07/24/14 1:00pm

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It is the original world music. Klezmer is a genre of mostly celebratory dance tunes of the Ashkenazi Jews that spread from Eastern Europe to the rest of the planet in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its name comes from the Hebrew words “kli” (tool or utensil) and “zemer” (to make music). Currently, Alicia Svigals (above) is without a doubt the world’s most accomplished klezmer fiddler. In addition to founding and leading the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, she has played with — or composed for — violinist Itzhak Perlman, playwright Eve Ensler of the Vagina Monologues, the late Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsburg, and even Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. This Sunday, she brings her talent and some friends (Brian Glassman on bass and Christina Crowder on accordian) to the Queens Botanical Garden, where she will make beautiful music in the Oak Allée alongside the bee, ornamental grass, perennial, rose, and woodland gardens.

More information and two more photos on jump page.

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06/16/14 1:00pm

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It only happens once a year, but there are three chances to celebrate it in Queens this weekend. This Saturday, Socrates Sculpture Park will welcome the new season with a Summer Solstice Celebration featuring various art workshops, face-painting, a nature-inspired ritual performed by urban shaman Mama Donna, a picnic, and of course, a wonderful Manhattan skyline. Plus, Norte Maar will present site-specific sound performances encompassing the entire park. These artists will create unique sound platforms through traditional instrumentation, amplification of objects, juxtaposition of voices, and experimental electronic sound. The same day but over in Jamaica, King Manor Museum will host ice-cream making, huge bubble creating, sun-inspired art and crafts, and historic games for children. Then on Sunday, the Queens Botanical Gardens will host its Festival de las Flores/Summer Solstice Celebration with purveyors of the beautiful Colombian craft of creating silletos or large medallions composed of flowers. Attendees can also enjoy live music and dance, craft and food vendors, bilingual story reading, face painting, botanical crafts, a petting zoo, and old-fashioned games for the children.

Details: Summer Solstice Celebration, Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, June 21st, 5 pm to dusk, free.

Bonus details: Summer Solstice Festival, King Manor Museum, 150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, June 22nd, noon to 4 pm, free.

More bonus details: Festival de la Flores/Summer Solstice Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, June 22nd, noon to 5 pm, free with admission.

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Top photo: Socrates Sculpture Park; bottom photo: Its in Queens

05/19/14 1:00pm

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Spend some time on the right side of the tracks! A model train system and a local musician who has enjoyed huge hits with his big band are pulling into the Queens Botanical Garden. Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Long Island Garden Railway Society will create a working “G-scale” exhibit with model trains traveling a track around a scaled-down Unisphere and other iconic features from the 1964 World’s Fair. On May 24th, festivities will include food-and-craft vendors, a trackless train for rides through selected sections of the Flushing green space, and a concert by John Yao’s Big Band, a 17-piece ensemble. A graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Yao is a composer, trombonist, and arranger specializing in jazz fusion. 

Details: World’s Fair Train Show, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, May 24th through May 26th, 10 am to 5 pm, free with admission.

Concert details: Music in the Garden: John Yao & His 17-Piece Ensemble, May 24th, 4 pm, free with admission.

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04/18/14 1:00pm

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Decisions, decisions, decisions and decisions. Or to be more specific: science, kites, film noir and eggs. There are some great options for family fun, entertainment and enrichment in the borough tomorrow, April 19th. It’s probably easiest to list them in bullet form.

  • Doktor Kaboom! This loveable nut performs original interactive “science comedy” for audiences of all ages. Blending the dramatic with the wonders of scientific exploration, the Good Doktor (above) keeps the crowd riveted with interest and rolling with laughter going on a sidesplitting journey of increasingly spectacular (and often successful) experiments designed to involve, excite, educate, and entertain. Back by popular demand, he returns to Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park) for 1 pm and 3 pm shows on Saturday$14 per ticket or $100 for a Family Series Flex Pass (10 tickets to use however you want.)
  • Let’s Go Fly a Kite! It’s National Kite Month, and the King Manor Museum (150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica) is offering a chance to learn about these objects that can be used for scientific discovery, fun or design. Attendees will create, decorate, fly and take home kites. Noon to 3 pm, free.
  • Spring Egg-Stavaganza! Easter weekend at Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing) is known for two things: blooming flora and egg hunts. Due to popular demand, there will be two sessions that will include games, crafts, scavenger hunts and prizes. noon to 1:30 pm and 2 pm to 3:30 pm, $5.
  • The Real Mann! Hollywood legend Anthony Mann was one of the greatest directors of two genres that seem very disparate: film noir, featuring nocturnal and claustrophobic dramas; and the Western, with dramas set against wide-open landscapes. The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria) launches an eight-film retrospective on Mann with two movies on Saturday. T-Men at 4 pm is about treasury agents who go undercover to penetrate a gang of Los Angeles counterfeiters. Raw Deal at 7 pm tells the story of a woman who helps spring her boyfriend from a state prison so they can flee to South America. If these movies inspire, the museum will screen two more —  The Great Flamarion and Border Incident — on Sunday.

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“From the World’s Fair to the World’s Park.” Expect to hear this new slogan a lot over the next six months as part of a dual effort to rebrand Flushing Meadows Corona Park and celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs that took place there. Yesterday, Maspeth-based Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, who chairs the NY State Assembly’s Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports Committee, announced a $100,000 grant to the Queens Tourism Council to help it promote local World’s Fair commemorative events over the next six months. Cultural institutions such as the Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre and New York Hall of Science are planning special activities related to these anniversaries, and NYC Parks is ready to host a World’s Fair Festival on May 18.  (Click here to see all the events.) Borough President Melinda Katz is also involved, co-chairing the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee with Assemblymember Markey and spearheading an effort to promote the Flushing green space as the “World’s Park.” These two elected officials will join other Queens leaders near the NY State Pavilion on April 22 to mark the exact 50th anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 1964 World’s Fair. The rumor is that they will sing the National Anthem.

Editor’s Note: There was a pleasant surprise at yesterday’s Queens Tourism Council meeting at Queens Theatre. Mookie Wilson, a former Mets centerfielder who starred in the 1986 Worlds Series, passed by while taking a walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He joined the photo and is seen standing, second from extreme left. Assemblywoman Markey is standing in the exact middle.

04/01/14 1:00pm

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With many original species and more than 100 years of commercial cultivating experience, Taiwan is the world’s largest exporter of orchids with an estimated 86 countries buying types of this diverse, flagrant and flowering plant from the East Asian island. This Saturday, the Queens Botanical Garden and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office will celebrate spring by hosting Taiwan: A World of Orchids. As expected, a stunning display of blooming flowers and some tasty recipes from the homeland are in the mix, but the event will also feature children’s crafts (10 am to 5 pm or while supplies last), a Techno Prince Dancing Doll performance (12:45 pm), a garden tour (1 pm), a tea ceremony (1:45 pm) and a live musical performance (around 2 pm). The fun continues on Sunday with a plant sale featuring — what else? — a wide selection of orchids.

Details: Taiwan: A World of Orchids, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, April 5th, 9 am to 5 pm, free with admission ($4 adults/$3 seniors/$2 students with ID and children over three).

Photo: HD Backgrounds Point

03/18/14 1:00pm

Four girls eating Belgian Waffles

It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.

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03/06/14 4:00pm

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Today the Queens Botanical Garden announced that Macy’s and the National Recreation and Park Association will support the QBG through its “Heart Your Park” initiative this spring. Through the initiative, Macy’s stores around the country selected more than 500 local parks and green spaces to help raise money for. So from March 7th until March 31st, customers can donate $1 or more at their local store and 100 percent of donations will benefit that store’s selected park. Macy’s will match the total donation dollar for dollar up until $250,000.

Donations for QBG will be accepted at the register at both the Macy’s Flushing and Queens Center Mall (Rego Park) stores. Here’s a statement from QBG’s Executive Director Susan Lacerte: “We are thrilled to partner with Macy’s and NRPA for ‘Heart Your Park’ this spring. Through this wonderful program and donations by Macy’s customers, we are excited about the increased awareness and additional funding for Queens Botanical Garden. This park is a great asset to the community, and we greatly appreciate Macy’s support.”

Photo via queensbotanical.org

02/12/14 1:00pm

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Red-tailed hawks, ring-necked pheasants and American robins, oh my! Dozens and dozens of bird species make their homes (or temporary homes) at the Queens Botanical Garden, and it’s time to take a census. This Saturday, the Flushing green space will participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, a global effort conducted by Bird Studies Canada, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Led by QBG staffer and birding enthusiast Shari Romar, this family-friendly event will resemble nature walk mixed with a scavenger hunt. The results will be added to those submitted from around the world to www.BirdCount.org. The data will help naturalists track migrations and avian populations in order to make informed conservation decisions.

Details: Great Backyard Bird Count, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, February 15th, 11 am, free but registration is required via email to sromar@queensbotanical.org.

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01/23/14 1:00pm

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It’s the first — and many say the best — after-party of the year. On February 8th, the 18th annual Flushing Lunar New Year Parade will kick off at Union Street and 37th Avenue at about 10 am. Roughly 4,000 participants, including dragon dancers, steel drummers, prancing unicorns and plenty of fireworks lovers, will march up Main Street to 39th Avenue to welcome the Year of the Horse. After the outdoor fun, the festive mood will head to the Queens Botanical Garden, where a three-hour celebration will begin with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at 1 pm. Participants will mix their own herbal tea bags, and youngsters will create peat pot horses at an activity table. At 2 pm, the New York Chinese Chorus (above), accompanied by musicians with traditional Chinese instruments, will give its first of two 45-minute performances.

Details: Lunar New Year Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, February 8th, 1 pm, Free, but fees apply for certain activities (first come, first served and supplies are limited; seating for performances is limited too).

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