Sequoia Restaurants Patio Contest

April 12th, 2011 @ 9:15am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s been four years since I wrote my first “Downtown Vancouver Patio Guide” and since then dozens of new eateries, cafes, and lounges have opened up in the open air. When the springtime sun shines and the cherry blossoms pop, patio dining is on everyone’s mind. Relax at lunch, have a romantic dinner, people-watch, or enjoy panoramic vistas.

Sequoia Patio Banner

The Sequoia Company of Restaurants are fortunate to operate some of the very best patios that our fair city has to offer and to celebrate patio season, they are giving a $100 gift certificate to a lucky reader.

All you need to do is let us know which of their patios is your favourite. Leave a comment or publish one of these updates to Twitter (including your favourite patio’s handle).

Teahouse in Stanley Park
Website, my blog post
Located at Ferguson Point along Stanley Park Drive it was recently voted “Most Romantic” restaurant in the Georgia Straight’s readers’ choice awards.

I entered to win $100 for @The_Teahouse from @Miss604 in the #SequoiaPatio contest

Seasons in the Park (at QE Park)
Website, my blog post
Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the top of Queen Elizabeth Park where they host their popular Seasons Winebar series.

I entered to win $100 for @SeasonsinQEPark from @Miss604 in the #SequoiaPatio contest

Cardero’s (Coal Harbour)
Perched right above the water at Coal Harbour they host hockey nights, prime rib night, and fresh oyster specials.

I entered to win $100 for @Carderos_Van from @Miss604 in the #SequoiaPatio contest

The Sandbar (Granville Island)
The Sandbar also picked up a Georgia Straight readers’ choice award for “Best Restaurant to Hang Out on a Rainy Day” but it’s patio along the bustling False Creek waterway is a highlight on Granville Island.

I entered to win $100 for @The_Sandbar from @Miss604 in the #SequoiaPatio contest

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on April 25th and they will receive $100 to dine at the Sequoia patio of their choice.

Update The winner is Iain – congratulations!

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2011

April 11th, 2011 @ 1:40pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

A few years ago I visited the colourful Tulips of the Valley Festival in Agassiz with rows upon rows of budding varieties of the springtime flowers. This past weekend, we had the chance to visit the festival’s American counterpart just North of La Conner in Washington State.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is just taking off as thousands of bulbs are springing to life in the fields. The main event takes place at “Tulip Town” off McLean Rd at Best Rd however you can view maps online to scope out other fields and festivities like roadside barbecue salmon, and walking through acres of yellow daffodil fields.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

In the pavilion at Tulip Town there are snacks, an art exhibit, tulip purchases, face painting, and more. Outside you can catch a tractor ride around the tulips, fly a kite, or follow a story-board they’ve setup for kids. Parking is free but admission is $5, which I figure is a reasonable enough price to support the local community.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The festival on now until April 30, 2011. View photos from their Flickr account and get updates from @SVTulipFest on Twitter.

Celebration of Light Fireworks 2011

April 11th, 2011 @ 12:11pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Celebration of Light is returning to English Bay this summer and this morning the official country line-up was announced. Despite a few years where funding was fading for the event that attracts tens of thousands to Vancouver’s waterfront, this is the 21st year for the world’s largest offshore fireworks festival.

USA Fireworks Night at Vancouver's Celebration of Light in English Bay
Susan Gittins on Flickr

Winners of the competition from the last three years will square off with crowd-favourite China opening things up July 30th, Spain will follow August 3rd, and Canada will round things off August 6, 2011.

Wil at ShoreFest

Shore104 will once again present a concert series prior to the explosive evening performances. There will a strict recycling program in place and everyone is always encouraged to take out what they take down to the beach. You can grab a free spot along the beach on a warm summer evening or purchase reserved bleacher seats this year.

Follow @CelebofLight on Twitter for updates and if you’ve ever wanted to see what goes on at the barge in the bay, you can read about a tour I did last year.

Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham

April 11th, 2011 @ 11:43am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The beauty of living in Vancouver is that we have seemingly endless options for weekend activities. Whether it’s heading for a walk in the woods, cycling a sea side route, or even leaving town to explore more of the Pacific Northwest. When some retail therapy is in order, especially with a strong Canadian dollar in our pockets, Bellingham is a top destination for locals.

We discovered this weekend that aside from doing slingshot trips South, hitting up Target and Trader Joe’s, there’s a beautiful overnight option available right along the bay.

Hotel Bellwether Hotel Bellwether

Hotel Bellwether
Website, Twitter, Facebook, rooms from $165 USD.
This 65-room inn is just 10 minutes from Bellis Fair mall and is situated right on Bellingham Bay. Surrounded by free parking, walking trails, kite-flyers, and sailboats, it’s a picturesque maritime setting.

Hotel Bellwether

John and I have a bit of a routine when we check into hotel rooms. Open the door, check to see where the washroom is, scope out the view on the balcony, plug in our electronics, and hook up to the WIFI. We found a snug jacuzzi tub, standing shower stall, TV with full digital cable (so we could still get CTV or CBC), and complimentary (high speed) internet. We were told that most rooms have a king size bed and two of the three floors are pet-friendly.

Hotel Bellwether Hotel Bellwether

After we settled in, we were given a tour of the property including a peek at the lighthouse suite. Located in an actual lighthouse-style structure, it’s 3 floors of accommodation with panoramic balconies and amenities fit for honeymooners or anyone who wants to feel like a newlywed.

Hotel Bellwether

Hotel Bellwether Hotel Bellwether

We returned to our bay-view room, popped open some Washington state wine, and watched the sun duck behind the Olympic Mountains before we headed down to Harborside Bistro, located on the first floor of the hotel.

Hotel Bellwether

Dinner featured locally-sourced ingredients like fiddlehead ferns, fresh mushrooms, and Oregon beef. We barely shared our caramel bread pudding or bourbon chocolate desserts with each other as it was difficult not to gobble them down immediately following our meal.

Harborside Bistro Harborside Bistro

Harborside Bistro

Caramel bread pudding Dessert

Until recently, I had no idea that the Bellwether, and its entire waterfront district (with plaza, spa, restaurants) existed. For a quick trip out of town, without losing stunning coastal views, it’s a nice option to rest your head if indeed you’d like to shop til you drop or make some time for a bit of romance with a loved one.

Disclosure: I was not paid to visit the hotel however our accommodation was courtesy of the Bellwether.

Vancouver Theatre for Spring/Summer 2011

April 11th, 2011 @ 9:10am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Vancouver theatre scene has always been alive and kicking however this spring and summer it seems it to have attracted a large variety of blockbuster productions.

April 5 – April 10, 2011 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
The Graduate
April 14 – May 14, 2011 at the Granville Island Stage
Fiddler on the Roof
April 29 – May 1, 2011 at the Centre for Performing Arts
June 1 – June 26, 2011 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Mamma Mia
August 16 – August 21, 2011 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
May 12 – June 10 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

I also want to include mention of the 25th anniversary of Ballet BC at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre April 14, 15 and 16, 2011 as well as Bard on the Beach and Theatre Under the Stars that will open up again in June and July.

I have two tickets to give away to The Graduate at The Arts Club on Granville Island which is opening this week.

Mrs. Robinson, Are You Trying to Seduce Me?
“Benjamin Braddock is a little worried about his future. Just out of college, he doesn’t know what he wants from life—but it sure isn’t plastics. Then he meets Elaine. The only problem? She’s Mrs. Robinson’s daughter!”

Adapted for the stage by Terry Johnson and based on the novel by Charles Webb and the screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post listing your favourite venue for watching a play in Vancouver and/or post the following on Twitter:

I entered to win tickets to The Graduate @TheArtsClub from @miss604

I will draw one winner Friday, April 22, 2011 at 12:00pm. Please also check out year-round productions put together by theatre companies of all sizes throughout the city.

Update The winner is Tiffany – Enjoy the show!