Tag Archives: calgary

Snowboarding at Canada Olympic Park!

I have traveled around the world, and when people find out I am from Calgary, Canada they ask me two things: Where the F is that? and Do you ski or snowboard? In fact, dear reader, I do not ski or snowboard, but not for a lack of trying on my parents’ part. When I was a kid, they really encouraged me to love skiing, taking my sister and I out to the mountains on weekends. Then, when I realized I may look cooler on a snowboard, they enrolled me in lessons. My sister remembers those lessons ending with a quick trip down the hill on the medic’s snowmobile for me. Needless to say, this was one horse I was not tempted to get back on. I would live my entire teenage life feeling a bit left out when my friends went out to the mountains on ski trips, but I came up with all sorts of excuses— too expensive, I don’t want to slow my friends down, I have no gear, etc.

I was recently inspired to try snowboarding again. I was inspired to challenge myself to try something (somewhat) new, and something I thought I would be bad at. I signed up for the three evening beginner’s snowboard lessons at Canada Olympic Park.

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On day one, I was full of the craziest concoction of fear and excitement! Fear that I would be the only adult in a beginner’s class, fear that I would fall and break my neck, fear that I would look uncool. Excited that I may actually like it, excited that I may be kind of good at it! I picked up my board and boots from the rental shop, and headed out to the hill. As I walked by the chairlift, I shuddered. Flashbacks of the panic I once felt loading and unloading from the chair haunted me. I found my way to the meeting point and found my instructor, Alexander. He introduced himself and the 14 year old girl sitting next to him. The others joined us, and I was pleased to find out I was not the oldest person in my group. We began the lessons with basics— how to hold the board, how to tighten the bindings, how to put the snowboard on the snow so it doesn’t slide down the hill. We hopped on the magic carpet (the more fun way to say ‘conveyor belt’), and head up the bunny hill. The first few runs were a success! I felt stable and confident. I didn’t fall once! And of course, as soon as I said that aloud to Gavin, one of the other beginners, I lost balance and fell, on the carpet, going uphill. The 8 year old skier behind me laughed her ass off.

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Day two had breezy beginnings. We did a few warm up runs down the bunny hill, and Alexander took us through some basic heel edge stuff. I wobbled down the hill, nervous about the speed I picked up as I went. Meanwhile, the under-12 Sunshine Racing group FLEW past me. Our evening ended with the chairlift. I confessed to Gavin how nervous I was. He laughed, not entirely sure why I would be so scared. I boarded the chair with ease and I didn’t even fall while unloading! Success! The 14 year old girl in my class was boasting and bragging that she was at the hill all day, and she had been on the chairlift “like, so many times” already. I told her I couldn’t come to the hill because I worked all day. She said, “it sucks to be an adult.” When the lesson was over, she complained that she couldn’t stay because her mom was there to pick her up. I said, “Oh, too bad you can’t drive yourself. Sucks to be a kid. Plus, I’m going to eat chocolate cake for dinner because I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want.” In hindsight, I shouldn’t have let a 14 year old get under my skin so easily.

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Day three felt amazing. It was the culmination of all the little tips and tricks Alexander had been giving us the last two nights. I only fell once getting off the chairlift, face first, and had to army crawl out of the way to safety. We worked on our edge swapping, and began fine tuning our skills. I was actually getting the hang of it, successfully snaking my way down the hill.

If you had told me a week ago that I would be successfully edge swapping, excited to get on a chairlift, and looking forward to the next time I go snowboarding, I would have laughed right in your face and called you a dirty liar. But look at me now! I challenged myself to try something new, something I thought I would be bad at, and I feel like a million bucks.

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At ATP’s Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story

You know that feeling when you are with a group, and someone begins telling a story and it feels like everyone in the group was there except you? The storyteller says, “remember that time that hilarious thing happened?” and then everyone else agrees and they start finishing each other’s sentences, and all laughing like crazy, and you just stand there, wondering what the joke is, and then when you finally get the chance to ask, someone says, “oh, you had to be there.” Being on the outside of an inside joke is not a very nice feeling. Chalk full of rib-tickling inside jokes that anyone who lives in Calgary will laugh at, ATP’s newest production of Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story is the perfect play for every Calgarian.

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Ellie Heath as Cinderella. Photo by Erin Wallace

Written and directed by Calgarians, and sticking with ATP’s MO for all new Canadian plays, this play is so, truly Calgarian. Slipper is performed in panto style, so requires audience participation. Every time someone on stage says a specific word, the audience yells back with such enthusiasm it hurts. Two lucky audience members were even called on stage to help the story along! The evil stepsisters— hisssssssss— could not have been funnier and, more modern – we all know people who speak like just like that. Their ability to speak over each other was perfectly rehearsed and added to their joint personality. All of the actors did such a great job including the audience and reacting to our responses.

I love theatre that includes some kind of magical aspect and I’m a sucker for the effects that make it so. The magic, the smoke, the clothes! Vancouver-based Jenifer Darbellay really outdid herself with costume design. It was all such a spectacle! And once the fog from the fog machine cleared, the story of Slipper modernized the traditional tale of Cinderella, bringing it decidedly into this century. A play full of jokes, magic and an excellent moral? What more could you ask for?

Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story is the perfect show for anyone of any age who likes magic, enjoys laughter, and loves Calgary. Thanks for the fun evening ATP! Thanks for being the muse, Calgary!

Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story runs until December 31!

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Ellie Heath as Cinderella. Photo by Erin Wallace

At the Brewmaster Feast with National and Whistler Brewing Company

Living in Calgary I’ve learned many things: the incredible power of community, the strength that comes from diversity, and the absolute magic of a chinook wind. When Calgary shows us its teeth and temperatures reach below 20 degrees, Calgarians flock indoors and wait patiently for that warm wind from the west. And what better activity to partake in, while escaping the frigid cold, than a beer tasting? My good friend, Natasha and I walked into National on 8th and entered the Tap Room. What caught my eye first was the inadvertently sexual promotional video for Whistler Brewing Company being projected on a screen at the front of the room. Men pulling pints, hoses squirting water, malt and barley being poured into giant barrels— all in slow motion…

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We took our seats at one of the tables, took turns trying on the Christmassy table decorations, and allowed Don, the rep for Whistler Brewing Company, to take us on a trip down memory lane and tell us about the origins of the brewery. In 1989, when the Whistler Brewing Company originated, it was one of the first craft breweries of its kind in British Columbia. They pride themselves on keeping the perfect balance of tradition and progression, and brew authentic craft beer that really speaks for itself.

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The tasting began. The chefs at National on 8th took turns explaining to us what we were eating, and Natasha Pieskar, the brand manager for National, explained each food and beer pairing. The evening is a blur of decadent AF food— foie gras, bacon-wrapped paté, elk carpaccio, halibut in Dugléré sauce (whatever that means), white bean cassoulet, and that’s only half of it— and deliciously paired beers. My favourites were the Chestnut Ale, which was sweet and caramel-y; the Cashmere India Session Ale, which was citrusy and grapefruity and paired with the crab and truffle ravioli; and the Black Tusk Ale, which has an entire trophy case dedicated to it and its many national and international awards. We also learned about all the in-house prep the kitchen team at National does. House-made bacon, mustard, paté, sauces, all of it was made by this incredible team!

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Natasha and I ate it all and felt like royalty. The food plates kept coming, the beers seemed bottomless, and the company around us was such fun. We sat next to Hayden and Jill, two beer connoisseurs who were just as excited as we were by the plates of food adorning our table. It was all just so delicious. Once again, the team at National wowed me and my tastebuds. Next time I am buying beer, you can bet your bottom dollar I will be walking out with a few bottles from the Whistler Brewing Company.

Thanks for the food, National, thanks for the beer WBC! And thanks for the escape from the cold, Calgary!

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Partying with Margaret Cho

There is always so much to do on a Saturday night in Calgary. The Saturday night activity seekers know this. They go find a rad DJ playing sick tunes and dance the night away, or they head to one of the many bars in the city with their pals, and have a drink or two, or maybe they want to take in live music, theatre, or comedy show at one of the many venues in the city. But I ask those people this: why, fair Saturday night activity seekers, choose only one activity, when you could go somewhere and do all three?!

On Saturday, November 19, Calgary welcomed, with open arms and legs, the hilariously vulgar, and borderline offensive comedian, Margaret Cho, and the fine folks at Arts Commons threw a wild pre-show party to whet the appetites of the audience. What you are about to read contains stories of female musicians singing about scissoring, drag queens and their ‘tucks,’ the funky fresh stylings of a funky DJ, and a whole bunch of dick jokes. Please be advised that this blog post, much like the live show, contains mature content. Audience discretion is advised.

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The Wrong Kind of Girls opened the pre-show. They are “Canada’s preeminent queer-feminist-ukulele comedy band” (Check out their website). The songs they sang were hilarious, poking fun at tropes and stereotypes surrounding sexuality, making fun of awkward moments in and out of the bedroom, and even had scissors to demonstrate with! I bought another glass of wine when their set was over. On my way to the bar, I passed Lyndon Navalta, an artist currently in residence at Arts Commons, making buttons for people. ‘Cheeky Buttons’ they were called, and cheeky they were! Folks walked away from his table proudly sporting buttons on their lapels— “saucy bitch” and “power bottom.”

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The music became louder and I turned my attention back to the stage. The Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch was introduced. Four drag queens, who towered over the audience in their 6-inch stilettos, took turns on stage, lip syncing for their lives, dancing, posing, even cartwheeling. I stood there in awe, just marvelling at the quality and persistence of their master tucks.

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Last, but not least, DJ Donna Dada brought the pre-party to a funky close with some tunes that were impossible NOT to dance to. The queens came back out and danced with the audience, people were bumping and grinding on each other: it was a party.

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Selene Luna opened for Margaret Cho. She marched out on stage, and immediately had the audience laughing. She talked about politics, she talked about trying to have sex on a memory foam mattress, and she talked about Mexico, where she is from. My sides were splitting. Margaret Cho came out and I think my mouth was gaping open for her entire set. The jokes this woman made were racy, vulgar, and deliciously provocative. There is nothing I love more than a Korean-American woman regaling me with stories about the biggest penis she has ever seen. My face hurt from smiling and my sides hurt from laughing.

Thanks for the pre-show party Arts Commons, and thanks for the delightfully vulgar evening, Calgary!

Doing Embroidermation at the Esker Foundation

We have all heard of embroidery. Embroidery is that beautiful needle and thread-based pasttime your mother/grandma/great grandma/women on Downton Abbey did. It has recently made a bit of a comeback in the world of the hip arts-and-craftser. We have come a long way from embroidered doilies, pillowcases, and aprons though. If you search “sassy embroidery” on Etsy, you are sure to find some hilariously vulgar and confusingly sophisticated home decor. We have also all heard of the art of animation. What you may not be aware of, however, are the many different types of animation. Some know animation as big-budget Pixar movies done entirely on computers, others know it as a raunchy flip book their older sibling showed them, and some know it as the stop-motion animation film of your Barbies you tried to make as a kid. “Embroidery and animation are great,” you might be thinking, “but where the ‘F’ are you going with this, Beth?” Well let me tell you.

One fine Saturday afternoon, I found myself at the Esker Foundation with my fine friend, Natasha. We were there to take part in the Embroidermation workshop. That’s right, Embroidermation. This is the art of animation in which each frame is embroidered. Folks, we live in a world where anything is possible. We were introduced to Project Space artist, Caitlin Thompson, who took us through examples of Embroidermation, a term coined by animator Nina Paley, and I was in awe. Everything from a 5 second looping hand-stitched GIF to a full length machine-stitched music video. The music video for Tharsis Sleeps, a song by heavy metal band, Throne, was part of a cool Kickstarter project and those who donated were gifted one of the frames from the animation. Once I and every other participant picked our jaws up off the floor, Caitlin explained how the workshop would go.

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Each participant was given a printed image of an animation frame Caitlin designed, a booklet with the instructions of different embroidery stitches to practice, and the instruction to stitch whatever we wanted! Total creative freedom! The printed image was of flowers, and the original animation had the flowers opening and closing. I began simply with a backstitch, and spent some time figuring out how to make lines. Caitlin explained that this stitch is perfect for words. I surprised even myself as I started to stitch legible letters to spell how I was feeling: H-O-O-R-A-Y-! I polished up a blanket stitch, a satin stitch, and a fly stitch. There I was, sitting in a direct sunbeam, chatting with Natasha, stitching away. How civilized.

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The time came for Caitlin to collect our frames and combine them to make an animation. It was absolutely bizarre and kind of hard to watch, because the stitches were totally random, but because we embroidered on top of a printed image from an already made animation, you could see the flowers in the background, opening and closing. Thanks for the Embroidermation, Esker! Thanks for the crafty day, Calgary!

The Esker Foundation has multiple workshops and events to take part in. Head to eskerfoundation.com to find out more, and sign yourself up!

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At ATP’s New Musical, Fortune Falls

Catalyst Theatre and Alberta Theatre Projects have partnered to create the totally mesmerizing, beautifully haunting musical, Fortune Falls. This original work by Jonathan Christenson and Beth Graham, tells the story of a young man and his dream to grow up and work at the chocolate factory in his town. But this, ladies and gentlemen, is no lighthearted story of Charlie Bucket and his golden ticket. This is no fun little tale of the quirky Mr. Wonka and his mind boggling methods. No, Fortune Falls takes the audience on the tumultuous journey of Everett Liddelman as he reaches for his dreams and learns more about the chocolate factory and its biggest secrets.

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Photo Credit: David Cooper 2016

The production has unbelievable sound and lighting design. The booming bass, the intricate and numerous sound effects, and the power of each actor’s singing voice ensured goosebumps rippled up and down my whole body multiple times. In a chat session after the show, actor Braydon Dowler-Coltman said, “it’s as if the technical aspects in the show become their own character.” He is right! The songs, the sounds, the lights, and the dark, all tell their own story between the lines of the script.

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Photo Credit: David Cooper 2016

Fortune Falls is a new play, never before staged. This means the cast and crew were to be flexible during the entire rehearsal process. The show was, and may still be, always changing. Throughout the rehearsal process, lines were cut, characters were altered, and no aspect of the show was safe from change. Laurel Green, the Production Dramaturg, and an Artistic Associate for ATP, said, “it takes a very special kind of actor to work on new work like this.”

All in all, I say Fortune Falls is a must-see. Any play that has me frightfully jumping out of my seat one minute, and swallowing back tears the next, has to be a good time. Fortune Falls runs until November 5. Only a few more chances to be wowed! Let ATP and Catalyst Theatre take you and all your senses on a journey. Thanks for the show, Calgary!

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Photo Credit: David Cooper 2016

Eating BBQ at Trolley 5

There are so many incredible restaurants in Calgary. Truly, there are. So many, in fact, it is hard to keep up! If ever I wonder where I should go for a meal, there is only one source I trust to send me to the right place— my mother. Mom somehow knows about all the newest, trendiest, and most delicious restaurants in the city. So, naturally, for her birthday, we went to the newest, trendiest, most delicious restaurant on 17th Ave. SW, Trolley 5 Restaurant & Brewery.

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We sat upstairs in the wide-open restaurant, and I perused the menu, my eyes drawn immediately to the barbecue section. I laughed at my dad’s somewhat jokey suggestion of sharing the big barbecue platter, the Pit Master’s Platter, for four people. Mom just rolled her eyes. When the server came over, I asked, “what is Trolley 5 known for?” Her answer was music to my ears, “definitely our barbecue.” Awesome. We talked about sharing a few plates, a few different meats, and maybe a salad (although who are we kidding). In the end, the somewhat jokey suggestion of sharing the Pit Master’s Platter for four ended up being not so jokey, and we told our server this is what we desired. Salad shmalad.

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The platter arrived. Both my dad and my eyes lit up. Chicken, smoked turkey, ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and cornbread. Holy moly. We made a promise to each other in that moment that we would make sure we took some food home. We couldn’t possibly eat all of this meat. The platter, served alongside Trolley 5’s fleet of house-made barbecue sauces ensured our mouths were watering.

The meal was delicious! The brisket was so tender, it didn’t even require chewing, the cornbread and beans were mouth watering, and the pulled pork was a perfect example of why I am not vegetarian. Sure enough, we could not finish the meal, which relieved mom. We packaged the rest of our meat up and I dreamed about the amazing meals I was going to have the next few days.

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Alongside the ludicrously tasty barbecue, Trolley 5 is the newest brewery in town. Growlers, that hang on the trolley snaking through the restaurant and over the bar are, of course, for sale, and for the true beer connoisseurs, brewery tours are available for booking.

Thanks for the delicious beer and barbecue, Trolley 5!

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Eating BBQ at Trolley 5, Calgary, AB

There are so many incredible restaurants in Calgary. Truly, there are. So many, in fact, it is hard to keep up! If ever I wonder where I should go for a meal, there is only one source I trust to send me to the right place— my mother. Mom somehow knows about all the newest, trendiest, and most delicious restaurants in the city. So, naturally, for her birthday, we went to the newest, trendiest, most delicious restaurant on 17th Ave. SW, Trolley 5 Restaurant & Brewery.

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We sat upstairs in the wide-open restaurant, and I perused the menu, my eyes drawn immediately to the barbecue section. I laughed at my dad’s somewhat jokey suggestion of sharing the big barbecue platter, the Pit Master’s Platter, for four people. Mom just rolled her eyes. When the server came over, I asked, “what is Trolley 5 known for?” Her answer was music to my ears, “definitely our barbecue.” Awesome. We talked about sharing a few plates, a few different meats, and maybe a salad (although who are we kidding). In the end, the somewhat jokey suggestion of sharing the Pit Master’s Platter for four ended up being not so jokey, and we told our server this is what we desired. Salad shmalad.

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The platter arrived. Both my dad and my eyes lit up. Chicken, smoked turkey, ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and cornbread. Holy moly. We made a promise to each other in that moment that we would make sure we took some food home. We couldn’t possibly eat all of this meat. The platter, served alongside Trolley 5’s fleet of house-made barbecue sauces ensured our mouths were watering.

The meal was delicious! The brisket was so tender, it didn’t even require chewing, the cornbread and beans were mouth watering, and the pulled pork was a perfect example of why I am not vegetarian. Sure enough, we could not finish the meal, which relieved mom. We packaged the rest of our meat up and I dreamed about the amazing meals I was going to have the next few days.

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Alongside the ludicrously tasty barbecue, Trolley 5 is the newest brewery in town. Growlers, that hang on the trolley snaking through the restaurant and over the bar are, of course, for sale, and for the true beer connoisseurs, brewery tours are available for booking.

Thanks for the delicious beer and barbecue, Trolley 5!

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Eating Poko Popcorn

Popcorn truly is the perfect snack. When watching a movie, you don’t want your snack to be too loud and crunchy as to over power the sound from your TV— popcorn! When having a few beers with friends, you don’t want your snack to be too salty, or you wake up the next morning with swollen fingers and a numb tongue— popcorn! Riding a bicycle, walking down the street, laying in the sun, paddling a canoe, climbing a mountain, holding a baby, soaking in a bath tub— popcorn, popcorn, popcorn!

Poko Popcorn is the newest snack to ‘pop’ up in our city, and to introduce the hippest and coolest new snack food to Calgary, Poko held a tasting event at National on 17th, where six of Poko’s flavours were paired with local brews served by National. I know, a popcorn and beer tasting event— this is what dreams are made of, people. We met Cam, the man with a dream that one day people could buy popcorn that is air popped, tumbled with flavour, and served warm. I could listen to this man talk about popcorn all day. I have never seen anyone more passionate about snacks in my whole life. We tried six flavours, salt and butter, white cheddar, salt & vinegar, cheesy dill pickle, spicy jalapeno cheddar, and salted caramel. They were paired with six beers, that Natasha Pieskar, the brand manager for National, chose for us.

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We learned that the word “Poko” doesn’t really mean anything, it is just a radical name that’s easy to remember, and fun to say. All the flavours Poko serves were created by Cam and his team. When deciding on the white cheddar flavours, they tested nearly 40 different kinds of white cheddar. All the flavour decisions were made by friends and families. “What do you guys think?” asked Cam, “I love butter,” said one of the attendees.

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The evening was a blur of popcorn, beer, and laughter. Ryan and I ate every last kernel, and drank every last drop. My favourite flavour, the white cheddar, was paired with the delicious Open Road American Brown Ale from Alberta’s own Troubled Monk Brewery. It was like eating a grilled cheese sandwich. “Nothing has the kind of mouth feel this does,” said Cam.

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Poko Popcorn has four locations in Calgary and is hoping to expand across the country— just what Canada needs, more popcorn! So next time you’re craving the perfect snack, do yourself a ‘flavour’ and go Poko.

 

At Illuminasia at the Calgary Zoo

Much to some Calgarian’s dismay, the days in Calgary are beginning to get shorter and shorter. Summer is coming to an end/ended quite abruptly with the snow we had over the weekend, and we must begin to adapt again to living in the dark. One of the things Calgary is really good at, among our incredible patios, our absurd number of festivals, and our beautiful winter markets, is lighting up the dark. And what better way to light up the dark than with beautiful lanterns?!

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For the second year in a row, the Calgary Zoo is the host of Illuminasia, Lantern and Garden Festival. The festival showcases authentic Chinese lanterns that are arranged throughout the grounds, and guides visitors through the Four Noble Plants, representing the four seasons. “In Chinese Art, the Four Noble Plants are represented by the orchid, bamboo, the chrysanthemum and the plum blossom. These four plants represent the seasons and how they unfold from one season to another.” — illuminasiacalgaryzoo.com

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Our journey began in spring. Snails, blossoms, mushrooms, and various flowers lit up the path. In summer, we found more flowers, and the most colourful animals. We gasped at the colours of the flowers, and the sheer number of lanterns. Autumn colours illuminated the maple trees and the multiple moose lanterns, and the real life bunny that grazed nearby made us laugh. The penguins waved to us from the winter section, and the twinkly trees behind them were captivating. It was all so very magical. So magical, in fact, I had to dust off my thesaurus to find enough synonyms for the word!

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As if a spellbinding evening, lit by bewitching lanterns wasn’t enough, the admission to Illuminasia helps to support the Calgary Zoo’s conservation efforts to protect species at risk, here at home and around the world. Illuminasia is on until October 16, so dust off your winter boots, scarves, and toques, invite your family, your friends, your lover(s), and head down to the Calgary Zoo to experience an enchanting evening. Thanks for the beguiling night, Calgary Zoo!

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