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Did you know the Excelsior Regina hotel was built just so Queen Victoria could visit the south of France? The brilliant Rhys Bowen’s “Above the Bay of Angels” reveals the magnificent place built in 1897 on a hillside in Nice.

SWEET HOME — The city's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at Sweet Home City Hall, 3225 Main St.

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Chang’s university is a movable school. This novel is — listen to this — about a group from a Chinese university escaping the Japanese invasion of 1937. A group of classmates has been entrusted with the safekeeping of a priceless treasure, a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends. OK, it’s not in a school, but it’s about a school — and about learning how the bonds of knowledge, and our responsibilities to our classmates and to history, can send us on a life-changing journey.

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The Annual Whitefish Winter Carnival kicks off with the coronation of a king and queen, followed by a Penguin Plunge (a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake and participants take a dip to raise funds for charity). Visitors are welcomed by mountain men, penguins and Viking divas, otherwise known as the costume-clad volunteers who share stories and point the curious toward the old-fashioned Main Street parade, an ice sculpting contest, a kids' carnival, a pie social and a pancake breakfast. You can also expect a torchlight ski parade, ski-joring, cross-country ski races and a figure skating demonstration. The festivities are open to the public and most are free. Feb. 7-9, 2020. Contact:

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Considered one of the oldest winter festivals in the U.S., this family-friendly event includes polar plunges, day and evening parades, ice-horse-racing, bob-sledding and ice carving, as well as a liberal serving of lore. It's said that a New York reporter once referred to St. Paul as "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation" in winter. In response, the Chamber of Commerce set out to prove there was good fun to be had during the frosty days of winter and the Carnival was born. That was in 1885. This year, the youngest generation and their families can join in the Carnival's Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade by wearing costumes and decorating strollers, wagons or other non-motorized transportation for the chance to win prizes. Jan. 23 - Feb. 2, 2020. Contact

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Halloween costumes are traditionally scary, so hip hop icon Snoop Dogg made sure fans were truly terrified by wearing a Joker mask.

A block of houses lit up for Christmas is enough to get anyone in the holiday spirit—but the feeling isn’t quite the same when all of those lights are still hanging in March. Decorating your house for Christmas can be a serious hassle, especially in freezing winter weather. This year, try swapping out your Christmas lights for a modern LED projector.

Decorating the Christmas tree with your family and opening presents underneath is a beloved holiday tradition, but if you’re in a small space it can be a hassle. Using half the room for a life-sized tree, or finding a spot to store it may not be feasible, but these small Christmas trees will help you get in the holiday spirit—even if you’re celebrating in a studio apartment.

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BROWNSVILLE — Just like his parents and grandparents before him, 8-year-old Greyson Tenbusch marched in the Linn County Pioneer Picnic Kiddie …

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