Category Archives: Festival

Bern’s Onion Market

Swiss capital’s unique fall food market.

swissflagSwitzerland has no Thanksgiving, but late November brings the Zibelemärit (Onion Market) to the quaint capital of Bern. This traditional folk festival is held on the fourth Monday of every November.

Farmers from the surrounding area bring over 50 tons of onions that have been artistically woven into braids to the federal capital, along with garlic. Colorful market stalls offer ceramic pots, vegetables, traditional market goodies and mementos. To help resist the winter cold, don’t miss the Glühwein stand with its hot mulled wine.

The bustle gets underway at 5 a.m. as hundreds of visitors from home and abroad flood the city. If you go, be sure to try savory cheese tarts, onion tarts and onion soup that are served in all the restaurants, filling the air with a heady aroma. Younger visitors scatter confetti in the streets and have fun at the fairground.

Special trains are scheduled by  the S-Bahn Bern and Swiss Federal Railways makes travel to the Zibelemärit easy. If you’re not within striking distance this year, consider it for 2017.

Croatia’s New ‘Festival Island’

Almost “deserted” island becomes festival site.

In Colorado, Telluride is known for is nearly-weekly summer festivals. The island of Obonjan  6 kilometers from the city of Šibenik will fill that role in Croatia. Once used by the Scout movement and then known as widely known as the ‘Isle of Youth,’ it remained virtually uninhabited, occupied only by the island’s caretaker Mirko who has lived there with his dog, Jimmy, since 2008.

Yoga is to one of Obonjan's wellness offerings.
Yoga is to one of Obonjan’s wellness offerings.

This summer, this idyllic Adriatic island will come to life again, reopening to the public for an inaugural eight weeks for the Obonjan Festival  (July 28-September 6) and independent travelers. Glamping-style tents and air-conditioned Forest Lodges are available, starting at €70 per person per night. The festival features a fusion of creative and holistic pursuits that include art, food, music, talks, wellness activities and entertainment.  Click here for a schedule. Even though visitation is limited to just 800 people at a time, some expect a real party scene too.

FoMoInfo: +44 (0) 203 808 7333. To reserve, email bookings@otokobonjan.com.

Two ElkFests. Two states. Two seasons.

ElkFest in Jackson, Wyoming is one of several spring events.

J-HoleElkFestEstes Park, Colorado’s ElkFest is in the fall during the rut when the the bulls issue their plaintive mating calls, the aspens turn golden and snow often begins to dust the high peaks. Jackson, in Wyoming’s wonderful northwestern corner, also has an ElkFest, but it is in spring when the wildflowers bloom and hibernating wildlife show up. ElkFest takes place May 21 – 22, followed the next weekend by Old West Days, May 26 – 30

Wagonloads of antlers along the streets of Jackson attract buyers from all over the world for ElkFest’s annual Boy Scout Antler Auction on May 21. Now in its 49th year, the auction typically features more than 10,000 pounds of the naturally shed elk antlers gathered by local Boy Scouts. That rustic antler chandelier probably was made with antlers gathered by the local Scouts. The majority of auction proceeds go back to the National Elk Refuge on the outskirts of town, which devotes approximately 25,000 acres to the preservation of winter range for elk and bison herds.

Continue reading Two ElkFests. Two states. Two seasons.

Three Weeks of Gustatorian Apres-Ski

KeystoneResort-logoKeystone was Colorado’s first mountain resort to really emphasize its culinary side with interesting restaurants in the valley and up on the mountain. It long ago began hiring real chefs rather than short order cooks who were frying up burgers in exchange for free skiing. and began beefing up its kitchen staffs with real chefs and culinary school apprentices. As one of the early built-from-the-ground-up full-service resorts, it developed lodging and food and beverage facilities. The high bar Keystone set for itself continues.

Keystone Resort’s distinct signature restaurants are on display during this season’s Savor the Slopes, an upcoming multi-week rotating showcase featuring food, wine, beer and spirits. Each the host restaurant organizes its tasting event with its own unique theme that promises to be both informative and delicious. Award-winning, mountaintop locations, historical buildings and two distinct village settings host a combined 17 tasting events. All events begin at 4 p.m., so they are an excellent après-ski option. I love that several feature Colorado beer, wine and spirits. Resort guests might even want to ski off a little of the Savor the Slopes calories, while cay skiers can linger and avoid some of the eastbound I-70 traffic — of course, being  very conservative adult beverages.

Each event costs $25 (a tab easily reached by ordering some beer and munchies during conventional après-ski.  Reservations for individual Savor the Slopes tasting events are required, and can be made by calling 970-496-4386.

Savor the Slopes Schedule

  • Der Fondue Chessel. A Taste of Fondue, Wednesday, January 21
  • Alpenglow Stube. Wines of Napa Valley, Thursday, January 22
  • Keystone Ranch. Farm to Table Presentation, Friday, January 23
  • Bighorn Bistro. Creation of a Menu Item, Saturday, January 24
  • The Ski Tip Lodge. Hors d’oeuvres Made Easy, Sunday, January 25
  • Der Fondue Chessel. Cabernet at its Finest, Wednesday, January 28
  • Alpenglow Stube. Wild Game, Thursday, January 29
  • Keystone Ranch. Colorado Spirits, Friday, January 30
  • Bighorn Bistro. Craft Beers, Gastropub Style Bites, Saturday, January 31
  • The Ski Tip Lodge. Trends in Wine Making, Sunday, February 1
  • Der Fondue Chessel. Beers of the World, Wednesday, February 4
  • Alpenglow Stube. Mysteries of Merlot, Thursday, February 5
  • Keystone Ranch. History of Colorado Wines, Friday, February 6
  • Bighorn Bistro. How to Create Craft Cocktails, Saturday, February 7
  • The Ski Tip Lodge. Ski Tip Infusions, Sunday, February 8
  • Der Fondue Chessel. Wines of Sonoma, Wednesday, February 11
  • 9280 Tap House. Colorado Beers, Thursday, February 12

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

Berlin’s Festival of Lights Kicks Off

Germany’s capital’s landmarks bathed in multi-colored creativity & splendor.

VisitBerlin-logoMove over, Paris. The 10th annual Berlin Festival of Lights transforms it into a city of lights for 10 days, from October 10-19 — if not the City of Lights. Such landmarks as the Brandenburg Gate, the TV Tower, the Berliner Dom Cathedral, the Funkturm Radio tower, the Olympic stadium and many other buildings and squares dazzle with the colorful light projections each night as German and foreign artists use building façades as canvases for light installations and projections. The result is an extraordinary cityscape during the Festival of Lights. Locals and visitors enjoy special tours by bus, bicycle, carriage, limousine, boat or hot air balloon to view as many of the illuminated buildings as possible.

A tapestry of lights blankets the city during the 10th annual Berlin Festival of Lights.
A tapestry of lights blankets the city during the 10th annual Berlin Festival of Lights.

Art functions and events will also take place during the Festival. For example, during the Open Door Night, light is shed on what goes on behind the scenes in the buildings lit up for the Festival. And the Jazz in den Ministergärten music festival will put the state liaison offices for Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein in an unfamiliar light. Berlin Cathedral is the venue for Lumissimo,  concert and laser show. An event calendar lays it out day by day. Visit Berlin provides overall visitor information.

Food & Wine Event in Los Cabos

Sabor a Cabo coming to southern tip of Baja California.

SaborACabo-logoOne way to deliciously fill part of the gap between the Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Year’s holidays is at the ninth annual  Sabor a Cabo (Flavors of Cabo) food and wine festival in Los Cabos from November 30 through December 6. For the first time it includes a weeklong series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region. And did I mention that high-season lodging rates are not yet in effect then?

These schedule features Country Side Taste, November 30; Sunset Gourmet Gala prepared by Michelin Star Chefs and served aboard a luxurious yacht, December 2;  Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music,December 3; Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo (my favorite town in Los Cabos), December 4, and a Star Chef Dine-Around, December 5.  The main event on December 6 from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos features 50 participating restaurants putting out what organizers call the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine beneath the stars.

Confirmed are such world-renowned chefs as Federico Zanellato, chef and partner of Copenhagen’s NOMA Restaurant (ranked No. 1 in the world), and Richard Sandoval, whose 35+ restaurants world-wide include Zengo, Tamayo and two La Sandias in the Denver area and Venga Venga in Snownass. Also, Dieter Koshina, owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (ranked No. 22 in the world); Roberto Alcocer, chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, chef/owner of Souk Restaurant, Dallas and former chef of Spain’s sadly shuttered El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas, Puerto Vallarta, and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.

Festival tickets, which are available online, are $100 for general admission tickets prior to September 30 and $125 thereafter. Special lounge area access tickets are $150, and seats at VIP tables are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Saturday, December 6 gala are to l be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children’s Foundation of Los Cabos.

Cross-posted to www.culinary-colorado.com.

Buffalo Bill Days Are Here

Great Western showman celebrated Golden.

BuffaloBillDays-logoBuffalo Bill Cody was probably buried atop Lookout Mountain in Golden, though there are those he believe that a posse of Wyomingites spirited his casket to his namesake town of Cody. If so, they didn’t erect a marker. Golden, however, has a commanding monument.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks mark Buffalo Bill's Grave atop Lookout Mountain high over Golden, Colorado.
Rocks, rocks and more rocks mark Buffalo Bill’s Grave atop Lookout Mountain high over Golden, Colorado.

Golden also honors the great showman with Buffalo Bill Days, (July 23-27), a huge celebration that turns 60 this year and has never looked better. The local Lions Club organizes this free annual festival, which is jam-packed with Western entertainment, live music, kids’ activities, food trucks, beer garden, muttin bustin’ and the beloved Best of the West parade. Beginning with a simple trail ride up to Buffalo Bill’s Grave in the 1940s, Buffalo Bill Days has turned into a multi-day that includes:

  • Best of the West Parade– A highlight of the festival, the Best of the West Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 26. A feast for the eyes, you’ll see trotting horses, colorful Old West characters and fanfare, collectible cars, real cowboys, Native American dancers, and more. Saddle on up to Washington Avenue in beautiful historic downtown Golden early – you won’t want to miss the fun.
  • Cody’s Wild West– In the spirit of the original traveling show that brought the Wild West to the world, this year’s Cody’s Wild West reflects a rugged American spirit and originality. Western performers make up this 90-minute extravaganza on the west end of the Lions Park Ball Fields on 10th Street on Saturday, July 26 at 12:30 p.m. 
  • Live Music– The entertainment starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 25 with live music by Chris Daniels and the Kings and continues all weekend in Parfet Park in downtown Golden. Brad Lee Schroeder is the featured band on Saturday night along with other local bands. The Long Run “Colorado’s Tribute to the Eagles” closes out Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Muttin Bustin’– If you haven’t seen muttin bustin’ before, make sure that you don’t miss this raucous show and Buffalo Bill Days tradition. On Sunday, July 27 at 11 a.m. children aged five to seven years strap on a helmet and vest and hang on to a sprinting sheep for as long as possible in Lions Park.
  • Car Shows– Though Buffalo Bill was known for his horsemanship, it’s safe to say that he would have appreciated the gorgeous automobiles in the classic and orphaned car shows on Sunday, July 27 beginning at 10 a.m. on the Clear Creek Bridge to 14th on Washington Avenue.

FoMoInfo contact the Buffalo Bill Days Committee, 303-279-3342.

Bravo! Vail Launches 2014 Season

Music fills the Vail Valley in summer.

BravoVail-logoCoincidentally, when an E-alert reminded me that the Vail Valley’s Bravo! Vail was about to start, I was wearing a vintage T-shirt from the early years of this fantastic summer music festival. The 27th annual Bravo! Vail festival, this year from June 27 through August 2, again welcomes the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and my nostalgic favorite, the New York Philharmonic, in another dazzling summer of music. I last heard them a few years ago, stretched out on the lawn at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater, having happily picnicked and then listening to the music.

In addition to these big name orchestras, world-renowned chamber musicians join artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott for the Chamber Music Series, and such internationally acclaimed classical soloists as violinists Joshua Bell and Midori, and pianist Yefim Bronfman.

As always, there are free concerts, as well as pre-concert talks, children’s events, and other ducation and community engagement events at a variety of venues in the valley — as far west as Gypsum, in fact. Concert tickets are available online or through the box office at 877-812-5700.

Whole Journeys Cites International Food Festivals

Travel offshoot of natural food market lists five faves.

globeWhole Journeys, a travel branch of Whole Foods, just sent out a list of five compelling international food festivals. There’s not one that doesn’t make me want to whip out my credit card, make a reservation and go. I actually have been to the Food and Wine Class at Aspen several times, but alas, not recently. At any rate here’s the Whole Journeys list, several of which are over for this year, but there’s always 015:

  • Alacati,  Turkey. Festival of Wild Greens along the Izmir Coast. A contest involves who can gather the largest variety of  wild greens and who prepare the best recipe with them. Sounds like an event from the fertile mine of a Turkish Rene Rezapi.    It also includes concerts, races, a large farmers market and outdoor stalls selling food and crafts from Izmir.
  • Motovun, Croatia. Teran & Truffle Festival (TETA). Local winemakers who produce traditional Istrian Teran wines gather with top chefs and truffle hunters during the harvest season to feature truffle dishes.
  • Carnivale in Italy. Whole Journeys directed readers to a blog post written by Carol Sicbaldi, a Whole Foods operations manager who resides in Italy. She notes that during February towns all over Italy celebrate Carnival, “a few weeks traditionally devoted to enjoyment, pleasure and naughtiness in the period preceding the austerity of Lent. ” In the US, this period culminates with Mardi Gras.
  • Logroño, Spain’s Basque Country. Riojan Harvest Festival during which people pay homage to San Mateo, patron saint of Logroño. Young people wearing traditional dress stomp the grapes and offer the first grape juice of the season to the Virgen de la      Valvanera. Village ceremonies include Herri Kirolak, Basque rural sports that I’d never heard of, includ stone carrying and wood chopping competitions
  • Cusco, Peru. Corpus Christi Festival,  Villagers carry statues of 15 saints  for  many days to the Cathedral in Cusco.  On the eve of the main day of Corpus Christ,i twelve typical dishes including cuy, chiriuchu, huatia and chichi or prepared to represent the 12 Apostles. They do not contain meat in honor of Christ’s passion, though I don’t understand how cuy, which is guinea pig, can be meatless.
  • Aspen, Colorado. Aspen Food and Wine Classic attracts people in the food industry such as top chefs, international and domestic wine makers, cheese mongers and others, plus well-heeled foodies who are all passionate about food and wine.

Cross-posted to www.culinary-colorado.com.

Colorado Wildlife Festivals

Free wildlife and birding events captivate adults and children

ColoradoAnimals,jpgSometimes I feel as if my Boulder backyard hosts its own little wildlife festival — birds on the feeders and in the heated birdbath, squirrels browsing for scattered seeds under the feeders, hummingbirds arriving in spring, raccoons in summer, the occasional fox, backyard deer, plus even elk, coyote and sometimes mountain lions nearby. But there’s more to Colorado wildlife than my backyard. The state has seven national wildlife refuges, plus assorted privately run sanctuaries for endangered, ill or injured animals, and zoos where people can view and learn about species from all over the world.

But I’m especially intrigued by the state’s many free festivals focusing on one species at a time with experts, artists, viewing opportunities, entertainment and perhaps country fair-type fun too. Many of these events have been going on for years. Many take place in terrific little towns that otherwise are often overlooked.

February 15. 9th annual Bighorn Sheep Day, Colorado Springs. Visitors peer through high-powered telescopes st up at on- and off-site viewing station at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center to see the state animal of Colorado in its natural habitat. Close-up activities include guided nature walks, animals from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, children’s activities and refreshments.

February 20-23. 12th annual Snow Goose Festival, Lamar. Music, ranch tours, Colorado Birding Trail sites and of course, snow geese. See more than 70 different species, and learn about these birds while sightseeing and listening to expert speakers.

March 7-9. 31st annual Monte Vista Crane Festival, Monte Vista. In late February, sandhill cranes begin their annual journey from south to north. Before they get to their northern destination, the cranes stop near the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge for a little break. Come see the cranes, speak with a wildlife expert or take a bus tour to see the 20,000 cranes that come back every year. Also expect to see eagles and elk.

April 25-26. 8th annual Karval Mountain Plover Festival, Karval. The rare Mountain Plover arrive on Colorado’s Eastern Plains for an annual spring visit. Along with bird watching, visitors enjoy learning the community’s history, mingle with local farmers and ranchers and learn and eat a lot of delicious food in an authentic Western environment.

May 7-11. Ute Mountain-Mesa Verde Birding Festival, Mesa Verde National Park and adjacent Ute Tribal Park. Writer of several guidebooks on Arizona birding, Rick Taylor speaks at the Archeological Center of America, while spring migrants settle on Ute-Mountain and in Mesa Verde. Bird watchers from all over the nation gather in the spectacular settings of Mesa Verde National Park and Ute Tribal Park for birding field trips.

May 10. Hummingbird Festival, Colorado Springs. In mid-April, hummingbirds return from Mexico to Colorado Springs’ Cheyenne Cañon for the summer/fall. This event is held so that more people can learn more about these delicate yet powerful little birds. The festival includes live hummingbirds up-close, hummingbird expert speakers and artisan vendors.

May 16-18. Bent on Birding*, Las Animas. One of the best places for bird watching is in Bent County in Southeast Colorado. Birds such as pelicans, Piping Plover, Least Tern, Black Rail and more can all be found here after migrating back when the winter has ended. History re-enactments are held during the event, and birding experts offer guided tours to private ranches that also feature Native American rock art. *Note that this link is to the 2013 event; double check for 2014.

June 7. Front Range Birding Festival, Littleton. The Front Range Birding Company presents an opportunity to get up close and personal with a live Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon and Harris Hawk. The event will also honor first responders, as Denver fireman, helicopter pilots and flight nurses will be in attendance.

July 26Grand Mesa Moose Day, Grand Junction area. Hosted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the US Forest Service at the USFS Visitor Center on the top of Grand Mesa, see one of Colorado’s most fascinating wildlife species. Reintroduced to the Mesa in 2005, the moose population up there is estimated at about 1,500 animals. Learn how to spot moose and how to view them safely at this 5th annual event.

September 12-15. 3rd annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival, Steamboat Springs. As cranes migrate back south via Steamboat Springs, Craig and Hayden, join experts for crane viewing. Nature walks and family activities will also be part of this festival.

September 27. NoCo Nature Festival, Fort Collins. Live animals, live music, interactive activities and more will all be featured at the Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space for this lively nature festival with presentations, bird walks and a wildlife camera walk through the Rocky Mountain Cat Conservatory. This event was canceled last year due to sodden ground after the September floods.

October 4-5. 17th annual Elk Fest. Estes Park. When the call of bull elks fill the Estes Valley, Bond Park in downtown Estes Park celebration central with activities including the Mountain Man Rendezvous, an event where mountain men will demonstrate their skills and the Elk Bulging Contest, a contest to see who sounds the most like an elk bulging. Visitors also head into Rocky Mountain National Park in the late afternoon to watch herds of elk during the rut.

October 12. The Big Sit!, Littleton. Nicknamed the “birding’s most sedentary event,” this annual event in Chatfield State Park draws birders from far and wide who sit in a 17-foot-diameter circle in Chatfield State Park to count how many birds are seen or heard, while eating breakfast, lunch or dinner and meeting new people.

November 8. Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival, Georgetown. This easy-access festival just off I-70 provides opportunities to watch one of Colorado’s largest bighorn herds. Visitors can learn about Colorado’s state mammal from expert speakers and short educational programs. Georgetown shop owners will also display their wildlife related artwork, gifts and crafts.