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IN BRIEF

Artful Virginia

Mexico's Ballet Folklorico, the ballet "Giselle," and a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set in the Roaring '20s are among the scheduled performances for the Virginia Arts Festival.

The festival, running Thursday through May 22, is held in a variety of venues in and near Norfolk, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. Other highlights include violinist Itzhak Perlman; performances for children of "Peter and the Wolf" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"; a live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" by Garrison Keillor; and all types of dance and music, from the Martha Graham Dance Co. and flamenco to chamber music and jazz.

Go to www.vafest.com or contact Ticketmaster.

Puerto Rico ferry

A new high-speed passenger ferry connects Puerto Rico's capital with the outlying islands of Vieques and Culebra.

The new service, operated by Island Hi-Speed Ferry, leaves from Pier 2 in historic Old San Juan, said Robert Leith Sr., a spokesman for the Narragansett, R.I.-based company.

The catamaran Athena leaves San Juan once daily on weekdays and twice daily on weekends, Leith said. It can reach Culebra in approximately one hour, 45 minutes, continuing on to Vieques in another half hour, he said. The 98-foot Athena has 250 seats and can reach speeds of 40 mph.

Roundtrip fares to Culebra range from $63 for residents to $68 for nonresidents while children's prices range from $48 to $53. Vieques fares are $73 to $78 for adults and $58 to $63 for children.

Passengers can buy roundtrip tickets between Culebra and Vieques for $33, and $23 for children.

Culebra and Vieques, east of Puerto Rico's mainland, are dotted with unspoiled beaches and their turquoise waters are known for snorkeling. Both islands were used in the past for U.S. military exercises.

For details, visit www.islandhighspeedferry.com.

Spring skiing

Ski resorts are starting to close even though some have their deepest bases of the year.

"People have their golf clubs out. Whether we have great snow or not, they don't want to go skiing. They'd rather go somewhere warm," said Anne Dougherty, spokeswoman for Ski Cooper near Leadville.

If you're addicted to the slopes, don't despair. In Colorado, Loveland keeps the lifts cranking until May 1, and Arapahoe Basin tries to stay open until July 4.

Elsewhere, Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is expected to stay open for skiing well into June. Its Spring Fest, through May 8, offers discounted lift tickets and lodging, with a professional snowboarding competition scheduled for May 7.

For details, visit www.mammothmountain.com or call (800) 626-6684. The guide book "Mammoth from the Inside," by Colleen Dunn Bates (Prospect Park Publishing, $15.95), can help you figure out where to stay, where to eat, and how to cope with the weather, since spring on the mountain can mean anything from blizzards to bikinis.

Whistler Blackcomb, in British Columbia, Canada, will also remain open for skiing until June 5. After that, head to Chile, where the seasons are reversed. The resort at Portillo is open for skiing from June 18 to Oct. 9. Thanks to favorable exchange rates for the dollar, you can get good deals for lodging, meals and lift tickets in June. Visit www.skiportillo.com or call (800) 829-5325.

Associated Press