The Seychelles Tourism Board has confirmed the dates of the 2016 edition of the island’s Carnaval International de Victoria, the event set to continue to bring together the different cultures and people from around the world to one place. Dubbed as the ‘carnival of carnivals’, Carnaval International de Victoria, now going in its sixth year will be held from April 22 to 24.

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“Nothing is more uniting, and nothing promotes social cohesion more than ‘festivals’ to which all people contribute” said Minister Alain St.Ange, the island’s Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture following discussions with Claire Holder of the Notting Hill Carnival of the UK on their participation once again. Minister St.Ange announced that the Celebration of “National Unity” will be the theme of Carnival 2016 in Seychelles.

This spectacular event held over three days in the heart of the Seychelles capital Victoria was baptised under the theme ‘the melting pot of cultures’.

The carnival has since 2011 received great visibility with the representatives from top media houses coming from Europe, Middle East, Americas, Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Over the past five years, the carnival has been known to be the biggest cultural manifestation in Seychelles, bringing together the best carnivals of the world to its shores such as the Brazilian group, the Notting Hill Carnival Roadshow Company of the UK , Düsseldorf carnival of Germany, the Italy Carnival, the Indonesian Carnival to name but a few. Cultural Troupes from the Community of Nations have also descended on the islands to parade alongside with delegations of the best carnivals of the world.

The carnival celebrated its fifth anniversary last year where again top international dignitaries graced the three-day event with their presence.

In discussions with the Seychelles Tourism Board prior to confirming the dates for the 2016 edition of the carnival Minister Alain St.Ange said that many nations have jumped on the tourism ‘bandwagon’ and tourism represents an integral and important element of broader economic and social development policy. But what differentiates one nation from another is, among other things, the quality and value derived from the attractions, both natural and man-made. The Seychelles International Carnival should therefore be designed to aim at the ‘spectacularisation’ of the culture and heritage of the Seychelles Islands because tourists often demand ‘authentic’ exhibitions of culture and lifestyles which are considerably different from their own. The Carnival should also aim to express and showcase the modernity of the Seychelles without any loss of the charm of its traditional values and history.

“Every year we spend time searching for the Soul of Seychelles through the Eyes of Carnival.  We know carnivals of festivals remain a motivation of economic activity through the cultural and artistic creations and the general impact on infrastructure provisions. We also know that during carnival time our country benefits of the visitor expenditure multiplier effect in the fields of food production, catering, hospitality, hotels, crafts and souvenir production” Minister St.Ange said adding that cultural contacts are seen to be strong drive and magnet for world peace and the perceived roles of the Seychelles in that process is set to be more appreciated as the more and more countries use the Seychelles cultural event to showcase their own culture and develop relationships with other nations from the Community of Nations.

The Seychelles Carnaval International de Victoria continues to establish a close correlation between carnival attractions that bring together the arts, culture, history and heritage of Seychelles as it works in tandem with other countries who are proud of their own culture to showcase to the world media the unity through diversity and this immaterial of the colour of the skin, religious beliefs and political affiliation.

“Today we know that the Seychelles Carnaval International de Victoria has carved itself a unique place in the culture of Carnival, in that our carnaval invites the world to participate. There is no doubt that the Carnival has become an important feature in the calendrical cycle of tourism in Seychelles. However we also know that our carnaval needs to be more grounded in the history and culture of Seychelles, which Seychelles invites the world to experience. This we shall be working on for the coming edition in April” said Minister St.Ange as he went on to explain that tourists today want a more inter-active experience in which they are also immersed in the culture and history of the destination and are able to experience the story of the Seychellois.

“This can be done through Carnaval and is consistent with the underlying concept of “Searching for the Soul of Seychelles through the Eyes of Carnival” which simply means that the Carnaval must be used to tell the story of Seychelles and its people through arts, design and performance of themes that are uniquely Seychellois. We are a melting pot culture in so many different ways and meaning can be given to this through the “Eyes of Carnival”. Through the carnaval the celebration of our very own diversity would resonate with the rest of the world where there are so many conflicts and ethnic tensions, the resolution of which has defeated most politicians, campaigners, institutions etc. The reality is that globalisation has turned the world into such a melting pot, that no assumptions can be made about ethnicity – everyone has a touch of somebody else in their DNA” Minister Alain St.Ange said.

The Seychelles Carnaval International de Victoria remains a simple celebration of diversity and is a very important catalyst for conflict resolution and togetherness, and an instrument for telling the history of globalisation as it impacts on tourism destinations.

“You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one…this is why we are inviting our partner countries, International Carnivals, Cultural Troupes from the Community of Nations and also from the Seychelles itself all government ministries, non-government organisations, the business community and tourism trade partners to take part in the upcoming sixth Carnaval International de Victoria” Minister Alain St.Ange said.

Quebec City, December, 2015 – Now in its 16th season, the Hôtel de Glace de Québec invites you to let this winter’s Rivers theme sweep you away. Frozen solid or flowing underground, tropical or lyrical in nature, the Rivers theme is the inspiration behind the design for the Hôtel de Glace and its suites. Entirely redesigned this year, discover the unique architecture of the only hotel of its kind in North America, open January 4 to March 28, 2016. An unforgettable experience!


For Pierre L’Heureux, artistic director of the Hôtel de Glace, this year’s theme lends itself to a multitude of interpretations. “From frozen glaciers to rivers flowing underground, visitors are free to explore the banks and meanders of rivers that capture the imagination. Man and water join forces to take you on a voyage along imaginary rivers through a world of ice and snow, as you experience the Hôtel de Glace as a River,” Pierre l’Heureux explained.

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Following a record 15th anniversary in 2015, the organization intends to keep up the momentum for this season’s visitors. “Things are looking good! Overnight stays are up, we have close to twenty confirmed bookings for weddings, our website traffic is constantly growing and foreign media coverage is also steadily on the rise. We’re excited about picking up where we left off with an all-new sensorial experience that promises to be fun, unique and enriching,” enthused Hôtel de Glace CEO Jacques Desbois.

Refreshing changes

To add a new dimension to the site, the chapel will be separate from the Hôtel itself this year. “We want to make it a special, more significant venue that will be at once awe-inspiring and intimate,” Jacques Desbois explained.

Winter sports fans are also sure to appreciate this year’s new Heineken sports bar with its ice games and sports TV programming.
This season’s musts

Desjardins Grand Opening Night

As of 7 pm on Friday, January 15, the public is invited to come celebrate the 2016 season launch of the Hôtel de Glace. Now a popular tradition, this impressive official opening kicks off with fireworks, shows and live music. Get ready for a Grand Opening Night to remember! Tickets are on sale now at 418 623-2888 ext. 102.

Ice Bar Party Time

The Ice Bar will be hotter than ever this year, with two special events on the agenda. The first is on February 27, presented by Neige ice cider, and another evening is planned on March 11 by Amarula in collaboration with Énergie. Warm up to the electrifying ambiance at the most original bar in town. Hit the dance floor as our DJ keeps things rolling with promotions on cocktails served in ice glasses! Tickets sold at the door each evening.

Normandin Spring Break

From February 29 to March 4, in collaboration with the City of Quebec, the Hôtel de Glace will offer a wide choice of outdoor activities at a special low family rate for residents. Admission will be free for kids and only $12 (taxes included) for adults. There’s no better time or place to get out and play in the snow! You can explore the labyrinth, go skating, tube sliding, snowshoeing, visit the sugar shack or thrill to the Super Slide. There will face painting and activities to keep kids busy all week long!

For more information on tour packages, stays, weddings, special events and rates, go to www.hoteldeglace-canada.com.

With its scintillating chandelier, its ever-popular Super Slide, its Ice Bar serving cocktails in sparkling glasses made of ice and 44 theme rooms and suites, the Hôtel de Glace is a one of a kind experience in a spellbinding decor. The Hôtel de Glace, where frozen natural beauty meets hot urban style ─ a must since 2001.

CUSCO, PERU – Many visitors to Peru arrive in Cusco excited to make the journey to Machu Picchu. The city is often considered the launching pad for those making the trek (or train ride) to the world-renowned site; however travellers are often pleasantly surprised to find that Cusco is a destination unto itself and warrants several days of exploration.

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Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the city was once the capital of the Inca Empire and a complex urban centre. When the Spanish invaded in the 16th century, baroque temples, monasteries and manors were built on top of the existing city, uniquely preserving it. Cusco has a timeless feel juxtaposed with modern amenities. Visitors will discover colourful markets and textiles, narrow cobblestone streets, grand cathedrals, curious llamas and traditional festivals here, all while enjoying the comforts of a top hotel and some of the country’s best restaurants.
Here are some suggestions of things to see, eat and drink in Cusco (beyond Machu Picchu):
Visit: 
  • Sacsayhuaman fortress: Located on a steep hill overlooking Cusco, the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman keeps watch over the city below. Huge stones (some of the largest used in any building in prehispanic America) are fit together tightly without any mortar. Sacsayhuaman is also home to the annual Inti Raymifestival – the Inca festival of the winter solstice and new year held each June.
  • San Blas neighbourhood: The San Blas district of Cusco is a steep and picturesque climb from the main square. Narrow cobblestone streets lead visitors up past artist studios, quaint shops, restaurants and bars. The San Blas church is located in a small plaza near the top and is worth a visit. A Saturday market is also held in the square and filled with local artisans selling their wares.
  • San Pedro Market: Cusco’s main open-air market is filled with vendors of exotic fruit, flower merchants, fishmongers, butchers and herbalists. Visitors can see some of Peru’s nearly 3,000 varieties of potatoes here, have lunch with locals, or sample a variety of fresh squeezed juices.
  • Cusco Planetarium: The Inca people were serious about studying the night sky. In fact, Cusco’s main streets are designed to align with the stars at various times throughout the calendar year. The Cusco Planetarium introduces visitors to Inca astronomy and provides the opportunity to stargaze through telescopes.
  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Piuray: Perhaps the highest elevation stand-up paddle boarding in the world, excursions on Lake Piuray in the Sacred Valley provide a different perspective of the Andes. SUP Cusco offers a variety of paddle boarding tours including: SUP Basic, SUP Yoga and Sunset Paddles.
  • View roof decorations: Ceramic sculptures known as Torito de Pucaradecorate many roofs throughout Cusco. Usually ceramic bulls with crosses and/or flowers, these decorations are said to honour Pachamama (Mother Earth) and bring happiness, wealth and fertility to the home. The arrangements and design of the sculptures vary from home to home and make for an interesting self-guided “roof viewing tour”. This decorating tradition is one that pre-dates the Spanish. In Inca times, the decorations would have included llamas without any Christian symbolism.
Eat: 
  • Pachapapa: One of Cusco’s top-rated traditional Andean restaurants, Pachapapa is located in the San Blas neighbourhood and is one of the best places to try whole roast cuy (guinea pig).
  • Chicha: Operated by one of the country’s most celebrated chefs, Gaston Acurio, Chicha is the place to sample a modern take on regional and Andean cuisine while sipping a Pisco sour on one of the restaurant’s tiny balconies overlooking the street below.
  • MAP Café: The Larco Museum is home to pre-Columbian art. It also houses MAP Café, which serves contemporary Peruvian fusion cuisine such as alpaca, ceviche and lomo saltado.
  • El Parador de Moray: This restaurant opened in 2012 and has since become a favourite with travellers in the Sacred Valley. Located about an hour from Cusco overlooking the Moray terrace ruins, what used to be a hacienda in the foothills of the Andes is now one of the most picturesque and gourmet places to dine on traditional Andean cuisine.
Drink: 
  • Pisco Museum: Museo del Pisco sounds like a museum, but it’s really more of a bar that honours this Peruvian spirit (much like a brandy). The walls display photos showing the Pisco making process while bartenders serve up a variety of cocktails crafted with house-made infused Piscos made with fresh ingredients like strawberry or ginger. You can also opt for a Pisco tasting that offers four varieties to sample (much like a wine tasting).
  • Chicha from a chicheríaChicha is an Andean beverage made with corn that can be either fermented or unfermented. Several chicherías (similar to pubs in Canada) can be found in Cusco selling a variety of chichas often accompanied by small dishes (called picantes). Drinking chicha is part of Peru’s national heritage – Spanish missionaries banned the beverage when they invaded, so now drinking chicha carries cultural meaning as well. The following are a few varieties of chicha (each region has its own special recipe):
    • Chicha blanca (unfermented): made from white corn, usually with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top;
    • Chicha morada (unfermented): made from purple corn with a deep red colour;
    • Chicha de jora (fermented): similar to beer with a light pilsner taste;
    • Chicha picante (fermented): Made by adding a squeeze of lemon and dash of hot pepper sauce to chicha de jora.

 

The cool months of Fall are approaching and that means stimulated appetites. And what better way to satisfy culinary desires, or the quest for something new, than on a trip to Hong Kong for their tantalizing food celebrations? Fall visitors can indulge in the region’s four-day Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival or stay longer and enjoy even more during the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Month.

Organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and title-sponsored by China Construction Bank (Asia), the CCB (Asia) Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival will be held at the Central Harbourfront Event Space from 22 to 25 October. The excitement will then extend until 30 November, when the whole city will celebrate the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Month.

It all kicks off against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Harbour, where food and drink from around the world will be shared and celebrated. Around 340 stalls will show and share their offerings, all divided into themed areas to help participants find just what they fancy or to sample something new.

In the Country Pavilions wine dealers and experts from 21 countries and regions around the world – including famous Bordeaux – will share secrets of their delicious wines, while the Discovery Zone experts will offer something new for the festival: whiskies and craft beers. And the Cheering Zone will no doubt be especially popular with its sparkling wines and champagnes.

There will, of course, be food as well as drinks. The Tasting Room will demonstrate wine-pairing meals with master chefs, while two new zones – Star Avenue and Gourmet Trails – will present masterpieces from Michelin-starred and other award-winning Hong Kong restaurants. On 24 and 25 October (Saturday and Sunday), chefs from Michelin restaurants in France and Hong Kong, together with award-winning chefs from Hong Kong’s “Best of the Best Culinary Awards”, will present exquisite feasts in the Tasting Room. On the same days, in the afternoon sessions, the renowned Hong Kong Mandarin Oriental Hotel will showcase its classic afternoon tea in the Tasting Room. In addition, there will be around 100 food booths offering such delights as barbecued specialities, scrumptious appetizers and sweet treats.

Indulging the appetite is not the only pleasure to be found at the festivals. There will be live music and entertainment on the Main Stage and areas of alfresco seating where it will be possible to kick back and relax under the stars.

On officially launching the event, HKTB Chairman Dr Peter Lam said: “The CCB (Asia) Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival is the largest outdoor food and wine event in Hong Kong. We are delighted to stage the largest-ever event this year, with more new zones to present wines from more than 20 countries and regions and a wide range of food selection. The event venue will be specially decorated as an urban garden, in order to create an appealing setting for food and wine tasting.”

During the Wine & Dine Month following the four-day Festival the celebrations will widen across Hong Kong. There will be wine-themed tours, cellar visits, wine appreciation classes, cooking classes with master chefs, street carnivals and parties with dancing and entertainment, special menus and offers in restaurants and hotels all around the town. Everyone will wish they could be in more than one place at one time!

All the details together with ticket information can be found at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/ca/see-do/events-festivals/highlight-events/wine-dine-festival.jsp.