Looking for new ways to pass the time at home these days? While it’s important to keep informed about COVID-19, mental health experts recommend taking breaks and recharging with activities that inspire, excite or relax.
Enter online entertainment.
While most of the world has temporarily closed its doors, online entertainment can whisk viewers away to a vast array of destinations and experiences. Watch musical productions unfold or spot animals in their natural habitat – in real-time. Take virtual tours of legendary landmarks or play a remote game of cards with friends. The choice is yours.
So turn off the news and tune into these online entertainment options, guaranteed to provide a much-needed change of scene:
1. The power of symphony and song
There’s nothing quite like music to lift the mood, calm the mind or carry you away to another space or time. (In fact, listening to music has been shown to improve overall health in seniors.) Get ready for a night at the opera, date at the symphony or time-out at a concert.
- Metropolitan Opera With its stage currently dark, New York’s Met Opera has been dipping into its archives to air nightly opera streams of productions like Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Verdi’s Don Carlo.
- London Symphony Orchestra The music plays on at the LSO via its Always Playing series. Sit down to archived concerts on Sundays and Thursdays, complemented by artist interviews, playlists, virtual pub quizzes and more.
- Seattle Symphony Join live-streaming shows like You Had Me at Cello or pull up a chair for chats and tunes with musicians on YouTube or Facebook.
- Vancouver Symphony Orchestra It might be curtains for the VSO’s 101st season, but you can still catch past performances. Bows crossed that the 102nd season prevails, which will see the return of the PARC Retirement Living-sponsored Tea & Trumpets series.
- Billboard With tours, concerts and music festivals cancelled, many artists have turned to live-streaming from their own homes and private studios. Scroll Billboard’s evolving list of performances by the likes of bluegrass vocalist Molly Tuttle, rapper Trina and soulful rocker Hozier. You just might want to get up and dance – after all, exercise can help maintain and improve physical and mental well-being in older adults.
2. Where the wild things are
Get up close to nature by visiting some of the many live animal webcams around the world. Glimpse a leopard drinking from a wildlife reserve watering hole, a polar bear taking a cool plunge at a zoo or a litter of fuzzy kittens sound asleep inside a rescue shelter. (Did you know that watching cute cat videos can lower stress and increase feelings of happiness?)
- WildEarth Spot giraffes, elephants, hippos and more on the 24-hour live webcam in South Africa’s Djuma Private Game Reserve. Or join a guided sunrise or sunset safari through the African wilderness – who knows what you’ll encounter along the way.
- explore.org From bison in Saskatchewan and manatees in Florida to honeybees in Germany and tropical birds in Panama, explore.org‘s 170-plus live webcams – with info panels on the side – offer endless insight into the earth’s wild side.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium What could be more soothing than immersing yourself in the frilly, flowing world of jellyfish? Or perhaps sevengill sharks are more your thing? Visit them and a host of other sea creatures in between on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 10 live webcams.
- Vancouver Aquarium Penguins, otters and jellies, oh my. B.C.’s award-winning aquarium lets you spy on a range of critters via four live webcams – watch the adorable otters bobbing in the water from above and below.
- U.S. National Aquarium View blacktip sharks, rays and colourful fish in a coral reef setting, all caught on this Baltimore-based aquarium’s live webcam. More jellies to ogle here too.
- Calgary Zoo Set your sights on the Calgary Zoo’s PandaCam to catch giant pandas – named Er Shun and Da Mao – eating, sleeping and cavorting in their spacious bamboo-lined enclosure.
- San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park Thanks to 12 live webcams, you can see how butterflies, owls, baboons, koalas and more spend their days and nights at the world-famous San Diego Zoo and offshoot park.
3. Tour the world from the comfort of your couch
OK, you might be a little tired of sitting on that couch by now. Still, as more top travel destinations and world-renowned sites turn to virtual tours as an interim way to inspire interest, there’s a lot out there to distract you on the home front. Here are a few of the latest and more unique offerings:
- The Louvre Paris’ most-visited gallery is currently hosting virtual tours of three exhibits: Egyptian Antiquities, The Advent of the Artist and Remains of the Louvre’s Moat – look for the piers that once supported a drawbridge.
- Paris Catacombs Looking for something on the eerie side? Head underground on a winding virtual tour through the skeletal remains of seven million Parisians.
- Disney For those who’ve had to cancel a trip with the grandkids to see Mickey and the gang, you can start planning for the next one on a Walt Disney World or Disneyland online tour.
- Winchester Mystery House First watch Winchester the movie starring Helen Mirren, then take the virtual tour of the reportedly haunted house once owned by Winchester firearms heiress Sarah Winchester. (Speaking of movies, you can now view flicks with remote friends and family by downloading a new free Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party.)
- Google Maps With parks, beaches and outdoor public spaces going quiet across North America due to COVID-19, Google Maps has launched a virtual tour series that currently spans 31 United States national parks. Take in towering red-rock formations in Utah’s Arches National Park or steaming geysers in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park.
- Access BC From the Dawson Creek Art Gallery to Agate Beach on Haida Gwaii, these Google Street View tours through northern B.C. parks and points of interest will pique your curiosity about road trips to come.
- Australia Fuel your dream of travelling to the land Down Under on Tourism Australia’s virtual tours of cultural highlights. Named Travel+Leisure’s 2020 Destination of the Year, Australia also beckons with natural delights.
4. Get in the game
From video games to online Monopoly and Clue, digital entertainment can be fun while challenging the mind.
- Card, board and TV games Browse this Insider list containing online versions of classic games like UNO!, Monopoly and Wheel of Fortune.
- Online Scrabble A testament to this classic board game’s popularity, a multitude of sites and spinoffs provide all the tools you need to get set up and ready to spell: EA, Internet Scrabble Club, Pogo, Words with Friends and Scrabble Dictionary.
- Video games for seniors Playing video games has been shown to help foster cognitive stimulation and online social connections among older adults, who are increasingly partaking in this pastime. Studies point to World of Warcraft, NeuroRacer and War Thunder as particularly good at exercising the brain.
- Brain training apps Keep your mind active and yourself entertained with this collection of problem-solving and game-based apps.
- Trivia+ Launched during the COVID-19 outbreak by a Fort Saskatchewan couple, Trivia+ is now attracting players from throughout North America every Saturday game night.
Wherever your webcam journeys might take you, sit back, keep safe and enjoy the ride. In between watching nesting African penguins or touring the Sydney Opera House, be sure to check back for more coronavirus updates and tips on PARC’s COVID-19 resources page. A provider of five independent living residences in B.C., PARC’s top priority is the health and safety of all residents, their families and staff.