Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: festival

Glasgow loves Christmas

The Christmas holidays are approaching and since mid-November, the city of Glasgow has been wrapped in Christmas spirit. I will not be spending Christmas in Glasgow this year, and so I took advantage of the festive activities featured in the Glasgow Loves Christmas events taking place over the weeks before the holidays themselves. A trip to the city centre is always a better alternative than staying at home during the weekend – and yes, I’ve moved! More on that in another post…maybe.

It is unfortunate that the true meaning behind Christmas is often forgotten and smothered by the commercialization of the holidays – Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees, Christmas shopping, Christmas lights…the list goes on. Despite this, I don’t deny that the festive atmosphere is a source of warmth for the chilly winter days, and I can’t help but to immerse myself in the celebrations, all the while reminding myself that on this day, the Saviour was born.

Every fair/carnival has to have a Ferris wheel, and the one at George Square is no exception. The last time I went on a Ferris wheel was almost two years ago in Bordeaux, and while viewing a city from the high point of a Ferris wheel was amazing, the HIGH part was a bit more thrilling than I would have liked. There was also a merry-go-round (not shown in photo) at the fair in Glasgow, and for some reason I’ve wanted to ride on a merry-go-round for years now but haven’t found anyone to accompany me. Somehow I just wanted to relive my childhood on a merry-go-round, out of all the children’s rides…for no particular reason. Anyone in Glasgow want to volunteer to go with me? 😛

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Nuit Blanche Toronto 2014

I went to Nuit Blanche, an annual arts festival in downtown Toronto, for the first time this year. I’ve previously heard a lot about the all-night event (“Nuit Blanche” is literally “white night” in French, but actually means “all-nighter”), which happens one day in October from dusk till dawn, where various forms of art displays (sculptures, live performances, light installations, etc.) are scattered all around downtown Toronto and open for audiences to see. Yet, I’ve never had a chance to experience it (well, it would have been hard to go to the one in Toronto since I was in Europe for the past three Octobers).

This year, the event began in the evening on October 4 and continued until sunrise on October 5, and I went for the first time. Actually, it was completely unplanned, but somehow on the afternoon of October 4, my sister talked me into going downtown for food and walking around for Nuit Blanche for a few hours afterwards. Why not, I thought, take advantage of the chance when I’m still in Toronto?

I really ought to have planned better for the event, as it was pretty cold that night and both my sister and I did not dress warmly enough. If we were aware of how cold it would have been and prepared for it, we definitely would have stayed longer. As a result we ended up only attending the actual event for three hours, which wasn’t all that bad. I had been skeptical about Nuit Blanche because I’ve never known how to properly appreciate art, so I treated this first time as an experiment, just to know what to expect for the next time. With a map and a pamphlet in our hands, we set off from City Hall and made our way through Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue, ending the night down by the lakeshore at Fort York. There were quite a few works that I had wanted to see but missed because of the bad planning, but the ones that I did get to see were rather interesting, to say the least.

The sky was still bright when we finished dinner at 7pm, and people were just starting to rush into the downtown core for the beginning of the event (the official start time was 6:53pm). From City Hall, my sister and I walked along Queen Street West towards the west, encountering this installation named “Gap Ecology”. Featuring several cherry pickers filled with palm trees, this installation explored the urban and environmental issues present in our society.

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La fête de la musique à Bordeaux

There is something about music that touches the depths of your soul, that harmonizes with every electrical pulse that runs through your body, that makes you want to jump or dance or scream or cry. Music is the universal language of expression, a ubiquitous medium that transcends through time and space, race and culture. That is why we celebrate it…with la fête de la musique!

The music festival is an annual event that takes place in France. In almost every city, from the afternoon till well past midnight, there are concerts, performances, and dances everywhere. According to a French ex-colleague, it is THE biggest event of the year. Coming from an authentic local, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I experienced the hype in Bordeaux two years ago but wasn’t here last year as I was in Belgium, but this year, the timing was perfect as June 21st fell on a Friday! Most of the fun happened around downtown, and since I live in downtown Bordeaux anyway, I figured I’d take full advantage of the walkable distance and spend the night immersing myself in the musical scenes of Bordeaux.

Oh, bonus: it didn’t rain! I totally expected the rain to continue, as it had been raining almost all week in Bordeaux – quite violently too! But God had been nice with us and sent us the sun to accompany our music. Let the magic begin.

I left the house at around 8:30pm and started at Place Pey Berland, going towards Rue Sainte-Catherine and towards the quai. Even the restaurants had their own events going on. Literally, there was something taking place in every corner of downtown. You just had to follow your ear and as soon as the previous sound of music faded away, another welcomed you. Who knows what concert you’d stumble upon next? 😉

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When the river awakes

Every year, the city of Bordeaux celebrates one of two things. Since 2011 is an odd number year, it was the time for…Fête le Fleuve! On June 18 and 19, the quays of Bordeaux awoke to the call of the river as the celebration began with dances, concerts, and of course, a spectacular firework at the end of both days. It rained a little during the afternoon on Saturday, but thank God the skies were clear the rest of the time, especially during the fireworks!

(If you were wondering, wine is celebrated in even number years, as if you hadn’t already guessed that.)

The great thing about Bordeaux during the summer is its many festivals that fill the city with music and animation; the bad thing is that transit workers tend to strike on those days. Yup, services from 6h30 till 20h00 with a frequency of 10 to 12 minutes per train (20 to 25 minutes on Sunday) certainly didn’t sound very convenient for an event that was supposed to last all night long. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. Perhaps they want to party as well. This of course makes it difficult for people who live outside the city center to gain access to where most of the activities are, since public transit is rather vital in Bordeaux. I am lucky to be living right in the center of downtown, so Fête le Fleuve was the perfect time for me to get out and immerse fully in the festivities.

The festival was grand. The entire downtown area from Quinconces to la Bourse was filled with people out to enjoy the entry to summer. Never have I seen so many people all at once in Bordeaux before. And never has the Garonne seemed so gorgeous before, so elegant, so OURS.

Welcome to Bordeaux, the beautiful land of wine!

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Foire internationale de Bordeaux

The summer atmosphere haves arrived in Bordeaux! The month of June has already been filled with events in every corner of Bordeaux that brings the city to life. During the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting updates on the festivities around the area.

We started out with the Foire internationale de Bordeaux (International Fair of Bordeaux), which took place between May 28 and June 5. A friend and I decided to go on the last day of the fair without knowing what the whole thing was about. All we wanted to see initially was the Fabuleuse Egypt exhibition, and little did we know that we were in for a mini World Expo.

Upon arriving at Parc d’Exposition, we saw rows and rows of booths and kiosks from countries all around the world – many countries had more than one booth – selling their specialties, ranging anywhere from food to clothing to musical instruments to crafts. These countries included but were not limited to Madagascar, Tahiti, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Senegal, Italy, Russia, Canada, Egypt, and Peru. At various points during the day, there were also dance performances from the islands in the French Overseas Departments and Territories, such as Martinique, La Réunion, and Guadeloupe. Never have I wanted to visit Martinique so much!

An anticipated short visit turned into a 4-hour outing as my friend and I roamed around the exposition grounds, surrounded by a million different colours and attracted by the unique items on sale. We wandered from booth to booth, cozily packed together, and saw quite a lot of fun and unusual stuff that you wouldn’t expect to see in Bordeaux.

A piece of ornament from an African country, either Senegal or Madagascar, I can’t remember exactly.

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