, the festival in Kuala Lumpur is one of the largest ones outside of India, with over 1.5 million attendees. I wake at dawn the next morning and catch a train to the caves to witness the arrival of the pilgrims. As the train pulls into the station, a gate blocks hundreds of people waiting the arrival of their friends and relatives. Many hold baskets of food and water with bright jewels on their foreheads keeping an eye on their children who run around with their faces covered in paint. I weave through the crowd finding the base of the mountain where a carnival has been set up, featuring loud music and stalls selling everything from saris to fruit juice to souvenirs. Arriving at the path entrance, I stop and peer up at the steep, 280 steps leading up to the caves. Watching over the thick crowd is a golden statue, measuring 47 yards in height, of the god Subramaniam. The festival is dedicated to this god and marks a day of penance and thanksgiving.

public sacrifices at Thaipusam Festival in Malaysia

As a form of penance or sacrifice, many carry “kavadis” which literally mean “burden”. These burdens range from jugs, coconuts, oranges and even floats. The objects are attached to the bare backs of the devotees through metal hooks and piercings. Others carry floats above their heads and the stilts dig into their sides. Some have hooks with strings attached that pull on the skin on their back. Women carry jugs on their heads or pierce their mouths shuts with a spear going through each cheek and out the other side. They sacrifice their bodies to piercings and metal hooks, carrying these burdens on the eight-mile journey from Kuala Lumpur to the base of the mountain, then up the 280 stairs to the caves. In return, they are hoping for favors from their gods. Both men and women ascend the mountain, carrying these burdens, in the scorching heat, chanting prayers as they go.

pilgrims insert hooks into their backs during the Thaipusam Festival in Malaysia
The kavadis, or “burdens” are metal hooks that pierce into the skin on the pilgrims backs

 On my way up I pass people of all ages who have stepped to the side to take a break. The humidity paired with the steep stairs make the climb treacherous. I finally reach the mouth of the caves that opens up into a large entrance hall. As I press through the crowd I pass shaman-type healers who are performing a ritual of removing the spears and piercings from the body of the sacrificees. They are chanting and pouring white powder as they slap their backs after each removal. Not a drop of blood is spilt during the festival.

devotees gather to celebrate Thaipusam Festival at Batu Caves in Malaysia

In the back is a temple with several alters where pilgrims of all ages stop to pray. The caves are packed to the brim with the devotees, pilgrims, friends and families, which would be a fire hazard in any other country. However, no one worries about that. In fact, this day perfectly shows how Malaysia has held on to its history and culture while stepping into the modern world.  It’s this thousand of years old ancient Hindu ritual that takes place in a cave, on a mountain overlooking the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur’s financial district. And it’s this very fusion of cultures and ethnicities; religions and rituals, antiquity and modernity that best represent Malaysia.

~ By Teresa Murphy of Tess Travels. Murphy visited the Thaipsum Festival, a Hindu ritual that takes place every year in the Batu Caves outside of Kuala Lumpur.

Macedonia’s Galichnik Wedding Festival

The Galičnik Wedding Festival is an annual festival held in the Macedonian village of Galičnik, in which a selected couple gets married in the traditional “Galička” style wedding. Traditionally the wedding lasted for 5 days with the main activities on St. Peter‘s Day (12 July) every year. It was the only period of the year when couples got married. Today it is part of the festival “Galičko Leto” meaning Galičnik Summer. It is a two-day event held on the weekend nearest to July 12th. Tourists in Macedonia flock to Galičnik to witness this beautiful ceremony and take part in the festivities. Each year, couples from all over Macedonia enter a competition run by the organizers to be the couple that gets to have a Galicka style wedding.

The five day event comprises of the following program….

Inviting the dead relatives to the wedding:
The bridegroom, along with a group of his closest relatives, visits the graves of dead family members where he proceeds to invite the deceased to his wedding.

Inviting the ‘kum (literally: “godfather”, though the closest equivalent in English is “best man”): After returning from the cemetery, the bridegroom, his friends and closest relatives invite the best man to the wedding.

Shaving the bridegroom:
In front of the “Upija” fountain, one of the friends shaves the bridegroom; an act which makes the closest relatives rueful because the shaving is a symbol of the separation of the boy from his mother and father.

Off to the bride’s house to formally ask for her hand in marriage:
From the bridegroom’s house, an entourage of over 50 in-laws goes to the bride’s house. The entourage is led by a bajraktar (flag bearer) and his friends on horses. The horses walk slowly in front of the entourage. Before their arrival, one of the bridegroom’s friends goes to the bride’s house to ask for permission for the arrival of the in-laws. He then returns to re-join the procession.

Arrival of the marriage brokers:
After the arrival of the in-laws, the flag bearer hands over the flag which is hung by the window. Then one of the bridegroom’s friends leads his horse in front of the bride’s house where the bride looks at the bridegroom through her ring. The bridegroom kisses the hands of the bride’s parents and then they put a towel over his shoulder.

The bride welcoming the marriage brokers:
In front of the house the bridegroom’s closest relatives sit at a table. The bridegroom’s mother gives presents to the bride and then the bride kisses her hand. The bride gets dressed and ready to go.

The bride sets off with the in-laws:
A bridegroom’s friend informs the in-laws that the bride is ready and they all prepare to go. The bride mounts a horse. The procession is then led by the flag bearer.

Welcoming the bride:
The bridegroom’s mother welcomes the bride with a sieve, a cake, and a goblet full of wine. She circles around the bride three times tapping her on the head with the cake. Then she puts a bridle on her and on the bridegroom’s cap. The bridegroom helps the bride to dismount the horse. Then she walks into the house.

Macedonia’s Galichnik Wedding Festival

Marriage ceremony:
The bride, the bridegroom’s mother and father, the flag-bearer and the other relatives walk up to the church. The bridegroom’s mother carries a kettle and a basil bouquet. She spatters the young couple and other guests on the way from the house to the church. A carpet is laid in front of the church and a flag is hung to the right of the entrance.

Marriage banquet:
After the wedding ceremony there is a wedding banquet at the “Upija“. The best man resides at the head of the table and the bridegroom calls for a toast.

Taking the bride to “Upija” where she leads the brides dance:
The bridegroom’s father and the best man lead the entourage. The bride is taken to the fountain where she fills water jugs. After that, the bride leads the bride’s dance.

Farewell to the musicians:
When wedding ends, the closest relatives say goodbye to the musicians.

Read more about Macedonia.

Significance of Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth is a one-day festival celebrated by Hindu women in northern and western India. The day is especially auspicious for married women, who mark the event by fasting from sunrise to moonrise in order to pray for the well-being, prosperity and longevity of their husbands.

There are many stories in epic tales such as Mahabharat, story of Satyavan and Savitiri, Karwa and the queen Veervati, that tell how the festival originated and how it came to be celebrated only in certain part of Indian subcontinent. One theory is that Karva Chauth started as a festival to celebrate a special bond of friendship between the brides and their good-friends at their new in-law homes. A few days before the festival, married women would buy new karvas (spherical clay pots) and paint them on the outside with beautiful designs. Inside they would put bangles and ribbons, home-made candy and sweets, make-up items, and small clothes as gifts for their girlfriends. The women would then visit each other on the day of Karva Chauth and exchange these gift pots.

Another theory suggests, that since Karwa Chauth follows soon after the summer (Kharif) crop harvest in rural areas, it is a good time for community festivals and gift exchanges. The festival coincides with the time for sowing wheat crops. Karwas are big earthen pots in which wheat is stored so fasting by the woman may have originally started as a prayer for a good harvest in this predominantly wheat-eating region.

The fast begins at dawn. The women wake up early in the morning to eat fruits, sweets, bread and potatoes. After this, fasting women do not eat during the day, and some don’t drink any water either. Women receive gifts from their mothers and mother in laws. They dress up in fine traditional clothing, sometimes in their wedding attire. Wearing red, gold or orange sari or salwaar kameez signifies a bride. The women adorn their hands with mehndi (aka henna), their best jewlery, and spend the day socializing with friends and relatives.

Photo courtesy Tribune India
Photo courtesy Tribune India

In the evening, all the women from the household, and sometimes the neighborhood, get together for a prayer (puja), while the eldest woman tells stories about wives who were able to change the destiny of their husbands through great devotion and fasting. Thalis (plates) decorated with offerings such as candles, flowers, sweets, sindoor (red color powder) are passed around and the women bless each other.

Here’s a song that is hummed while passing the thali:

“Veero Kudiye Karwada,
Sarv Suhagan Karwada,
A Katti Na Ateri Naa,
Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Naa,
Gwand Pair payeen Naa,
Sui Che Dhaga Payeen Naa
Ruthda maniyen Naa,
Suthra Jagayeen Naa,
Bhain Pyari Veeran,
Chan Chade Te Pani Peena
Ve Veero Kuriye Karwara,
Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwara”

“Veero Kudiye Karwada,
Sarv Suhagan Karwada,
Aye Katti Naya Teri Nee,
Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Bhee,
Aar Pair payeen Bhee,
Ruthda maniyen Bhee,
Suthra Jagayeen Bhee,
Ve Veero Kuriye Karwara,
Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwara

At sunset, the husbands join their wives to complete the final ritual of the day. They gather outdoors awaiting the moon to make itself visible in the sky. When the moon rises, the women look at it through a fine-mesh sieve, and then look at their husbands  reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or through the cloth of a dupatta (stole). The women offer the water to the moon asking for blessing and her husband’s long life. Finally, the husband gives his wife her first sip of water and feeds her sweets to break her fast.

Photo courtesy BCCL
Photo courtesy BCCL

Karwa Chauth is still practiced by Hindu women all over the world.

Photo courtesy iloveindia.com
Photo courtesy iloveindia.com

~ By guest blogger Shweta Sharma. 

Canada Day Picnic in New York City

Saturday, June 29 will be an unforgettable day in New York’s Central Park – with a free celebration of Canada’s best entertainment, sport and food. For the first time, Canada Day International, the organizers behind the hugely successful Canada Day London present Canada Day New York, a day-long festival with Canadian music legends Spirit of the West and Joel Plaskett joining award-winning electro-rock sensation LIGHTS on the main stage at Rumsey Playfield.

Continue reading “Canada Day Picnic in New York City”

Arriving on Kuningan in Bali

I arrived in Bali during an auspictious time. The streets were decorated with bamboo poles and prayer offerings were everywhere. I saw processions of women carrying towers of food and flowers; groups of kids of all ages playing the gamelan; and processions  taking Barong (mystical beast) through the streets. In fact, every home and business had its “penjor” (similar to a Christmas tree), but outdoors and decorated with fruit, coconut leaves and flowers. Continue reading “Arriving on Kuningan in Bali”

Knoxville City Guide

Crista Cuccaro, a law student at the University of Tennessee put together this very handy and comprehensive guide for visitors to Knoxville, TN. She shared it with me after learning about my visit to the area. I hope it helps you in planning your trip as well. If you enjoy it, please Tweet to Crista @cmc_bumblebee and show your appreciation!

DINING

The Tomato Head. 12 Market Square

This is one of my favorite restaurants in town. They have creative sandwiches, pizzas, and burritos, all made with fresh and often locally sourced ingredients. This place gets very busy during weekday lunch and weekend evenings, but the food is worth the wait!

just ripe. 513 Union Ave.

This worker-owned co-op just recently opened and is close to Market Square. This shop offers delicious food to order and groceries. just ripe is flanked by Union Ave. Books, one of the few independently owned bookstores in Knoxville, and by Reruns, a swanky clothing consignment shop.

Old City Java. 109 S. Central Ave.

Also located in the Old City, this coffee shop serves Counter Culture coffee, which I absolutely LOVE, but I can’t justify buying whole bags of it on a student’s budget. They have free wi-fi and there’s always interesting art on the walls.

Bars

Knox Public House. 212 W. Magnolia Ave.

This is a new, hip bar located on the outskirts of downtown. I really love this bar because it’s non-smoking, it does not have a television, and it does not have live music. Although that might sound boring, it makes for a cozy atmosphere where you can have a conversation instead of shouting over music. They also have excellent housemade infused vodkas, such as ginger-cardamom and lavender.

The Bistro. 807 South Gay St.

Also a smoke-free bar, I love the low ceilings and dim light of this restaurant. They frequently have live jazz music in the evening. This old establishment is right next to the Bijou, one of Knoxville’s downtown historic theaters. We have seen lots of great acts at The Bijou, including The Avett Brothers, Abigail Washburn, and Sufjan Stevens.

Sassy Ann’s. 820 N. Fourth Ave.

This bar is in an old Victorian house in the Fourth and Gill neighborhood, about a mile north of downtown. To summarize the atmosphere, it feels like being in a ship. The bar is funky and the location of many dance parties.

Preservation Pub Rooftop. 28 Market Square

I don’t care much for the Preservation Pub bar downstairs—it’s smoky and loud, but the two upper floors are more enjoyable. They recently opened their rooftop bar, which is one of Knoxville’s only rooftop bars.

Groceries

Three Rivers Market. Currently at 937 N. Broadway, soon to open at 1100 N Central Street.

This is Tennessee’s only food cooperative. We buy most of groceries here. You don’t have to be a member to shop at it. They focus on supplying natural and organic foods from local farms. It’s like a Whole Foods or Earthfare, but independent and community-owned. They have one of the best herbs and spices sections I have ever seen.

Market Square Farmers’ Market.

Every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, from May to November, a growing and vibrant farmers’ market opens on Market Square. There are lots of vendors, selling produce, prepared foods, crafts, and plants. I really enjoy Cruze Farm, a vendor who owns a dairy farm in Knoxville—they sell fluffy buttermilk biscuits and homemade ice cream.

Downtown Wine and Spirits. 407 South Gay Street

 

If you’re looking for unusual and well-curated spirits, this is the place. This shop sells standard fare, such as vodka and wine, but they also sell harder to find whiskeys and liquors. Another note about liquor in TN—you cannot buy wine in the grocery store, which surprised me when I moved here from NC. In fact, you can’t buy anything at the liquor store besides liquor. They are not even allowed to sell corkscrews!

Museums and Art

First Friday Art Walk.

The name speaks for itself. On the first Friday of every month, the art galleries downtown and in the surrounding area open up to the public. You can usually catch some live music and free snacks along the way. Most of my favorite art galleries are on the 100 Block of Gay Street, which is the side furthest from the Tennessee River.

Knoxville Museum of Art. 1050 World’s Fair Park

The museum is modest in size, but they have acquired grants so that admission is usually free. Recently, the Museum has acquired some phenomenal art exhibits, including Ai Weiwei, an activist who had been imprisoned by the Chinese government until recently.  Check their website for current exhibits.

Yee-Haw Industries. 413 S. Gay Street

 

The UT Art Department has a well-known printmaking program and Yee-Haw is a group of our local printmakers. They sell some great art at their store. If you catch the owner Kevin Bradley on a good day, you might even get a personal tour.  When you go, look up at the ceiling, or else you will miss some neat prints.

East Tennessee History Museum. 601 South Gay Street

This Museum opened a few years ago and chronicles the history of East Tennessee. It’s a large space and particularly interesting if you like Southern history. Plus, it’s free on Sundays!

Sunsphere. It’s that big shiny globe.

Have you gone up into this thing? There is an observation deck, from which you can see the entire city and get a great view of the mountains. There used to be bar up in the ‘Sphere, but it closed. Rumor has it that there is another bar opening soon.

Entertainment

WDVX Blue Plate Special. 301 South Gay Street

This is a free, live music concert that is hosted EVERY weekday at the Knoxville Visitors’ Center on the corner of Gay St. and Summit Hill Ave. The bands are usually bluegrass, so you can get a good dose of Appalachia.

Central St. Books. 842 N. Central Street

Another one of Knoxville’s independently owned bookstores, this shop has more used books than Union Ave. Books. The owner has a great collection of books and the store is in an up and coming area of Knoxville, next to a bakery and a yoga studio.

Magpies. 846 N. Central Street

Do you like cupcakes? Everyone loves cupcakes and I especially love these cupcakes. Magpies is located right next to Central St. Books. Their motto is “all butter, all the time.” Mmm.

Smokies Baseball. 3540 Line Drive in Kodak

 

This is the AA farm team of the Chicago Cubs. The trek to Kodak is about 25 minutes from downtown Knoxville. The stadium is small, but they serve ice cream in miniature baseball helmets. What’s better than that!? If you go, I speak from personal experience when I say that the iPhone’s GPS maps the route incorrectly.

Knoxville Ice Bears. 500 Howard Baker Jr Ave.

 

The first game of the season is in October. The Bears’ ice hockey games are at the Civic Coliseum, which is just on the other side of downtown.

Downtown West Regal 8 Cinema. 1640 Down Town West Blvd.

 

This theatre is located in West Knoxville and shows the art and independent films that come through Knoxville. They also serve beer!

Morelock Music. 411 S. Gay Street

Matt Morelock used to work for WDVX and left to open up this music store in downtown Knoxville. At his shop, Morelock sells instruments such as banjos and  guitars—I even saw a cajón for sale recently. The shop offers instructional lessons and often has live music on weekend nights.

Nostalgia. 5214 Homberg Drive

 

Although my fiancée may disagree that antique shopping is a form of entertainment, this store has been continuously voted as Knoxville’s best antique store and I agree! It’s a big space with lots of booths. I usually find something I can’t live without. Also nearby: Loopville (Knoxville’s best yarn/knitting shop), Jerry’s Art-a-Rama (art supplies), Goodwill (my favorite thrift shop in town), and Nama (pricey, but tasty sushi)

Outdoor Fun

UT Gardens. This is a small garden on Neyland Drive, but they have a lot packed into it. You might want to visit on a cloudy day, since there’s not a lot of shade. If you enjoy trees and the like, you may also want to check out the Knoxville Botanical Gardens, located in East Knoxville.

Ijams Nature Center. 2915 Island Home Avenue

Ijams Nature Center is a 275-acre wildlife sanctuary and environmental learning center in South Knoxville. The Center is split into two parts—one side runs along the river and the other follows trails along an old quarry. We usually go running along the greenways here. Ijams has recently started renting canoes and kayaks for use in the quarry.

Greenways.

 

There are over 40 miles of greenways in Knoxville, throughout the city. The trails are well maintained and well trafficked. You can check online for the greenway closest to you.

River Sports Outfitters. 2918 Sutherland Avenue

There are several outdoors stores in Knoxville, but I like this one the best. They have a huge amount of gear and staff that really seem to use the gear. Plus, they have a climbing wall as part of their Sutherland Ave. location.

Festivals

International Biscuit Festival (late May)

Bacon Fest (September 16-17, 2011)

Rossini Festival (Early April)

Boomsday (Labor Day—one of the biggest fireworks shows in the South)

Kuumba Fest (June—celebrating Knoxville’s African American artists)

Hola Festival (Sept. 24, 2011—the festival is part of Hispanic Heritage Month)

Big Ears Festival (2012 date TBA—a diverse music festival in downtown Knoxville, organized by AC Entertainment, which also helped form Bonnaroo)

Photo credits Sucheta Rawal

 

Dogwood Arts Festival

Last weekend, downtown Knoxville transformed into a lively street fair with one of a kind arts and crafts booths, demonstrations, entertainment, and food.  As part of the Dogwood Arts Festival, the entire month of April was being celebrated with parades, bike tours, block parties, art exhibits, live bands, cooking demonstrations and more.

I was lucky enough to catch the Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival during the month of Dogwoods, where well known country, blues, jazz, rock, bluegrass and folk musicians played at different venues across town. The lineup included locally and nationally-renowned musicians such as Amos Lee, Citizen Cope, Darrell Scott, The Black Lilllies, Jessica Lea Mayfield, The Boxer Rebellion, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and Jake Shimabukuro. One of the most splendid venues was the Tennessee Theater, a historic opera style performing arts theater that stands as a landmark in downtown Knoxville.

While walking through the market square, sidewalks became the canvas for professional and student artists during this street painting festival.  Street painting is thought to have originated in 16th century Italy.  Artists in each age group showcased their work to passers by and the ones with the most votes won awards and scholarships at the end of the festival.  From everyday cartoons to intricate paintings, there were all kinds of colorful vibrant images one could admirably walk through and the street painters seemed very confident and talented in their work.

For more than half a century, the Dogwood Arts Festival has celebrated the natural and cultural beauty of East Tennessee. Dogwood Arts Festival is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, presented by ORNL Federal Credit Union, whose mission is to help support arts education in schools, promote the visual and performing arts, and to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the region.

Open air ice museum

The snow capital of the world, Quebec City hosts the annual Quebec Winter Carnival from Jan-Feb. During those three weeks, the festival grounds turn into a giant open air ice museum with an ice castle surrounded by ice sculptures created by artists who come from around the world.

In 1973, the International Snow Sculpture Competition of Québec officially opened and four teams participated. It is the oldest snow sculpture competition and one of the most prestigious. Every year, sculptors from the four corners of the earth meet the challenge to create a work of art with this ephemeral and fragile medium under extraordinary conditions.

The competition is judged in three categories: Student Artist CategoryQuebec and Canadian Categories and International Category.

While judges award the winner in each of the categories, visitors can walk through these giant marvelous structures carved entirely of snow and ice. The sculpture are at least 5-6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, some even larger. It is incredible how these artists work outdoors in negative temperatures to create a unique piece of art that eventually melts away.

Stay at an ice hotel when visiting Quebec