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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cheers to 2014; Icewine toasts, skating, the zoo and Go Habs

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 28/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Raise a toast to the New Year with an icy sip in Niagara, celebrate on ice or talk to the animals in Toronto and shout “Go Habs, go” in Montreal.
Fireworks will mark the arrival of 2014 at Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto City Hall
   Cheers, eh!
   Here’s a cool way to toast the New Year in style with the “hottest” ticket in Niagara.
   The 19th annual Niagara Icewine Festival pays homage to the nectar of the frozen grapes with its gala event on Jan. 10 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Fallsview Casino Resort’s Grand Hall in Niagara Falls.
An outdoor bar, carved out of ice, is a popular spot at the Niagara Icewine Festival.
   It will transform the room into “an evening of luxury and opulence,” said Kimberly Hundertmark, executive director of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
   The 2014 Xerox Icewine Gala is themed “A Bacchus Evening of Icewine and Revelry.”
   It will provide guests with “Canada’s largest showcase of VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) icewines and table wines, and culinary creations that are as delicious as they are beautiful,” she added.
   There will be 40 wineries showcasing 150 icewines and table wines for sampling while the casino resort’s chefs will prepare five “unique culinary stations to tantalize the palate.”
   As well, there will be artisanal cheese to savour from the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Live entertainment and a silent auction cap off the festivities. Tickets cost $185.
   The festival’s popular Discovery Pass program provides an opportunity to enjoy eight wine-and-culinary pairings from 40 experiences available along the Wine Route.
These Vidal grapes, picked when they are frozen on the vine, are destined to become icewine at Inniskillin Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
   The pass costing $40 can be used Fridays through Sundays for three weekends starting Jan. 10.
   There’s a Discover Pass ($30) for designated drivers, with the wineries offering food and non-alcoholic drinks.
   The festival also features Deborah Levy from the Dairy Farmers at six Niagara wine and artisanal cheese seminars ($20).
   Winterfest in the Square will be held on Jan. 24 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Market Square in St. Catharines.
   It will feature VQA wines, including icewine, from across Niagara Region, “culinary delights” from local restaurants and food trucks, and live musical entertainment.
   For a listing of festival events: niagaraicewinefestival.com; (905) 688-0212

   Party like 2013
   Celebrate New Year’s arrival with a couple of famous giant pandas at the Toronto Zoo.
   Er Shun and Da Mao are marking their first New Year’s Eve in Canada, said publicist Lesley Dean.
Er Shun and Da Mao are two giant pandas from China that will entertain crowds on New Year’s Eve at the Toronto Zoo.
   “The polar bears were always bragging about how much fun New Year’s is at the zoo and in Canada, so Er Shun and Da Mao wanted in on the fun in true zoo fashion,” she added.
   The zoo holds its annual outdoor New Year’s Eve Family Countdown from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
   Entertainment includes the Decades and Majinx magic show and an encounter with “some special wild animal visitors.”
   Tickets are $20, adults and seniors; $12, ages three to 12; and free for two and younger. Parking is free. The zoo is at 361A Old Finch Ave. http://torontozoo.com; (416) 392-5929
   Then, join the crowds welcoming 2014 at Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto City Hall (100 Queen St. W.).
   The 28th annual free New Year’s Bash features Canadian musical entertainment and fireworks at midnight.
   Visitors can also skate on the large ice rink at the square throughout the winter as well as at the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre that also offers daytime skating lessons and music-filled nights. Details: SeeTorontoNow.com; 1-800-499-2514; harbourfrontcentre.com

   Go Habs, go
   Hockey fans can score with a great winter package at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal on Rene Levesque Boulevard. 
   The downtown hotel, adjacent to the Bell Centre, has the Hockey Exclusive package available for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday home games through the end of the season.
Le Centre Sheraton in downtown Montreal has packages for hockey fans. (Jim Fox photo)
   Fans can stay like VIPs with two red section tickets for a Montreal Canadiens’ game, luxurious accommodation in a vice-presidential suite at the hotel, special access to the 37th floor Sheraton Club for breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres, and a special welcome amenity.
   The package is available from $799 per suite for stays through April 12 when booked by Jan. 17.
   There is also a Hockey Night special for hotel stays before and after home games from $145 per room, single or double occupancy. sheratoncentremontreal.com/deals; 1-866-716-8101


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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