January Cultural Travel Guide

ARTISTIC SLOPES: The extreme-angle exterior of the recently expanded Denver Art Museum (image courtesy, Denver Art Museum)

Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT
Every January for ten days, Main Street swells with cell phone–toting studio executives from L.A. as America's foremost film festival takes over Park City. Founded in 1981 by actor Robert Redford, Sundance has become the preeminent showcase for the independent filmmaker in America, attracting some 40,000 people each year to its long lineup of features and documentaries. It's also a great time to hit the slopes, as the majority of film executives never set foot in a chairlift.

Denver Art Museum, CO
On your way to the airport heading home from your winter ski trip to the Rockies, make a pit stop in Denver. Architect Daniel Libeskind, the man behind the redesign of New York's World Trade Center, recently unveiled his striking new addition to the Denver Art Museum. The addition is constructed with 9,000 titanium panels that reflect the sunlight, shaped like crystal shards that flare out from the center of the building. Libeskind says he was inspired by the rock crystals found in the foothills of the Rockies. Inside the museum, check out the expansive African and Oceanic exhibitions and the bounty of European art.

Gourmet Cooking Festival, Yosemite National Park
As temperatures decrease, Yosemite National Park transforms into a winter wonderland, where you can play amidst the sheer granite cliffs, iced–over waterfalls, and towering trees. A short snowshoe trek from the circa–1927 lodge, the Ahwahnee Hotel, to Yosemite's Mariposa Grove and you're staring at 200–foot sequoia trees. Or cross–country ski the ten miles of groomed track that leads to 7,000–foot–high Glacier Point. Afterwards, take refuge around Ahwahnee's massive fireplace and wait for the celebrity chef to arrive. Every January at Yosemite, the National Park presents Chef's Holidays, where guest chefs from around the country demonstrate their culinary skills and prepare five–course dinners.

New Year's Eve with the Vienna Philharmonic, Austria
One of the hottest tickets in Europe is gaining entry to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for their New Year's Eve and New Year's Day performances. Tickets are drawn by lottery the January prior, by registering at the Vienna Philharmonic website. If you're one of the lucky ones who snagged seats, you'll be serenaded by the upbeat music of Johann Strauss and his contemporaries, conducted by Zubin Mehta. If not, purchase the CD, which comes out in May 2007.

The Beatles meet Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas, NV
Long known for its racy cabaret shows, white tigers, and magicians, Vegas has been transformed by the subtle majesty of Cirque du Soleil. Every night in town, roughly 10,000 people pay between $60 and $150 to see one of their five shows. The latest blockbuster, Love, made its debut in the fall of 2006 at the Mirage. The show is based on The Beatles, with music from the group setting the scene for the innovative theatrics. Afterwards, retire to the new Revolution Lounge at the Mirage. The psychedelic club will progress during the evening, from music of The Beatles to funky lounge remixes, house music, electro, new wave, and Brit pop.

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
The Seattle Art Museum has taken a downtown industrial site and converted it into a nine–acre Olympic Sculpture Park, complete with green grass and views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. The complex, which is free to the public and opens in mid January will display works by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra.

Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration in Memphis, TN
The Elvis Presley Dance Party, at Graceland Plaza, across the street from Graceland, kicks off the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll's birthday extravaganza. The multi–day event events include screenings of Elvis' films at the Bijoux Theater, a concert of Elvis tunes performed by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and a birthday cake–cutting celebration and scavenger hunt on the lawn of Graceland. Don't forget to bring your "Blue Suede Shoes" and get "All Shook Up."

Niagara Ice Wine Festival
A glass of port and a snifter of cognac are excellent ways to wash the palette after a good meal. But, given the choice, I'll take the sweet and fruity ice wine of Canada over those after–dinner drinks. Try this treasured treat by the glass at the annual Niagara Icewine Festival each January. The first night's gala, a wine tasting dinner overlooking Niagara Falls, gets the party started. Or head to scenic Niagara–on–the–Lake during the final weekend of the event to taste all the wines that will be featured on a 30–foot outdoor ice bar.

MCASD San Diego, CA
In downtown San Diego, the Museum of Contemporary Art has converted a 1915 Santa Fe Depot baggage building into a necessary addition. Opening its doors on January 21, 2007, the MCASD downtown campus will now be 30,000 square feet larger. That's just the right size to house Richard Serra's latest work, the aptly named Santa Fe Depot. Six identical forged steel blocks were inspired by the archways of the depot. Or it could just be Serra's version of baggage.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at farandaway@comcast.net.

Published: 5 Jan 2007 | Last Updated: 16 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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