Screaming through Springtime

Screaming through Springtime

Snow is melting. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. And roller coasters are racing. Spring is the perfect season to take a trip with family or friends to a theme park. If you’re not sure which park to choose, or even which parks are near you, take a look at some of the best lesser-known theme parks across the country. Silverwood, Idaho Many people don’t know about Silverwood, an inexpensive park located in northern Idaho, but it is perfect for those in the area who don’t want to travel far for a fun day in the sun. The park typically opens in May and holds various celebrations for Silverwood’s anniversary, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. Silverwood has four roller coasters as well as various other rides and attractions for all ages. The amusement park also contains a water park called Boulder Beach, which includes rides and activities everyone can enjoy. Splash down Avalanche Mountain in a raft or take a swim in Boulder Beach Bay to cool off on a warm spring day. Knott’s Berry Farm, California Instead of your typical trip to Disneyland, make a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm, located in Buena Park, California. The park features 10 roller coasters, with the largest being the GhostRider, one of the tallest and longest wooden roller coasters in the world. The park also contains various children’s rides, thrill rides, water rides, games, and live entertainment. If you visit the park in the spring, you can experience Knott’s Berry Bloom, a spring celebration that features fun activities, delicious food, and a Spring Fling Dance Party. Don’t miss out on this...

Chinese New Year Celebrations around the World: Painting the Town Red

Chinese New Year, a holiday steeped in folklore and tradition, originated from an ancient Chinese legend. As the story goes, the beginning of each New Year brought the Nian, a terrible beast that preyed on livestock and villagers alike. After much suffering, the villagers discovered that the Nian feared loud noises and the color red, so on the first day of the New Year, they lit firecrackers and red lanterns, and hung red paper throughout their village. From that day on, the Nian never plagued the villagers again. To this day, red lanterns line the streets of China and fireworks light the night sky every New Year as people celebrate the triumph over the terrible Nian. Friends and family greet each other with traditional adages, such as “Kung hei fat choy,” which literally means, “Congratulations, make money” or “May you always be prosperous.” These celebratory conventions, however, have been supplemented with newer, unique traditions as people around the world put their own twist on Chinese New Year. Gung Haggis Fat Choy Vancouver, British Columbia As the Chinese are gathering around the dinner table to celebrate the New Year, the Scots are celebrating the birth of the heralded Scottish poet Robert Burns with a traditional Scottish supper.  These two distinctive cultures blend together in Vancouver, giving birth to this city’s own unique holiday: Gung Haggis Fat Choy. Instigated by Chinese-Canadian Todd Wong (known by his friends as Toddish McWong), this immensely popular event includes the customary Scottish feast and show with a Chinese twist: haggis spring rolls and kilted lion dancers are distinguishing features at this event. Ms. Chinatown Pageant...
Harvest Festivals: For the Love of Fruit

Harvest Festivals: For the Love of Fruit

The crunch of leaves underfoot and the smell of a fresh pie in the oven can mean only one thing: autumn is here! Take a look at some of the fun fall festivals happening this season across the United States.   Huckleberry Festival The Annual Huckleberry Festival in Bingen, Washington, marks the beginning of September in this Pacific Northwest town. Bingen is a small town known for its accessibility to many outdoor activities such as skiing, windsurfing, mountain biking, fishing, hunting. Visitors will find jams, jellies, and pies featuring fresh huckleberries. Bands and other entertainers put on live shows, and activities for families with small children are also available. The Saturday morning parade features local floats made by the festival sponsors. The Huckleberry Festival also offers opportunities to participate in a variety of weekend-long service projects benefitting local charities. www.huckle-berryfest.com   Mandarin Festival The California Mandarin can be traced back to Europe, where they have grown since the time of the Greeks and Romans. Auburn, California, is home to a three-day festival celebrating mandarin oranges and other locally grown citrus. Each year, over 25,000 people head to northern California to stock up on mandarins and sample an impressive variety of foods featuring mandarins. The festival also features the Mandarin Recipe Contest, which is open to all visitors. The festival is held the weekend before Thanksgiving (November 21–23, 2014). www.mandarinfestival.com   Tontitown Grape Festival Held mid-August in Tontitown, Arkansas, the Grape Festival celebrates the prominence and history of the grape in this community. Tontitown was settled by Italian immigrants, who initially grew apples as their main crop. Eventually, the apple...
Celebrate Independence Around the World

Celebrate Independence Around the World

Every July 4, the United States celebrates its independence with barbecues, fireworks, games, and parades. Here’s a look at other independence days around the world. Jamaica August 6 Jamaica’s independence day is celebrated to commemorate historic battles and fallen heroes. And it also celebrates family, friends, and the natural beauties and bounties of the island. Locals celebrate this day by wearing black, green, and yellow (the colors of the Jamaican flag) and by enjoying parades, traditional dances, and Jamaican cuisine. Some Jamaicans choose to spend an entire week partying, while others choose to spend the time off relaxing with family. jis.gov.jm/ja50/v2 Mexico September 16 Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain by commemorating the beginning rather than the end of its 11-year war with Spain (1810–1821). The night before Mexican Independence Day, the president of Mexico leads El Grito, a shout based on El Grito de Dolores, which began Mexico’s War of Independence. The president shouts lines referring to famous patriots and cities of Mexico, and the crowd answers by yelling “¡Viva!” after each line. This event is televised in cities throughout the country. The following day there are parades, patriotic programs, concerts, and family gatherings with traditional foods. latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/independenceinmexico/ Brazil September 7 This day commemorates Brazil’s official declaration of independence from Portugal after more than 300 years of Portuguese rule (ending in 1808). The biggest event of Brazil’s independence day is hosted in Brasilia by the president with a presentation of fireworks and a large military parade for an audience of around 30,000 people. Cities and towns throughout Brazil have their own parades, fireworks, popcorn carts, and general joviality....

Birds of a Feather: Bird Festivals in the United States

“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” —Henry David Thoreau Although having a bird casually flop onto your shoulder might not seem like a very common scenario, an experience like Thoreau’s may not be too far from the norm at one of the many bird festivals happening across the United States this spring. Every year, thousands of bird watchers—veterans and rookies alike—gather at various sites to watch as hundreds of bird species migrate and settle for the spring. Some events offer workshops on the basics of bird-watching, like what tools to bring and how to avoid scaring birds away. Others offer bird-watching field trips geared toward areas of interest such as scientific research, photography, artwork, and travel. Whether you’re interested in wildlife preservation or in having a live subject for your artwork, there’s a bird festival just right for you. Katie Laulusa Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Kenai Birding Festival May 15–18, 2014 With famous birds like the albatross, horned puffin, and black-capped chickadee, Kenai Peninsula provides an awe-inspiring experience for bird enthusiasts at all levels of experience. All of the birding field trips are within a short distance of each other, so visitors can see a large variety of habitats and species in a single day. kenaibirdfest.com Leavenworth, Washington: Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest May 15–18, 2014 The Leavenworth festival is the perfect destination for young families and bird-watching novices. It kicks off with a musical...
The Bard Abroad: Shakespearean Globe-trotting

The Bard Abroad: Shakespearean Globe-trotting

The works of William Shakespeare, the master storyteller, are popular in many languages and countries. Whether the play is in English or in German, whether it is shown under the open summer sky of an amphitheater or within an indoor arena, no theater-goer’s experience is complete without seeing a work of William Shakespeare performed live on a stage. Take a look at a few of the many promising options that are shaking up the world of live theater around the globe. —Bryce Peterson Ashland, Oregon, United States Established in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) is the largest and one of the oldest Shakespeare festivals in the United States. The OSF season usually runs from February to November, which is the longest season of any Shakespeare festival, and typically includes 11 productions. Like most festivals, OSF often includes contemporary plays, non-Shakespearean classics, and even musicals. osfashland.org Stratford, Ontario, Canada The Stratford Festival is probably the most well-known and largest classical repertory theater in North America. Equipped with four theaters ranging in size from 260 seats to 1,826, Stratford Festival puts on about twice as many plays as most other festivals—12 every season (from May through October). There are also many activities hosted by the festival to keep you occupied between performances, such as classes, for various ages and experience levels, on Shakespearean texts and on performance. stratfordfestival.ca Neuss, Germany Near the west bank of the Rhine River in central Germany, the ancient city of Neuss houses the Shakespeare Festival in the Neuss Globe. This theater is a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe, a popular style for many theaters at Shakespeare...