Archive for the ‘Events & Festivals’ Category

Springtime in Vancouver……Part 2 – Activities to explore.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

NORTH SHORE MOUNTAINS AND ACTIVITIES IN SPRING
Some of you may have heard that Vancouver just received a considerable amount of snowfall over the weekend although accumulations were at a premium in the downtown area, this was not the case for the rest of the greater Vancouver area. This comes as welcome relief for the Ski hills of Cypress mountain, Grouse mountain and Mount Seymour as the snow pack was looking a little thin up till this point, but with 3 days of constant snowfall it was the giddy up that the Ski hills sorely wanted.
This makes for excellent news for anyone who wants to see us in the Spring, and like we had mentioned in the first installment of this blog, in the Spring season you can get a few hours of Winter sports in – whether that be skiing, snowboarding or Snowshoeing, and then back down to sea level, you can enjoy a walk around the sea wall without feeling too cold, that sounds like a win win situation for us. It may also increase the chances of a late season for the hills, if we are to look at how last years season transpired, the hills were able to keep open until the first week of May, we are keeping everything crossed that this will happen again this year!

Grouse Mountain
This is one of the best seasons to visit Grouse and its not just for the Sporting activities which of course is the big draw up here. Grouse Mountain is home to many animals that cannot live in the wild due to injury or that fact that they were unable to learn the skills required to survive in their natural habitat. Grouse is home to many creatures who are now in a safe and comfortable environment where they are well looked after – you too can visit them when you are up there and as it is the spring season if they are the hibernating type of critter, they will be ready to wake up. The animals that you will get a chance to see are Grizzly Bears, Gray Wolves, Owls and the visiting Hummingbirds to name but a few.

Grouse Mountain endangered wildlife refuge: https://www.grousemountain.com/wildlife-refuge

Grouse Mountain Website: https://www.grousemountain.com/

Whale Watching
Whale watching season begins in March and typically runs till October. The Georgia Strait is in the direct path of these large mammals and have been wowing people for many many years. The various types of Whales that you can expect to see are Orca’s (Killer Whales), Gray Whales and various Dolphins which are the most common sightings. IOn some occasions we may even be treated to a visit from these amazing animals close to the Vancouver shoreline itself a very rare occurrence! A few years ago a single Gray Whale decided to meander its way up False Creek for a few days at a time, our guess is that there was a great deal on Fish at the Granville Island Market and the Whale wanted to see what was happening, and who can blame it?

There are various ways to watch the Whales with guided tours, we recommend Wild Whales Vancouver down at Granville Island, you can also make a reservation at the Front Desk at the Sunset Inn and Suites.

Wild Whales Vancouver: http://www.whalesvancouver.com/

VANCOUVER GARDENS
As you will have read in the previous Blog article before we wanted to share with you the sights that Vancouver has to offer when the plants and trees start their blooms. If you are into trees and plants then we highly recommend that you visit the local gardens in the area, and even take the trip over to Victoria to see what they have on show.
Queen Elizabeth Park – Van Dusen Gardens
Queen Elizabeth Park is located in the central area of Vancouver, its location is fantastic due to its elevation, you will find the park is on a hill that overlooks the entire city with unobstructed views of the Mountains and beyond. Van Dusen Gardens is such a delight for all plant lovers, the gardens are to be found among an abandoned quarry with some interesting geological features.

Van Dusen Gardens: http://vandusengarden.org/

Queen Elizabeth Park: https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/queen-elizabeth-park.aspx

In our next post we will inform you of all the major events that will be happening in Vancouver during March

Spring time in Vancouver – Part 1…Gorgeous Wildlife and Plantlife

Monday, February 24th, 2014

For many of us who live in Vancouver the Season of Spring is by far one of the best, with the longer days becoming more noticeable and the weather slowly but surely warming it is a time where the city and nature start to wake from the long long nights of Winter.

There are many reasons to come to Vancouver between March and June not just because is it still a relatively cheaper time to stay in the city. The tourist season will generally start to really kick into gear during the latter half with the volume of Cruise Ships increasing, Spring break and so on, so if crowds are not your thing then very likely this season should really appeal to you as the city is not too too busy.

Many of us love Vancouver in the Spring for one thing overall and that is for the blooming of the plants and the explosion of colour because of this. As the leaves begin to unfold and the increase of the local wildlife who are during their rounds, where they will be getting ready for the mating season and need to fill their hungry bellies – so much to choose from that will no doubt grab your interest.

We will break down this blog into 2 parts so that there is something for everyone to be interested in, and, as always we will have further blogs that will keep you up to date on all the major events over the coming months.

CLIMATE
The Climate in Vancouver is very well known as soggy, mild with lots of rain! However, this year has been different, admittedly this particular Winter has not played ball as normal as it has been predominantly dry, it has had the odd blast of the Arctic air licking our shores (albeit brief) and its snowing as I type so we are still reminded that it is still the Winter season.

It has also been a remarkably sunny winter so therefore that means it has been very very dry. This area of the world is known as a temperate Rain-forest and we do normally average quite a few inches of rain each month during November and May respectively, in fact, the crazy weather that has been occurring in Europe and more specifically the UK is what we would call typical. So in a year that has been anything but normal we have to admit – it has has been quite nice to be able to get outdoors when we normally bunker down.

So what remains for the rest of 2014? Of course we will never really know, but many are predicting that it could be a year when we may get water advisories due to the lack of the precipitation, it could also mean that for all the visitors coming here in the Spring and Summer it could very well be an outstanding season to come. Meteorologists who are looking at the El Nino and La Nina fluctuations in the Pacific are seeing a possible transition to a mild El nino pattern which we has not been present in the last few years, if and a big if as always this is the case, this area of the world could expect a dry and warmer pattern -top that with the effect of this dry winter Summer 2014 may seem warmer than usual, only time will tell.

Spring in Vancouver is typically changeable with the rains becoming more showery with the odd brief cold spell, there is always an outside chance that snow may fall even as late as the end of March and at a push April – due to its topsy turvy nature, either way the great thing about Vancity is that you can get some late season skiing in on the slopes and then come back down to earth for a nice stroll down the beach – the Sun is starting to have an influence so it may be pleasent and warm down at sea level. In turn that means the world around us is waking up so the next section will explain about the blooming of the Plants and what wildlife to expect here.

TREES AND PLANTS
It is fair to say that the Spring season is one of the most colourful and stunning of all seasons and in Vancouver it is very visible- what you will also notice is the many varieties of Plant-life that hail from areas such as the Far East Asia with the main feature dominating are the Cherry Blossoms, they seriously show off what they have got especially during late April and May – there is a great Festival and Website that is dedicated to the Cherry Blossoms it gives you a comprehensive guide as to where the blooms are occurring around the city, what kind of blossoms they are, and what to expect over the next few weeks as they progress.
A major highlight of the Cherry Blossom blooms are the trees that line the square at Burrard Street Skytrain station – here there are so many Blossoms in bloom that they create a stunning pink and white canopy ceiling above you, its gorgeous.

Although the Cherry blossoms tend to take the most accolades in the area there are more amazing plants and trees to check out.

Cherry Blossom Festival: http://www.vcbf.ca/

Deciduous Trees
Vancouver is also home to some pretty stunning Deciduous trees in the area and in the Spring they really show off the very best of their Spring Blooms, trees such as Magnolia Vulcan this tree dazzles with a brilliant ruby-red 20-cm flowers. It thrives in every soil type and has sturdy upright growth. You can find this on the Corner of Beach Ave and Burrard St nearby, Magnolias are found all throughout the West End and vary in size and shapes.
Found all over but you can see it in the Rose Garden in Stanley Park The Prunus ‘Akebono’ (ornamental cherry) its pink blossom slowly turn to a soft pink-white from mid-March to early April.

Just around the corner from us is a wonderful Magnolia tree that is getting ready to put on its own Spring show, take a left turn from the Hotel and Burnaby Street onto Thurlow St and you will see this gorgeous tree!

WILDLIFE and STANLEY PARK
Spring is also the season when you notice the influx of the migrating birds and of course the critters that are now waking up from their deep winter slumber.
We recommend that when you do visit the parks (Its our stunning oasis in the city) we really do encourage you to keep your eyes peeled as there is plenty of wildlife to spot on the ground and in the skies.

The Great Blue Herons.
These majestic creatures have made a small area in Stanley Park their natural home for nesting and it is in surprisingly large numbers – it seems that in many other areas of the world the Herons are found to be dwindling in numbers, thankfully this is not the case in Vancouver, we hope that this is a healthy continuing trend.
During March we will see the return of the male Herons, the best place to see them are down by the Tennis Courts on Beach Avenue (Which is not too far a walk from the Sunset) the male herons will return to their designated nests where they will hope to attract the females whom arrive a short while later.

Once they do arrive the usual courtship ritual begins, you can spot this when the couples are in their nests and will cross their bills regularly, together they help maintain their nests (some return to the existing ones and like to modernise and spruce them up too).
Come the end of April and early May you will start to see the chicks hatching from their nests, it is quite a sight to see. At the last count there are around 165 to 170 nests, this location has been a regular home since 1921 there were many nests across the creek in Vanier Park, but now, only a handful remain.

Heron Colony of Stanley Park: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/StanleyHeronColony01.html

Here is a video of the Herons in the Park
Blue Herons of Vancouver

The Elusive Coyote
Coyotes breeding season occurs from January through April and there is always a chance that you will catch a quick glance of them as Spring progresses to Summer. Cubbing season will be well under way by then so the Coyotes will be busy looking for food not only for themselves but for their new offspring too. If you do manage to see them – just let the Coyotes be, they may look a little under nourished but don’t be tempted to feed them as these critters are more than capable and happy to forage by themselves.
An interesting fact about the Coyotes, they were introduced into Vancouver in the 1980s and very quickly established themselves into the urban setting. They are a little fearful of humans when they are not treated or respected as the animals that they are, however, this is not a cause for alarm, just leave them be and they will carry on their merry way as long as they are not distracted – it is not unusual to find them wandering the street or even venturing deeper into the city, Coyotes live where ever they can get comfortable, they only make Dens for the purpose of bringing up the cubs, otherwise, leaves and shrubs will be more than fine for a home sweet home.

Living with Coyotes: http://stanleyparkecology.ca/conservation/co-existing-with-coyotes/

Migrating Birds
A sure sign of Spring is the sound of the Birds that are making their way around the globe and at this time of year start to make their presence known in the city, this is really noticeable by their chirping, whistles and regular songs that become more and more familiar, and of course the plumage, they really do begin to get more and more colourful!
The birds that arrive come in all shapes and sizes of course and there are far too many to mention here, but we will note a few to look out for, and please click on the link below so you can read in depth of the many other species not mentioned here. Keep an eye out for Hawks, Bald Eagles, Chickadees, Hummingbirds and of Canada Geese – easily spotted by their famous flying V formation!

A cool occurrence that happens everyday is when the Species of Gulls and Crows make their way home to their respective nests and roosts, if you look up at the skies roughly an hour before and up to Sunset you may get to witness a very large Murder of Crows heading east to their roosting spot in Burnaby, its is quite a sight to see – at the very same time, you will see the Gulls making their way home from inland out to the coast where their nests are.

Birds of Vancouver: http://birdvancouver.com/blog_april12.html

Vancouver Events that you should see during February and March!!!

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Check out some great events that are coming to Vancouver over the next few weeks.

CHUTZPAH! Saturday, February 22, 2014 – Sunday, March 09, 2014
Come along and see the very best of performance Arts from the Jewish community of Vancouver. You will be treated to a vast array of diverse performances that the whole family can enjoy showcasing the very best of Jewish talent, the Festival is now in its 14th year in Vancouver and held at the Norman Rothstein Theatre .

Website: http://chutzpahfestival.com/

Norman Rothstein Theatre: http://www.normanrothsteintheatre.com/

36TH ANNUAL VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL – Monday, February 24, 2014 – Sunday, March 02, 2014
This is a massive event for all you Wine lovers out there, come and experience some fantastic Wines from the region and around the world. There are also some tables there that we think you should check out such as Marquis Wine Cellars which is our local Wine Store around the corner from us on Davie St, and Harry Mcwatters collection, harry is a good friend and guest of ours at the Sunset Inn, he produces some fine fine wines, check them out!

Wine Festival Website http://vanwinefest.ca/

Mcwatters Collection www.harrymcwatters.com

Marquis Wine Cellars www.marquis-wines.com

2014 COASTAL FIRST NATIONS DANCE FESTIVAL – Friday, March 07, 2014 – Saturday, March 08, 2014
Produced by the Dancers of Damelahamid in partnership with the UBC Museum of Anthropology The 2014 festival returns to the UBC Museum of Anthropology.

Also while you are down there, you really should check out the Museum of Anthropology which features exhibits, collections, calendars, and programs from the museum specializing in First Nations culture, it is a great place to visit and the surrounding of the UBC campus are incredibly stunning.

Website: http://damelahamid.ca/coastal-dance-festival/

Valentines Day in and around Vancouver…..

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

BUY SOME YUMMY FOOD AND GROCERIES FOR A ROMANTIC MEAL AT THE GRANVILLE ISLAND MARKET
Granville Island public market has an amazing amount of variety of produce, fine artisan foods and delicacies for you to enjoy. If you want to do something special and romantic – head down to the Island where you can purchase some really amazing food items and you can prepare the meal here at The Sunset Inn using our fully equipped en-suite kitchen.

WINE AND DINE YOUR LOVED ONE
If you decide to make the small trip to Granville Island you should also check out Liberty Wine Merchants, here they have an excellent selection of Wines for you to splurge and enjoy with your loved one. Valentines day needs to have a nice tipple – so here you can find a yummy Champagne or Sparkling WINE, or how about a nice Rose to accompany your romantic meal together.

Liberty Wine Merchants – Granville Island http://libertywinemerchants.com/

Closer by to the hotel is MARQUIS WINE CELLARS – they have a very large selection of high End wines for you to enjoy. Website: http://www.marquis-wines.com/

JUMPING THE BROOM – GRANVILLE ISLAND BROOM SHOP
While you are down there – is there a chance that you may be popping the question to your loved one? You can always follow the tradition of Jumping The Broom, which, on a personal note is a tradition that is closely connected to my Welsh Roots – This is an old age custom that has its roots in the United Kingdom and more specifically in Wales where it would take place at the wedding ceremony. The term derives from the expression of a ‘Broomstick marriage’ it basically implies that the ceremony is being used for reasons that make the marriage seem illegitimate – so it is custom to ‘jump the broom’ as a way of expressing that the marriage is not null and void. If you were known to have performed a broomstick marriage it would likely mean that your wedding was not performed within the Anglican church and therefore classed as an illegitimate marriage – oh the Welsh!

So on that note, please check out this awesome cute Shop called The Granville Island Broom Company. They make their own brooms on site and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and many of these cute artsy brooms have a very Pacific north West Vibe to them. A perfect and cute gift that may well be the biggest moment of the day…..if they get the hint that is!
Granville Island Broom Co http://broomcompany.com/

GO AND SEE A QUIRKY VALENTINES DAYS SHOW – THE TRUE HEROINES VALENTINES DAY CABARET
TWO NIGHTS ONLY.
FEBRUARY 13th & 14th 2014 @ 8 PM

IT’S THE SAME CABARET YOU KNOW AND LOVE, BUT SEXIER…
After playing to a sold-out house last March at The Rio Theatre & again in August at The Anza The True Heroines are back with a brand new show at a brand new venue.
In this episode of the True Heroines live cabaret; you’ll think you’ve taken a step back in time to Paris 1946. Immerse yourself into the secret lives of these wartime entertainers as they infiltrate the Corporation in order to save one of their own. The leggy ladies of this classic cabaret combine burlesque moves, Fosse-style choreography and story lines from their web-series, to put a shiny new coat of gloss on their classic romp.

FOR TICKETS TO THE FEBRUARY 13th SHOWhttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/555750
FOR TICKETS TO THE FEBRUARY 14th SHOWhttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/560637

The True Heroines are best known for their online Podcast series, they do not do many performances live so it is something we highly recommend you see, check out their website for further information: http://thetrueheroines.com/

VALENTINES DINNER AND DANCE CRUISE
Enjoy the romance of the sea at this dinner and dance cruise, including a gourmet buffet and a complimentary glass of champagne. Sail the Pride of Vancouver, 450 Denman St $64.95/person, 604-687-5533, vancouvercharters.com

ROMANTIC STROLL IN AND AROUND STANLEY PARK
Stanley Park is a really nice place to visit for a romantic stroll, If you like, you can even get a tour using the Horse and carriage tours around Stanley park – and for an extra romantic vibe take a nice wee stroll down the Lovers Walk in the Park.

Horse and Carriage: http://www.stanleypark.com/

February 2014 events to look out for….

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

FESTIVALS
WINTERUPPTION – GRANVILLE ISLAND February 14-16
Granville Island is gearing up to celebrate its ninth annual Winterruption festival. New this year, visitors can join a Meet Your Makers tour showcasing Granville Island spirits, including a stop at the newly opened Liberty Distillery. The Vancouver Fringe Festival also presents the hilarious comedy Hockey Show at the Pub & Pickle at Studio 1398, while the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society brings you We are the City, Wake Owl, Qalandar & more. Family fun is front-and-centre with appearances by stilt dancers parading down the streets, mask-making workshops & live performances by Charlotte Diamond. Discover artists’ exhibits, local food & pop-up dance performances around every corner of Granville Island all weekend long.

Website: http://granvilleisland.com/winterruption

FOOD AND DRINK
VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL (VANCOUVER PLAYHOUSE THEATER) February 24th to March 2nd
One of the world’s premiere wine festivals, this event is a unique opportunity to learn about & enjoy some of the world’s finest wines. The event features wine tastings & pairings, gourmet dinners & luncheons, educational seminars & culinary competitions.
Website: http://www.playhousewinefest.com/

One of our very good regular clients at the Sunset Inn Hotel HARRY MCWATTERs of McWatters Wine will have a booth at the Wine festival, please go check him out and sample some of his fantastic wines.

Website:http://www.harrymcwatters.com/

DINEOUT VANCOUVER – ends on February 2nd
The Dine Out Vancouver Festival is Canada’s largest celebration of dining out, attracting tens of thousands of local and visiting food enthusiasts annually to experience the Vancouver’s exceptionally diverse collection of restaurants. Diners will be able to select from more than 230 restaurants each offering unique three-course prix-fix meals

Website:http://www.dineoutvancouver.com

ART
RESERECT: NATIVE EROTICA AT THE BILL REID GALLERY OF NORTHWEST COAST ART Runs until February 14th 2014
RezErect: Native Erotica presents a fresh, playful, provocative insight into sensuality & sexuality, featuring works by 28 mid-career & internationally recognized First Nations artists from the Northwest Coast & central Canada.
Artists draw their inspiration from diverse sources: the natural world, oral histories, creation stories, ancient songs of love & heartbreak, dance, ceremony & traditional foods. Works range from traditional to contemporary in style & media include: wood, glass, stone, jewelry, pop art, street art & textiles.

Website:
http://www.billreidgallery.ca/

VALENTINES DAY CRUISE AND MEAL
Treat your loved this valentines day on a special meal aboard a breath taking Cruise-ship. Enjoy the romance of the sea in the true cruise ship tradition aboard our luxurious Pride of Vancouver. You will be impressed by our gourmet buffet and ever-changing spectacular waterfront views.
At your romantic candle lit table for two, we’ll treat you to a complimentary glass of champagne. Dance the night away on this memorable Valentine’s evening. Call now!

MENU
Baron of Beef
Finest Alberta beef carved by the Chef
Baked fresh salmon
BC Coho salmon with a lemon dill sauce
Slow roasted chicken
Oven roasted, local seasoned chicken
Penne pasta
In a fresh basil tomato sauce
Garden fresh vegetables
In season vegetable medley
Rice pilaf
Long grained seasoned rice with peppers and onions
Classic Caesar salad
With garlic croutons and our own special dressing
Seasonal micro greens
With carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomato and red onion
Mediterranean salad
With garbanzo beans, bell peppers and balsamic dressing
Dinner Rolls
Assorted bread with butter on the side
DESSERT
French vanilla cheesecake with berry coulis & dark flaked chocolate
Tea & Coffee

*Menu subject to change
*Ask about customizing your menu
$64.95 plus 15% gratuity and gst per person.

We are Located at 450 Denman St, V5G 3J1, Vancouver BC
Phone: 604 687-5533
Toll Free: 1 888 987-5533

Website: http://vancouvercharters.com/

Chinese New Year 2014 – Year of the Horse

Monday, January 20th, 2014

This coming Chinese New Year is the year of the Horse and there are plenty of events to entertain the whole family in Vancouver and in the neighbouring city of Richmond which has a very large Chinese community, definitely worth a visit if you are looking to celebrate the Chinese New Year in style, this is the real deal!

Historically, the Horse is the symbol of power, so it is only natural that the Year of the Horse has been chosen as one of the symbols of the Chinese Zodiac. Seventh in the cycle of the Zodiac, the Horse years are: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002 and 2014.

There is much to understand about the amazing Horse. When he decides to kick up his heels, it can be a fantastic ride for everyone within range. Friends and strangers alike will easily fall under the sway of the Year of the Horse individual.
If you are acquainted with any Horse people, be sure to recognize their skills because they love flattery. Generally Horses display many contradictions of personality, so you will have to study them for a while before understanding them completely. They are proud, but sweet tempered, conceited yet humble. The trick is in the knowing.

VANCOUVER EVENTS & NEW YEAR PARADE
Once again the New Year will kick off in Chinatown in Spectacular style with a huge colourful Parade that includes traditional Chinese dancing, 50 lions costumes, Music with the help of multiple ethnic dance troupes and much much more
PARADE: When: Sunday, February 2, 2014, 12pm – 2pm
The 1.5km Chinese New Year Parade route starts at the Millennium Gate at Pender St. and heads east, turning south onto Gore St., then west onto Keefer St.

The Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver Website and Festival details: http://www.cbavancouver.ca/index.html

Parade Route

After the parade, festivities in Chinatown continue with the free Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival & Cultural Fair at Sun Yat-sen Plaza (50 East Pender Street), from 11am – 5pm.
These gardens are stunning and are a must see visit no matter what the time of year or the occasion…

Chinese Gardens celebrations link: http://vancouverchinesegarden.com/calendar/the-year-of-the-horse-temple-fair/

End the day at the Chinese New Year Banquet at Floata Seafood Restaurant. Tickets to the banquet are $35 and include both dinner and live entertainment, lion dances, greetings by the fortune god and a variety show with singing, cultural dances and more. Further details: http://floataseafood.com/home-page/

RICHMOND EVENTS
Chinese New Year at the Lansdowne Centre
As spring approaches each year, Richmond pulls out all stops to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, one of the most important annual events for the city’s large Asian community. Giant dragons & lions twist & dance to drums, cymbals & cheering crowds. Restaurants introduce special menus for the holiday & quickly fill their reservation books for extravagant New Year’s feasts.

In 2014, Richmond marks the start of the Year of the Horse in the week leading up to January 31!

Richmond Chinese New year website: http://www.richmond.ca/discover/events/chinesenewyear.htm

Great events to look for in January 2014

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Here are some great events to check during January…

ROBSON SQUARE ICE RINK
Ongoing until February 28th 2014.
This is a great place to hang especially after visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery or a long shopping spree on Robson St. This rink is a huge hit among Vancouverites and tourists alike. You can come along with your own skates but if you don’t have a pair, fear not, you will be able to rent them at the rink too, there are also walking bars for kids who need a little help with balance.

800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7
(604) 646-3554

• SUNDAY to THURSDAY: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
• FRIDAY and SATURDAY: 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM
*Skate rental ends 30mins prior to close
*Cash only
*Helmets are manditory for Children 12 years and under
*Check back for holiday hours
Skate and helmet rentals, and a concession stand are available on site.

Skating is free if you bring your own skates.

Rentals are available for a cost of $4. Check out the video of the rink here…https://www.youtube.com/v/oXIe1hCu0l0?fs=1&showinfo=0&rel=0

Website: http://www.robsonsquare.com/en/

PuSh FESTIVAL – Vancouver’s performing Arts Festival – January 14th to February 2nd
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is one of Vancouver’s major events. a production that lasts over three weeks each January, the PuSh Festival presents incredible and groundbreaking work in the live performance arts.

The PuSh Festival expands the horizons and thinks beyond the box of Vancouver artists and audiences with work that is visionary, genre-bending, multi-disciplined, startling and original. The Festival showcases acclaimed international, Canuck and local artists and mixes them together with an alchemy that inspires audiences, rejuvenates artists, stimulates the industry and forges productive relationships around the globe

Website: http://pushfestival.ca/

The VANCOUVER HOT CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL
Is back for its fourth year, and this time, even more chocolate makers have come together to spike their hot chocolate drinks with the wildest, most delicious flavours you can imagine, this event is for charity and the proceeds will be donated to The Downtown Eastside Women’s Job Training centre.

Website: http://www.cityfood.com/hotchocolate/

DINE OUT VANCOUVER 2014……Read about the restaurants that are taking part in the West End and more….

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Hello everyone, Happy New Year from us all once again – and as it is January 6th it is now business as usual again for us all as life returns to normal.

January maybe a quiet month for some around the world, however, in Vancouver we are welcoming the first festival of 2014 and being a foodie city it is all about dining out!

DINE OUT VANCOUVER – JAN 17 – FEB 2, 2014
Dine Out Vancouver returns to the city once again and it is such a great way to check out new restaurants at a very reasonable price. We point you in the right direction for some of the participating restaurants in the area.

Canada’s largest restaurant festival, produced by Tourism Vancouver, and presented by American Express dishes up unlimited ways to enjoy the flavours of the city. Choose from hundreds of restaurants, a 17 day calendar of culinary events and dozens of hotel options to create your own delicious dining experiences.

For further details at Tourism Vancouver: http://www.tourismvancouver.com/

West End Participating restaurants.

THE BANANA LEAF
Step out of Vancouver and into the warm heart of Malaysia at Banana Leaf, where we serve the finest of Malaysian flavours. Malaysian cuisine is a celebration of the best that Southeast Asia has to offer, a sample of culinary inspiration from Indonesia, India, Thailand, and China. This restaurant is by far one of the most popular destinations for great food.

All three West End locations are taking part in Dine Out and are accepting reservations.

1043 Davie Street. 1096 Denman Street. 1779 Robson Street.

http://www.bananaleaf-vancouver.com/

THE BOATHOUSE
In English Bay on Vancouver’s famous beach enjoy great seafood & steaks with lively outdoor dining, the place to meet for cocktails, or watch the sunset with a bottle of BC VQA wine and fresh-shucked oysters.
Distinctively Westcoast, the extensive wine list, freshest quality seafood, premium steaks and great service make Boathouse a BC coast favourite.

1795 Beach Ave (English Bay and close to Davie and Denman Streets)

www.boathouserestaurants.ca

THE CACTUS CLUB CAFE – ENGLISH BAY BEACH FRONT
Proudly Canadian owned and operated, Cactus Club Cafe leads through innovation while remaining true to its Vancouver roots. Committed to delivering a unique experience, Cactus Club Cafe blends the worlds of fine and casual dining through inventive design, unparalleled food quality and a personalized approach to service.

Beach Avenue – English Bay Waterfront

http://www.cactusclubcafe.com/

CENTRAL BISTRO
A West End landmark, the Central is located in a turn of the century refurbished home & boasts a fun flirtatious vibe, “gourmet food for everyday people” and mind-blowing cocktails. It’s where the locals go It also features live Jazz every Sunday evening!

1072 Denman Street

www.centralbistro.com

TOP 10 RESTAURANTS IN CANADA WORTH SPLURGING ON – 2 OF WHICH ARE IN VANCOUVER ARE WORTH THE MENTION!
And finally, throughout the country you can find some extra special dining experiences, among the top 10 restaurants in Canada, the number 1 and 3 spots are given to two restaurants that are here in Vancouver. These are higher end restaurants so will be a perfect dining experience for a birthday, romantic excursion or just a good old fashioned splurge where you can dress up and go fancy for an evening…..

Reservations are recommended and a topped up savings account too – but trust us, you will not be let down!

This list is courtesy of The Readers Digest http://travel.ca.msn.com/10-canadian-restaurants-worth-splurging-on?page=3

HAWKSWORTH RESTAURANT
Named restaurant of the year in 2012 by Maclean’s magazine, Hawksworth is the streetside jewel of Vancouver’s revamped Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Come for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner to sample chef David Hawksworth’s extensive menu; selections might include an appetizer of pan-seared scallops with green apple and sesame ($17), an entree of Pacific sablefish with pickled shiitake and soy-braised daikon ($38) or ‘ if you feel like sharing ‘ a 30 oz heritage Angus bone-in ribeye for $125. The seven-course seasonal tasting menu is $84 or $134 with wine pairings.

801 W Georgia St, Vancouver

www.hawksworthrestaurant.com

C RESTAURANT
It seems every major restaurant in BC’s largest city participates in Ocean Wise, the Vancouver Aquarium’s sustainable seafood identification program, and C was the one who started it all. Come here for locally sourced seafood and other ingredients prepped with flair by executive chef Lee Humphries. Dishes might include an appetizer of seared Qualicum Bay scallops ($19), a main of poached lobster with gnocchi ($38) or a seafood tower to share ($95); for a truly special occasion, splurge on “caviar with a conscience,” at $225 for one guest and $400 for two.

1600 Howe Street

www.crestaurant.com

Where to capture the very best Christmas lights in Vancouver…

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

December is here, the Snow has arrived and the festive cheer is in full swing on the streets in the West End. We have already seen and listened to some great Brass Bands and Christmas Carols being sung on Davie St and Bute St near the new Park and Rainbow Crosswalk, it is just a few minutes walk away so keep an eye out for the Christmas cheer here…

This is the time of year when all the festivities focus their attention on outdoing each other with the very best lights to dazzle all the family, so here we will tell where to go to get the very best Christmas Light displays…

St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s Lights of Hope
The St Pauls Foundation of Light has been dazzling spectators that walk past the Hospital since 1998 and it is all for a very very good cause.
The aim of the lights is to help raise funds for the hospital itself, so it can purchase the very best medical equipment that it needs, it will enable them to increase funds towards better research and of the course enhanced Patient care for all those in need at St Pauls.
The lights are all assembled by Volunteers and my oh my are they beautiful….If you wish to check out the lights, head down towards Burrard and Davie and walk North on Burrard, it is just a 5 minute walk or so away from the Sunset Inn and Suites.

The hospital has a target goal to reach of $2.2-million – If you wish to help you can make a donation towards the campaign’s fundraising goal, call 604-662-HOPE or visit www.lightsofhope.com.

Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver
It may not seem the best time of year to visit Gardens in the deep of Winter, but wait, we think you should consider this one……The Festival of Lights creates the Gardens into quite a stunning wonderland, it is something that should be on your list when you come here especially as the Van Dusen Gardens are world famous and for good reason!
What is even better, you will be in the company of Elves, Candy-Canes and Hot chocolates to guide your way around this most serene settings.

vand dusen festival of lights map

Website: http://vandusengarden.org/

Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park
We have written about the excellent Christmas train and the bright lights before, but it is that good that we feel it should be recommended a visit to come on down…
Check out Stanley Park like you have never seen before, the kids especially will love this trip out to the enchanted Rain-forest that we are proud to show off in the city.
Partial proceeds from the sale of Bright Nights tickets go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families. $1.4 million has been raised over the past 14 years.

Website: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx

Capilano Canyon Lights
A very popular attraction that is a must see location no matter what time of year, Capilano is quite incredible when all lit up on these very dark nights, it also boasts the largest lit up Christmas Tree too, Standing 46.4m (152 feet) tall the Douglas-fir will be adorned in thousands of sparkling lights…..Woohoo!

Website: http://www.capbridge.com/explore/canyon-lights/

Coal Harbour/Canada Place/English Bay
Although not on an official list a very good idea is to head down to the water as there will be trees, boats and yachts all decorated and decked up for the festive season, a great opportunity to see how the locals dazzle at Christmas time.

Santa Claus Parade, The Nutcracker Ballet and more. Plus a Christmas Cake recipe! (Christmas Events Part 2)

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Santa is getting ready for his busy work load next month and that means he will warm up by saying hello to the masses before he gets his head down, to get himself all geared up for festive season he will be paying a visit to Vancouver this Sunday for his annual Santa Claus Parade!

The parade will be happening in downtown Vancouver and it will be starting at Georgia and Broughton St, it will then travel East along Georgia to Howe St, the parade will then turn south on Howe where it will finish not too far away from the Sunset Inn at Howe and Davie St.

As always when Santa is coming to town there will be very large crowds, it is expected that at least 300,000 people will be attending this fab day, 3,500 of these people will be volunteers who will do their very best to ensure that Santa has the best welcome and send off before his duties begin.

Santa really knows how to party, so this year there will be entertainers such as Festive Floats, Choirs to get you in the Festive Cheer, 65 Marching bands and many local community groups participating.
In front of the Vancouver Art Gallery there will be a designated area that will be known as Christmas Square, here you can get your Face Painted, write letters to Santa, Balloon twisting and you can even decorate Ginger Bread men, plus live music to entertain everyone. Once the Parade has finished you should head down to Robson Square Ice Rink where the kids can get their picture taken with Santa

This is also all for a good cause too, there will be a donation drop off zone for the Vancouver Food Bank, the parade has been recognised as one of the leaders for raising fund for the Food bank and since 2004 collected $110,000 and more than 67,380 lbs. of food for families who are in need though-out the Lower Mainland.
It is encouraged that people donate at least a dollar to the Food Bank as this equals to $3 worth of Food for each $1 donation and if you wish to donate food, make sure that it is non perishable.

For further information on the Santa Clause Parade: http://rogerssantaclausparade.com/

THE NUTCRACKER (GOH BALLET)
Probably one of the most famous Ballet’s for the Festive season returns once again to entertain the masses through December.
Prepare to be dazzled by the amazing costumes, choreography and and dramatic set design that the GOH Ballet offers, all danced to the music of Tchaikovsky’s memorable score and performed live by the members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.
The story of the Nutcracker will take you on an unforgettable journey of Clara’s dream as it comes to life, you will embark on her magical journey through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets where she is greeted by the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy, and you will see her battle against the evil mice along the way.

For further information, dates and times: http://gohnutcracker.com/

VAN DUSEN BOTANICAL GARDENS – FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

From December 11th 2013 through to January 4th 2014 4:30 to 9 p.m. each evening , except December 25th when the Garden is closed. A magical experience for the whole family with 1.4 million twinkling lights all in the stunning setting of these beautiful Botanical gardens.

Check out their Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=kF–83rIjSE

And for further information: www.vandusengarden.org

CHRISTMAS CAKE RECIPE
It may seem a tad early to bring out the Christmas cake recipe, but there is a reason! If you like to prepare the cake properly with the appropriate amount of the fine liquor then it is wise that you prepare the cake now, and over the next few weeks add the liquor to the cake between now and Christmas so it turns out great!

Cooking time
Prep:25 mins
Cook:2 hrs, 10 mins Plus cooling
Skill level is easy, Cuts into 12-15 slices
Prepare this fruit cake in advance and feed it regularly with rum, brandy or whisky to build the flavour and keep it moist over the coming weeks for maximum flavour.

Ingredients
1kg mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
zest and juice 1 orange
zest and juice 1 lemon
150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
250g pack butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
100g flaked almonds
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Buy Ingredients

Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

Recipe courtesy of the Good Food Magazine (UK)