“The Wild” Chinese Lantern Festival Will Light up the Night in Huntsville

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Thousands of Handcrafted Lanterns Create Beautiful Displays of Color and Light

Wednesday – Sunday, March 20, 2019 – May 19, 2019

For the first time, Huntsville Botanical Garden and PNC Bank will co-host “The Wild” a Hanart Culture Chinese Lantern Festival, a fully immersive multicultural experience showcasing more than 1,000 lanterns, live entertainment, and authentic Chinese crafts for the entire family to enjoy. Debuting March 20, 2019, Hanart Culture will present a stunning display of handcrafted lights and wildlife that will transform more than 112 acres at Huntsville Botanical Garden into a magical landscape of glowing animals from around the world.

“Through intricate craftsmanship, interactive workshops and live-art performances, Hanart Culture and Huntsville Botanical Gardens have created a truly unforgettable opportunity for visitors to explore China’s rich and dynamic arts culture,” said Nick Willis, PNC regional president, Greater Alabama. “This is one of the largest exhibits of [Zigong] Chinese lantern art in the country and through engaging events like this, PNC helps bring authentic, global experiences into the communities we serve.”

“The Wild,” showcases larger- than- life lanterns, ranging in size from 12 to 23 feet tall, representing wild life from America, Oceania, Asia, Antarctica and Africa. Cheetahs, jellyfish, lions, panda bears, majestic cranes, and even dinosaurs from the five different regions will create a visually stunning display of art, tradition, and culture for garden visitors to explore during the nine-week exhibition. Not only will these displays be magical in the moonlight, but also enchanting in the sunlight, making this festival enjoyable any time of the day.

In addition to the spectacular lanterns, the festival will feature food, live Kung Fu shows and demonstrations, and shadow play. Guests can also explore and shop in the craft marketplace where authentic Chinese jewelry, artifacts, dough figurines, as well as Chinese embroidery art, sugar art, paper-cut and fabric art will be available for purchase.

Huntsville Botanical Garden will also offer an assortment of educational programs and exhibitions for all ages to enhance “The Wild” experience and to honor the Chinese culture. Guests can select from an eclectic variety of daytime educational programs such as Feng Shui designs, Tai Chi, the art of shadow puppetry, DIY Chinese lanterns, Chinese water color, and more. Additional exhibits include four ceramic elephants made of 3,200 kitchen utensils such as dishes, bowls, spoons and wine cups will also be on display.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with PNC and share this unique festival with ourcommunity” said Paula Steigerwald, president and CEO of Huntsville Botanical Garden. “It not only offers an


occasion for people to see all that the Garden has to offer, but also encourages our guests, volunteers, and staff to learn about and celebrate a different culture.”

The Lantern Festival is one of China’s most traditional celebrations with the art of Chinese lantern making dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.). Today, these lanterns are made of modern materials and technology with brilliantly lit colored LED lightbulbs, musical enhancements and sound effects, and visual moving parts to create larger-than-life imaginative shapes.


“These gorgeous lanterns have evolved through the centuries, from when they were used for lighting, to an art form all their own. Chinese lanterns are a cherished part of festivals and celebrations world-wide and we are proud to bring the Hanart Culture Chinese Lantern Festival to Huntsville, Alabama” said George Zhao, president of Hanart Culture.

Produced by Hanart Culture and presented by PNC Bank, the Chinese Lantern Festival will open every Wednesday-Sunday from 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., through May 19th. Advanced tickets must be purchased and are available online at www.hsvbg.org/lanterns for $15 – $25. Garden members receive an additional $5 off each ticket purchase.

For more photos please use this link: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmu4VG17

About PNC Bank

PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Huntsville Botanical Garden, located at 4747 Bob Wallace Avenue in Huntsville, AL, is open year-round and features the nation’slargest open-air butterfly house, a picture-perfect aquatic garden, spectacular nature trails, numerous specialty gardens – including an interactive children’s garden – and a variety of plant collections. This beautiful 112-acre Garden is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization run by only 35 employees and over 2600 active volunteers. With five distinct festivals each year; Beaks and Barks, Huntsville Blooms, Summer Butterfly House, Fall Scarecrow Trail and Holiday Galaxy of Lights, you’ll soon see why we say there’sAlways Something Growing On at Huntsville Botanical Garden!

About Hanart Culture

Hanart Culture is a producer/management agent of live theatrical entertainment. They exclusively represent performing artists and attractions, and arrange touring throughout North America. Hanart Culture handles different aspects of performance solicitation, negotiation and contracting engagements, as well as post-booking services (i.e. supplying press, photos, etc.) to make every performance a success. “Han” is the largest nationality of China; “Art” stands for a variety of art styles, including Kung Fu, Acrobatics etc.

Vulcan Park & Museum Hosts 3rd Annual Adult Egg Drop Competition

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Community members are encouraged to attend for an evening of fun, laughter and drinks

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In conjunction with the 30th Annual Brent Newman Memorial Egg Drop, Vulcan Park and Museum’s Junior Leadership Board will host its 3rd Annual Adult Egg Drop competition on April 4 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Members of the Birmingham metro area are invited to form teams to try their hand at the classic, elementary, student competition by designing a contraption to keep an egg protected as it drops from the top of Vulcan’s 124-foot pedestal. Teams will compete for one of four coveted awards: Biggest Splat, The Greenest Egg in the Ham, Most Egg-cellent Design and The Best Laid Egg.

Teams are to submit a team registration form and $100 registration fee before April 4. The fee includes the egg drop competition for up to five team members and two drink tickets per team member. Walkup teams will be accepted but they must have the team form completed and payment at time of the event.

The Junior Leadership Board also invites spectators to cheer on the teams as they compete, enjoy Eugene’s Hot Chicken, drinks and live entertainment by JD and The Man. Tickets are only $10 per person and includes one drink ticket, access to the tower, museum and park.

Elizabeth Choy, Vulcan Park and Museum Development Coordinator said that Drink & Drop is unlike any other fundraising event held at Vulcan Park and Museum.

“Drink and Drop is a chance for participants to get super creative with their teammates, while also having a friendly competition,” said Choy. “Spectators will also have a lot of fun even without being on a team because, really, who doesn’t love the theatrics of an egg drop?”

For more information on this event visit our website at visitvulcan.com or Contact Elizabeth

Choy, Development Coordinator at echoy@visitvulcan.com.

11 Best Places in Birmingham to Ring in the New Year!

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Downtown Get Down
The Loft Entertainment District
Carrigan’s Pub and The Wine Loft Birmingham
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Lakeview NYE Pass
Tin Roof Birmingham and SideBar
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Celebration Holiday Surf & Turf
Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Birmingham
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NYE 1st Avenue Block Party
8 pm
1st and 23rd – Havana on 1st
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New Year’s Eve Dinner

Grille 29 Birmingham
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New Year’s Eve Celebration
Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar
Reservations required
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New Year’s Eve Party
The Tutwiler Bar & Grill
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New Year’s Day Brunch
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8 Best Places to Ring in the New Year in North Alabama

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Mars Masquerade
U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville
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12/29, 12/30, & 12/31
New Year’s Weekend

The Bottle – Huntsville 
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Celebration Holiday Surf and Turf Specials

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Huntsville
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The Retrovales Live

Humphrey’s Bar and Grill – Huntsville
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New Year’s Eve At Below The Radar

Below the Radar Brewing Company – Huntsville
9:00pm – 12:00am
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New Year’s Eve

Nick’s Ristorante – Huntsville
Seating times: 6 pm or 8:30 pm
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Glow Up at Skating in the Park NYE!
Downtown Huntsville
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Josie’s Inaugural New Year’s Eve Party
Josie’s – Downtown Decatur
9:00pm – 1:00am
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Residents can now stream music from Vulcan’s Holiday Show across town

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Beta web app now synced to new holiday light  show

WHO:              Birmingham residents

Anyone who can see Vulcan


WHAT:           Magic of Lights: Vulcan’s Holiday Light Experience web app


WHEN:           December 13 – December 25


WHY:              There is a beta version of a web app to allow residents who have a view of Vulcan to connect and get the experience of the sound-to-light show.


Users will need to make they have a good view of Vulcan, a strong wifi or mobile data signal and then visit https://vulcanlightshow.com/ on their desktop or mobile device


Click through the buttons as instructed, and every hour on the hour from 5:00 pm through 9:00 pm on Dec. 12-25  and the limited-edition web app will play the music that accompanies Vulcan’s light show!


*Please note that you will need to re-access the site for each show time you wish to listen to. A maximum of 500 users will be permitted to access the audio for each show.

**This is a beta version of the web app. Report all issues to info@tactman.com

Vulcan Park and Museum light up the holidays with synchronized hourly light show

Guests can enjoy classic Christmas songs with this year’s 12-day show


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Vulcan Park and Museum invites the Birmingham area to gather for the Magic of Lights: Vulcan’s Holiday Light Experience, Dec. 12 – 23 from 5-9 p.m.


At the top of each hour, beginning at 5:00 p.m.,  guests will enjoy a 15-minute lively array of dancing lights choreographed to delightful holiday music.  The Anvil and Museum will have extended hours until 9:00 p.m. along with complimentary hot chocolate (while supplies last).  Visitors are encouraged to shop at The Anvil for the Red Dot Sale or purchase Birmingham-themed items from local artisans such as Earthborn Pottery and Glass Studio.


This amazing show is made possible through the generous support from Kiwanis of Birmingham and their gift of the dynamic lighting package.


Joe Saling, Director of Visitor Service Experience is thrilled to provide the community with a gathering place to enjoy the holiday season.


“We anticipate this becoming a holiday tradition for the entire family,” Saling said. “Since we are the ‘Magic City’, it is only fitting to have a magical light show.”


Santa V will be present for photos from 5 – 7 p.m. at the premiere on Dec. 12. Admission is $5 for 13 and up, $4 for kids ages 5-12 and children under 4 are free.


Event Details

  • Magic of Lights: Vulcan’s Holiday Light Experience and Santa V’s arrival:  Dec. 12  from 5:00p.m.-7: 00 p.m. (guest appearance premiere night only)
  • Shows Nightly: Dec. 12 to  Dec. 23 (5p  | 6p | 7p | 8p | 9p)
  • The Museum and The Anvil will have extended hours until 9:00 p.m. for any last minute shopping.
  • Admission is $5 for 13 and up, $4 for kids ages 5-12 and children under 4 are free.


5 Point Public House Oyster Bar offers a fresh, new take on seafood and more

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5 POINT PUBLIC HOUSE OYSTER BAR offers a fresh, new take on seafood and more

At 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar find a new, fresh take on seafood and more from celebrated chef and owner George Reis. Although just next door to his flagship Ocean restaurant, the new venture could not be more different in its offerings, allowing Reis to venture outside of the seafood-centric world of Ocean and exercise his creativity.

The offerings include an oyster bar that serves only Southeastern coastal oysters as well as sushi, but also decidedly non-seafood items, like oven breads, chicharrones nachos and a variety of specialty burgers that are quickly becoming one of the biggest draws to the restaurant. Influences come from a variety of items, recipes, countries and cultures, with mashups that only a chef of Reis’ vision could put together.

5 Point Public House also allows Reis to dive into the craft beer scene that has swept through the Magic City in recent years, with more than 40 craft beer offerings, two dozen draft beers available alongside a number of cocktails and eight keg-style wines on tap to pair with the eclectic food offerings.

The new gastropub focuses on good food served in a casual, pub-like setting, where the focus is on quality and comfort for the patrons.

Their unique craft beer delivery system pumps your favorite craft to your own personal tap at a pub table…very cool indeed.


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Grille 29 in Huntsville, Alabama: Sophisticated Sizzle

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Grille 29 in Huntsville, Alabama

Located in the heart of the beautiful Village of Providence, Grille 29 sets the standard for fine dining in a casual atmosphere in Huntsville through its sophisticated sizzle. Grille 29 continues to be ranked in the top group of “Best Restaurants” on Trip Advisor.

In addition to menu favorites such as Crab Cake Blend Stuffed Sea Scallops, the Filet 29 and the culinary team’s artfully designed nightly features, the Grouper Oscar has become a signature entree, pan-seared black grouper topped with jumbo lump crab meat, asparagus, and hollandaise. Pan-seared and topped with jumbo lump crab meat, asparagus and hollandaise, this dish is worthy of all the raves it receives.

Being in the Rocket City, Grille 29 embraced the space experience with the starry sky display over the bar. Over 1.3 miles of fiber optic lighting was used to make the constellations in the northern hemisphere and guests can catch a glimpse of a shooting star or comet overhead as they enjoy their dinner.

Your culinary journey will not be complete unless you experience dessert at Grille 29! Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle, Lemon Lava Cake and Crème Brulee are just a sampling of delectable desserts that you must try. 

Make Grille 29 your restaurant for meeting friends after work, celebrating a special occasion or enjoying a business luncheon.  

Your table is ready and waiting!


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Nick’s Ristorante in Huntsville: A Slice of Northern Italy with a Broad Sense of Service

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Nick’s Ristorante in Huntsville, Alabama
A Slice of Northern Italy with a Broad Sense of Service
by Jenny Adams   photography by Brent Boyd

Sinatra’s best lyrics are floating through a microphone in the lounge. The lighting is dim in the larger dining room, where the woods are polished and gleaming. The steaks are sending clouds of charred perfume off hot plates. It’s another night at Nick’s. However, what’s become beloved in just a few short years by locals is often a refreshing discovery for those visiting from out of town. This steakhouse has a serious love of premium cuts and a philanthropic side for the men and women of our Armed Forces. Behind it, all is owner Nick Mikus—a man who served in the Army around the globe for nearly five decades before settling down to serve up some of Huntsville’s most lauded cuisine.

Nick opened his northern Italian steakhouse in 2010 alongside his wife, Sherry, who sadly passed away in 2015. In just eight years, the restaurant has become a cornerstone in the community. It’s located off-the-beaten-path, and for Nick, he’d want it no other way.  “The location is paramount to what we do. I want people to come and find us,” he says. “We are the hidden gem of fine dining in Huntsville and The Valley, where you discover something remarkable and enjoy finding your way back.”

“This restaurant is something we talked about doing more than 40 years ago when our mom was still alive.” Inside the space, you feel like you are walking into someone’s home. There are family photos on the wall and the bistro has leather sofas. “We want guests to relax just like they would at home. The best compliment we receive is when guests tell us being at Nick’s feels like coming to your house for cocktails and dinner.”

You will definitely be welcomed by the family atmosphere and literal family ownership, but there are aspects of Nick’s you cannot find in most homes. The quality of steak on the menu is a serious component, and it sets the place apart in the Southeast. Nick’s is one of the only Certified Angus Beef operations in the state of Alabama, which means every single cut of meat is in the top 5-percent of all beef produced. Executive Chef Tom Chapman sources his 21-day aged cuts from three farms in the Midwest, and they are butchered and packaged specifically for the venue. 

“We have a spice blend that Nick and I worked to create,” says Chapman, who’s run the kitchen six years now, and studied in the field under a noted Italian chef before joining this team. “Our seasoning is seven ingredients: salt, pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, ground oregano, cinnamon and coffee grounds,” he says. “The coffee grounds add a robust flavor that we find complements a steak very well.”

“Our most popular steak is the filet, and when you hear the term cuts like butter, it definitely applies,” Nick laughs. He loves sitting down to the New York Strip. “It’s my favorite,” he says, “because when I cut into a steak, I want to feel the heft of it. We also have a House Sirloin that’s the best deal going. It’s 12 ounces for under $30, and you can easily feed two people.”

A man who comes from a long line of proud Italian heritage, and who still has family operating restaurants over in Italy, Nick serves a traditional menu one might find in Florence, Italy, including a mean, thin-pounded veal and a delicate, rich, mushroom risotto. 

“You won’t find the heavy dishes like lasagna on our menu,” Nick says, “because we stay true to the cuisine of Northern Italy. “We have a beautiful bar pizza on the bistro side of the restaurant that we do on the grill, and the few pastas we do have are very light, with house-made sauce. Everything is created here, including all of our desserts.” The creations behind the bar are the work of Lounge Manager/Mixologist Kenny Burke and his staff of highly trained bartenders. The service staff led by Joey Hicks is top of the line and second to none.

While the vibe might be a throwback to the classic, Rat Pack-era and the food might be very traditional northern Italian, what surprises some new visitors is the restaurant’s dedication to the men and women of the American military. Nick is a veteran himself, having served more than four decades in the armed forces. A Vietnam veteran, he’s lived all over the map, from time in the Pacific to years in Europe. 

Nick’s Ristorante is a VA certified service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB). The sense of “family” here extends not just to the ownership and the staff, but to all those who have served our country and come in to sit and be served as a thank you. Nick opens the restaurant early to host events on certain days, whenever groups need a place to gather. 

“We have a lot of regulars and within that, a lot of our customers are military,” he says. “We support Wounded Warriors, Still Serving Veterans, Veterans United and many other veterans groups.”  

Many restaurant owners could look around the room and notice familiar faces. At Nick’s the clientele can see the devotion and near fanaticism some hold for his choice cuts of ribeye and super creamy risotto right on the bistro wall. The cheekily named Mafia Club was set up a few years ago, and it is, according to Nick, “about as good of a return on investment as you’re ever going to find.” Be sure to ask Nick or one of his team members about this tremendous offer. 

Nick explains, “people love bringing business groups or large parties in here. It takes the hassle out of splitting a check or the awkwardness of paying. You just tell your server that you have a Mafia Club membership. They take your name and number, and you just sign—no credit cards or cash required. It comes directly out of your account.”


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Ocean in Birmingham: AAA Four Diamond Award Winner 10 Years Running

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Ocean Restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama

Voted Best Restaurant, Best Chef and the recipient of AAA Four Diamond Award for the past ten years, Ocean offers fresh seafood in an exciting and contemporary atmosphere. The bold seafood menu at Ocean makes the restaurant a premier location for fine dining in Birmingham. Ocean is widely known as one of the city’s crown jewels as accolades have been heaped on the restaurant, chef and owner George Reis and on the restaurant’s fine wine offerings.

Many patrons stop by for a signature martini at the newly renovated white marble-topped bar. The beautiful environment, paired with one of Ocean’s signature cocktails, is a perfect way to start the night. Other locals head straight to the Raw Bar for seafood offerings not found anywhere else in the city. From the imposing Seafood Tower that showcases most of the Raw Bar’s offerings to the various oysters, lobster, crab legs and mussels served at the bar, it is a wonderful taste of what Ocean has in store.

The casual atmosphere of the patio dining area is perfect for a low-key night out with friends or entertaining clients, but be sure to sample the award-winning and recently restyled dining experience inside as well. Any seafood lover is certain to find their favorite on the menu, whether it be shrimp or one of the restaurant’s whole fish offerings, which changes daily.

For those who aren’t in a seafood mood, Reis offers a cooked-to-perfection Hereford filet mignon as well as a number of salads and desserts that will satisfy any craving.


Located in the historic Five Points South area, Ocean is at the center of the city’s entertainment and culinary center.

Reservations are encouraged and there’s ample seating at the bar.


Market Table in Homewood: Like Having Your Own Personal Chef

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Market Table in Homewood, Alabama

Dining at home made simple and delicious: Market Table brings joy back to the table with scrumptious breakfast and lunch menus served in their cafe. They also offer deliciously prepared meals, meal kits and a variety of proteins and sides for dinner. In their market, you’ll find wine, desserts and snacks to fulfill any and all cravings.

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