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(2019 - Winter/Spring Issue)


Destination Canada has added two Signature Experiences to its collection of more than 200 extraordinary Canadian travel experiences. Guided Adventures by SkiBig3 allows skiers and snowboarders to experience Alberta’s Banff Sunshine, Mt. Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Resort through the eyes of a local. The three-day program includes a night at each resort and lift-line priority. The second experience, by One Ocean Expeditions, is a 12-day luxury cruise from late July to early August. Board a 96-passenger ship in Iqaluit and cross the Arctic Circle to explore Baffin Island’s wild east coast. Meet traditional Inuit communities, watch for polar bears, seals and narwhals and stop at remote Beechey Island, where the Franklin Expedition ended. Join polar experts, marine biologists, historians, Inuit guides and a photographer.  destinationcanada.com

Imagine setting foot in Winterfell, Castle Black or Kings Landing for real! These iconic locations from HBO’s Game of Thrones, shot in Northern Ireland, are about to be converted into tourist attractions. The sets, expected to open in 2019, will feature displays of costumes, props and weapons along with the digital wizardry that makes the hit show come alive. Tours are also available of Linen Mill Studios, used for scenes as diverse as Riverrun and the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave. The stunning landscapes, coastlines and mountains shown in the series are also available for viewing, for free! ireland.com

Take a cooking class or learn how to pair local wines with food at the New York Kitchen, one of many popular tourist stops in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Experience Japanese forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku at Finger Lakes Forest Immersion. Sample grape pie in the town of Naples. At the romantic Belhurst Castle, where bedrooms are fit for royalty, indulge in the complimentary wine spigot. For the best night life, Geneva’s revitalized Linden Street offers everything from wine and cocktail bars to unique restaurants. And don’t miss the Rochester/Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail, a chance to explore more than 40 producers of wine, beer, spirits and cider. VisitFingerLakes.com

Love big birds? Each spring, birdwatchers gather at the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Ontario, where between 10,000 and 60,000 tundra swans stop to refuel on their annual migration to the High Arctic. The area offers trails, wildlife viewing stands, interpretative signs, brochures and plenty of parking. From the last week in February until late March, the Aylmer–Malahide Museum’s Swan Line provides daily updates on numbers. For another unique spring sighting, join the annual Swan Parade celebration in Stratford on April 6 and 7, culminating in a parade of non-migrating swans, who are almost as popular as Justin Bieber, waddling to their summer home on the Avon River. For updates, call the Swan Line at 519-773-7926 or 519-SSE-SWAN. VisitStratford.ca/swan-weekend

In response to the shift toward transformational travel experiences, Insight Vacations has introduced a variety of magical journeys to far-flung countries around the world for 2019. Food lovers might be interested in a Dine-at-Home evening full of Yorkshire hospitality at the historical Birdsall House, a farm-to-table excursion in Bordeaux, a wine-tasting journey in Puglia, an Oktoberfest celebration in Munich or a visit to a local Druze Village in Israel. History enthusiasts can explore the magnificent Barberini gardens of the Pope’s summer palace in Italy, commemorate the 75th anniversary of WW II Normandy landings, meet a university insider at Trinity College in Ireland or discover the pyramids of Giza. Sustainable-responsible travellers can explore the ruins of Petra, go glamping in the desert or meet a community of female entrepreneurs who tackle the issue of unemployment for women in Jordan. insightvacations.com/ca

There’s much to do in Toronto this winter. For example, the CN Tower’s newly renovated main observation level offers an eye-popping perspective on the city’s most spectacular view with a new glass floor, featuring a dramatic view 346 metres straight down. Another other-worldly experience awaits at Canada’s first Museum of Illusions near the St. Lawrence Market. Illuminated by Canadian and international light artists in 44 different locations around the historical Distillery District, the Toronto Light Fest continues until March. From February 19 to April 1, Winter Stations returns to The Beach where seven inspired winners from an international design competition will be installed at lifeguard stands along snow-swept Kew and Balmy Beach. This year’s theme is Migration. SeeTorontoNow.com

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