Take a plane and two buses to get to the Shaw theater festival in Ontario


Q: I want to go to the George Bernard Shaw Festival in Ontario, Canada, this fall. Could you tell me when it is on, how to get there without a car and how to get accommodations?

A: The Shaw Festival Theater has been presenting plays by Shaw and his contemporaries (1856 to 1950) for 35 years in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a village founded in the 1780s by United Empire loyalists fleeing the American Revolution.

In the summer of 1962 a local lawyer, Brian Doherty, converted the assembly rooms of the town's historic court house into a theater, and that year eight weekend performances of "Don Juan in Hell" and "Candida" were presented. Since 1980 the festival has operated in three theaters: the Court House (351 seats), the Festival Theater (860), opened in 1973, and the Royal George (328).

This year's festival presents Shaw's "You Never Can Tell" (in repertory until Oct. 29), "The Petrified Forest," by Robert Sherwood (Oct. 29) and "Cavalcade," by Noel Coward (Oct. 28), at the Festival Theater.

At the Court House until Sept. 24 you can see "The Philanderer," by Shaw, "An Ideal Husband," by Oscar Wilde, and "Waste," by Harley Granville Barker.

At the Royal George the productions will be "The Six of Calais," by Shaw (Sept. 3), "The Voice of the Turtle," by John van Druten (Oct. 28), "The Zoo," by Arthur Sullivan and Bolton Rowe (Oct. 29), and "Ladies in Retirement," by Edward Percy (Oct. 29).

The festival box office is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at (800) 267-4759 or (905) 468-2172, fax (905) 468-3804. Prices range from $7.75 to $46.50, calculated at 76 cents to the Canadian dollar.

To get there without a car, fly to Buffalo, take a Greyhound bus to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and then a shuttle bus to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Buses leave Buffalo daily at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

For those who prefer to drive, cross into Canada either from Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario, via the Peace Bridge, or over the Rainbow Bridge from Niagara Falls, N.Y., or the Queenstown-Lewiston Bridge in Lewiston, N.Y. Once over the border follow the signs for the Niagara Parkway, which runs from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake and offers spectacular views of Niagara Falls and Niagara River Gorge.

For help with accommodations, from bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels, contact the Niagara-on-the-Lake Visitor and Convention Bureau, 153 Kings St., Box 1043, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (905) 468-4263.

Q: We will be in London on several weekdays in late September and would like to see the Thames Flood Barrier. Are there any cruises that would enable us to do this?

A: Although several companies operate boat services along the River Thames, there are only two that go to the Thames Flood Barrier, built in 1983 to protect London from flooding at high winter tides.

London Launches, (44 171) 930 3373, operates from Westminster Pier, by the House of Commons. Until Oct. 29 boats leave daily at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. They return at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. The journey takes one hour, 15 minutes.

A round-trip journey costs $9.75, children $5, calculated at $1.66 to the pound. A one-way ticket is $7, $4 for children.

Campion Launches, (44 181) 305 0300, sails to the barrier from Greenwich Pier, a trip of just under four miles. The journey takes 30 minutes, and boats leave Greenwich at 11 a.m. and 12:20 p.m., 1:40 p.m. and 3 p.m. They return at 11:30 a.m. and 12:50 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. The round-trip fare is $9, children $4.15. The one-way fare is $5, children $3.

A map called "Tour East London -- What to Do and How to Get There," was recently published by the London Docklands Development Corp. It includes a list of river-boat services and is available free from most Tourist Information Centers in London and from the London Docklands Visitor Center, 3 Limeharbour, London E14 9TJ.

Once in London you can obtain information about boat services along the Thames by calling a 24-hour River Trip information line at (0839) 123432. The number can be reached only from within Britain.

Thames Barrier is at Unity Way, off Woolwich Road, London SE18 5NJ; (0181) 854 1373. It is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $4.15, children $2.60.

Q: My parents are planning a trip to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta this October. Are there any package deals available for this event that combine hotel and car only?

A: According to Tom Garrity, communications director of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, you will be lucky to find a room or a car, let alone a combination of the two. At present more than 85 percent of Albuquerque hotels and rental cars are booked for the event, which will be held Oct. 7-15.

Mr. Garrity's advice is to start thinking now about reserving a room and a car for next year's fiesta, the fiesta's 25th anniversary. It will be held Oct. 5-13.

On the off chance that something might still be available this year, call (800) 466-7829 for hotel accommodations and (800) 661-6649 for the local bed-and-breakfast association.

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