Yes, weather has been strange so far in 2024 but Spring must be on the horizon because the annual gathering of baseball teams in Florida for Grapefruit League games and in the Phoenix area for Cactus League matches starts this week. Feb. 22.
Hopefully you can still book airline tickets to your team’s spring location.
Why go? If you haven’t tried it before you quickly find out that Spring Training games are casual. You sit closer to the action and often can interact more with players before and after the games. It’s fun.
Getting game tickets: For Cactus League games such as the Cubs, it is easier to get tickets to watch your team play at opponents’ parks. In the Cactus League that is not a problem because the 15 teams are located within 47 miles of each other or less.
Special events: Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays will play each other in the Dominican Republic March 9-10 in Santo Domingo.
Then, March 14-17 the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues will hold MLB Spring Breakout – 16 exhibition games showcasing their team’s top prospects.
Opening Day of the 2024 regular season is March 28
Fabulous snow sculptures created by championship state teams from Alaska to Wisconsin are entered in the annual National Snow Sculpting Championship as part of Winterfest.
It starts with snow delivered to 15 team sites on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park.
Many visitors drive over on Feb. 2 or 3 to watch the sculpting and see the winners on Saturday when work stops and judges rate the sculptures. Visitors can also pick their favorites as People’s Choice. They fill in the time by seeing ice sculptures downtown, shopping and enjoying live entertainment
It is expected to look full on Jan. 24 but will reach full illumination the next day at 12:54 p.m.EST, Jan. 25 and continue to look full on Jan. 26.
Wolves howling at the moon is used in several stories for different reasons say the Farmer’s almanac. “Howling and other wolf vocalizations are used to define territory, locate pack members, reinforce social bonds, and coordinate hunting.”
The January full moon is also called the Moon After Yule. Some Native American cultures say it is the Severe Moon or Center Moon.
Many folks are ready to say goodbye to January’s below freezing temps and heavy snow shoveling. So here are some events to put on the calendar to help.
Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva Winterfest Jen 31-Feb 4
Amazing snow sculptures will be created along Geneva Lake during Lake Geneva, Wi’s US National Snow Sculpting Championship. It is part of the town’s 29th Annual Winterfest that includes several activities.
Although it begins Jan. 31, visitors won’t see the completed sculptures until that first Saturday in February. It takes a while to have the snow delivered to each sculpting team’s worksite and it takes time for them to carve out their masterpieces.
There will be 15 state championship teams competing from all over the US. Look for them sculpting at Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park Judges will rate the work at about 1 p.m. Saturday. In past years, visitors also had a chance to vote for their favorites.
Strolling the downtown to shop, see ice sculptures, watch snow sculpting and enjoy live entertainment fills out the days until the winners are announced. Sculptures are still up on Sunday, weather permitting.
Groundhog Day is back in Woodstock, IL (but also in Punxsutawney, PA)
Events surrounding the famed 1993 film start Feb. 1 but are celebrated with a redo of the weather predicting creature in Woodstock, IL on Feb 2. Suppposedly, film director Harold Ramis chose Woodstock for filming because the story-line location in Pennsylvania was far from his North Shore home in Illinois.
To see where weather forecaster Bill Murray and his station co-worker, Andie MacDowell fell in love, go to Woodstock, not Pennsylvania, a tourist destination northwest of Chicago with a picturesque square featured in the movie.
If in town early in the morning Feb. 2, you hear groundhog Woodstock Willie say when spring will come. But stay to tour the film’s sites and see the movie.
Although called Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, the festival is also celebrated in other countries such as Vietnam and Korea.
Here, in the Chicago area, there are dragon parades and other events in a couple of neighborhoods such as Argyle Feb. 17 and Chinatown Feb. 18, plus lots of red decorations (for good luck) in Asian restaurants. This year is the Year of the Dragon.
Football’s Superbowl Sunday Feb 11, 2024
The event will be at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the game doesn’t matter unless you are a fan of one of the teams. But the commercials are usually worth watching. Check top 10 for 2023 on UTube to see what was good last year. Peanuts (the edible kind) and M and Ms were still around.
Headquartered at the Puppet Hub in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, 433 S. Michigan Ave., Festival events and shows are held at venues across the city. It also includes free neighborhood tours co-sponsored by the festival, Chicago Park District, Navy Pier and neighborhood organizations.
Considered the largest puppetry event in North America, the Fest draws artists from across the globe and features more than 100 activities ranging from performances and symposium to workshops and a Pop-Up Store.
Where to stay.
Chicago has lots of options but there is an official hotel for the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. It is the Warwick Allerton Hotel, 701 N. Michigan Ave. which has a discounted rate during festival dates. Use the promo code, Puppetfest24. Visit Warwick Allerton or call (312) 440-1500 to reserve. This is where all of the artists stay and many visitors in town for the Chicago Intl Puppet Theater Festival.
The show is filling McCormick Place with new fishing boats, motorboats, fishing gear and marine electronics Jan. 10 – 14, 2024.
Tour million-dollar yachts, look for the Discover Boating Beach Club with a paddle sports pool and have fun dreaming about life on the water.
“The showis an annual Midwest boating tradition, attracting thousands of visitors to the Windy City each year to explore the best in boating,” said Darren Envall, Show Manager and NMMA Vice President of Midwest Boat and Sport Shows. “There’s no better place to discover boating, buy your dream boat and plan for your next adventure on the water,” said Envall.
WHERE: McCormick Place, 2301 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616
Hours: Wednesday, January 10 2 p.m. – 8 p.m,Thursday, January 11 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.,Friday, January 12 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday, January 13 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. andSunday, January 1410 a.m. – 5 p.m.
INFO and Tickets at ChicagoBoatShow.com; $15 for adults; children 12 years old and younger are free (when accompanied by a paid adult admission).
Imagine those greeting cards and pictures with Santa driving his sleigh across a full moon. The full December moon rarely happens during Christmas but this year of 2023, it will appear full on Dec. 24-27 even though its full illumination isn’t until 7:33 p.m. EST on Dec. 26.
Called by many cultures the “Cold” Moon, it is the first full Moon after the winter solstice which is this week, Dec. 21,2023. It’s easy to believe given how frigid the temps were Monday, and now, Tuesday.
But the weather is supposed to warm up in the Midwest to the mid and high 40s later in the week, so you may forget by Thursday how cold the week of the winter solstice really can be.
But after all, it is called the Cold Moon. Other names are the Oak Moon, Long Night Moon and usually, the Moon Before Yule.
You heard that the Geminds, considered the best meteor shower of the year, peak Dec. 14 but that is early in the morning. They are worth staying up for or getting up early because you see about 100 meteors per hour.
The moon is not a factor and the mostly clear skies across the US should help.
But if you miss the time slot you can also watch on a free, livesteam hosted by Slooh Telescope and the Virtual Telescope project in Italy.
The Slooh robotic telescope network is hosting a free livestream of the Geminid meteor showerbeginning at 5:30 p.m. EST(2230 GMT) on Thursday (Dec. 14).
Slooh operates a network of telescopes in Chile and the Canary islands. The organization hosts livestream webcasts.
Knightsbridge, Oxford Street, Camden Market, Oh my – It’s London for the holidays.
Going to London for the holidays is like venturing to Oz. It’s full of magic. Of course, you have to visit old favorites if you have been there before such as the Tate or Tate Modern, Portrait Gallery, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Tower of London (to visit the jewels) and the British Museum. Or put them on your do list.
However, if London is your December destination, travel your personal “yellow brick road” through the city’s shopping districts for their spectacularly decorated windows and sparkling holiday lights crisscrossing the streets above.
The adventure continues at vintage shop after antiques stall, inside department and specialty stores and down the aisles of food, chocolate and toy emporiums.
The question is where to begin? Tip: Forget taxis. Traffic is so bad above ground that the meter runs while you wait through three lights to proceed through an intersection. So, bring comfortable walking shoes, scarves and earmuffs. Pick up a map of the Underground (Tube) stations. Check what is within walking distance of your accommodations and Tube stops. OK, have at it.
Some stores such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason are likely to already be in your go-to notes but you probably won’t want to miss a fabulous toy shop or a terrific boutique so here are some shopping districts and their famed places and features.
Knightsbridge area: You said Harrods, right? Go to the Knightsbridgbe-Brompton Road-Sloane Street District where you can wander Harrods Food Hall, snap Egyptian motifs on the staircases, then, go into Harvey Nichols and Sloan’s high-end designers. Be sure to take pictures of the beautifully decorated holiday windows outside the shops. They often tell a story like Cinderella. Tip: You’ll see fun “crackers” which are good stocking stuffers if not flying back home but airports started disallowing them after 9-11. If taking the Tube, get off at Knightsbridge.
King’s Road: The high-end Chelsea neighborhood at the Sloan Square Tube stop is filled with designer and trendy shops. Include the Duke of York Square to browse.
Even though it has some shops found in the United States it also has fun boutiques, cafes and the Chelsea Antiques Market.
Oxford Street: You’ll love the lights overhead if shopping at night and the windows anytime of day. They all definitely set the holiday mood for stopping at Selfridges and Marks & Spencer’s flagship store. If you didn’t get chocolates at Harrods, look for a Thorton’s across from the department stores. It’s a chain with really good candy. You can also find the Debenhams Department Store and several good clothing shops on the street. Which Tube stop that accesses Oxford Street depends on what stores you want to visit. The Bond Street station is closest to Selfridges.
Regent Street: Time to eat and play. If you don’t mind walking, you can use the Piccadilly Circus Tube stop to pop into Fortnum & Mason and go over to Hamleys and Liberty on Regent Street. Or use Oxford Circus to hit Liberty and Hamley on Regent and then Fortnum & Mason at Piccadilly. Opened in 1707 Fortnum & Mason has served the Royals since Queen Charlotte. You have to go here to admire its atmosphere and pick up something as a gift or to take home. You have to go to Hamleys to find gifts for youngsters or the child in you. Just a few years younger, dating to 1760, Hamleys is among the world’s largest toy stores. Liberty, the “newbe” of the three must go to stores, dates to 1875. It’s in an elegant Tudor building that perfectly matches its elegant home accessories. But instead of stuffy, the offerings are clever and cutting-edge.
While in the area of the Piccadilly Circus or Bond Street Tubes, walk down Savile Row. Among the places to visit are the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store, Or go over to the boutique filled Carnaby Street area. There are other shopping areas but don’t ignore London’s great Market.
Covent Garden Piazza: You’ll find three unique markets here. Look for arts and crafts in the North Hall’s Apple Market. TheEast Colonnade Market has jewelry and handmade soap. Products in the Jubilee Market in the South Piazza vary by day from antiques on Monday to general items other weekdays and crafts on the weekend.
Camden Markets: Save time to explore the markets in Camden Town at the Camden Town or Chalk Farm Tube Stations. There’s the Camden Lock Market at the canal which was the original craft-stall place in the mid 1970s. The Camden Stables Market has fashions. Other markets including Inverness Street and Buck Street spread out across the area with clothes and other items. It’s a fun place to browse.
Insider Tip: If you want lunch someplace unique that is known to locals, go over to the Café in the Crypt at St. Martin in the Fields Church at Trafalgar Square.
While many of us are wondering what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers or are heading back home after visiting relatives, beavers are busy constructing their dams for winter. Thus, the late November full moon is popularly known as the Beaver Moon.
Yes, many full moons get their names from seasonal animal behaviors. As an example, the Dakota and Lakota tribes call the November moon the Deer Rutting Moon and the Algonquin tribe name it the Whitefish Moon for the spawning time. Other Native American names are Frost and Freezing.
The November full moon will start to rise at 4:16 a.m. EST next Monday but it will seem full on Sunday as it rises after sunset and will still look full on Tuesday. So look east.
Other names are seasonal. The Cree and Assiniboine peoples call it the Freezing Moon and Frost Moon. For more Beaver info visit Time and Date which notes that beavers are nocturnal, so like the full moon’s light.
Other Native American names for the November Full Moon are Frost Moon and the Freezing Moon.