Though I’ve attended a few artsScene Edmonton events before (notably their patio party at Latitude 53 last summer), this was my first of their behind-the-scenes series, which provides attendees with the opportunity to “go backstage” at cultural institutions such as the Alberta Ballet, Edmonton Opera, and most recently, at the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. This time, Hotel Macdonald was to be centre stage.
The haze outside meant most people opted to stay inside, which meant the room was all the more lively. With music from the Jerrold Dubyk Trio and beats from Mindy Cooper (DJ Sweetz) thrown in, it was a great atmosphere to mingle the night away.
Inside the Wedgewood Room
Jerrold Dubyk Trio
Sarah Jackson was also on hand as one of the featured artists, showcasing her new project Angles of Love. I love that she is able to incorporate fun, interactive elements into her exhibits (at the last Refinery party at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Sarah created condiment portraits of guests).
Sarah busy with card readings
Some hors d’oeuvres were included in the price of our $29 ticket, and I made sure to sample away. The kitchen had prepared all sorts of skewers, and, more up my alley, several crispy deep-fried treats, including spring rolls and spanakopita. A selection of cold appetizers were also available, including salsa and chips, cucumber cups, and very tasty squares of toast topped with brie and strawberry.
Food, glorious food!
I had been most looking forward to the tour portion of the evening, which was supposed to provide insight on the building’s history and architecture. It did somewhat, though not to the extent I was hoping for. Also, with such a large group, it was difficult to hear the guides at times.
Inside the Drawing Room (formerly known as the Ladies’ Drawing Room, where women would wait for their escorts)
I have dined in the Empire Ballroom before, but I had no idea the room had been used to house jean makers during World War II. Or, that the ceiling (called “The Chase”), featured anatomically correct hounds.
The decidedly masculine Jasper Room was built to overlook the Fathers of Confederation painting on the wall next door. The room also includes windows set near the floor – done so they are level with diners seated at the table.
Our last stop was up to the eighth floor rooms, where many high profile visitors have stayed – recent guests have included Van Morrison and Bon Jovi. Though someone was occupying their most lavish suite that night ($3000/night, where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed), we were able to see the Churchill Suite, a cozy two-story room with generously-sized bathrooms, priced at $999/night.
Imagine waking up to Churchill in the morning
After the tour, we wandered outside to take in the patio, smoke be dammed.
Lots of green!
Thanks to artsScene for a great night – check their website to find out about their future events!