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It's already turned colder across the U.S., but things are just heating up when it comes to wintertime events schedule. Hats, scarves and mittens are optional.p>

Miami Art Deco Festival: Miami Beach FL (January 11 to 14, 2007)

If you didn't already get your fill of Miami at Art Basel, then come back in January for some Art Deco delights. The theme of the 30th annual Art Deco Weekend is "East Meets West: Art Deco from Shanghai to Miami." Public programs, films, and lectures will echo this theme and attempt to position Art Deco as the first truly international design style. The Art Deco weekend will feature more than 85 events, including guided tours of classic Art Deco properties, a street festival, art auctions, a film series, an opening night parade, theatrical and dance performances, activities for children, lectures, live music, a weekend dog promenade and antiques, art and collectibles vendors. All the action takes place on famed Ocean Drive, between 5th and 15th Streets. See the Miami Design Preservation League website (www.mdpl.org) for further information.

Sundance Film Festival: Park City UT (January 18 to 28, 2007)

Yes this festival is for the rich and famous, but also for celebrity spotters and film enthusiasts. We can thank the eternally handsome and talented Robert Redford for establishing this forum where film makers and industry movers and shakers from around the world converge for eleven days of deal making, screenings and awards. In order to purchase tickets for individual screenings you have to register online by ballot or you can totally splurge and purchase an Express Pass which includes admission to any public screening or panel discussion within date range (week A or week B), admission for one to the Awards night party and a Pass photo credential which provides access to the non-theatre festival venues. This will set you back $2,520 with a limit of one pass per person. If that is out of your budget, you can just always go to Park City and hang out in the bars, cafes and restaurants and hope to rub shoulders with your favorite Hollywood heavy or up-and-coming indie superstar. For more information, including how to volunteer for the festival, telephone 877/733-7829 or visit the website at http://festival.sundance.org/2007.

Ground Hog Day: Punxsutawney PA (February 1 to 3, 2007)

You've seen the movie -- now see Punxsutawney Phil in person as he predicts whether we can expect an early spring or an extended winter. According to tradition (supposedly they've been doing this bizarre thing since at least the mid 19th century), if the groundhog sees his shadow then there will be six more weeks of winter but if the sky is cloudy and there is no shadow, spring is on the way -- making Punxsutawney the implied weather capital of the world. What started off as a single early morning tradition on February 2 has turned in a three-day festival. Over 30,000 people make their way to Gobbler's Knob, a hill outside the town, via shuttle buses to witness Phil's prowess. Get up early as the festivities and crowds start to gather at 3am on the big day. Other events over the three day period include the crowning of Groundhog King and Queen, hayrides, ice and chain saw carving competitions, a chili and hot wings cook off, a scavenger hunt and even wedding ceremonies. See the event website (www.groundhog.org) for more details of times and locations.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: New York City (February 12 to 13, 2007)

This is actually one of my favorite events and any dog lover cannot help but be drawn to this two day dog-fest. As much as the nationally televised competition may be the main event for some, for me it is walking through the dog grooming and preparation areas, watching owners trim, blow dry, puff up and indulge their pooch's very whim. There's also lots of canine paraphernalia, products, goodies and activities. The show itself attracts over 2,500 dogs for some serious competition. The event isn't cheap -- $40 general admission or $20 for children over 12. Reserved seating is $125. You need to order tickets by filling out an application form online by December 1, 2006 or a limited number of tickets is also available through Madison Square Garden box office and Ticketmaster. The last two years shows sold out so book early not to be disappointed. See the website (www.westminsterkennelclub.org) for further details.

Mardi Gras: New Orleans LA (February 20, 2007)

What better way to help get New Orleans back on its feet than to visit during its most famous event. If you do plan to visit keep in mind that many centrally located hotels, especially in the French quarter have four- or five-day minimum stay requirements during Mardi Gras so book early. The first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans on February 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus who began the tradition of presenting a parade with floats and following it with a ball for the krewe and their guests. Today there are dozens of parades starting on February 3 in different districts of New Orleans in the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday and no less than 11 individual parades on Fat Tuesday itself. By law, all people who ride on parade floats must always wear a mask but on Fat Tuesday, masking is for everyone else and the elaborate masks add to the fun and festive atmosphere. There are also numerous private and public parties. Don't miss trying traditional King cakes, rich Danish dough braided and baked with a plastic "baby" inserted. The top of the cake is covered with sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. Of course beads are synonymous with Mardi Gras and collecting them as they are thrown from the floats in different colors and sizes seems to be one of the main activities. Mardi Gras information is available at www.mardigrasneworleans.com.

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