Browsed by
Category: in and around Vancouver

Heritage Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum

Heritage Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum

It’s that time of year again. As Fall turns into Winter, the skies are grey more often than not, the temperature drops, and it rains a lot. This year we’ve even seen a pretty good amount of snow. I often struggle a bit in Winter, both with mood and motivation, but one thing that I do love about this season is the fantastic lighting displays that are created in and around Vancouver.

One event I enjoy every year is the Burnaby Village Museum’s Heritage Christmas. This free event has something for the whole family. There’s a variety of entertainment, a scavenger hunt for the kids, and fantastic vintage themed lighting displays.

the main street at Burnaby Village with lights
The Main Street

Christmas bears in sweaters at the Burnaby Village Museum

the dancing ladies at Burnaby Village with lights

img_4668

This light display in the Bandstand is sound activated and changes colours which is fun when the Village gets busy.

the bandstand at Burnaby Village with people

 

This year there are musicians scheduled throughout the day and evening – here’s the Irish “choir master” leading the crowd in a sing-along at the bandstand.

sing along at Burnaby Village

There are also heritage carol singers roving through the Village.

Carol singers at Heritage Christmas, Burnaby

The scavenger hunt requires some looking in windows and careful observation of the displays.

Ladies light display at the Burnaby Village Museum
“9 ladies dancing”

Father Christmas is onsite as well.

Father Christmas at Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas

There is a lot to see and do, no matter what the time of day or the weather. I really enjoy the warming heritage atmosphere, even in the snow!

Cabin in snow at Heritage Christmas

Elworth at Burnaby Village

The giant Christmas tree at Burnaby Village

Lights on the tram barn at the Burnaby Village Museum

This year Heritage Christmas runs from November 19, 2016 – January 2, 2017 (closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Check it out. Just remember, it’s cold when the sun goes down so dress warmly and, as always, have fun.

Enchant – Vancouver’s Christmas Light Maze

Enchant – Vancouver’s Christmas Light Maze

Enchant, the world’s largest Christmas light maze, has opened in Vancouver. We attended the Premier Media event to see the lighting of the 60+ foot Christmas tree and to experience all that Enchant had to offer.

So how was it?

I’ll start by saying the light displays are awesome. The Media Premiere came after a huge storm the night before that saw the venue suffer some opening setbacks, and it poured with rain while we were there, but even so, we loved the light displays.

60ft Christmas tree in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
The 60 foot Christmas tree central to the maze
light tunnel in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
An amazing light tunnel
Reindeer lights in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
Beautiful light displays and reindeer

As perfect as we wanted the evening to be (especially for photos and video), remember that this year, November in Vancouver is proving to be extremely wet so you should definitely dress for the weather. Umbrellas are ok but the organisers are expecting thousands of people so the venue is likely to be crowded.  I’d recommend dressing for the weather; rain boots, raincoats, hoods, toques, and gloves. The terrain of the maze is wood-chip which is generally great for soaking up water, but having experienced it after a storm and during a deluge, I would say that while the site is accessible, it’s not easily so. If you are bringing a stroller, go for an all-terrain one or leave the stroller at home and use a carrier. For those with wheelchairs or scooters, the terrain would be quite challenging if wet. Not impossible, but very challenging.

Kids will love it. The printed card that you get when you enter is like a scavenger hunt. Find all 9 of Santa’s reindeer within the maze, get your card stamped at each one and, once completed, exit knowing you have helped save Christmas. There’s a whole story to the saving of Christmas and a storybook you can buy as well.

Reindeer lights in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze

Santa is onsite too which is fun.

Kids meeting santa in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
Remember, you are helping Santa save Christmas
Santa in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
Selfie with Santa

There is food available for purchase with 12 food trucks on site. We love Disco Cheetah so that’s where we beelined, but there were other good eats as well – tacos, hot dogs, pub fare, mini donuts, glow-in-the-dark cotton candy etc. There’s also a covered area with some seating and a bar that serves a variety of winter warming beverages – the mulled wine was great on a cold, wet evening. There are not a lot of sheltered areas though so if it’s wet and crowded this could be a problem. There’s live entertainment in the tent area – on our night Topline Vocal Collective performed and they were outstanding.

The Marketplace is a large covered tent area worth checking out. Over 40 local vendors are featured so it could be a great place to do a little Christmas shopping. Support local!

Marketplace in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
The Marketplace

Enchant Vancouver is located in the Olympic Village at W1st Ave & Crowe St, just East of Cambie. There is a parking area right next to the entrance of Enchant, but that’s for staff. Go about a block further East and there’s a larger lot with free parking. There are parking people at the entrance to direct you, but the lot has no lights and no signage at the entrance so I think many people simply didn’t know it was there.

Enchant Vancouver is on now until December 31st. Ticket prices are as follows:

Adult tickets 16+ $19.95
Child 6-15 years $14.95
Seniors 65+ $14.95
Family Pass $59.95 (2 adults & up to 3 children)

The big question – is it worth it? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. I think that the lights are really good, the concept is great and perhaps next year with a few kinks ironed out, this could become one of Vancouver’s regular go-to events. As I’m all about photography it was definitely on my must-see list and with that in mind, my only real complaint was the weather, but hey, we live in RainCity, right?

Hanging lights in the Enchant Vancouver Christmas Maze
A walk through light display

If you are going, or if you have been, let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

 

 

The Fair at the PNE and Wham Bam

The Fair at the PNE and Wham Bam

It’s that time of year again – The Fair at the PNE is on! This summer The Fair runs from August 20 to September 5. As always, there’s a ton of things to see and do. On opening day we headed up the road (the PNE is literally a 15-minute walk from our apartment) to check things out.

One of the things I really enjoy at The Fair is the Marketplace. There’s always some really cool stuff to look at and if I had oodles of money I would come out fully loaded with new stuff. This year we were impressed by a few things but were very restrained and only purchased one item – the the Miracle Grill Mat. This little mat looks to be an awesome addition to our barbecue kit. It’s designed to help grill those little things which often fall through the grate or items which would usually be grilled on a hot plate. For non-meat-eaters like us, this is going to greatly increase the amount we can use our barbecue. The barbecue booth was extremely hard to walk by because the grilling vegetables smelled so good!

Grill guys

Another item of interest was this air sofa. You’ve probably seen them advertised before but it was great to be able to test it out. Susannah gave it a big thumbs up so we’ll probably look at getting a couple of these for car camping someday.

air sofa

This booth sold 3-D jigsaw puzzles or models and some of them looked quite intricate. The tower in the front looks very “Game of Thrones”.

3D Puzzles

And then, of course, there was the store with a box full of Pokémon.

Pokémon

As always with The Fair at the PNE, there was food and lots of it. It’s always interesting to see what crazy food combos will make an appearance. Some of it looked interesting, others were just plain weird. I opted for poutine from Unroutine Poutine – I just can’t get past poutine – it’s soooo good!

For the carnivores there were 4 or 5 barbecue vendors side by side, competing for the best barbecue.

Lots of meat at PNE

There is just so much to see and do. It was so hot that day we chose to arrive in the later afternoon, but you really could spend the whole day there. There’s shows, demonstrations, animals,are and dinosaurs! The dinosaurs are actually pretty cool because they animate randomly which can be fun for kids and adults alike.

Dinosaurs

The Fair has free nightly concerts which are included with gate admission, but on Saturday we were in for something even better. Kiss Radio sponsored Wham Bam, which was an all-afternoon pop event. The show was headlined by Hedley, who were awesome. We had a great time!

Jacob Hoggard on piano as part of Hedley

Hedley on guitar

After the concert, we left happy (and full!) and headed back down the street towards home. We were probably at the PNE for about 4 hours but I know that there was a lot we didn’t see so I might have to go again!

What do you enjoy about the PNE? Let us know in the comments.

YVR Food Fest

YVR Food Fest

On Saturday we went to the YVR Food Fest at Olympic Village. Known for the past 4 years as the Vancouver Food Cart Fest, the event has rebranded and expanded to include more food vendors, parties, and food talks. Wandering around the venue and seeing what’s on offer in street food in Vancouver was an awesome way to spend the day.

The trucks were laid out in a large circle chuck wagon style which made it easy to wander around and check things out.

Hunger Management

The event was very family friendly with some good things to do.

Ping Pong at YVRFoodfest
Have a little ping pong play time
Water Spray fun
Mini spray parks for the kids
Who doesn't love ice cream?
Who doesn’t love ice cream?

There was also a pop-up marketplace selling everything from sunglasses and T-shirts to handmade crafts.

Sunglasses at pop up market

Pop up market

And there were DJs.

DJ playing at YVRFoodfest

Some of the vendors had small tasting plates available. Here is a mini taco salad (without the taco) that we tried from Vegan vendor Gypsy Trunk.

Sampler of vegan food

We sampled some dauphin potatoes from C’est Si Bon which were lovely, light and fluffy. Then we tried a tofu taco from Korean vendor Disco Cheetah. So good!

Tofu Taco at Disco Cheetah

At this point we decided to check out the liquid refreshments on offer. There were yummy juices…

Juice Vendor at YVRFoodfest

Oh look, a bar!

Pop up bar at YVRFoodfest

We sampled two different styles of Rosé, each with a distinctly different colour, flavour and body.

Rose
Church 13 on the left and Okanagan Crush Pad on the right

Then, more food. After much thought and debate we chose the spicy tempura prawn sandwich from Hunger Management. It was spicy, it was rich, it was HUGE.

Shrimp sandwich

After sharing that we decided we were pretty much done. We were going to try some Hurricane Potatoes but we were just too full for more food. They did look good though and we probably would have gone with a garlic parmesan flavour.

Hurricane Potato

On our final circuit of the Festival (walking off the food) we stopped to watch Slavic Rolls being made. Slavic Rolls are a traditional Eastern European dessert made from sweet yeasty dough. Here’s a short video of the charismatic vendor making them.

After being given a teaser taste of the home-made Bavarian cream we just had to try a roll. We chose the Bavarian cream with raspberry jam. Yum!

Eastern European Slavic Rolls

Done, done and done. We couldn’t fit in a single morsel more.

Stressed-Desserts

The food festival was really enjoyable. Many of our favourite food trucks were there including Tacofino, Nuba, and Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, but for us the YVRFoodFest was a great opportunity to try new foods and find new favourites. We had a great day out and left feeling filled and chilled.

Happy Pride!

Happy Pride!

The last time I went to the Vancouver Pride parade was at least 7 or 8 years ago. I remember that it was a super hot day, just like this year. I remember Jack Layton camping it up in the NDP float – that was cool because he had been a longtime LGBTQ supporter.

I loved celebrating Pride but what I did not enjoy was that there were many other political entities, financial institutions and corporate groups in that Parade that didn’t have much of a history with the LGBTQ community. I remember thinking that the gay vote and the gay dollar must have become important to attract so many of them.

Fast forward to this year.

With both Susannah and I having the day off (this is rare on a long weekend) we decided to head down to English Bay to check out this year’s Parade. Wow! It had grown. Not only in the number of spectators but the number of participants as well. And diverse! It was extremely cool to see such a huge variety of people involved in support groups and organisations to gather and unite members of the community. There were LGBTQ sports groups, school support groups, cultural groups, even a church group (I’m not religious but way to go, Anglicans!).

Yes there were political parties and banks, but they had ‘out’ people marching with them and their message of acceptance and support just seemed so much more genuine. Justin Trudeau marching with his family received huge cheers from the crowd and by being there sent an enormous statement to the world.

#BetterTogether rang true.

I’ll admit I had tears in my eyes at times as I found some of the groups marching to be evidence of real social change in the last 10 years. It was also extremely moving to see the #WeAreOrlando tag and to see photos of the Orlando victims attached to pride flags carried throughout the Parade.

Kudos to the organisers and Grand Marshalls Morgane Oger, Danny Ramadan and Alex Sangha for bringing the Vancouver Pride Parade back to it’s roots of celebration and support.

Here are some of my personal highlights. A full photo gallery can be found here.

Dykes on Bikes! A great way to start the Parade.

Dykes on Bikes is aways a fav to start the Parade

Musqueam Indian Band were the the first of many First Nations groups marching.

Musqueam First Nations leading the marchers

Even for the participants it can be an emotional experience. There was tremendous support for Two Spirited people at Pride.

PFLAG is one of my favourite organisations as they help kids and parents.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue services were there with water guns.

As were some very friendly members of the Vancouver Police Department.

LGBTQ Seniors Have More Fun!

There were some um, great displays….

…fabulous costumes

and some interesting groups.

Click here to view the full gallery of Pride Photos.

For me, LGBTQ rights and equality is about being seen without fear. It’s about being yourself. Pride is a positive day where we celebrate and support one another. It brings people together and helps people find other people that are just like them. To know that you are not alone is extremely important and can be a lifesaver. On Sunday I was very proud to live in Canada and to feel supported by so many people in Vancouver.

Have you ever been to a Pride Parade? How was your experience?

Save the Vaquita!

Save the Vaquita!

What is a Vaquita and why do we need to save it?

The Vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal. Found exclusively in the Gulf of California, Mexico, these small porpoises are on the brink of extinction with only about 60 remaining. That’s 60 animals in total and the number is declining fast.

Depiction of 60 remaining Vaquita
Depiction of 60 remaining Vaquita

July 9, 2016 was International Save the Vaquita Day. Approximately 30 venues across the globe held events to help raise awareness of the plight of the Vaquita.  At the Vancouver Aquarium,  renowned porpoise expert,  Dr Anna Hall gave some short talks about the Vaquita. Dr Hall is also President of the Porpoise Conservation Society which is based right here in Vancouver. The society’s mission is to bring awareness to all 7 species of porpoise.

Dr Anna Hall presenting at the Vancouver Aquarium
Dr Anna Hall presenting at the Vancouver Aquarium

We filmed the talks for the Porpoise Conservation Society and I’ll pop in a link here as soon as it’s online. Dr Hall spoke about gill net fishing and how these nets are the main cause of the Vaquita population decline as the small porpoises become entangled in the nets and drown.  Mexico has introduced a 2 year ban on gill net fishing in an effort to save the Vaquita but it is difficult to enforce.

It is not yet too late. You can use your buying power to help. Choose sustainable seafood that has been caught in a way that does not produce by-catch. This will help not only the Vaquita, but other porpoises, dolphins, turtles and marine life. The Oceanwise website is a great place to start.

Explaining the Oceanwise sustainable seafood program
Explaining the Oceanwise sustainable seafood program

IMG_5300

Learn more about the “panda of the sea” at VivaVaquita and help save the Vaquita!

Newsies – presented by Broadway across Canada

Newsies – presented by Broadway across Canada

On Tuesday we were lucky enough to go to the opening night of Newsies at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The Disney produced Newsies centres around the fictional character of Jack Kelly, the charismatic leader of a group of New York newsboys (newsies) fighting for a better life. The storyline is inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. Newsies is a dynamic show with non-stop dancing and action. The show earned eight Tony Award nominations in 2012, including Best Musical, winning Best Choreography and Best Original Score.

Generally speaking I’d say Broadway isn’t typically my thing but both Susannah and I loved it! It was just over 2 hours in length (plus intermission) and was an easy watch. The cast was tightly knit and the newsies really had the audience on their side, fighting “for what’s right”. Joey Barreiroas was wonderful as Jack Kelly and the dancing in the group numbers  was awesome.

I was also really impressed by the stage design and set which consisted of 3 large multi level metal towers which could be transformed quickly into different sets. In it’s stark simplicity it was effective and functional, allowing the action to flow while each scene was being transformed.

IMG_4459
iphone shot of set design taken during intermission

Newsies is playing in Vancouver until July 10 at QE Theatre as part of Broadway across Canada’s 2016-2017 season.

Totally recommended family viewing. Well worth a watch.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – mini movie review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – mini movie review

I might be a wee bit biased. I am a Kiwi and love to support Kiwi films and filmmakers. I saw Wilderpeople when it debuted in New Zealand earlier this year when I was visiting home so the humour totally made sense. Back in Canada I also went to the Vancouver advance screening and I have to say that the second time round was just as good as the first. Pardon my “kiwi” in this review but this one really felt like home.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is so much more than your average coming-of-age story. Directed by Taika Waititi (Boy, What we do in the Shadows), Wilderpeople has a solid storyline, a great cast and is set in the spectacular New Zealand bush (yes, it really does look like that!). With plenty of witty dialogue and some nicely played nods to classic NZ film and TV commercials (I loved the hat off to “Crumpy” and the old truck ), there’s plenty going on. Sam Neill is a box office drawcard and is great as grumpy old Hec, but it is Rima Te Wiata who sets the movie off on the right foot. Her portrayal of Bella perfectly sets the tone of storytelling with light-hearted delivery.  Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker is wonderful. Along with a few good chuckles Wilderpeople will definitely give you the warm fuzzies.

Here is the trailer. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is only playing locally until July 13 at Cineplex Odeon International Village so you’d better get moving. Don’t miss it – it’s “majestical”.

Canada Day

Canada Day

Bonne Fête Canada!

There were a ton of events happening in and around Vancouver – here are a few festive images.

How did you celebrate?

Firestone Walker craft beer launch in Vancouver

Firestone Walker craft beer launch in Vancouver

Last night we were invited to a VIP tasting of Firestone Walker Beer at Craft Beer Market in the Salt building in Olympic Village. If you are unfamiliar with Vancouver or with Olympic Village, this area began to be developed as the Vancouver Athlete’s Village the 2010 Olympic Games. Since then the area has exploded and is a condo city with restaurants, bars and great places to hang out. The historic Salt building was built in the 1930’s and was originally used as a refinery of salt shipped from San Diego. Now the building is owned by the City of Vancouver and since 2013 has been the home of Craft Beer Market and it’s array of 100+ tap beers.

Craft 2

Where exactly is the Craft Beer Market located? It’s at the corner of Salt St and Walter Hardwick Ave. There is a pair of giant sparrows pretty much pointing towards it so follow their beaks and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

big bird 2

Big Bird

Now on to the beer! We were treated to 4 of Firestone Walker’s beer on tap to celebrate their arrival in Canada. Our fav was the Union Jack West Coast IPA which is a lovely hoppity hopped brew, double dry hopped and with a nice citrus tang. Perfect for the West Coast palette.

Firestone Walker beer

Check out the Firestone Walker Beers if you get a chance. We enjoyed them and the whole Craft Market Experience. Many thanks to Horizon Beers for the invite!