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54th Albany Tulip Festival

It’s tiptoe-through-the-tulips time again. Who thought it would ever get here? The flowers are in full bloom, Washington Park is gleaming with springtime preening, and your sunless limbs are ready for a change.

The 54th annual Tulip Festival will take place in Albany’s Washington Park this weekend—it’s always Mother’s Day weekend (how many of us wait until that day to buy a nice sea-glass-trimmed mirror or papier-mâché lampshade for mumsy?)—and though you most likely know the drill, we’d be remiss to not mention it as we have lo these many years.

It all begins Friday with a Carillon Concert at City Hall at 11:30 AM, then on to the annual scrubbing of State and Lodge streets (someone’s got to do it) at noon, and finished off with an all-Celtic music concert in Washington Park: Kilbrannan (5 PM), the Highland Rovers Band (6), and the McKrells (7:15).

The Pinksterfest begins Saturday at 11 AM, with arts and crafts vendors snaking through the idyllic park, along with plenty of food offerings (who can go the weekend without a blooming onion?). The Tulip Queen procession will travel Willett Street through the park at 11:45 AM, and the coronation is at noon. Ring in the new, as they say. Saturday’s music begins with the Mendelssohn Club of Albany performing on the Amphitheater Stage at 11:45 AM. They’re followed by Sirsy (1 PM), the Wait (2:30) and Alex Torres and the Latin Kings (4:30). Between the Wait and the Latin Kings, there will be a fitness workshop (at 4). It’ll give you a chance to work off that fried dough.

Saturday’s Main Stage entertainment features Kevin Brennan (1 PM), Larry Lewis and Solid Smoke (2:45) and Buster Poindexter (pictured) and the Banshees in Blue (4:30). Sunday’s Main Stage: Cole Broderick (noon), Mother Goose Jazz Band (1:15), Dirty Dozen Brass Band, from New Orleans (2:45), Mother of the Year Award ceremony (4:15) and Steve Tyrell (4:45). Sunday’s Amphitheatre Stage: Athena (noon), Leslie Ritter and Scott Petito (1:30), juggler Stephen Gratto (2:30), Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem (3:15) and Joy Adler (4:45).

There’s also a Dance Stage on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday: ArtPartners/Tsehaya Smith (1 PM), Chinese Dance Troupe (2), Kuumba Dance and Drum (3), KoMotion (4) and St. Sophia Greek Folk Youth Ensemble (5). Sunday: Zorepad Ukrainian Youth Ensemble (1 PM), Farrell School of Irish Dance (2), Albany Berkshire Ballet (3), eba Dance Theatre (4) and Israeli Youth Ensemble (5).

Top all of these performances off with kids’ activities such as face-painting, pony rides, MVP Healthcare Kidzone and hands-on crafts; a Dutch worship on Sunday at 10:30 AM (First Church, 110 N. Pearl St., Abany); gardening talks at the Moses statue (that sits at the end of doggy-splash pool), and plenty of strolling opportunities. And don’t forget to buy mom her one-of-a-kind shell-encrusted potholder.


If Cirque Eos seems at times to be toying with the laws of gravity and science for your amusement and, perhaps, your disbelief, it is no accident: One of the guiding principles of this Quebec City-based troupe is that it is good to strike a balance between living in the world of reality and living in your imagination. Hence Imaginaire, Cirque Eos’ signature piece, featuring a dizzying array of acrobatics, balance, strength and daring, which will be performed Tuesday at the Palace Theatre.

Cirque Eos (named for the Greek goddess of dawn) was created in 1998 by Michel Rousseau, a veteran of clowning and circus arts who also founded the Ecole de cirque de Quebec. At the school, students can practice such stunts as unicycling, aerials and wire walking beginning at an early age (the popularity of Cirque de Soleil has inspired many youth to take up the circus arts, says Cirque Eos tour manager Anne May Sirois). The troupe rehearses alongside students from Ecole de cirque in the arena that formerly housed the now-departed Quebec Nordiques National Hockey League team; with the most gifted graduating students in such close contact, Cirque Eos doesn’t have to look far for new recruits.

Imaginaire is the story of a young man struggling for his right to dream; the story line is played out in a series of daring acts including juggling on unicycles, jumping stairs on a bicycle, high-wire and trapeze stunts, and other feats of acrobatics and clowning. There are no animals except the human variety, and the members of Cirque Eos pride themselves on their collective approach to creating entertainment of passion and imagination.

Cirque Eos will perform Imaginaire Tuesday (May 14) at 7:30 PM at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany). Tickets are $42.50, $37.50 and $25.50 and are available at all Ticketmaster locations and the Palace Theatre box office, 465-4663.

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