Events + Festivals
With the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa just around the corner, U.S. media and fans will have a flare-up in interest in world sports. Our minds open to the fact that sports aren’t just strenuous things done around leather balls and across finish lines, but also with paddles, on blades, in water, and on trampolines. Our brains reset from caring about athletes with names like LeBron and Brett, and we start to root for people named Oksana and Usain.
Growing up in Marietta, Georgia, I had only one option for ice-skating: a spiritless indoor rink, where everyone in the entire state seems to come at the same time. It was practically an ice box packed with jostling skaters, some visibly sick from too much ice cream cake (the only snack offered other than pizza), and the music director assumed we would truly enjoy top 40 jams like MC Hammer's Pray in constant rotation.
Fortunately families now have alternate options.
Recently the St. Regis Atlanta (opened April 2009) started a new tradition—transforming its outdoor Grand Terrace into a festive ice skating rink.
As a kid, I always looked forward to celebrating St. Nicholas’s Day in early December, when one of the older men at my church would dress up as St. Nicholas in traditional bishop’s robes and pass out delicious gingerbread cookies the size of my head.
Czechs also celebrate St. Nicholas’s Day (Mikuláš in Czech), but they do it with a sinister twist.
The sister exhibition to Switzerland’s important contemporary art fair, Art Basel, begins today in Miami Beach. Buzzy Art Basel Miami Beach is back for its eighth year, with a new, 20-percent larger exhibition space featuring bigger booths and additional restaurants and lounges. Also new this year is the Oceanfront area at Collins Park—populated by a collection of Pae White-designed neon huts, the sandy space is set aside for film and video programming as well as a variety of art performances and talks.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and the country’s most significant cultural complex is getting a makeover. In February, the center unveiled the thoroughly renovated Alice Tully Hall, one of the city’s premier spaces for chamber music. Next month's opening of the Atrium at Lincoln Center offers a first: a visitor center with a box office at which it will be possible to purchase same-day tickets, some at 50 percent discount, to performances presented by Lincoln Center and its resident companies (think TKTS for Lincoln Center, but better—the attractive indoor space has a ‘wichcraft café, free Wi-Fi, and an info desk, among other amenities).
Full disclosure: I used to be a Radio City Rockette. And even though I retired a decade ago, this time of year always brings back memories of the start up of rehearsals and the build of excitement as kicking season approaches. I still like to check in on the ladies, just seven blocks up from our offices, and each year I am amazed that I was ever a part of that giant, glittery, moving entity that I always think of as a hyper-size, surreal, living version of a Hammacher Schlemmer music box.
Never has a pop icon been so happy to turn 35. Last week on November 1, 2009, the beloved cat turned the big 3-5 (that’s 137 in human years).
To celebrate the Japanese import, Royal/T in L.A.'s Culver City is hosting a free Hello Kitty event entitled Three Apples—a nod to H.K.’s weight, as listed on her official bio—bringing together over 30 artists inspired by the flirtatious feline. A portion of the art’s proceeds will help fund community service projects in Los Angeles.
Our Berlin bike tour guide, George Wanjala (above), a Kenyan with a degree from Cornell, did not mince any words when he showed me and a pal around remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, on a 10-mile tour of a city once divided.
“We’d be dead if we were caught here before 1989,” said Wanjala, as we stood in Mauer Park (Wall Park), where today graffiti artists are free to paint a remaining strip of wall and karaoke contests are held nearby in what was once a “death strip.”
How times have changed.
Last night at the Paris Theater in New York City, Travel + Leisure’s editor-in-chief, Nancy Novogrod, introduced director Jason Reitman and his new movie, Up in the Air, starring George Clooney. The creator of some of the smartest films in recent years—Juno (2007) and Thank You for Smoking (2005)—gave special thanks to his father seated in the audience, Hollywood film producer-director Ivan Reitman, before the lights went down.
Based on the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn, one of the T+L’s contributing editors, Up in the Air is a film for travelers—and for the times. George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, an Omaha-based axe-man for hire who spends 322+ days a year on the road doing the bidding of distressed companies, racking up frequent flier miles, and relishing his untethered life. “Make no mistake, moving is living,” he atones.
If you happen to be in Aspen, Whistler, or Mammoth Lakes this winter, you may notice some well-dressed skiers around. For a week during the season in each of these ski towns, thousands of gay (and gay-friendly) skiers will converge for camaraderie, fabulous après-ski, and even the occasional drag show on the slopes (you know who you are, Aspen). It’s a little early to be thinking about skiing, but interested parties should book now—space goes faster than front-row Cher tickets.
Aspen Gay Ski Week
For 33 years, gays and lesbians have been heading to Aspen for this event. Highlights: an opening party, complete with a fashion show, a film series, comedy night, drag show on the slopes. Oh, and world-class skiing and snowboarding. January 17-24, 2010
Winter Pride in Whistler, British Columbia
Come here for the Winter Olympics, stay for the gays. The 18-year-old event immediately follows the Olympics and attracts almost 3,000 visitors every year. Guests have access to free ski and snowboarding guides, cooking and yoga classes, as well as martini mixers, and—of course—huge dance parties. March 1-8, 2010
Elevation Mammoth in Mammoth, California
A large L.A. contingent has headed here since 2003 for a low-key week at a very high elevation (over 11,000 feet). The event’s mission statement sums it up: “2,000 riders. 7 major parties. 0 attitude.” March 17-21, 2010
Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of GayWhistler.com, Andy Dittrich