Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Events in Vancouver

December 22nd, 2014 @ 9:33am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s always fun to ring in the New Year with the ones you love, and if your nearest and dearest are too young to head to the hottest club party or themed ballroom bash, here are a few family-friendly options for saying goodbye to 2014 and welcoming 2015 all together:

Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Events in Vancouver

The Centre Of Attention
Photo credit: Wayneson Chan on Flickr

Robson Square

Where Robson Square Ice Rink, Lower Plaza (Robson between Hornby and Howe)
When December 31st from 4:00pm to 8:00pm with an early countdown at 7:30pm.
Cost Free
Details Ice skating, kid’s crafts (build your own noise maker), live music from Rumba Calzada, early countdown, then 8:30pm to 10:30pm The Freshest DJ’s spin for those who stick around to ice skate.

Grouse Mountain

Where Grouse Mountain
When December 31st from 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Cost Tickets are required to take the SkyRide up to then enjoy the included activities up top. Access to New Year’s Eve festivities is included with your Annual Local’s Pass, Y2Play or Winter Season Pass.
Details Entertainment and fun for all ages, with ice skating outdoors, a live DJ, fire dancing performances, a scavenger hunt, and along with a special 9:00pm early countdown. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve broadcast with Ryan Seacrest will be playing in the Theatre in the Sky until 10:00pm.

Mount Seymour

Where Mount Seymour Family First Night
When December 31st from 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Cost $15 per person (children two and under are free), includes tobogganing. Add-ons: $10 Snowtubing, $20 Chocolate Fondue Tour.
Details Enjoy tubing and tobogganing, live entertainment on the main stage by children’s performers, a magic show, a fire spinning routine, a daring highline balancing act or venture into the woods with your family on an intriguing Snowquest.Cozy up to the warmth of Mt Seymour fire pits and indulge in fresh hot apple cider and s’mores. Fireworks finale is at 9:00pm.

Bright Nights in Stanley Park

In case you missed the impressive holiday light display and Christmas train in Stanley Park, Bright Nights will be open on New Year’s Eve from 3:00pm to 10:00pm.

Ice Skating in Surrey

While there isn’t an early countdown or fireworks planned, the whole family can get together for a skate at the Winter Ice Palace in Cloverdale or the Snowflake Skate in Newtown, both open 12:00pm to 4:00pm on December 31st.

Win a Winter Prize Pack from Rexall and Air Miles

December 22nd, 2014 @ 1:30pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The holidays are here, which in Vancouver means damp weather, shopping crowds, ice skating, and gathering with friends and family for drinks, games, meals, and good times. Unfortunately this is also prime cold and flu season which is why Rexall has offered up a Winter Prize Pack for one Miss604 reader to navigate the holidays in good health.

Win a Winter Prize Pack from Rexall and Air Miles

The prize pack from Rexall along with Air Miles, which you can now collect in-store, includes $60 worth of Be Better products and accessories:

  • Be Better Argan Oil Body Wash
  • Be Better Argan Oil Hand and Body Lotion
  • Be Better Argan Oil Hand Soap
  • Be Better Argan Oil Balm
  • Be Better Argan Oil Lip Balms
  • Be Better Argan Oil Night Cream
  • Be Better Sunscreen
  • Body Loofah
  • Cotton Moisture Lock Gloves

Rexall

Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win a Winter Prize Pack from @RexallDrugStore @AirMiles @Miss604 http://ow.ly/Gjjjx

Rexall has almost 40 stores all around BC with 3 in Downtown Vancouver. Follow Rexall on Twitter and Facebook along with Air Miles on Twitter and Facebook for more information about their offers this season.

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Monday, December 29, 2014.

Gifts for Stanley Park: Vancouver Gift Guide

December 18th, 2014 @ 1:44pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”) and its volunteers work hard to conserve, protect, educate and research to ensure that Stanley Park remains a bastion of natural wonder and beauty, and the Best Park in the World.

If you’ve followed Miss604 online — whether on the blog, Twitter, or Instagram — you’ll know how much I love Stanley Park, which is why I became a member of the Stanley Park Ecology Society almost three years ago. In fact, I was the first person to ever purchase a membership online and I have featured a monthly “SPES Saturday” series submitted by the Stanley Park Ecology Society since that time as well.

My Vancouver Gift Guide series wouldn’t possibly be complete without a list of ways that you support Stanley Park now, and throughout the year, thanks to the Stanley Park Ecology Society’s gifts that give back.

Supporting the Stanley Park Ecology Society

Every year 8 million people visit Stanley Park… to marvel at its forests, connect with nature, exercise along its seawall and relax on its beaches. Great blue herons, bald eagles, little brown bats and coastal cutthroat trout live here while thousands of overwintering birds shelter along its shores. For all that Stanley Park offers people and wildlife, SPES invites you to help us give back.

Your year-end tax deductible donation supports Stanley Park Ecology Society’s stewardship of Vancouver’s largest urban wilderness: Restoring habitat, monitoring wildlife, inspiring school children with quality environmental education programs, and connecting park visitors of all ages with nature.

Skimming
Photo credit: TylerIngram on Flickr

Gifts for Stanley Park

$16.50 buys one 5 gallon native plant to help restore damaged Park habitat.

$48 adopts a Great blue heron nest to support conservation of this Species at Risk.

$160 provides one pair of high quality binoculars for SPES’ popular public birding programs.

$500 subsidizes the school program fee for one inner city class to participate in Nature Ninjas, an empowering, unforgettable overnight camping fieldtrip in Stanley Park (read more about Nature Ninjas »).

You can also adopt and eagle nest or one whole acre of the park to protect.

In 2014, donations helped 5,401 elementary school students participate in SPES’ experiential education programs, helped remove over 325 cubic meters of invasive species from Stanley Park (equivalent of 217 wheel barrows-full), planted 850 native plants in habitat restoration efforts… and much, much more. To make a donation or purchase an annual membership call (604) 718-6523 or donate online.

Your annual membership (for $15, $20, $30, or $40) includes quarterly newsletters; discounts on SPES Discovery Walks, programs and special events; special invitations to free preview nights in Stanley Park for Halloween Ghost Train, Christmas Bright Nights and Theatre Under the Stars; discounted admission to the Vancouver Aquarium; and voting rights at SPES’ Annual General Meeting.

For more information visit the Stanley Park Ecology Society website. Follow SPES on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Things to do in Vancouver This Weekend

December 18th, 2014 @ 10:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s the very last weekend before Christmas and the city is alive with events, activities, and plenty of neighbourhoods showing off their very best light displays. The weekend event list is bigger than usual, packed with fun ways to get the most out of the city this holiday season.

Yaletown Holiday Festival in Vancouver BC Canada
Photo credit: TOTORORO.RORO on Flickr

Last Chance Craft Fair

This post is sponsored by Great Canadian Craft’s Last Chance Craft Fair, on Saturday, December 20th and Sunday, December 21st at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Drive, Vancouver). Stop by this handmade stocking stuffer extravaganza for all of your last minute shopping needs and see over 150 talented artisans and crafters from all over the Lower Mainland and BC. Face painting, balloon animals, and Buddy The Elf will be on site for the kids. First 25 entrants each day receive a FREE swag bag loaded with goodies. Follow Great Canadian Craft on Facebook and Twitter for more information and get your free tickets online in advance.

Things to do in Vancouver This Weekend

Events that run for longer than three days in a row are highlighted in green below.

Friday, December 19, 2014
The 13th Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Vancouver Chamber Choir Presents: Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales
Musica Intima: A Christmas Story, Downtown
Don Pasquale performed by Venture Opera
Alicia Tobin’s Come Draw With Me: Special Edition Food Bank Fundraiser
Chor Leoni Men’s Choir Presents: All is Calm
The Shortest Day Film Festival
12 Bars of Christmas Pub Crawl Series
Vancouver TheatreSports: Christmas Queen
Carousel Theatre Presents: James and the Giant Peach
Goh Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Burnaby Village Museum Heritage Christmas
Pacific Theatre: It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show
Karaoke Christmas Lights Vancouver Trolley Tours
Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden
Vancouver Christmas Market
Bright Nights in Stanley Park Christmas Train
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Arts Club Presents: Mary Poppins
Free Skating at Robson Square Ice Rink
The Cultch: Dylan Thomas Return Journey

Saturday, December 20, 2014
Last Chance Craft Fair
Historic Christmas Programs at Irving House
The Marcus Mosely Chorale at Ryerson United Church
Blim Holiday Market
Lovecoast + Friends Christmas Benefit at the Backstage Lounge
Dundarave Festival of Lights
Skate with Santa at Bill Copeland Sports Centre
Skate with Santa, New Westminster
Pacific Theatre: Christmas Presence, Valley
Winter Farmers Market at Nat Bailey Stadium
Surrey’s Winter Ice Palace in Cloverdale Opens
The Shortest Day Film Festival
Vancouver TheatreSports: Christmas Queen
Chor Leoni Men’s Choir Presents: All is Calm
Carousel Theatre Presents: James and the Giant Peach
Goh Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Burnaby Village Museum Heritage Christmas
Pacific Theatre: It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show
Karaoke Christmas Lights Vancouver Trolley Tours
Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden
Vancouver Christmas Market
Bright Nights in Stanley Park Christmas Train
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Arts Club Presents: Mary Poppins
Free Skating at Robson Square Ice Rink
North Pole, BC at TRADEX in Abbotsford
The Cultch: Dylan Thomas Return Journey

Sunday, December 21, 2014
Last Chance Craft Fair
Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio – Cantatas 1, 3, 6
29th Annual Blues for Christmas
Vancouver Chamber Choir Presents: A Charlie Brown Christmas
River District Winter Craft Fair
Bill Nye at the Vogue Theatre
Surrey’s Winter Ice Palace in Cloverdale
The Shortest Day Film Festival
Vancouver TheatreSports: Christmas Queen
Chor Leoni Men’s Choir Presents: All is Calm
Carousel Theatre Presents: James and the Giant Peach
Goh Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Burnaby Village Museum Heritage Christmas
Karaoke Christmas Lights Vancouver Trolley Tours
Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden
Vancouver Christmas Market
Bright Nights in Stanley Park Christmas Train
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Arts Club Presents: Mary Poppins
Free Skating at Robson Square Ice Rink
North Pole, BC at TRADEX in Abbotsford
The Cultch: Dylan Thomas Return Journey

View the full monthly event list to plan ahead at any time. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for frequent updates about local events and community happenings.

Book Giveaway: Live at the Commodore

December 17th, 2014 @ 1:44pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

If I was Miss Sheilds from the beloved holiday film A Christmas Story I would legitimately give Aaron Chapman’s new book Live at the Commodore an “A Plus-Plus-Plus-Plus…!” It arrived by courier last week and I immediately sat down to read it.

I didn’t budge as the sun crossed through the sky and the hours passed. I pulled out my sticky notes and began marking off my favourite lines and references so I could bring them up later when gushing to John about the book. I would read a passage, close the book, and hold it to my chest — just like the fictional teacher who read Ralphie’s theme — then open it again to read more.

Live at the Commodore by Aaron Chapman

“Who’s playing tonight?”

What made the book so brilliant? I felt as though I was reading what could easily be turned into a moving and captivating Ken Burns documentary about Vancouver’s entertainment history.

Live at the Commodore starts out “Once Upon a Saturday Night”, telling the tale of Granville Street, then moves into a chronological history of how the Commodore Ballroom came to be, how it thrived, how it almost died, how its doors were shut and opened again as chapters of music history in Vancouver were written.

I went from imagining my Oma and Opa out dancing on a Saturday night (which they did in the 1950s) to looking at legendary rock photographer Bev Davies’ photos of D.O.A., some of the founders of hardcore punk. I learned about Drew Burns and the place where a who’s-who of music greats — like The Police, The Clash, Blondie, Talking Heads, Nirvana, New York Dolls, U2, Tom Waits, and the White Stripes — took the stage.


1930 – Commodore Ballroom. Archives# CVA 99-3855.

In Live at the Commodore, Aaron Chapman (author of Liquor, Lust, and the Law, a bestselling history of Vancouver’s Penthouse Nightclub) delves into the Commodore’s archives to reveal stories about the constellation of characters surrounding the club over the last 80-plus years, as well as startling, funny, and outrageous anecdotes about the legendary acts that have graced its stage. Filled with never-before-published photographs, posters, and paraphernalia, Live at the Commodore is a visceral, energetic portrait of one of the world’s great rock venues.

If you enjoy reading about Vancouver, history, music, and can appreciate some pretty rocking photography, pick up your copy of this untold story of Vancouver’s rock ‘n’ roll landmark for $28.95 online or look for it in your local book store.

Win a Copy of Live at the Commodore

I received my review copy of the book from the publisher Arsenal Pulp Press and I have another to give away to a lucky Miss604 reader to enjoy. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment naming the best concert you’ve ever seen in Vancouver (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win a copy of #LiveAtTheCommodore by @TheAaronChapman from @ArsenalPulp + @Miss604 http://ow.ly/G4gB5

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Monday, December 22, 2014. Follow Arsenal Pulp on Twitter and Facebook for more information about their BC titles and follow author Aaron Chapman on Twitter.

Vancouver Christmas Cats of Instagram

December 17th, 2014 @ 11:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Two things that I, and most of the internet-using population around here, love dearly are cats and Vancouver — a reason why we recently hosted an Internet Cat Video Festival and funded a Cat Cafe. As such, during this busy holiday season I thought I would spread some lighthearted cheer by introducing some incredibly adorable local cats of Instagram who have plenty of Christmas spirit:

Untitled
Photo credit: Hayley Bouchard on Flickr

Vancouver Christmas Cats of Instagram

Found using this #CatsOfVancouver tag, elliot_sheldon is one well-behaved feline in this Christmas card-worthy pose:

A photo posted by @elliot_sheldon on

Scout of TheScoutChronicles is a very social cat, sending out Christmas cards to many friends on Instagram who also posed with their cards:

A cat in a sweater – a Christmas sweater – courtesy of Jiro_Boo:

While it’s not Christmassy per se — and I have no idea how they did it — but BestFriendsPetCareVancouver got this little one to not only wear a hooded sweater but also stay in it long enough to snap this photo:

A pet food and supply store on East Hastings, LongLiveCatsandDogs recently featured Ritchie in a festive Santa hat:

A photo posted by @longlivecatsanddogs on

The Vancouver Canucks get a mention for their BCSPCA and cat-themed Christmas cards this year including this photo of Kevin Bieksa and a kitten:

A photo posted by Vancouver Canucks (@canucks) on

Gary of HisNameIsGary is the only cat I actually follow on Instagram. He had me hooked ever since he appeared in a Yoda costume and this Santa Claws getup is just as good:

A photo posted by Gary (@hisnameisgary) on

Finally, while not all cats they feature are local, the popular CatsofInstagram account is actually run by Erin Filtness of Vancouver and it’s the go-to Instagram cat photo account for more than half a million people worldwide:

I don’t have a cat but you can follow me on Instagram anytime @Miss604.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

December 17th, 2014 @ 10:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Celebrate the 21st annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival on December 21st in three Vancouver communities. Presented by the Secret Lantern Society and Artistic Director Naomi Singer, this free family event (with some ticketed attractions) will illuminate the longest night of the year.

Tonight in Vancouver: The 17th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Photo credit: Rikki / Julius Reque on Flickr

These are festive celebrations of the human spirit expressed through art and music, enjoy a night of spirited fun with lanterns, fires, singing, drumming, music and dancing.

Workshops

Join a last minute lantern workshop in any of the three celebration locations. Lanterns can be made in as short as 30 minutes. While supplies last.

Granville Island: A last Minute Lantern workshop will be held on Sunday December 21, 2014 at the False Creek Community Centre (1318 Cartwright St) from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Drop in and make a simple lantern ($10 each) to carry in the procession that leaves at 6:00pm.

Yaletown: Drop into the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) and make a simple lantern ($10 each) to carry in the procession that gathers in David Lam Park at 6:30pm.

Chinatown: Drop into the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer St) from 4:00pm to 6:00pm and make a simple lantern ($10 each) to carry in the procession that leaves at 6:00pm.

Processions

Granville Island: Meet at 6:00pm at Leg-In-Boot Square, Granville Island Triangle Square, or H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. The 3 processions converge on Granville Island and are greeted by the traditional torch-lit Song Of Welcome by The Vancouver Morris Men. The Carnival Band, Bloco Energia and the Rhythm Spirit Drummers then join forces to lead everyone over to Ron Basford Park where Radiant Heat weave their fiery magic atop the hill and a giant fire sculpture of the rising sun lights the darkest night.

Yaletown: Meet at 6:00pm at Cooper’s Park, Emery Barnes Park, or the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. These three lantern processions are led by the drums of Tege Fo Collective along the seawall as well as through historic Yaletown to converge in David Lam Park where they are welcomed by the traditional English music and dance of the Tiddley Cove Morris Dancers and a spectacular fire performance by The Vancouver Fire Collective.

Chinatown: Meet at 6:00pm at the Strathcona Community Centre and join a lively lantern procession led by the drums of African Crossing through the streets of Strathcona for a magical evening at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall St).

Indoor Performances

Granville Island: After the processions pop into the False Creek Community Centre (1318 Cartwright St) from 7:30pm to 9:30pm for hot chocolate and live music and dancing with Star Child Drum Group, Hot Club of Pluto, Rhythm Spirit Drummers and Odette Slater. Experience the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and Welch Border Dances by The Vancouver Morris Men, who have been part of this festival for the entire 21 years. Learn about the celestial facts of winter solstice with Community Astronomer Bill Burnyeat in the amazing inflatable Canadian Planetarium, while being serenaded by the award-winning violin of Michael Burnyeat. Look for the roving Mistress of Ceremonies and Ritual Historian Shaughna Born (in the top hat) to tell you the sometimes bloody and epic stories ancient peoples told to explain the loss of the light.

Yaletown: After the Yaletown processions pop into the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) from 7:00pm to 10:00pm for a variety of indoor activities starting with the Opening Welcome at 7:00pm by Master of Solstice Ceremonies Ari Lazer. Performers include the Git Hayetsk Dancers, Kira Schaffer of Firebelly Performance Society, Kathleen Forrester, Orkestar Slivovica, Jacky Arrah Yenga and more.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Following the Chinatown procession, meet at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall St) from 6:00pm to 10:00pm to celebrate the Chinese winter solstice, dong zhi, which marks the rebirth of the yang qualities of light and energy. The Garden will be filled with lanterns created by artists Joey Mallett, Yoko Tomita, Jacquie Rolston, Naomi Singer and Secret Lantern Society volunteers. Tickets are $5 per person or $10 for a family (at the door) or online in advance, plus fee. Make your own simple lantern decorated with bird images with artists from the Secret Lantern Society in the Scholar’s Study for $3. Featured performers include the energetic jazz of the Brad Muirhead Quartet, the wild drums of African Crossing and the thrilling rhythms of Uzume Taiko.

Labyrinth of Light

Labyrinth of Light: From 6:00pm to 10:00pm at Performance Works on Granville Island and 6:00pm to 11:00pm at the Roundhouse in Yaletown.

Labyrinth of Light
Photo credit: Jack on Flickr

Created with over 700 pure beeswax candles, the winter solstice labyrinth invites you to warm yourself in a self-guided ceremony intended to help release old attachments and envision new possibilities as the darkest night of the year births a new season. Hosted by Helene Bolduc, with crystal bowl toning by Christine Paton.

Purchase Labyrinth of Light tickets online and select your exact visit times. Everyone who gives a donation or purchases a ticket to one of the labyrinths will receive a solstice button.

Follow the Secret Lantern Society on Twitter and Facebook for more information.

Christmas Lights in Vancouver

December 16th, 2014 @ 11:44am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Growing up in Surrey, one of my favourite Christmas memories was when our whole family would bundle up and pile into our van for a night of Christmas light hunting. First things first, we’d stop somewhere to pick up hot chocolate that would warm our mittened hands, and then we’d always head to New Westminster to check out the homes near Queen’s Park. “Oohs” and “Ahhs” from our lips fogged up the back windows as brilliant heritage homes dazzled with the most impressive light displays that just got better from year to year.

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden
VanDusen – Photo credit: Ann Hung on Flickr

Christmas Lights in Vancouver

If you’re on the hunt for twinkling light displays around the Lower Mainland, here are some of your best bets:

Attractions- Paid

Bright Nights in Stanley Park (by donation), Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden, Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Bear Creek Park Christmas Train.

Christmas at Jack Poole Plaza
Jack Poole Plaza – Photo credit: Zorro1968 on Flickr

Attractions – Free

Burnaby Village Museum, Jack Poole Plaza Christmas Tree, Surrey City Hall Christmas Tree and Central City Plaza, Dundarave Festival of Lights, St Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope, Spirit Square, Town Centre Park’s Lafarge Lake and the Inspiration Garden in Coquitlam.

Christmas on the Beach ~ West Vancouver, BC
Dundarave – Photo credit: SeaSide Signs ~ Vancouver, BC on Flickr

Residential Christmas Light Maps

Local news organizations crowdsource the best residential light display information each year to put into interactive maps. Check out the Vancouver Sun and News 1130 for those helpful tools. The Now has a guide posted for Surrey and Delta as well.