Grasping the region's vast scope isn't easy for many of us, but the Manitoba Museum can help there. Its eight galleries describe the people and environment of the province, from the Arctic Circle in the north to the southern grasslands where Winnipeg is set. It includes a fully equipped planetarium, and they will even give you a "clear sky" forecast for when best to do your looking up.
If it's music you're looking to hear - in a city bustling with an energetic indie-bands community - drop in for the 31st annual Winnipeg Folk Festival, July 8-11.

Calgary, Alberta
Maybe you recall Alberta for the luminous beauty of its nighttime snowscapes and Pierre-Alain Hubert's "Bridge of Fire" pyrotechnics display over the Bow River. But Calgary has another, more lasting center of light - and you're likely to come out humming the acoustics. Calgary turned to acoustician Russell Johnson when it was time to get the sound right in the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts' 1,800-seat Jack Singer Concert Hall. Johnson - known from Tampa to Lucerne for the hovering beauty of the sound he can create in a music facility - delivered one of the continent's most revered environments for the performance of good music.

And the Epcor Centre doesn't stop with music. Not unlike many huge "palaces of art" in Europe, the Epcor's 10-acre sprawl comprises the Singer Concert Hall, four performance theaters, a radio station, a cafe, and lots of visual-arts gallery space. On May 7 and 8, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra will make the earthshaking most of Singer Hall's massive Carthy Pipe Organ in Camille Saint-Saens' thunderous Organ Symphony. Theatre Calgary is onstage March 16 to April 4 with Beth Henley's gothic-funny Crimes of the Heart, and with Elmer Rice's Counsellor-at-Law, April 20 to May 9. Alberta Theatre Projects company holds its "playRites" festival of new Canadian plays through March 7, then offers Neil LaBute's electrifying drama The Shape of Things, April 13 to May 1.