Category Archives: CALENDAR

GCT Extra

Provoking the Senses
Cirque du Soleil Varekai at Germain Arena

Slippery Surface, Varekai Cirque du Soleil

Slippery Surface, Varekai Cirque du Soleil

Since 1984, Cirque du Soleil has been marveling audiences and invoking imagination, provoking the senses and evoking the emotions of people around the world.

It all started in Baie-Saint-Paul, a small town near Québec City in Canada.  There, in the early eighties, a band of colorful characters roamed the streets, striding on stilts, juggling, dancing, breathing fire, and playing music.  They were Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul (the Baie-Saint-Paul Stiltwalkers), a street theatre group founded by Gilles Ste-Croix.  Already, the townsfolk were impressed and intrigued by the young performers – including Guy Laliberté who founded Cirque du Soleil.

The troupe went on to found Le Club des talons hauts (the High Heels Club), and then, in 1982, organized La Fête foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul, a cultural event in which street performers from all over met to exchange ideas and enliven the streets of the town for a few days.

In 1984, Québec City was celebrating the 450th anniversary of Canada’s discovery by Jacques Cartier, and they needed a show that would carry the festivities out across the province.  Guy Laliberté presented a proposal for a show called Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun), and succeeded in convincing the organizers.  And Cirque du Soleil hasn’t stopped since!

One of these amazing feats, Varekai, will surprise Southwest Florida audiences from September 24 – 28 at Germain Arena in Estero, FL.  Written and directed by Dominic Champagne, Varekai is a critically-acclaimed production that has wowed over 8 million people worldwide since it first premiered in Montreal in 2002.

Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an amazing world where something else is possible…a world called Varekai.  In this place of pure and undiluted possibility, begins an inspired incantation to a life rediscovered and to a newly found wonder in the mysteries of the world and the mind.

The word Varekai means “wherever” in the Romany language of the gypsies— the universal wanderers.  And this production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to those who quest with infinite passion along the path that leads to Varekai.

The show emerges from an explosive fusion of drama and acrobatics.  The impossible becomes possible in stunning displays of skill and power set against innovative music and otherworldly sets, interwoven with vivid choreography that speaks to all in the universal language of movement.  The pendulum of time sweeps backward, paying tribute to the ancient and rare circus traditions of Icarian games and Georgian dance.  Varekai then catapults to the future with revolutionary twists on such acts as Russian swings and slippery surface.

Everything from the Flight of Icarus to the Aerial Hoop suspension, the Handbalancing on Canes to the Slippery Surface shows agility, astounding acrobatics, grace, strength and flexibility as well as beautiful illusions.

Stimulating the audience artistically, visually and design-wise, Varekai is about exploring the uncharted territory of exuberant costumes, spectacular acrobatics, a vast repertoire of world music and a harmonious universe made up of the extraordinary.

- Enjoy the fascinating Cirque du Soleil Varekai at Germain Arena in Estero, FL on September 24 – 28. For more information or tickets, visit!


“Ding” Days to Celebrate 25th

Family Fun Day adds archery and the kickoff of a weeklong Silver Scavenger Hunt to this year’s events. Photo Courtesy: Jeff Lysiak/Island Sun

Family Fun Day adds archery and the kickoff of a weeklong Silver Scavenger Hunt to this year’s events. Photo Courtesy: Jeff Lysiak/Island Sun

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island will celebrate “Ding” Darling Days October 19 – 25.

This year, celebrates 25 years for the annual eco-festival, which started in 1989 as a one-day Family Fun Day and has grown week-long with free and discounted tours, free nature presentations, and, still, its ever-popular Sunday Family Fun Day kick-off.

Here are 25 ways the refuge is celebrating its silver anniversary in October:

1.  The debut of the Discover Ding GPS-based game app – the first of its kind in the refuge system with an unveiling at 11 am on Family Fun Day, Oct. 19, and tutorials throughout the day and at 9:25 am daily during the week. Look for the walking cell phones!

2.  25 “Ding” Things Silver Scavenger Hunt weeklong with 25 fun prizes.

3.  Free Silver Anniversary reusable tote bags filled with books and other goodies, while supplies last, on Sunday Family Fun Day.

4.  Free 25-minute archery demonstrations and clinics on Family Fun Day.

5.  Special free 25th anniversary presentations by Heather Hensen’s Ibex Puppetry troupe on Sunday, featuring a new surprise refuge creature.

6.  Free admission to Wildlife Drive on Sunday.

7.  Free naturalist-narrated refuge tram tours Sunday on a first-come basis.

8.  Free weeklong traveling exhibit of 2014 – 2015 Federal and Junior Duck Stamp artwork in the free Visitor & Education Center.

9.  25% off all Tarpon Bay Explorers tours Monday through Saturday – including tram, paddling, and nature cruise excursions.

10.  25 stunning images of mating great blue herons at a special free photographic presentation by Sallie Rich on Coastal Bird Day, Monday, Oct. 20.

11.  Free Great Florida Birding Trail presentation by Mike Kiser on Monday.

12.  Free Beach Walk at Perry Tract on Beach & Water Day, Tuesday, Oct. 21.

13.  Free 25-minute stand-up paddleboard clinics on Tuesday and Thursday.

14.  Free wilderness paddles into the Refuge’s Lady Finger Lakes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act on Monday and Wednesday (experience necessary).

15.  Free Calusa presentation and walk on Calusa Day, Thursday, Oct. 23.

16.  Free birding tram tours to Bunche Beach on Thursday and Friday. (Reservations required: (239) 472-8900)

17.  Free Estuary Exploration tram tours on Thursday and Friday. (Reservations required: (239) 472-8900)

18.  Free refuge admission to bikers and hikers only on Trails Day, Friday, Oct. 24. (Wildlife Drive is closed to all vehicular traffic other than special Tarpon Bay Explorers tram tours.

19.  First 25 bike rentals free at Tarpon Bay Explorers on Friday.

20.  Free Scat & Tracks program with walk to the new Wildlife Education Boardwalk on Friday.

21.  Free Animal Olympics throughout Friday at Bailey Tract.

22.  Free admission to Wildlife Drive for everybody on Saturday’s Conservation Art Day, Oct. 25.

23.  Plein-air artists along Wildlife Drive on Saturday.

24.  25-cent Silly Photo Booth pictures on Saturday.

25.  Free meet-and-greet with federal duck stamp artists on Saturday.

- For more information on “Ding” Darling Days or to make reservations call (239) 472-8900 or visit