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Ready, set, skate

The Red River Mutual Trail was finally declared open Friday. Currents in the Assiniboine River were moving too quickly earlier this season, not allowing the river to freeze properly for skating despite the deep freeze. Now that the river's been deemed safe to skate on, take the tots to The Forks for a spin on the ice or go for a nauseatingly-cute date with that special someone gliding hand-in-hand. Or you could get slightly more creative and play some broomball on the ice. While just over 1.5 km of the trail is open now, The Forks' officials promise longer sections of the trail will be open in coming weeks.

Puppet party

While you're at The Forks, pop by the Manitoba Theatre for Young People for what they're calling an "epic puppet show"-- three words that really ought to go together more often. From Jan. 15-19, The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer will capture audiences with its doomsday-like plot and superb special effects. Penned by Australian author Tim Watts, Alvin Sputnik is "akin to a theatrical Wall-E," according to The New York Times. Kids will love this creative mix of mime, puppetry, live music and animation, while parents will appreciate seeing their kids' momentarily enthralled by live theatre instead of video games. Tickets are available at

Earn some karma points

If your New Year's resolution was to be more philanthropic, here's your chance to help youth in foster homes, group homes and independent living programs along their journey to donning caps and gowns. Voices: Manitoba's Youth in Care Network is putting on a scholarship fundraiser Jan. 16 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Manitoba Hydro Building. It'll be a "fancy schmancy cocktail evening" as described on their website, with silent auction prizes up for grabs. Tickets are a mere $20 each, so you should have no problem forking over some extra dough for a good cause. For more information, visit

Get cultured

Semi-new kids in town, Synonym Art Consultation, have made a name for themselves in the last year with their always-fun art parties. Chloe Chafe and Andrew Eastman created this initiative, which pairs visual artists with local establishments to create custom exhibits for their spaces. Past shows have been at Deseo Bistro and The Hive Hair Company. "[Demo] graphic" will be Synonym's first art instalment at Fitzroy Restaurant. Swing by on Jan. 16 around 8 p.m. to grab some grub and get in on the artsy action, which should inevitably end in an all-night dance party. Admission is free.

The lost art of storytelling

Can't tell your tall tale in 140 characters or less? Got a secret fear of public speaking you need to kick? A live storytelling event called Hear/Say can cure either of those qualms. On Jan. 16 at the Park Theatre, guests are invited to share their stories on stage. The first edition of this event asks for stories based around the theme of "New Beginnings." Participants' names are submitted before the showcase and drawn at random to determine the line-up. Online submissions are also accepted. If you don't have the guts to get up on stage, applaud extra hard as you witness some of the city's up and coming storytellers in action.

Make it or break it

A band's transition from playing basements and garages to small stages marks an important point in its career. The Uniter (the University of Winnipeg's Weekly Urban Journal) is helping five local groups through the process. After putting out a call for submissions for The Uniter Fiver in December, the newspaper will host a show featuring the five best bands to look out for in 2014 as voted by their readers. On Jan. 17 at the Park Theatre, Sibyl, Pants, Finn, Greek Riots and Hearing Trees will perform. Catch these bands while they're still relatively unknown -- soon they'll be bumping elbows with the bigwigs at the Pyramid Cabaret and the like.

Mountain escape

Winter blues got you down? Adventure buffs and prairie-dwellers alike will enjoy the Banff Mountain Film Festival, in town on Jan. 18. There will be a marathon of mountain movies to choose from at the Burton Cummings Theatre, which might inevitably inspire an escape from our frozen landscape. These inspiring, funny and thought-provoking films boast stellar cinematography that could cause you to book a ski trip ASAP. Be forewarned your festival ticket costs only $17 but airfares aren't as cheap -- though Banff is only a 14-hour drive from Winnipeg. Hmm...

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2014 ??65534

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