Lilac Festival is blooming on Mackinac Is

Lilac Festival is blooming on Mackinac Is
A tour boat speeds past the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI in this file photograph from 2008. Mackinac Island’s 71st annual Lilac Festival will be held June 7-16. Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re into lilacs and island life, head to world-famous Mackinac Island in June.

The 71st annual Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island is slated for June 7-16. The festival is held in honour of the flower Mackinac Island is known for. The lilac is a spectacular flower variety with a distinct history. In fact some varieties are more than 200 years old.

The island’s famous Grand Hotel is featuring a Lilac Festival package which includes a garden and lilac tour by a member of the hotel’s gardening staff. They will take you through the Grand gardens where you will learn about all the varieties and work that goes on behind the scenes.

The package also includes free golf on The Jewel, with great views of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge, plus full breakfast and dinner daily. Guests can also enjoy activities happening around the island.

This year’s theme is Bicycles and Bouquets, and some of the featured events include the Lilac Festival 10K run/walk, Coronation of the Lilac Festival Queen, and the Lilac Festival Grand Parade.

Historic Hotels of America has named Grand Hotel’s gardens to their list of the t op 25 most majestic gardens in the U.S.

— Paint Ontario 2019, the largest art show and sale of its kind in Ontario, is taking place March 29 to April 20 at the Lambton Heritage Museum in Grand Bend.

The sale brings to life the beauty, character and diversity of Ontario. It’s a show of representational art that depicts life in Ontario – landscape, architecture, flora and fauna, waterscapes and urbanscapes. More than 200 original and ready to hang paintings prepared from oil, watercolour, acrylic, pencil, charcoal or mixed media will be displayed.

Paintings will be judged by professional artists.

More than 300 paintings are expected to be submitted.

— Other upcoming events in Sarnia-Lambton include Grand Bend Beachfestb 2019 on June 22, Grand Bend Canada Day on July 1, Kettle and Stony Point Pow Wow July 13-14 and Savanna Fest at Pinery Provincial Park on July 20.

— Are you secretly guilty of putting a few hotel things in your travel bag just by mistake? It might be a bathrobe or a pair of those fluffy slippers or a hair dryer or a fancy glass. People just tend to slip some of these items in their bags unknowingly.

But did you ever think that stealing at the historic The Roosevelt New Orleans would win you a seven-night stay in one of the hotel’s luxury suites? So if you ever stayed there and by mistake slipped any weird items laying around the property in your bag then you are in for a treat.

The hotel is celebrating its 125th anniversary and the contest is part of the celebration. The person who returns the most outrageous stolen item from the hotel between now and July 1 will get seven free nights in the presidential suite, which is worth $15,000.

Considering the rich history of the hotel this is a big deal.

As of now the hotel has received some fine plates that were missing from the dining room, old stemware, a giant brass room key, bud vases and faded menus.

— The unimoon – a honeymoon without your new spouse – is the latest travel trend, according to a report in The New York Times.

In fact the practice is so trendy it’s been given two nicknames – solomoons and unimoons.

According to online dating expert Jessica Carbino, it’s all a part of the evolving idea of what marriage means. But she admits not everyone is onboard with the idea of separate trips to kick off a marriage.

— Take a lesson from a 78-year-old Newmarket man when it comes to travelling outside Canada without first investing in travel insurance.

Doug Whibley and his wife took a chance of travelling to Mexico in February without health insurance and the worst thing happened – he suffered a heart attack and nearly died.

And the lack of insurance has cost the couple their life savings. The hospital bill alone in Mexico was US $89,000 but was reduced to US $40,000 when the hospital realized he had no insurance.

And the medvac flight to return Whibley home cost $64,000.

Their siblings have launched a GoFundMe page.

The couple had taken the vacation without the expensive travel insurance, well aware of the risks but willing to take a chance all would be well.

In an incredible stroke of luck for Whibley, who was laying on the floor of a hotel in Puerto Vallarta without a pulse after suffering an attack, four EMS professionals from Winnipeg who were checking into the hotel went into action. A defibrillator was found in the hotel but it needed a new battery before it could be used. Three shocks were administered and eight ribs were fractured with vigorous life-saving compressions. But the 78-year-old had a pulse again.

Family members note Whibley underwent a triple bypass six years ago and had a heart attack at age 49, so its likely that had the couple purchased the $4,000-plus travel insurance, his pre-existing condition would likely have disqualified any coverage.

Bottom line: Read the fine print on travel and medical insurance policies. It’s also important to ensure information such as insurance, banking and investment account numbers and passwords are organized and readily available for family members should a travel emergency or crisis occur.

— The Downtown Dresden Night Market Team is coming back with its second annual Summer Night Market on Aug. 17.

The event will feature some great shopping from local Dresden businesses as well as from artisans from across the region, live music, food, drinks and entertainment.

The event is being organized by the Downtown Dresden Night Market Team in partnership with 519 Events and Promotions, the Sidestreets Youth Centre and the Dresden BIA.

Last year, the first year of the Downtown Night Market in Dresden, several thousand people turned up for the event.

— Bookings are now open for Crystal Endeavor’s 2021 expeditions, which range from 10 to 28 nights and sail-to destinations around the world.

The polar class expedition yacht will offer deep cultural immersions in Antarctica, Japan, the Russian Far East, Alaska, Australia and New Zealand as well as Canary Islands and South America.

The ship accommodates 200 guests and fares start at US $9,549 per guest.

— It’s still a long shot at this point, but Palladium Hotel Group is considering a first-ever all-inclusive resort in Miami.

Earlier this year, the first-ever all-inclusive resort in the Florida Keys debuted. Bungalows Key Largo features 135 luxury private bungalows spread across 12 acres.

— Travelling to Florida to visit Disney World? Foodies are now able to enjoy Spanish cuisine thanks to the new Jaleo restaurant at Disney Springs. It’s the fifth Jaleo location in the U.S. and the first in Florida.

— If you are planning to visit Walt Disney World this year be prepared to pay more than ever before. Disney officials announced this week that one-day ticket prices for the busiest days at the park would increase, reaching as high as US $159 during Christmas time. As for the one-day park hopper tickets, they now cost between $169 and $219 but Florida residents will only have to pay between $139 and $189 for the same admission.

Meanwhile, the four-park magic tickets cost $380 in the summer and are good through Sept. 30.

The decision to raise prices comes as Disney teases new openings, including Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios and the TRON Lightcycle rollercoaster at Magic Kingdom.

— Regent Seven Seas Cruises is making history by appointing Capt. Serena Melani to be the captain of their newest ship, Seven Seas Splendor. While there are female cruise ship captains, Capt. Melani will be the first-ever woman in cruise industry history to operate a brand new ocean cruise ship on the launch date.

The 45-year-old began her career at 16 as a cadet working on cargo ships in Italy. After graduating from Nautical College in 1993, she went on to work on tankers, cargo and container vessels making her the only female to hold such roles at the time. She joined Regent in 2010 as a bridge officer.

Her new ship will hit the high seas in 2020.

— All hands on deck for the fifth annual Clean-Up Day in Sarnia, sponsored by the City of Sarnia Parks and Recreation Dept. and Nova Chemicals.

The event is slated for April 27 beginning at 10 a.m.

— Headed to Toronto? There’s so much to do and see, but with CityPass you will see the best attractions the city has to offer, hand-picked and packaged into an easy-to-use ticket booklet that will save you time and money.

CityPass is valid for nine consecutive days starting with the first day of use, so there is no need to rush. You will have plenty of time to experience Toronto at your own pace.

— Egan Houseboats in Omemee in Kawartha Lakes is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year by giving away a three-night dream getaway on one of their famous houseboats.

To enter for your chance to win, visit yourcottagelifestyle or giveawayeganhouseboats.

— The Anguilla Tourist Board reports its best-ever performance for the month of January. Stopover arrivals increased by 22 per cent, exceeding the board’s growth target of 20 per cent. Arrivals from Canada increased by 13 per cent.

— Traditionally being a snowbird meant travelling to the same destination year after year and spending the entire winter at that destination. While that travel pattern still holds true for many Canadian snowbirds, a growing number are switching up their destinations every few years, or even on an annual basis.

Some are also experiencing new ways to escape the cold – like spending the winter on a cruise ship. Jill Wykes of says many snowbirds are splitting their winters between Canada and their warm-weather destinations, travelling back and forth multiple times during the winter.

One reason is that some snowbirds have multi-trip annual travel insurance policies that only cover them for a certain number of days per trip, requiring them to return home periodically to maintain their coverage before heading back to their winter destination.

— If you are heading off on a trip this spring ensure that you investigate what the weather will be like at your destination. This will let you pack more suitably. If it will be chilly, you will have to take a lot of layers. If it’s going to be warm, then you know that you can pack a whole lot of lightweight clothes.

Selecting your next travel destination isn’t always simple. There are a number of things to think about and the most important is where would you like to go?

Wherever you opt to go, there is a universal reality you will need ton tackle – travelling is stressful. Mix things up a little and travel to places you have not been before.