Christmas at Canada Place: Breakfast with Santa

December 7th, 2009 @ 8:01am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Events for the 22nd annual Christmas at Canada Place kicked off yesterday morning with the first of two Breakfasts with Santa. John and I walked down through Coal Harbour to make our way over to the iconic sails of Canada Place and the Crystal Ballroom of the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Canada Place The Sails

Christmas at Canada Place

There were children everywhere wearing their Sunday best to meet with Santa and tell them what they were hoping for this Christmas. However the entertainment didn’t stop with the jolly man in his red hat and coat. The Showstoppers sang holiday and popular tunes for the crowd which sat around dozens of numbered tables.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Once breakfast was served and the buffet lines swelled to a manageable size we got to enjoy some scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, fresh pastries (like croissants & danishes), fruit, breads, muffins and more.

Christmas at Canada Place

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

The entertainment continued as Bobs & Lolo took to the stage — and the children went nuts. We’ve seen these two perform at least half a dozen times now at events around the Lower Mainland and their audience is always so captivated and engaged in the show (even I’m leaning all the words to the Jellyfish Song — it’s catchy).

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

In the last hour Kellie Haines & Co rounded out the production as the line up to see Santa dwindled once all requests had been placed by young, bright, and smiley faces.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Breakfast with Santa happens again next week, on December 12th, and tickets are still available online (although they are close to selling out). Proceeds go the Strathcona Community Centre’s crucial Food Security for Children program so you not only get a lovely morning out with the family but you can also help support other families in need through this campaign.

White Christmas Vancouver Ticket Giveaway

December 4th, 2009 @ 2:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s not every year that we have snow on Christmas here in Vancouver but thanks to the Arts Club we’ll have a White Christmas in town over the next few weeks.

Cast of the Arts Club’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical
Photo by David Cooper

The Arts Club’s presentation of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical is based on the classic holiday film and features songs such as “Blue Skies,” “Sisters,” and the timeless “White Christmas”. Once again the costuming for this production looks absolutely amazing and seeing this at The Stanley Theatre on South Granville is just the cherry on top.

Cast of the Arts Club’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical
Photo by David Cooper

This production has already sold out 45 shows but I still have two tickets up for grabs for one lucky reader and their guest. You can enter the usual way, either by leaving a comment below or re-tweeting this link including @Miss604 & @TheArtsClub. A night of theatre in Vancouver is such a nice time and a compliment to any holiday season.

The winner will receive two tickets for the performance on December 15th. They will have 24 hours to confirm they can use the tickets from the time their name is drawn and they are notified. If I have not received a response, a new winner will be drawn at random. Contest closes at noon on Thursday December 10th, 2009.

Update: The contest has now closed and I drew a winner at random… who ended up being Sita. Congratulations! Thank you to everyone for entering and please check back for more contests on including the current Nutcracker Ballet ticket giveaway.

Switzerland: Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

December 4th, 2009 @ 10:54am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli ChocolatesAfter our late night out at a hockey game in Zurich our group packed up and headed East toward Kilchberg, the home of Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates – sponsor of the House of Switzerland Canada that will be in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games.

The Lindt & Sprungli headquarters do not conduct tours (for health reasons) but they do have a store and seasonal chocolate markets, making it the ultimate destination for chocolate lovers. Rolling up to the small town you could tell the chocolate factory was its heart and soul. Outside on the front lawn was an enormous Christmas display complete with lights and giant golden reindeer while Smart cars decked out like Lindor truffles lined the entrance way.

Once inside we were educated on the history of chocolate as we know it and how Mr Rodolphe Lindt and Mr Rudolf Sprungli created this worldwide empire of fine Swiss chocolates.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Once it arrived in Europe, chocolate was consumed as a drink since no one had perfected the art of creating a solid form of the confection. This was until a trend started to grow in Italy that saw chocolate in solid, bar form. In 1845 confectioner David Sprungli-Schwarz and his son Rudolf Sprungli-Ammann decided to hop on board and provide this sweet solid treat as well. The craze took off across the continent and saw the Sprungli family build up from a small pastry shop to an entire factory on the shores of Lake Zurich in 1899. This is the site of the factory as we know it as its original structure still stands today.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Somewhere between their cross-continental expansion the move to their new facilities, Rodolphe Lindt over in Bern was developing his patented “conching” process for chocolate in 1879. Lindt developed a way to turn chocolate from a hard, chunk-like state into a smooth, rich and creamy form that could be molded into bars. He used cocoa butter to soften the chocolate and his 72-hour conching machine gave it a rich glossy finish along with a sweet supple aroma. He called this “chocolat fondant” or “melting chocolate” and in 1899 sold all rights to the conching process (and his name) to Chocolat Sprungli AG, thus forming the company Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprungli AG.

The Company Today
Lindt products are available in 100 countries around the globe with offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Their American operations also include Ghirardelli, based in San Francisco. The cocoa beans come from exclusive growers in Ghana where the company makes a solid contribution to the promotion of fair economic conditions for the cocoa farmers in the region. They support the Sustainable Tree Crop Program (STCP) in West Africa as well as research projects and are members of the World Cocoa Foundation.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Chocolate Tasting
Once we learned how the company came to be we headed over to do a chocolate tasting with Master Chocolatier Daniel Tannler. He asked us, “do you eat chocolate or do you taste chocolate?”. We then learned the 5 steps to enjoying and savouring chocolate, which match up with each of our senses.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Here are some of the tasting notes they provided:

  1. Seeing – Study the chocolate’s colour and texture. High quality chocolate has an even texture and a matte, silky sheen.
  2. Feeling – Consider the feel of the chocolate. Is is soft, brittle, smooth, rough, sandy or granular? High quality chocolate should not melt in your hand, just in your mouth.
  3. Hearing – Yes, you can hear chocolate. Hold a bar up to your ear the next time you break off a piece. The broken edge should then be smooth, not crumbly, and fine chocolates should break with an audible ‘snap’. Tannler also said the sound of the Lindt foil unwrapping is something that every Swiss child grows up with. It is ingrained into their memory and the metallic crinkle lights up the senses in anticipation of the treat.
  4. Smelling – You can simply hold a piece of chocolate up to your nose to smell it or break off a small piece and place it on your tongue. Once in place, breathe in with your mouth and then out with your nose to really inhale the aromas. You may even find hints of milk, caramel, vanilla, honey, or apricot, depending on the type of chocolate you are sampling.
  5. Tasting – The best part, just put a piece of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt — coating as many taste buds as possible — so that you can sense all of its nuances, aromas, flavours and essences.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Ms Nina Keller, PR & Communications officer for the company told us that the chocolate business is similar to the fashion industry as people anticipate the new styles and trends that are developed each year. We sampled their latest Lindt Excellence series that features flavours such as Chili and Fleur-de-Sel. Perfecting these recipes is a true art form as Tannler told us they went through about 300 different types of chilies just to find the right mix for their bars.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

After our education and tasting we stopped off at the Christmas Market behind the building which in itself it a holiday chocolate wonderland. From pralines and Lindor truffles to the gold reindeer all decked out with their festive bows.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

It was such a treat to learn more about the history of modern chocolate, the company’s practices and technologies, and of course, taste some cocoa creations.

Our visit to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates

Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates is an official sponsor of the House of Switzerland Canada that will be at Bridges on Granville Island during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The House of Switzerland will be open to the public and I can assure you they will have many goodies for you to sample along with daily giveaways (of the chocolate variety). Stop by Bridges this February to see the folks from Lindt or if you’re in Whistler, House of Switzerland Canada will be at the Mountain Club.

You can view the rest of my photos from my media trip to Switzerland in this photo set, and read all posts here.

Link Fest: More December Events

December 3rd, 2009 @ 10:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

As John and I spend the better part of today flying home from the Dominican Republic — back to the land of cool mountain air nipping at frosty noses — here is this week’s link fest for you to enjoy.

Photo credit: Judy B on Flickr
  • Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge kicks off tomorrow night. Congratulations to my contest winners, Cameron and Tina!
  • A favourite event of ours is the Vancouver Giants Teddy Bear Toss which is happening December 5th during their game versus the Oil Kings. Bring a stuffed or plush toy to the game and toss it on the ice when directed to do so. All will be donated to The Province Empty Stocking Fund.
  • Stop by the QE Theatre for your last chance to participate in the Vancouver Opera’s Food Bank Drive on Saturday December 5th.
  • Got Craft? this Sunday December 6th at the Legion (2205 Commercial Drive) from 11:00am until 5:00pm. Admission is $2 for adults and $0 for kids.
  • The Rogers Santa Claus Parade is this Sunday as well. Remember to bring non-perishable food donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and there is also a tweetup to rally volunteers.
  • Christmas at Canada Place launches on Sunday December 6th with their annual Breakfast with Santa benefiting the Strathcona Community Centre.
  • Verve Hair Lounge in North Vancouver is doing a Wigs for Kids campaign on Sunday December 6th from 4:00pm until 8:00pm.
  • The Canuck Place Radiothon Day of Giving with CHUM Radio stations is Tuesday December 8th.
  • Speaking of radio, tune into CBC radio tomorrow morning as I’ll be on the Early Edition during their Food Bank Radio Day as they collect donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. It’s also an open house over at their newly remodeled downtown broadcast facilities so feel free to stop on by.

    Christmas at Canada Place 2009

    December 2nd, 2009 @ 1:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The 22nd annual Christmas at Canada Place launches this weekend, providing holiday fun for the entire family.

    Festivities run from December 6 – 31, 2009 and will feature nightly Light Shows on the sails along with Breakfast with Santa.


    Breakfast with Santa happens December 6th and 12th with tickets available online in advance for $28. This third annual event will feature entertainment from Bobs & Lolo, bilingual performer Will Stroet, Ventriloquist Kellie Haines & Co and musical group Showstoppers, along with a breakfast buffet at the Pan Pacific, and meet n’ greet with Santa.

    The Light Shows are entirely free and are viewable from many locations around the city, including Coal Harbour and Stanley Park, until the end of the month. The sails will be glowing and dancing daily from 6:00am to 8:00am and then again from 5:00pm until 11:00pm. It’s a lovely way to begin or end a holiday evening out with the family (and I’m thinking mittens and hot chocolates will be required).

    The best part is that Christmas at Canada Place supports the Strathcona Community Centre’s crucial Food Security for Children program, which helps feed children on the Downtown Eastside.

    Proceeds from your Breakfast with Santa ticket will go toward the cause however you can also donate separately. For every $5 donation you will be entered in a draw to win a trip for two to Jamaica courtesy of Air Canada Vacations & Sandals.

    As the official blogger of Christmas at Canada Place, I’ll be live-tweeting, blogging, and covering many of the festivities right here. I will also be including more information about the Strathcona Community Centre and their Food Security for Children program throughout the month.

    12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon

    December 2nd, 2009 @ 8:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    On December 12th photographers in Vancouver will be participating in the first annual 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

    Photo credit: sparkieblues on Flickr

    “What is it? It’s a twelve hour event where participants will check in, receive a roll of 35mm film and then each hour, will be giving a theme of which to shoot one exposure. At the end of the event, the participants will hand in their film, with twelve exposures on it – one for each hourly theme. The cost is only $12 which covers the cost of the film and processing.” []

    The event is the brainchild of Morten Rand-Hendriksen and came to fruition with the help of Benjamin Luk, Anny Chih, Lesley Stefanski and John Biehler.

    At the end of the marathon, which will have a home base at Blenz Coffee in Yaletown (338 Helmcken), photographers will hand in their film for processing. The organizers will then have it developed for judging as well as displaying at the showcase event January 16th, 2010.

    Those interested in participating must purchase their spot online in advance.

    The 12×12 blog has all the answers such as which cameras you can use and you can follow the event on Twitter @12x12YVR for up-to-date information.

    Update: John Biehler has a recap post about the event over on his site. Stay tuned for more information about the gala/viewing party in January.

    Vectorial Elevation Lights up English Bay in 2010

    December 1st, 2009 @ 1:30pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    During 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver will look and feel very different with events, special activities, structures, gatherings, and art installations like Vectorial Elevation.

    A part of the Cultural Olympiad, 20 robotic searchlights (each 10,000 watts) will shift, move, and glide through the skies above English Bay nightly creating silent patterns reaching up to the stars.

    The designs that the lights will follow are submitted online by people around the world and will also be webcast nightly over the internet as well.

    See how it was done in Mexico City’s Zócalo square in 2007 with this YouTube series: Part One & Part Two.

    Vectorial Elevation is the first time the internationally celebrated work of art will be displayed in Canada and over a body of water. Considered one of the world’s largest interactive artworks, it is a part of CODE (the Cultural Olympiad’s Digital Edition) and was created by Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.


    The spotlights themselves will be situated at Vanier Park and along Sunset Beach, covering an area of 100,000 square meters, and will be visible within 15 kms of Downtown. Their patterns will be determined by viewers around the globe as everyone from Vancouver to Vietnam — and everywhere in between — is encouraged to submit their designs and personalized messages through the website

    The nighttime light shows will begin February 4, 2010 and run dusk to dawn every night until the 28th.

    I’d love to take this to a poll to see if you are excited about this art installation, based on some mixed comments I’ve seen come through on Twitter so far.

    Are you looking forward to the Vectorial Elevation light display?

    View Results

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    February 26, 2010 The following is a time lapse so it appears as though the lights are more frenzied, however they stream quietly through the sky as the noises of the city fade away with the city behind you.

    Gingerbread Competition and Charity Auction

    December 1st, 2009 @ 9:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Pop open those advent calendars and load up on low-grade chocolate, it’s December! Gearing up for holiday events filled with cheer, I’ll be profiling many more events, fundraisers, and activities for families.

    Photo credit: Carol Browne on Flickr

    Last year launched the first annual Gingerbread Competition and Charity Auction that saw top local architects and designers construct sweet creations that were then auctioned off for charity. They’re back again this year with a new set of competitors, baking up unique designs for a good cause.

    The rules are pretty simple: entries must be made from edible materials and constructed at a scale to fit within a 16″ x 16″ box. Once the structures are built, breaking the traditional mold by letting go of conventional jujube and candy-cane forms, bidding takes place online (starting December 3rd) and is followed by a fundraising gala (December 10th) filled with entertainment and libations.

    The houses will be judged by an all-star panel consisting of last year’s competition and auction winner Architect D’Arcy Jones, Architect Bill Pechet, Conceptual Artist Ken Lum, and Contemporary Art Gallery Director Christina Ritchie.

    To get an idea of the caliber of gingerbread work, you can browse the gallery of last year’s houses.

    Participating gingerbread architects this year include:

  • McFarlane Green Biggar Architecture+Design
  • Romses Architects
  • Clash Collective
  • Designers at Large Design Consultants
  • Mallen Architecture Inc.
  • Eastside Design & Solus Decor Inc.
  • Measured Architecture
  • Busby Perkins and Will Architects
  • IBI Group (Richmond)
  • Nick Milkovich Architects Inc.
  • The gala on December 10th runs from 7:00pm to 10:00pm at the Museum of Vancouver (1100 Chestnut Street) and photos of the gingerbread houses will be online a week in advance to accommodate bids.

    Tickets for the gala can be purchased online for $20 and you will also be able to bid in-person at the event. All proceeds will be donated to Architecture for Humanity (Vancouver Chapter).