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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Calling all lovers -- Love is in the air and at fancy retreats for Valentine's Day/Weekend

   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 9/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Calling all lovers, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so why not make it a memorable one?
   As love is in the air, innkeepers and hoteliers are stoking the fires for romantic escapes to a charming inn, boutique hotel or spa for Valentine’s.
Skaters share a kiss on the Rideau Canal Skateway during Winterlude in Ottawa.
    With the big day falling on a Thursday, many will hold their desires until the weekend.
   Enjoy a romantic tea for two at Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel overlooking the Parliament Buildings.
   Zoe’s, the “beautifully revitalized lounge,” offers signature cocktails, light bites and maybe add a glass of Champagne to mark the occasion, said Deneen Perrin, director of public relations.
   Afternoon Tea finds freshly baked scones, homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream with a choice of tea prepared tableside.
    While outside, lovers can take in Winterlude on Valentine’s weekend and skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Discussing the selections with Afternoon Tea master Alexandre at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Come in from the cold with special menus offered at the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Wildrids. fairmont.com/laurier

Monday, February 4, 2019

Ripley's strange and bizarre attractions entertain for a century

   One-Tank Trip for February 2-19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Believe it or not, Ripley’s is 100-years-old and is still true to its founder’s notion that “truth is stranger than fiction.”
   The Ripley entertainment empire, highlighted by its “Odditoriums” including one in Niagara Falls, is now one of Vancouver’s entrepreneur Jim Pattison’s companies.
   Experience the strange and bizarre at the Ripley’s Niagara Falls Odditorium.
   Built from a small daily newspaper cartoon drawn by Robert Ripley started in 1918, there are now 30 facilities in 10 countries.
   Ripley was famous for his world travels and regaling his readers with tales of far-flung places,” said publicist Suzanne Smagala-Potts.
   Called an avid artist, great athlete and flamboyant character, he travelled the world collecting artifacts and writing stories about his weird and unusual findings.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

It's time for Winterlicious, the gastronomic spectacle in Toronto, and beer, glorious beer!

   One-Tank Trip for January 26-19
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Winter can be a delicious time of the year and who says beer isn’t just for breakfast or summertime anymore?
   Toronto civic leaders are encouraging locals and visitors to “warm up this winter by savouring new experiences and flavours at Winterlicious.”
   This annual gastronomic spectacle is on now through Feb. 7 to enjoy savory specialties at prices that will please at about 200 restaurants across Toronto.
The iconic St. Lawrence Market offers a history tasting dinner and food tour. (Jim Fox photo)
    And beer, glorious beer steps up for Brewfest in Ottawa next month and Toronto in March.
   Don’t cry in your beer as another outdoor event, Winter Craft Beer Fest that’s pretty well sold out is on today (Jan. 26) at Steam Whistle Brewing in Roundhouse Park in Toronto. craftbeerfest.ca
   The 17th annual Winterlicious is a time to “enjoy some of the city’s best restaurants,” said Mayor John Tory.
   “This event spotlights our local restaurant industry while offering diners diverse and delicious menu options,” he added.
   Here’s a chance to try those special places offering exotic dishes with three-course prix fixe lunch menus priced at $23, $28 and $33, and dinner at $33, $43 and $53.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Come in from the cold to the Toronto International Boat show; Chill out with Disney On Ice

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 12/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Here’s how to put a little summer in your winter without leaving the country.
   Head to the Toronto International Boat Show that’s North America’s largest indoor show complete with its own lake.
   Now marking its 61st year, the show runs from Jan. 18 to 27 at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place (100 Princes Blvd.).
   It’s a boater’s wonderland with a fleet of 1,200 boats, ranging in size from six feet to 60 feet, and all the latest in marine accessories from 550 vendors.
Visitors to the boat show have fun on “The Lake.”
    “This celebrates Canada’s boat heritage and showcases the future of recreational boating with 250 free seminars and workshops over 10 days,” said publicist Tran Nguyen.
   New highlights are the Toronto Indoor Wakeboard Championships, fly fishing instruction, remote-controlled sailboats and the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-146 Griffon Search and Rescue Helicopter.
   There is also Women’s Day on Jan. 20 to gain “hands-on learning” of skills and all about boat ownership.
   Figures indicate there’s a lot of interest with 43 per cent of Canadians participating in boating and 20 percent owning a boat.
Boats of all sizes prepare to pass through the Trent-Severn Canal locks at Lindsay. (Jim Fox photo)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bottoms up: A toast to icewine -- the frozen nectar of the vines - in Niagara

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 5/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Clink, clink! They’re having a real cool celebration in Niagara Wine Country.
   It’s time again to celebrate the frozen nectar of the vines – icewine – with a three-weekend festival.
   This dessert wine, discovered quite by accident, is renowned for its intense flavours, rich bouquet and smoothness.
   It’s something that’s cherished along with maple syrup as a Canadian iconic product around the world.
   With the latest harvest of frozen grapes on the vine being one of the earliest in history, anticipation is growing for the festival weekends from Jan. 11 to 27.
A toast is offered to the latest vintage of icewine in Niagara.
    The story goes that icewine wasn’t originally a Canadian product but “eiswein” created in Germany in the 1700s resulted after an early frost froze the grapes on the vine.
   Peasant farmers felt they had no choice but to press the grapes anyway, not wanting to lose the harvest and discovered a super sweet and pleasing wine.
   Our icewine is produced from grapes left after the fall harvest once the temperature dips to -8C or lower.
Vidal grapes freeze on the vine. (Jim Fox)
   Then the frozen grapes are handpicked and pressed immediately to carefully release a thick, rich yellow-gold liquid, highly concentrated in natural sugars and acidity.
   Of all the wine-producing regions in the world, only Ontario has a winter climate sufficiently cold to ensure an icewine crop in most years, with some 60 wineries now involved.
   Icewine is quite pricy as fruit left on the vine is vulnerable to rot, ravaging winds, hail, hungry birds and animals as well as being labour-intensive and producing small yields.
   That wasn’t as much an issue this year, as the temperature dipped to icewine-picking levels on Nov. 22, instead of pickers often out in force around New Year’s Eve in the past.

   Sip and savour
   Things heat up as the festival kicks off on Jan. 11 with the opulent Northern Lights Icewine Gala at Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls.
   “The Grand Hall will be transformed into a Canadian landscape using masterfully crafted ice sculptures, colourful lighting displays and extraordinary installations,” said Dorian Anderson, executive director of the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Lighting up winter nights a bright idea across Canada

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 29/18
  (c) By Jim Fox

   Holiday lights are still burning brightly into the New Year across the land.
   A unifying illumination spectacle happening into January is the 34th edition of Christmas Lights across Canada.
   The Heritage Canada event includes the Magical Winter Lightscapes’ multimedia show projected on the Parliament buildings.
Sound and Light show dazzles Canada’s Parliament buildings. (Ottawa Tourism - Photo by James-Peltzer)
    On New Year’s Eve, the multimedia show ran until 11:59 p.m. followed by a pyrotechnics display that welcomed 2019.
   Ottawa was the first to highlight landmarks along Confederation Boulevard and to brighten the capital during the winter months.
   Now, the lights program stretches across Canada in each of the capital cities with “hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights.”
   In Toronto, the Ontario Legislature building at Queen's Park is aglow with 20,000 lights illuminating the city. canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/christmas-lights.html

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy New(s) Year! The countdown is on to bring in 2019

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 22/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Bidding adieu to 2018 will be that much more festive if you do it in good company – with perhaps hundreds or thousands of your closest friends.
   Across the land, many cities and towns, both large and small will celebrate an end to 2018 and welcome for 2019 with open-air concerts and street parties.
   New Year’s Eve bashes, family focused public celebrations, a cocktail cruise, dinners and a Brazilian carnival on Dec. 31 make Ontario sparkle.
Two fireworks displays light up the night sky in Niagara Falls to mark the arrival of 2019.
    One of the most happening places is the entire tourism district of Niagara Falls, billed as “Canada’s largest New Year’s Eve bash.”
   Crowds fill Queen Victoria Park overlooking the illuminated Horseshoe and American falls.
   The party kicks off at 8 p.m., attracting about 50,000 people, for the free outdoor event.
   It’s also one of the country’s longest-running celebrations that features entertainment and two explosive fireworks shows launched from the Niagara Gorge and Skylon Tower.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Ho, ho, ho, Santa's soon got to go!

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 15/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Santa and Mrs. Claus are about to wind up their 2018 tour that continues to draw huge crowds across the land.
   Like the “rock stars” they are, the dynamic duo will still be making a few appearances before the real work begins in advance of Dec. 25.
   But, there’s still time for kids to get their last-minute requests to Santa in person.
Come on, tell Santa what you want for Christmas at the Ingersoll village. (Photo by Andrea Roulston)
    Santa has had fun riding the rails, visiting with his fans and appearing in hundreds of parades in every city and town.
   In fact, the veteran of parades still has three left this weekend in Ontario: Burgessville, St. George and Woodville, all night-time spectacles tonight (Dec. 15).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The holidays shine brightly at Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario

Find your Christmas spirit at the third annual Gift of Lights
KITCHENER, Ont. — An even brighter version of a holiday tradition awaits at Bingemans this season.
For the third year, the Instagram-worthy Gift of Lights will delight visitors with a stunning two-kilometre drive through a beautifully lit and decorated campground. New this year, though, is the addition of a second tunnel of lights.           
“The light tunnel has been incredibly well received over the first two years we have showcased Gift of Lights,” says Mark Bingeman, President of Bingemans.
“We wanted to give our guests something even more special this season, so we’ve added the static tunnel from our first year and the animated tunnel from last year."
The 200-foot tunnel lends itself well to stunning photos, as do the rest of the light displays featured throughout the drive. Bingemans has gone above and beyond and have added even more lights to delight guests this season.

Downtown Detroit market vendors are busy for the holiday season

(Media Advisory)

Downtown Detroit Market vendors are busy during this winter season. Local entrepreneurs have the opportunity to test market their business concepts before investing in long term brick-and-mortar spaces in the heart of the city.

 Bedrock and the Quicken Loans Community Fund have created the Downtown Detroit Markets and surrounding activations as part of their ongoing commitment to drive entrepreneurship and increase diverse retail, food, beverage and art focused offerings within the city.

The Cadillac Square Lodge is a family-friendly pop-up space filled with games, cozy d├ęcor and ski-lodge themed amenities. This restaurant will be created in partnership with Parc’s team and the food and drink menu will be crafted by Executive Chef Jordan Hoffman.

New this season, Chef Toni Sova will be popping up Nostimo Kitchen in a large greenhouse in Cadillac Square. This location of Nostimo Kitchen will serve as Detroit’s Pantry while featuring a wide array of Michigan-made food goods, cook books and specialty olive oils all hand selected by Toni.

Capitol Park will be home to The Capitol Inn serving gourmet bar snacks, festive cocktails as well as Munich-inspired beer and wine. In partnership with Prime + Proper and Townhouse’s Jeremy Sasson, this pop-up will host rotating live musicians in a comfortable, chic atmosphere.

These activations are created by Bedrock and the Quicken Loans Community Fund, designed by Groundswell Design Group and made possible with the support of the Downtown Detroit Partnership

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Hit the festive holiday trails for holly, jolly fun

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 8/18

    (c) By Jim Fox

   Hit the trails for some holly, jolly fun this month.
   Several offerings are the Blumination Dream Trail at Blue Mountain Village, Waterloo Region’s Mistletoe Trail and Stratford’s Christmas Trail.
   Blue Mountain’s event runs from now through Jan. 6 every night from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
   It’s described as a one-kilometre “magical, illuminated winter stroll through the village, around the Mill Pond and straight through your imagination.”
Horse and wagon rides around Blue Mountain Village on the Blumination Dream Trail. (Blue Mountain)
   The highlights are “interactive and entrancing light installations” called Blue Mountain “through the looking glass, a snow globe with you in it.”
   This free mega-watt winter experience ends in the Events Plaza, with “incredible light shows” daily at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Disney On Ice celebrates 100 years of Magic at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

(News Release)

New Venue, New Dates: Tickets On Sale for Toronto Shows

TORONTO, ON -- The celebration of the century comes alive in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic. This monumental ice skating spectacular is coming to a new venue with new dates: Scotiabank Arena in Toronto from January 25-28, 2019 for 9 performances. Tickets are on sale now.

Mickey Mouse leads the parade
Audiences will be a part of the magic of Disney as Mouse-ter of Ceremonies Mickey Mouse leads a parade of more than 50 beloved characters starring Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and featuring an ensemble of Disney Princesses including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel, Snow White and Tiana.