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Posts from the ‘Summer in Charlottetown’ Category

Celebrate Canada Day in Charlottetown, Where it all Began

The coming long weekend promises to be filled with lots of red, white, maple leafs and national pride, as we celebrate the birth of Canada on July 1st. As the Birthplace of Confederation, Charlottetown is the perfect place to get your fill of fireworks, patio drinks, BBQs, live music and other celebratory indulgences.   Here are just a few colourful and Canadian-inspired ways to fill up your weekend:

Take in The Young Company’s Free Musical

Canada Day marks the debut of  The Young Company’s 2016 showThe Voices of Canada, a 50-minute exploration of Canada’s rich cultural mosaic and heritage. Head to the Confederation Centre of the Arts open-air amphitheatre for this free musical and prepare to be mesmerized as some of the brightest emerging performers from across Canada present this high-energy celebration, weaving song, dance and legend into a stunning kaleidoscope of movement and colour. Show starts at noon and runs daily from Monday through Saturday (July 1st to August 20th, 2016)

 

Young Company

 

Check Out the Canada Day Activities at Victoria Park

Victoria Park will be buzzing all day and well into the evening on July 1st, as the City of Charlottetown hosts a slew of free and family-friendly Canada Day activities starting at 11.30am and ending with the always much-anticipated fireworks display at 10pm. A 10-hour concert starting at noon will keep audiences of all ages entertained, while face painting, horse & wagon rides, a petting zoo and plenty more are will ensure the kids are kept busy! Food vendors will also be on-site, so bring your appetite.

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Canada Day

Join the Brakish! Canada Day Keg Party

For many Canadians, celebrating the nation’s birth goes hand-in-hand with enjoying a nice, cold beer or two.  This year, the waterfront eatery Brakish will be hosting a Canada Day Keg Party, complete with live music, BBQ food and the chance to sample 14 craft beers. Best of all, you’ll be able to enjoy your bevies while lounging in their new Brak’Yard, an outdoor grassy area alongside their patio – perfect for wiling away the hours people-watching and spending time with good friends.

Brakish!

Immerse Yourself in The Story of Confederation

The Story of Confederation offers visitors the opportunity to experience Province House in Prince Edward Island National Historic Site and the Charlottetown Conference while Province House is closed for conservation work. The Upper Foyer of the Confederation Centre of the Arts has been transformed into a stunning replica of the historic Confederation Chamber where the Fathers of Confederation met during the Charlottetown Conference. Check out the film ‘Building a Destiny’ and learn more about the role Charlottetown played in Confederation.

Free Admission. Open Mon – Sat (9am to 5pm) and Sundays (12pm to 5pm)

 Confederation Centre of the Arts

Have a Canada Day Picnic

If you’re looking to get away from it all for a couple of hours, why not pack a picnic basket full of goodies and head to one of the City squares or to a nearby beach.  Pick up delicious lunch fare at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, Leonhard’s Cafe Riverview Market, Receiver Coffee Co. or another food purveyor. And don’t forget to bring along a sweet treat – Cows Chips are a favourite amongst locals, though they melt quickly so you may need to eat them before the rest of your lunch!

Picnic

Take a Walking Tour 

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie or simply want to learn a bit more about Charlottetown by traveling on foot, there’s a walking tour  just for you.  Join up with the Confederation Players, a troupe of bilingual costumed Canadians trained as the Fathers and Ladies of Confederation, for an entertaining and informative stroll through historic downtown Charlottetown. If you’re a foodie at heart, you may want to treat your tastebuds to a culinary walking tour of Charlottetown with Experience PEI  - you’ll get a taste of history amidst the seafood, beer and other samples too!

Confed Players

And no matter how you spend the upcoming Canada Day long weekend, be sure you take time to visit Sir John A. MacDonald’s statue on the corner of Queen St and Richmond and bid him a good day. After all, he’s the most famous Father of Confederation and Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Sir John A

Happy Canada Day!

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How to ‘Art in the Open’

By Pan Wendt, Co-curator, Art in the Open

For the fifth year running, this August 29th from 4pm till midnight, downtown Charlottetown’s streets and parks will be enlivened by a one-day free visual art festival, Art in the Open. Featuring over 30 temporary sculptures and installations, performances, projections, and other ephemeral art projects, this event has become a popular fixture in the city, attracting thousands of viewers. This year’s theme is Signals, and many of the pieces are focused on the variety of ways we communicate and mediums we employ to send messages.

'Creativity' - Art in the Open 2014

The Creativity Project – Art in the Open 2014

As one of the event’s organizers, I receive plenty of messages from the public, usually positive feedback about the festival. But I also hear some constructive criticism, and very often it focuses on viewers missing out on work, particularly scheduled performances, because they struggle to navigate and be in the right place at the right time. Some works are only present at night, some only during the day. Some performances only happen a few times, and so on.

In response to this, I usually mention that part of the point of Art in the Open is to enjoy the city in a different way, and come across some pieces unexpectedly. This is why we don’t use a lot of signage, but instead provide a small guidebook with a map, available this year the week of the festival at City Hall, Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Receiver Coffee Co.

That said, I’m glad to offer a suggested route that makes it possible to see almost all of the pieces (all of them if you are really ambitious and don’t mind walking approximately 5 kilometres!), and gives you a little bit of a preview of this year’s festival.  So without further ado, here’s my suggestions on how to ‘Art in the Open’ in 2015:

4 pm – Start off downtown at 4 pm on Victoria Row, with the performance of Montreal artist Coral Short and Sarah Wendt’s Laughter Choir. After this it’s an ideal time to explore some of the downtown projects, including the family-oriented Creativity Project on Victoria Row and Paul Griffin’s Sarcophagus sculpture, a giant tree ornamented with a skin of galvanized nails, on the Confederation Centre Plaza in front of the Art Gallery entrance. And check out Coral Short’s mobile performance, Plush, as it walks about the Confederation Centre Plaza and Victoria Row any time between 6 and 7 pm. Another event is happening downtown that you might want to check out, the Fine Art and Craft market (Market on the Plaza, noon to 10pm) on the Confederation Centre Plaza, a great opportunity to meet some of the inspiring artists who call PEI home.

Circus - Art in the Open 2014

Circus – Art in the Open 2014

From downtown, head to Rochford Square, which includes several installations, including works by the Architects’ Association of P.E.I. And from there visit the area around Government Pond and Beaconsfield, where you can visit a mobile museum by Manitoba artist Andrew Milne, and experience the making of a tintype (a 19th century photographic medium) with Karen Stentaford, and an ongoing performance/installation by P.E.I. artist Nancy Cole. The Beaconsfield Assembly Dancers provide a demonstration from 7-8 pm. Or you can head along the path to Victoria Park, see Ahmon Katz’s sculpture and catch the final 7pm performance of Time Travel Theatre by Faye Pund and Leonard MacPherson, who present a historical reenactment with a comic twist, focused on surveyor Samuel Holland, who famously surveyed the Island in 1765 and produced a groundbreaking map that is currently on display at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.

Note: an alternative route would be to stay downtown and join the March of the Crows (a raucous parade of black-clad “crows”) that leaves the Grafton Street side of Province House at 7:30 pm and travels through the festival sites to arrive at Victoria Park at 8 pm. This means you miss some of the performances, but do get to experience the brilliance of traveling with the crows.

March of the Crows - Art in the Open 2014

March of the Crows – Art in the Open 2014

Check out the numerous installations around the front fields of Victoria Park, including Jerry Ropson’s flagpole works at Ford Edward Battery. At around 7:45 the park comes alive, with Mi’kmaq drumming and singing by the Lone Cry Singers, and the arrival of the cacophonous March of the Crows. As dusk falls, the 21 fires of Vancouver-based artist Scott Saunders (Field of Fire) will be lit, and Mi’kmaq Legends can be seen from bleachers behind the Victoria Park floral sign, starting at 8:15 (when the little crows settle down for a story).

Walking the woods of Victoria Park at night is always a highlight of Art in the Open. Explore the major sculptural pieces by Kent Senecal (look for a car hanging from a crane in the tennis courts’ parking lot) and Gerald Beaulieu (a 20-foot tall surprise we won’t spoil, hidden in a clearing in the woods), as well as new media installations and more sculpture. For a break from the hubbub, visit Monica Lacey’s interactive Cocoon. At 9:45 in the park (the bleachers behind the park sign), Coral Short and Sarah Wendt present another performance, Scream Choir.

Field of Fire - Art in the Open 2014

Field of Fire – Art in the Open 2014

Head back downtown to see some of the works that animate the city at night, including a projection-based installation by Carmen Belanger and Andy Reddin in Rochford Square, Damien Worth’s piece in the window of Receiver Coffee on Victoria Row, and Sandi Hartling’s piece in the non-fiction section of the Public Library at the Confederation Centre. Halifax artist Michael McCormack is presenting Beacon in the Grafton St. entrance of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, a work that receives and sends signals via ham radio. Signals sent by this piece will animate the city with sound and light at various locations downtown. And finally wander into the gallery to see the exhibitions and catch the 11pm surreal multimedia/dance performance by the Montreal-based Inflatable Deities.

Art in the Open 2014

Wagon Blues – Art in the Open 2014

This tour doesn’t capture everything in Art in the Open and I know you will discover other works along the way. Myself and the rest of the Art in the Open team hope you enjoy the amazing creativity on display, and the wonderful parks and public spaces of downtown Charlottetown!

 

Feature Image Photo Credit: Back to the Future by Gerald Beaulieu 2014, photo by Michael Wasnidge

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Exploring Charlottetown by Water

By Aaron Hansen

Charlottetown has many elements that contribute to it being one of the best places to visit and enjoy during the summer. Many would argue that one of Charlottetown’s greatest assets is its proximity to the water. Nestled between two rivers, there is no shortage of stunning views, shorelines to explore, and activities to take part in that are water-centric. As a seafaring kind of guy, who spends many, many hours every summer enjoying Charlottetown’s waterscapes, I’m here to give you the insider’s scoop on some of the city’s best water-based outing. Whether you’re visiting on holiday, a seasonal resident, or simply looking for something fresh and fun to try, Historic Hillsborough River has got you covered.

Go On An Amphibious Adventure

Take an exciting ride on the very large amphibious vehicle called the Harbour Hippo! Discover Charlottetown from the water on this guided tour that travels both in the water and through the streets of downtown Charlottetown. You and your family will love crashing into the water as the Hippo drives from the street straight into the water. Not only will you enjoy unique views of the City from the water, you’ll also be privy to great insights and stories from the friendly tour guides!

Get out on the red boat, the Harbour Hippo!

Get out on the red boat, the Harbour Hippo!

Fun For The Whole Gang

If you happen to be part of a larger group and are looking for something unique and guaranteed to be good fun, I recommend checking out Peake’s Wharf Boat Tours. These guys will accommodate pretty much any request when it comes to experiences like hauling in a lobster trap, cooking mussels or checking out some seals. If you  are playing host to a family reunion or your team just won a big game, the 45ft Fairview can handle the whole group and provide some fantastic summer memories.

Get a gang together and check out Peake's Wharf Boat Tours

Get a gang together and check out Peake’s Wharf Boat Tours.

Another great option for those who are especially keen on trying their hand at lobster fishing and lobster feasting is Top Notch Lobster Tours. Captain Mark Jenkins offers morning, afternoon and evening tours for up to 12 people on his genuine lobster boat. You’ll get to haul trap, band a claw, take your turn at the wheel and, of course, sit down to a lobster meal at the end of it all. Truly, it doesn’t get much more PEI than heading out on a lobster boat!

mmerse yourself in a lobster fishing experience with Top Notch Lobster Tours.

Immerse yourself in a lobster fishing experience with Top Notch Lobster Tours.

Charter A Sailing Boat

If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on to fill a beautiful summer day, you may want to consider chartering a sailboat for you and up to 12 of your closest friends. Saga Sailing Adventures offers a beautiful 36’ Canadian designed fiberglass sail boat that will take your group out on the water, where you can enjoy all sorts of activities, from snorkelling and swimming to exploring isolated beaches or catching a tan on deck. With Captain Kurt Martel at the helm you can rest at ease as he puts his 20+ year of sailing experience to work and provides you with an enjoyable and memorable outing that is sure to be on your summer highlight reel.

Get Really Close To The Water

If being a bit closer to the action is your preference, there are all sorts of paddle activities that you can try your hand at in Charlottetown. Your starting point will be the Charlottetown Yacht Club, where  there is a beautiful public boat launch for kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards. Feel free to take your own boat down and launch from this facility or, if you’re visiting, Paddles PEI is conveniently located right next to the boat launch. Their friendly staff will get you on your way in a single or double kayak or you can try your hand at stand up paddleboarding! Once on the water you can explore the various marinas, cruse along Victoria Park or take a longer paddle up the North River. Again, this is one of those activities that will, undoubtedly, be etched in your memories of summer for a long time to come.

Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding

Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding

Sit Back And Enjoy The View

Perhaps sitting back and enjoying some food and drink is on your ‘must do’ list, or maybe you’re just really hungry after kayaking the river!  No problem, Charlottetown’s waterfront has many spectacular patio restaurants with the mesmerizing views of the water. Feel free to pull up a chair, order some grub and watch the sailboats, cruise ships, and stunning vistas of the Historic Hillsborough River. There are many options to choose from including of Steamers, Lobster on the Wharf, Peake’s Quay, and Brakish. Wile away the evening hours on one of these patios or enjoy the Island tradition known as ‘patio-hopping’.

Enjoy waterfront views while you dine on delicious, local foods.

Enjoy waterfront views while you dine on delicious, local foods.

There’s plenty more to do on and along Charlottetown’s waterways, but part of the joy is in discovering those hidden gems, so I’ll leave a few for you to find on your own.  And remember, when visiting Charlottetown, you’re on island time, where everything is close by and you’re never more than 30 min from an amazing beach!

Happy adventuring!

Aaron Hansen is a lifelong Islander who grew up in Stratford and works in Charlottetown. He spends the majority of his time on the Charlottetown waterfront and operates Paddles Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals at the Charlottetown Yacht Club.

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A Summer’s Day in Charlottetown

By Jennifer MacPhail

First, I’m here to tell you a secret. Like any good secret, it’s a well-known one, but in the event you haven’t been told – this city is pretty great in the summer.

Summer starts on Sunday, June 21st. To kick off the season and celebrate the longest day of the year, Discover Charlottetown has created Summer Solstice Weekend, which will feature three days jam-packed with summer-inspired things to see, do, taste, and hear in Charlottetown, running from June 19th to June 21st.

With so much to enjoy in the City, where does one begin? I’ve been asked to share my tips on how to make the most of a sun-filled day in Charlottetown – whether it be during Summer Solstice Weekend or any other time during the season.

Fueling Your Day

The sun is shining and you’ve just woken up. What are you going to do today? Well, first you need to grab a bicycle. The Confederation Trail runs through Charlottetown and links downtown to the rest of the Island, offering a safe route for cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, and everyone else you find on the trail. If you’re visiting and don’t have a bike, we’ve got you covered with numerous rental spots in Charlottetown.  If it’s Saturday or Wednesday, you’ll want to head to the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market first thing in the morning. It’s conveniently located on the Confederation Trail and full of delicious local foods and beautiful artisan items. As part of the Summer Solstice Weekend, on June 20th, the Market is hosting a special chef demo. Be sure to sign up ahead of time for this tasty experience!

Enjoy locally produced food at the market!

Enjoy locally produced food at the market!

If your trip to the market didn’t fill your belly (hard to imagine!) and you find yourself a bit peckish, you’ll want to head to Receiver Coffee Co. on Victoria Row. You will arrive, look at the menu, and think, “So many delicious options, however will I decide?!” You will order the breakfast bake. Yes, other things will tempt you, but don’t second guess yourself (If you choose to ignore my advice you’ll be fine, as everything on the menu is excellent!).

Shopping & Wandering

So far I have advised you to eat a lot of food. It’s important to maintain balance in life, so now you might want to take a stroll. Make your way to Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront and visit the shops that open their doors for the summer season. Enjoy live music at the outdoor stage and check out the sales taking place during Summer Solstice Weekend. On your wander down to the waterfront, you’ll also discover plenty of other unique shops and beautiful storefronts, particularly on Queen Street, Great George Street, Water Street, and Victoria Row.

Peake's Wharf Historic Waterfront

Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront

Peake’s Wharf Historic Waterfront is handily located next to Confederation Landing Park, which will play host to many Summer Solstice Weekend activities. Stop in and visit Parks Canada’s Discovery Dome, stroll through Artisan Alley and stop to marvel at the artisan demonstrations, enjoy a sneak peek of snippets from the Island Fringe Festival, take in National Aboriginal Day Celebrations, and get your face painted (or, you know, maybe your kid’s face).

Fun Times Outside

Charlottetown is blessed with great swaths of green space, the most popular being, arguably, Victoria Park. There is a boardwalk that stretches along the waterfront, trails in the woods, a children’s play area, tennis courts, a pool, and lots of space to toss around a frisbee. During the summer, one of the driving lanes is shut down to traffic and turned over to cyclists, skateboarders, and in-line skaters.

Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk

Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk

Frisbee at Victoria Park

Frisbee at Victoria Park

If your golf clubs are begging to be used, you are in the right place. Although there are many golf courses in the Greater Charlottetown Area, Fox Meadow Golf & Country Club gets a special mention for their Summer Solstice promotion. On June 20th or 21st, you can enjoy unlimited golf for the entire day at a special rate of $50.

Perhaps swinging a club at a tiny, white, unpredictable ball (sigh) doesn’t appeal to you, but you feel like reaching new heights. Cornwall’s Rise and Climb Adventure Course gives you the chance to channel your inner monkey as you clip on for an exciting ropes course. On Friday, June 19th, they are hosting their first-ever Solstice night climb starting at 8:30pm, which will allow participants to complete the course in a new, challenging way.

I’m Hungry Again!

For entertainment of a different sort, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino offers a choice of two restaurants and front row seats to live harness racing while you enjoy your meal. You can even place bets on the races from your table!

Enjoy front row seats to the races while enjoying dinner at Top of the Park

Enjoy front row seats to the races while enjoying dinner at Top of the Park

Watch live harness racing up close.

Watch live harness racing up close.

Stomach still rumbling? Perfect, now it’s time for ice cream. COWS was selected by Reader’s Digest as Canada’s best ice cream, a well deserved designation. Ice cream is also available at numerous other downtown locations, including Billy Timber Ice Cream & Candy Co. at Peake’s Wharf, Downtown Convenience, Cy’s, Kiwanis Dairy Bar at Victoria Park, and others. I feel pretty confident in saying Charlottetown is an ice cream friendly destination.

This COWS statue gets almost as much love as their ice cream!

This COWS statue gets almost as much love as their ice cream!

Sometimes it happens that you’ve already had ice cream for, oh, eight days in a row. For something different head to Anne of Green Gables Chocolates. Smile politely and act surprised when the store’s friendly staff offer you a sample. There are lots of goodies here fighting for your attention, but the show stealer is the chocolate covered potato chips.

Night Time Fun

You’re full now, right? Good, because we need to talk about fun evening activities. One particular Charlottetown cultural activity you might not read about in your guide is pub trivia. On almost any night of the week there is a pub somewhere in Charlottetown hosting trivia. Hunter’s Ale House leads the pack by having trivia three or four nights a week. I will warn you, trivia can be busy. You shouldn’t expect to get a table if you wait until start time to arrive. Also, schedules do change and you may find some places on hiatus during the summer months (surely reason enough to return to PEI during the fall or winter!).

Oh My, It’s Raining

Anytime I imagine a particular day or event, I always envision sunny skies. It is a fact, however, that PEI’s weather can be unpredictable by times and the reason our grass is so green is because it rains on occasion. No bother, grab your wellies and rain coat and head downtown. Do you like musicals starring red-headed heroines? Me too! Catch Anne of Green Gables – The Musical on stage at the Confederation Centre of the Arts or cross the street to The Guild and enjoy Anne all grown up and in love in Anne & Gilbert: The Musical. Both venues also house art galleries, so be sure to arrive early and take some time to wander around. The Confederation Centre is also the temporary home of an impressive recreation of Province House’s legislature, which is currently closed for refurbishment, and a fascinating video that will give you insight into the role Charlottetown played in Confederation.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts

The Confederation Centre of the Arts

If you prefer stage productions that don’t star enthusiastic orphans, you’ll be pleased to know that there are numerous live theatre performances and musical revues at the Confederation Centre, the Mack, The Guild, and the PEI Brewing Company on select nights to suit all ages and tastes.

Sometimes it’s nice to incorporate a bit of education into your day. Pop up your umbrella and head to Founders’ Hall. This attraction tells the story of Canada’s birth and how the country evolved geographically to get to where it is today. The venue also has a shop, restaurant, and Visitor Information Centre should you be stuck for fun activities, need a map, or wish to pick up some souvenirs.

Many people are willing to golf in the rain, but if you prefer to stay dry go upstairs in the Confederation Court Mall and go to All About Golf, an indoor golf simulator.

City Cinema is a single-screen cinema showing movies that are not typically screened at major theatres. On the weekend there are two showings per night, which still gives you plenty of time to pop into a pub later for a beverage and live music.

Well That Was a Busy Day

That was a pretty full day, wasn’t it? And one of the best parts is that there is still lots left to do throughout the rest of the summer! Be sure to return to Discover Charlottetown’s website frequently, give them a like on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to learn about the latest Summer Solstice events and other festivals happening throughout the summer.

Happy exploring!

Jennifer MacPhail is a long-time blogger, avid cyclist, former Disney World Cast member, and cat lover. She lives in downtown Charlottetown and is excited every time there is a cruise ship in town.

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