The Harbourfront Centre is a non-profit cultural organization that hosts over 4,000 events each year relating to literature, music, film, craft fairs, theatre and dance performances for adults and children. The 10-acre site houses galleries, performance spaces, craft studios, gardens, and a long stretch of boardwalk along the water’s edge where you can watch busker performances or shop at their International Market place. Free outdoor concerts are held every weekend throughout the summer and in winter there is a free open-air ice rink. Harbourfront Centre is located in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. All events and programs are offered at reasonable prices and most are completely free of charge. A series of large, cultural festivals are held every weekend in the summer; some of them are the Fortune Cooking Food Festival, August 12 – 14, the Hot & Spicy Food Festival, September 2 – 5, the Vegetarian Food Fair, September 10 – 11, and the Caribbean Tales Film Festival, September 1 – 17.
Seasonal events include the Ice Canoe Race in late January, Celebrating Black History Month in February, a jazz festival in June, Canada Day celebrations in July, the Authors' Festival and Harvest Festival in October, and Mexican Day of the Dead in November.
The Toronto Music Garden, designed in association with Yo-Yo Ma, offers free concerts most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm. The Garden design was inspired by the first suite of Johan Sebastian Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, and each movement corresponds to a different section of the Garden.
New this year, Harbourfront hosts an all-ages dance party with live bands, social dance clubs, DJs and instructors, where every Thursday night you can learn about dance trends from around the world.
A bit of a nerd alert here ... the following post deals with a place many of us haven't visited since grade school - so feel free to fast-forward if you are not a fan of the literary arts. The rest of us will geek out at places like Bibliotheek Amsterdam - an architectural and bibliotheq-lical wonder located about five minutes walk from Amstedam's Centraal Station.
It's part of what might be called the "new" Amsterdam. "Old" Amsterdam buildings are the homes, bridges, and cobblestone streets from the past several centuries - beautiful, quaint, happily cramped, and the stuff that most of us see on postcards. What is less often seen is the really cool and modern interior/exterior design that also permeates the city.
Overlooking the water and the entire city to the south, the main central library cost 80 million Euros to build and is easily the coolest library you've ever seen, seemingly intended as much for the tourist as for the student.
The lighting and layout - seven floors in total - evokes an Apple store-ish feel, with several hundred Mac displays and hundreds of quiet corners to read or study.
Occasionally, you'll be able to catch a concert here, with a piano player or singer belting out tunes on a given afternoon, in addition to cultural events like art openings. If you're handy with it, you can simply sit down at the piano on the main floor and tickle the ivories.
Any time of day, you can head to the affordable chicness of Vapiano attached to the front of the building, or head to La Place on the 7th floor for all meals (tip: get the Thai stir-fry for lunch) or a dessert and a coffee, with sweet views and photo ops of the entire city.
We visited the Pestera Ursilor (cave with cave bear skeletons) at Chiscau and came across the Ethnographic Museum of Mr and Mrs Flutur. They have been collecting farming and household objects for several decades and the place is a treasure trove of everything associated with a rural way of life long since gone in most of Europe. Mr Flutur is a wonderful guide. This was one of many highlights during a month driving through Romania.
From Oradea travel south on the E79 to Beius, then continue south on the E79, turning left to Chiscau.
Google map: bit.ly/qFbWlM
Istaba (the Room) is an art gallery, shop and restaurant. The small gallery shop will make you wonder – you can find there things from greeting cards to tableware, jewelery, matches, souvenirs, home design objects etc, all created by local artists. Monthly exhibitions to highlight different types of art work are organized here, so what will you see when you come depends on the exhibition which is currently on. If you are searching for original gifts or souvenirs, this place is just perfect – no trite nonsense or rubbish, but pure art even in small practical things!
If the shop already takes you into a little dream world where everything around you is a piece of art then the restaurant Istabas Bufete on the first floor allows you to dwell longer in this little La Boheme world. I think the best thing to order here is a glass of wine, although the food here is prepared by one of Latvia’s most popular local chefs Mārtiņš Sirmais. Here is just a small daily menu and if you want to eat something the chef himself will come and consult you what to order. That’s also the reason why it’s not possible to know how much money you have to take with you. You can get soup, fish, meat and vegetables for around 3 – 8Ls (£4-10) not the cheapest place, but the food there is always fresh, ecological and high quality – these are the values of the chef.
People admire or hate this place. Some of them go away from there totally unsatisfied with the service – no menu, no big choice, just what the chef offers, but mainly people leave with smiling faces and always return there to enjoy its atmosphere and celebrate life with a glass of wine and intellectual talks for hours.
Castlefield in Manchester is a great starting point for waterside walks in Manchester. It’s across the road from Manchester Science and Industry Museum, an exciting place to visit even before you start walking! Follow the Bridgewater Canal south west as far as Old Trafford (where a stadium tour is available), and then walk across to the Manchester Ship Canal. On the Trafford side there is the Imperial War Museum, or cross the footbridge to visit the Lowry Gallery and theatre complex (and outlet shopping mall). If you don’t want to walk back, you can always take the tram. In the other direction from Castlefield, follow the Rochdale Canal to walk under central Manchester’s busiest streets whilst watching barges negotiate locks. There is plenty of choice for refreshment with the bars and restaurants at Deansgate Locks and along Canal Street. At Piccadilly Basin you can either return to Castlefield by walking through the city centre, visiting museums, art galleries (or shops) along the way – or continue walking along the towpaths of either the Rochdale Canal or the Manchester and Ashton Under Lyne Canal. The latter leads to Manchester’s other football stadium.
Museum of Science and Industry:
Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP
+44(0)161 832 2244
Google map: bit.ly/qiM1Hu
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
+44(0)843 208 6000
Google map: bit.ly/oTOCEe
Imperial War Museum North
The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ
+ 44 (0) 161 836 4000
Google map: bit.ly/pDppEq
This airy former textile warehouse designed by Victor Horta was saved from sad decline and converted into an exhibition space and research centre. Adult enthusiasts of the bande dessinée will enjoy a couple of hours studying the various displays, showcasing different illustration techniques derived from etching, photography and pastel and acrylic painting. Pick up a folder at the ticket desk with information in English on the artists and exhibits.
There’s a series of pictureboards from the museum archives and a study library, reading room, brasserie and well-stocked bookshop. The centre organises themed guided tours, workshops and temporary exhibitions; but if, like me, you didn't grow up with bande dessinée on your shelves, you could probably do with some more interactive illustrator demonstrations or Tintins to clamber over. Currently it’s not really a place for young children or those of us with limited attention spans!
20 rue des Sables (Zandstraat), 1000 Brussels
+ 32 (0)2 219 19 80
Google map: bit.ly/qsUJSN
Rebecca is our Been there local for Brussels. You can read her page and tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/brussels-local-rebecca.jsp.
She has her own blog at: www.becinbrussels.blogspot.com
I went to the MoMA (pronounced Moe-ma) website to try to figure out how to describe its latest exhibition, "Talk to Me," and I can't really figure it out. It's about design and where utility meets personal interaction and communication. It features 194 pieces. Uh, it looks cool? It really does. The museum's open every day in the summer and late on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. You can check out "Tall to Me" until November 7, and if you go to MoMA on a Friday from 4-8:30 you get in free. MoMA's located at 11 West 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019-5497
+1 (212) 708-9400
Google map: bit.ly/p0S27z
Amanda is our Been there local for New York. You can check out her page here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/new-york-local-amanda-green.jsp and her own NYC blog here: www.noisiestpassenger.com/
Cross the river Daugava, take a walk on the Stone Bridge - the view to Riga from there is wide and beautiful. On the other side of the river this summer until September is a creative sand sculpture park. It's not big, but worth seeing it.
"Magic Sand" is an international festival. In Riga you will see artwork by 12 professional world class sand masters. Sand sculpture park also offers to make your own sand sculpture (for additional fee), "Game Station" for children, workshops, early morning yoga classes and more. The view to Riga from there is wonderful – water, towers of the Old Town, bridges; and the atmosphere - meditative and peaceful. Artists working, and kids playing in a big sandbox. I also enjoyed playing with the sand!
The place: AB dam, right in front of the Old Town – the other side of the river, next to the Stone Bridge and Radisson Blu Daugava Hotel (Kuģu street)
Google map: bit.ly/pXq9yj
Entrance fee - 2Ls.
Working hours: every day till September 10AM - 9PM.
You can see pictures of the sand park in Kristine's blog: friendinriga.blogspot.com/2011/07/creative-sand-sculpture-park-magic-sand.html
The Water of Leith is Edinburgh's secret river, winding a 12 mile path from the outer suburb of Balerno right through the heart of the City until it emerges near the docked Royal Yacht Britannia. If you pick up the trail behind the National Gallery of Modern Art then the last few miles are enlivened by spotting five life-sized Anthony Gormley figures who stand in the river bed.
Well signposted nearby, easiest found behind the National Gallery of Modern Art
24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH14 1TQ
+44(0)131 455 7367
Google map: bit.ly/p2NMgS
A walk along a relatively unknown and unloved part of Hackney, inner London mainly known for flyovers and geezers. You go past a lot of derelict, delapidated industrial plants. This is coupled with an artistic quarter where urban artists are living cheek by jowl with new build nouveau rich apartment blocks. With the Olympic Site and Westfield development to one side. There is an awful lot to see.
The artistic area, all around the factories and estates, offer galleries and bars and cafes. And the natives are friendly having been priced out of Shoreditch/Hoxton.
Hackney Wicked is an open weekend of the residents' work on display.
Also see Folly for a Flyover - an arts centre built inbetween two flyovers of wooden bricks - offering cinema, children's art sessions and a cafe.
it is worth visiting the British Library, King’s Cross’ original main attraction. The exterior may be unattractive but the interior is a temple of calm and the King’s Library (a tower of old rare books) is quite awe inspiring. Currently the library is holding a free exhibition called Out of this World which is an enjoyable exploration of the most influential works of science fiction.
Caledonian Road which has a number of sophisticated eateries. If you’re just after a pick-me up visit the fun and friendly Drink, Shop, Do a bright open space with knick-knacks to look at and admire and a great selection of cakes.
King’s Cross is one of the most rapidly and drastically changing places in London. St. Pancras station has been beautifully restored but this was just the beginning of a two billion pound development of the area which now includes a new St Martins campus, housing, offices, gardens, shops, art centres all of which make it worthy of its very own postcode. What’s more the development appears tasteful and ambitious; perhaps a sign of how cities will be developed in the future.
All in all it’s a good time to visit the area and make up your own mind about the dramatic developments. Visit the German Gymnasium, the development’s marketing suit, which not only provides images and models of what the area will look like but also has a great exhibition space invariably showcasing work of value (it’s currently showing the first UK exhibition of recently discovered street photographer Vivian Maier). It also overlooks the site and you can see progress in action.
There are any number of reasons to take the ten minute detour off the roaring M1 to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and art is only part of it. Feast your eyes on monumental Moores, Hepworths and Paolozzis, at the same time filling your belly with interesting grub, all the while perched above it all on a glass and steel balcony. Stroll through 500 acres of carefully kept parkland, bumping into Gormleys and Goldsworthys before settling in the impressively modernist cafe, located above the posh shop selling Jaume Plensa fridge magnets and James Turrell torches. I might have made the last one up. Dishes of the Day are chalked up on a huge board, and might include local asparagus with poached eggs, rocket and a dill and mustard dressing, or fishcakes with minted peas, home made tartare sauce and chips. But the cakes are the thing. Scones the size of elephant’s feet, fat slabs of Bakewell tart or a nicely dusted lemon pie hit the spot, particularly since the coffee is so good. Yep, you heard it right. The barrista working the Gaggia last week turned a macchiato into an art form. Frink, Caro, Borofsky and Creed; culture and cuisine pleasingly wed.
NYC's in the middle of a heat wave, but New Yorkers still love relaxing outdoors in the summer. The River to River Festival brings free events to local parks every day. Last Friday, I saw dancers and trapeze artists downtown near the World Trade Center site. This Friday, anyone can see "Henry V" at Battery Park or watch dance performances and an exhibit inspired by the iconic artist Jules Feiffer. Check the calendar to see what's going on near you.
The café has all manner of taste treats to tempt art lovers inside its bright white walls. The café is at the front, with a massive shop window facing the street. The cakes are homemade and the snacks and sandwiches are prepared from fresh, healthy ingredients. The menu changes regularly. The gallery behind supports local artists and emerging talents. There are often private views and anybody can pop in.
70 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8QZ
+44 207 358 4475
Open Mon—Sat 09.00—18.00
Buses 12, 36, 436, 345, 171, 68, 468 to Camberwell Green
Google map: bit.ly/qa7iD4
A lovely walled Breton town sitting on La Rance. It offers good restaurants throughout as well as the usual high standard little cafés the French do so well. The town is dominated by a large viaduct over the river as well as it's own castle. For shopping there's the hilly Rue du Jerzual. The more active types can rent a small boat or canoes and explore the river. There's also a fantastic riverside cycle lane heading north towards the village of La Vicomte.
Google map: bit.ly/nlOnmI
During summer afternoons, four circuits of churches and chapels in central Brittany in which contemporary artists have installed their work. Visit by car. Free. Triple pleasure of lovely countryside, quaint chapels and astonishing art. The red circuit is particularly charming. Look out for acephalic Breton saints such as the cleavered St Bieuzy and the spring located near each chapel. The signposting of the circuits is a bit minimal, so keep a sharp eye open.
Last night I finally made it up to the 10th floor of Peckham's multi-storey carpark, after several failed attempts, to discover another world ... hundreds of art students milling around, drinking pale ale and cocktails, munching on scrummy nibbles, flirting, discussing the art installations, but most of all, gazing in wonder at the magnificent view: all of London laid out in 360-degree spleandor, shimmering in the sunset, from the O2 arena, past the Shard, St Pauls, the London Eye, the Post Office Tower, before spinning around to catch the Crystal Palace tower in the corner of the eye. Frank's Bar is part of the Bold Tendencies art project and 15 artists have been commissioned to produce and show work in 2011. The bar stays open throughout the summer.
Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar
10th floor, Peckham Multi-storey carpark,
95a Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST
+44 758 288 4574
Open July 1 to Sept 30, Tues-Sun 11.00-22.00
Food served 12.00-14.30 & 18.00-22.00
Bus 12 to Rye Lane
Google map: bit.ly/n7IQZY
They say there are eight million stories in New York City. Some of the best ones are told at monthly Moth storytelling events. Moth slams are held at various venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the start of slams, would-be storytellers put their names in a hat. If you're one of the 10 called, you get five minutes to share your take on the night's themes from memory. (Previous themes include Transformation and Revenge). The stories start at 7:30 and slams always sell out and have limited seating. Get in line early for a good spot.
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