With the "warm" days of winter behind us, spring forward with laughter, music and snowboarding — all good for the soul and sure to lift your spirits after kissing winter goodbye.
The end is near, claims the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, so why not go out laughing? Laugh in the face of calamity at the annual big, bad laugh-fest running April 5-15. Taking a cue from the Mayan calendar with its tongue-in-cheek apocalypse theme, the festival features TV vixen Shannon Tweed and Canadian icon Alan Thicke handling hosting duties, as well as scores of crowd-pleasing comedians including acid-tongued Nikki Payne, Scott Thompson and Debra DiGiovanni, and funny men Big Daddy Taz and Matt Kirshen. See winnipegcomedyfestival.com.
World flower expo
Miss Floriade 2012 and you’ll have to wait another 10 years. The World Horticulture Expo blooms April 5 to Oct. 7, in Venlo, Holland. The park covers 66 hectares of blooming flowers and flourishing plants, and is comprised of five unique areas, including healing through nature, green innovation and education. With a theme of "Be part of the theatre of nature," attendees are encouraged not just to look, but to interact and take part in activities. Each day features a cultural program of music, dance, literature, theatre and visual arts from all over the world. A 30-metre-high cable-car gives a bird’s eye view of the park. Check out floriade.com.
Bunny ears optional
Pick a fight and have a whacking good time with your soft couch pillows or un-favourite stuffed animal at the Annual Pillow Fight Day 2012. Pillow fights are taking place all over the world on April 7 — from Barcelona to Buenos Aries, and Toronto, Victoria, and Quebec City too. In honour of the Easter weekend, this year’s Pillow Fight Day is rabbit-themed.
In what’s become an annual event of epic proportions, New Yorkers saw more than 5,000 crowd into Union Square in 2011 to beat one another softly and senselessly. No down pillows please — they’re way too messy. Get your fight on at pillowfightday.com.
Bid a final adieu to old man winter at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, an electrifying season-ender party running April 13-22. Festival motto: "Party in April. Sleep in May." Feel and see the energy at the blowout annual sports and music festival as Whistler Blackcomb resort is transformed into a hub of foot-stomping live music, adrenaline-pumping sports competitions and inspiring arts and lifestyle events. The 10-day festival showcases the best of snowsports, music, arts and mountain life along with jaw-dropping professional ski and snowboarding competitions, including World Championship Freeskiing. Check out wssf.com.
Be awed by the splendour of spring as San Francisco’s colourful Japantown bursts into bloom on the weekends of April 14-15 and 21-22. Celebrate the 45th-annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a dazzling tribute to the colour and grace of the Japanese community’s culture and diversity. Each year more than 200,000 people attend the prominent festival of Asian traditions, which wraps up on April 22 with a spectacular Grand Parade. Leave time to explore the oldest Japantown in the U.S., roam the food bazaar, and enjoy traditional arts and crafts including demonstrations of flower arranging and bonsai (tree dwarfing). Entertainment stages feature Japanese dancers, martial artists and taiko drummers. See nccbf.org.
Featuring more than 150 world-class, cutting-edge documentaries, Toronto-based Hot Docs returns for its 19th year April 26 to May 9. North America’s largest documentary film festival showcases talent, characters and stories from Canada and around the globe to more than 150,000 moviegoers.
Spread over 10 days, the festival takes place at theatres throughout the city and offers matinee and evening showings. Entertaining, educating and provocative, Hot Docs documentaries regularly tackle the personal, the political and the bizarre. Festival passes and tickets bundles on sale at hotdocs.ca.
All that jazz
Entertain the idea of visiting the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a seven-day jazz-fest like no other. A legendary celebration of music and culture spread over two weekends in late April and early May, the festival features a terrific line-up of music legends, jazz icons and new acts on the rise, in addition to crafts and fabulous food. Big names this year include The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Foo Fighters. Scheduled April 27-29 and May 3-6, more than 400,000 attendees are expected in this cultural- and historical-rich mecca. Single day tickets start at $50; weekend packs start at $120. See nojazzfest.com.