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Archive for March, 2012

Heavenly Bliss in Singapore

By Linda Tancs

Thian Hock Keng (Temple of Heavenly Bliss) is one of the oldest and most important temples in Singapore.  A few things make this place of worship unique.  First, it stands at the location of Singapore’s waterfront before reclamation.  Also, its construction represents an international venture of sorts, with ironwork and tiles from the British Isles and granite from China, among other contributions.  A national monument, this amazing structure was built in traditional southern Chinese architectural style, without nails.

600 Years in the Making

By Linda Tancs

Golf is a 600-year-old sport.  Hard to believe that it’s taken that long to get a golf festival going where it all began.  The St Andrews Golf Festival is the first-ever celebration of golf at its birthplace in St Andrews, Scotland.  Today through 1 April, the free calendar of events includes the Seve exhibition at The Scores Hotel, an exclusive talk by Mungo Park (grandson of the first winner of the Open Championship in 1860), the Bobby Jones exhibition and golf correspondent Lewine Mair’s talk on the history of women’s golf.

Charlottesville Hits the Big 2-5-0

By Linda Tancs

The City of Charlottesville, Virginia, one of the oldest municipalities in the country, is celebrating its 250th birthday this year. The year- long celebration will feature lectures, exhibitions, special packages for visitors, and national and international talent. While you’re there, why not follow the Monticello Artisan Trail, a regional trailway that connects destinations including craft artisan studios, galleries, agri-artisan farms, local restaurants, wineries and microbreweries, lodging, and area points of interest in the counties surrounding Charlottesville.

100 Years of Blooms

By Linda Tancs

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the nation’s greatest springtime celebration, is celebrating 100 years of blooms this year.  The festivities, having begun on 20 March and continuing to 27 April, mark the centennial of Tokyo’s donation of 3,000 cherry blossom trees to Washington, DC.  Based on comparative records of past bud development, the National Park Service forecasts peak blooms until 31 March this year.  The average peak bloom date, defined as the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open, is 4 April.  A highlight of the season is the cherry blossom festival parade, a long-standing Washington tradition featuring lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and other family entertainment.  Admission is free along the parade route, Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW.

A Hot Tin Roof in New Orleans

By Linda Tancs

Tennessee Williams was a master American playwright, known for such works as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.  Born Thomas Lanier Williams, he began using the moniker Tennessee after college when he moved to New Orleans, a place he reputedly considered to be his spiritual home.  It’s fitting, then, that the Big Easy should honor one of its own with an annual festival.  The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival features literary panel discussions, theatrical performances, master classes with a notable expert in writing or the arts, and literary walking tours.  Previous festivals have hosted such luminaries as Dick Cavett, Edward Albee and George Plimpton.  This year’s event will run through 25 March.

The Real Deal in Chelsea

By Linda Tancs

Now the oldest antiques fair in Britain, London’s Chelsea Antiques Fair wants visitors to be assured of high standards.  They secure outside experts to check the veracity of labels as well as the quality and authenticity of the pieces on show.   So you rest assured that those new 17th century entrants this year are the real deal.  Other selections include fine Victorian and 19th Century European oil paintings, British and Continental porcelain, Art Nouveau and Art Deco glass, antique books, prints and maps, and a smattering of the interesting and unusual.  If you can’t manage it all from 21 -25 March, then come back in September.  The event is at Old Town Hall on Kings Road.  Admission is only £5; that leaves room for spending.

Furniture Shopping in Philly

By Linda Tancs

The exhibitors at the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show hope you’ll invest in beauty.  Showcasing exceptional artisan quality furniture, the event is the longest running exhibition of its kind.  Featured exhibitors include Selvin Glass, Swede McBroom, Michael Brown and G. Keener & Co.  Most exciting, though, is the new location for the event this year–the 23rd Street Armory, an imposing castle-like structure built in 1901 that houses the Philadelphia City Cavalry, the oldest cavalry unit in continuous service in the United States.  The Troop acted as George Washington’s personal bodyguard during the Revolutionary War.  The history lesson alone is good enough reason to go.  The preview party and auction is on 23 March, followed by two days of artisanal bliss.

Time and Space

By Linda Tancs

It’s been 50 years since former astronaut John Glenn orbited the earth in a historic mission.    Such an auspicious anniversary merits a visit to the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Here you’ll find the world’s largest collection of personal memorabilia from our space heroes, along with a G-Force Trainer (simulating the pressure of four times the force of gravity) and a space shuttle landing simulation.  Junior astronauts can climb a moon rock wall, crawl through rocket tunnels and slide to the surface of the moon at the Children’s Play Dome.  Not to be missed is the Space Mirror Memorial, a 42-1/2-foot-high-by-50-foot-wide black granite surface emblazoned with the names of the 24 U.S. astronauts who gave their lives for space exploration as well as the astronauts from training and commercial airplane accidents.

Jefferson’s Second Home

By Linda Tancs

Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States. His beloved home Monticello is a fixture in Charlottesville at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Virginia. What most folks might not know is that Jefferson had a hideaway from his glorious 33-room manse, a self-designed, eight-sided country villa outside Lynchburg, Virginia. The octagonal house (the first in America) is known as Poplar Forest, a retreat that many regard as a true masterpiece of architectural and landscape elements. Opening today through 15 December, the home is located off Route 661 south of Lynchburg.

Art Fair Celebrates Quarter Century

By Linda Tancs

The world’s leading art and antiques fair is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Center in the Netherlands.  Taking place from 16-25 March this year, the event features elegantly displayed genuine masterpieces offered by more than 260 of the world’s most prestigious art and antiques dealers from 18 countries.  To celebrate its silver anniversary, two unique contributions this year are (1) an exhibition of master drawings by some of the greatest artists in history, including da Vinci, Guercino, Rembrandt and Rubens, and (2) the first-ever BMW Art Car.  This is one jubilee you won’t want to miss.

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