Art & Music

Literally Cool Music

Incredibly fragile, many of the instruments hang from the ceiling during concerts so as not to be melted by their musician’s body heat.

Ice and music. Depending on your age, those two words might conjure up the infamous 80s band Vanilla Ice and their hit “Ice Ice Baby” or the more recent rendition of the song by North Carolina school administrators announcing a snow day. But what’s really too cool (too cool) is the Swedish musical group aptly named Ice Music, whose instruments are carved out of ice.

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The Best Oktoberfest Celebrations
(Outside of Europe)

Have you ever been to a raucous wedding reception that turned into an epic party? Exactly 202 years ago this October, the German Prince Ludwig the First married Princess Therese and afterwards hosted exactly such a celebration. It was so memorable that the attendees wanted to relive it every year. That desire spawned the annual alcohol-filled party known today as Oktoberfest.

Happily for lovers of celebrations and beer, Oktoberfest has very much spread beyond Germany in the last two centuries. Here is Spot Cool Stuff’s roundup of a few great places to enjoy the occasion outside of Europe. These Oktoberfests span the globe and are attended by revelers across the spectrum of race, religion and political affiliation. We see it as proof that one of man’s most universal and fundamental desires is to have fun — while guzzling beer and wearing lederhosen.

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The Living Sculptures of Mosaïcultures

Spot Cool Stuff, generally speaking, is not a fan of botanical gardens. As a place to walk around for a few minutes as part of a romantic date, maybe. If we happen to be near the entrance of a botanical garden. . . and if we had some time to spare . . . and if admission is free . . . we’d possibly consider popping in. But would we plan a trip around a botanical garden? Never. Absolutely not. No way. There’s no botanical garden worth that.

Except perhaps one: the Montreal Botanical Garden.

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The World’s Largest Underwater Sculpture Park

The collection of life-sized human casts resemble an underwater Pompeii

Ah, Cancun. The sun. The beaches. The shopping. The tequila shots. The drunken college kids on spring break. The massive underwater sculpture park?

Even some of those familiar with the attractions Cancun offers above sea level are surprised at what they can find underneath it: a museum. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte, to be specific.

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Take a Chance on The ABBA Museum

Anyone can (attempt to) sing Dancing Queen in a karaoke bar. But what about singing Dancing Queen along with a holographic rendering of ABBA and then fielding a real live phone call from one of the original band members? That’s possible only if you are exceedingly wealthy, eccentric and well-connected — or if you visit The ABBA Museum. It’s part of a new complex in Stockholm that celebrates Sweden’s second most famous export after Ikea furniture: The Swedish Music Hall of Fame.

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Key West Art Scene Hits New Low

It seems unlikely that a 60-year-old ship of war would end up as the home of a surreal art gallery. Which is an example of exactly why Spot Cool Stuff so loves to travel:

The world is full of unlikely attractions in unlikely places. And some of those places aren’t even on land.

So it is with Vandenberg: Life Below the Surface, an underwater art exhibit off the coast of Key West, Florida.

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Majorca in Chopin’s Footsteps

Majorca is full of tourists — mostly British — who flock of the sun-drenched Spanish island in the Balearic Sea for its high-rise hotels, social beach scene and techno-fueled nightlife. Visit specific portions of the island and you’ll certainly find all those. But a vacation on Majorca can be completely different from that experience too.

Instead of staying in a high-rise hotels, travelers can book a villa online — there are all sorts to choose from, many surprisingly affordable.

Instead of the packed beaches, check out the old quarter of the Majorcan capital of Palma. Its medieval architecture and maze of cobblestone lanes ooze history — and are surprisingly unvisited.

And instead of the techno nightlife, take a more classical music approach and follow in the footsteps of Chopin.

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The Building That Sings When It Rains

The sound of rain falling is music to the ears of the residents of one particular building in Dresden, Germany.

Their building is one of those that form five funky courtyards collectively known as the Kunsthofpassage, located in the city’s Äußere Neustadt (Outer New Town) neighborhood. Each courtyard is designed by local artists working on a theme. And in one of the courtyards there’s a colorful building with a series of metallic funnels attached to the facade. When it rains, water is channeled down the front of the building in a way that creates melodic notes as it goes. It sounds almost like this cool piece of architecture is singing!

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