The busy summer leisure travel season typically gives way to strong corporate and sport tourism markets for us in the fall and early winter but a number of shoulder season events have been emerging to help attract regional visitors to the city during what have traditionally been slower leisure travel periods.
Artzoom (www.artzoom.ca) is a great weekend event now in its third year that aims to bring visitors - and residents for that matter - back to the downtown north core. Held on the first Saturday of December, its become one of my personal faves because its close to home. I can walk downtown, enjoy a great dinner at one of the great eateries down there and stroll from gallery to gallery, shop to shop and see the creativity that our community possesses. I like it because its a great way to connect with our cultural tourism partners, find out what they're up to and learn about the new ones.
Definitely Superior Art Gallery (www.definitelysuperior.com), St Paul Gallery, Painted Turtle, Linda Dell and others are all places we should know about in the tourism industry. These are places we need to recommend to visitors who are looking for something different and uniquely Thunder Bay. The fact that there are so many of these places so close together, and than complimented by eateries, the casino , hotels and B and Bs makes this a great little weekend getaway destination.
One of my faves this year (and a great find that put me in tears of sheer laughter) was an accidental stumble upon a little gem called Uncle Mowglies Skate and Paint (www.unclemowglies.com). This shop, on Red River Road, is located strategically near the new skate and BMX plaza and produces some fantastic Thunder Bay promotional apparel that speaks to all of us who are fiercely proud of the neighborhoods we grew up in or call home today. "Port Arthur", "Fort William", "Westfort" and even "Simpson Street" all show up - sometimes tongue in cheek - on classic black tees. These gems, created in house on their own screen printer, do their part to help promote the city. Each neighborhood tells a story of who we are and how we got here and even in this day where we are all "Thunder Bayites", its the identity of our neighborhoods - all of them - that makes us culturally unique.
With the Christmas VFR season upon us, I recommend taking your visiting friends and relatives to to the north core for a stroll, a meal and a little gift shopping at one of the many unique galleries that make us not only one of Canada's best outdoor cities but also one of the most culturally gifted.