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Greek-American Film, "Hello Anatolia," Premieres in New York City

When Greek-American filmmaker Chrysovalantis Stamelos took his first trip to Turkey in 2008, he was immediately besotted with Istanbul’s minarets, markets and countless layers of multicultural history. “I went knowing a lot about the Greek community’s past there,” Stamelos admitted, referring to grisly incidents like The Great Fire of Smyrna (present-day Izmir, a lively port city on the western peninsula of Anatolia), a monstrous blaze that prompted the systematic evacuation of Greek residents, circa 1922. “But it felt like home to me,” he continued, adding that he eventually moved from New York City to Izmir—permanently—approximately three years ago.

“Hello Anatolia,” Stamelos’s latest documentary, co-produced with Paras Chaudhari (the two launched their Queens-based production company, Crescent Street Films, in 2005) shadows Stamelos as he rediscovers the birthplace of his ancestors. “I couldn’t shake off the stories I grew up with…of old Smyrna and Asia Minor,” Stamelos recalled. Equal parts vibrant travelogue and poignant self-discovery, the film is a thoughtful blend of interviews, neighborhood exploration and artistic immersion.

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Book Your Tickets Now for New York City Wine & Food Festival

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The feeding frenzy known as the New York City Wine & Food Festival is just days away. You name a culinary superstar, and chances are good he or she will be there: Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Alex Atala, April Bloomfield—the list goes on. (Even Whoopi Goldberg is making an appearance at a chicken-themed evening.)

While many of the big-ticket items are already sold out—including Martha Stewart’s cake-decorating class and a dinner with Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara—there are still plenty of ways to get a taste of what the fifth anniversary event has to offer.

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New York City's "Falls for Dance" Festival Opens

Ten years ago, New York City Center came up with an inspired idea: invite dance companies—ballet, modern, contemporary—and popular and national troupes from throughout the United States and around the globe; present sampler programs (four works by four companies each night); and offer all tickets at a rock-bottom price: $15. Ideal for the hard-core dance fan or the curious first-timer. The Fall for Dance Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary now through October 5 with performances by 24 international companies, Royal Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Bodytraffic, among them, and three commissions from up-and coming choreographers: Annabelle López Ochoa, Justin Peck, and Liam Scarlet.

The dance cavalcade continues at City Center with the New York premiere of British choreographer-iconoclast Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, set in turn-of-the 19th century and advancing to the modern day, with a gamekeeper instead of prince to woo Princess Aurora (October 23-November 3).

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Dogtoberfest & New Pet-Friendly Hotel Ella Come to Austin

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October is Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month, and what better way to raise awareness than by celebrating the season with our canine companions? Come October 19, Dogtoberfest kicks off in Austin, Texas. The annual festival—now in its sixth year—features a slew of activities where your pups take center stage. Weiner dog races, a canine costume contest, and DogtoberTROT, a 1K stroll around Austin’s Domain mall, are among the most anticipated.

Don’t live in the area? No worries—Austin’s newest pet-friendly addition, Hotel Ella, just opened today. There’s no size or weight limit for dogs, which means whether you have a dachshund or Doberman pincher, specialty biscuits, beds, and in-room dining are all up for grabs.

Maria PedoneMaria Pedone is part of the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Photo courtesy of dogtoberfestaustin.org / Nicole Mlakar

Anna Nicole Opera Premieres in New York City

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The New York City Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music present the highly anticipated American premiere of the opera Anna Nicole now through September 28.  The work about the one-time Playboy Playmate, femme fatale, and reality television personality Anna Nicole Smith is by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas and was first produced at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2011. American soprano Sarah Joy Miller takes on the title character and speaks with T+L about the opportunity and the challenge.

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Q+A: Sarah Simmons of New York City’s City Grit Culinary Salon

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One recent evening in New York City, I traveled to Memphis, and back. At City Grit, a culinary salon founded and nurtured and helmed by Food & Wine’s 2010 Home Cook Superstar Sarah Simmons, diners are invited to new tastes and experiences, often supplied by guest chefs who sometimes fly in just to make a single meal. It’s one of the coolest ways we know to travel and still stay at home.

The evening’s spotlight was on two Tennessee chefs, Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, whose restaurant Hog & Hominy blends Southern and Italian cooking, and has earned legions of pork-loving fans.

Tonight the duo is back. To celebrate today’s release of their new cookbook “Collards and Carbonara,” Ticer and Hudman are again firing up the stove at City Grit, with Simmons playing back-up. 

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Indian Festival Lights Up Times Square

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Nina Davuluri, who was just crowned Miss America 2014, is already setting off sparks as the first Indian-American to receive the beauty title. And as a Syracuse native, it’s no wonder the Empire State is ready to celebrate with a display as monumental as her win.

Diwali, known in India and across parts of Asia as the Festival of Lights, is fittingly being brought to Times Square, one of New York City’s brightest areas. This Sunday, plan to wander Broadway from West 45th to 46th streets for a sampling of Indian culture. Starting at 11 a.m., you can nibble on South Asian eats, learn how to drape a sari, and take dance lessons in traditional styles—think Miss America’s energetic Bollywood number for the talent competition.

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Hudson River School at the Fenimore Art Museum

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Probably few regions in the United States have influenced American artists as significantly as the Hudson River Valley.  The painters of the so-called Hudson River School, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, and Asher Durand, among others, created a grand vision of 19th-century landscape, comparable yet distinct from the Romantic movements in England and continental Europe.

Travel informed their vision, of course, and the artistic response extended beyond the Hudson to New England, the American West, and to Italy, including idealized antiquity.  The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York brings together 45 paintings that put on display the full range of the artists’ inspiration.  There may be to no better place to consider their work than in Cooperstown, New York, an icon of American history—the American novelist James Fenimore Cooper made his home there as does today the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum—that is also a showcase for the innovative opera and musical theater of the Glimmerglass Festival.

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Virginia's World-Class Staunton Music Festival

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The waning days of the summer bring the final weeks of music and arts festivals, from the large and celebrated, the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Tanglewood in the Berkshires, to the less well-known.

One surprise and a secret to most, but not for long, is the Staunton Music Festival in Virginia.  Staunton has acquired a near mythic status in farm-to-fork food circles (see the “Up On The Ridge”by Matt Lee and Ted Lee in Travel + Leisure, July 2012) and for nine days in August, the Staunton Music Festival brings together some of the most talented musicians, established professionals and emerging young artists, from throughout the United States and Europe to this quiet spot in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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MET Roof Garden Gets a Sobering Makeover by Contempory Artist, Imran Qureshi

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Step onto the Roof Garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sure, bright summer skies will greet you, but so will a disturbing scene. The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi, an installation open through November 3, interprets the horrifying bomb blasts happening all across the globe. Known for blending Islamic art with contemporary techniques, Qureshi, an artist from Pakistan, gives his viewers a glimpse into the terrifying aftermath of the attacks that have become all too common in our headlines.

Yet take a closer look—there’s beauty to be found in the splattered "blood," as disturbing as that may sound. Qureshi hides ornate sketches of the flowers native to his home, Pakistan, within the red acrylic paint. The floral patterns mirror those found in the ancient walled gardens of Mughal palaces.

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