Pride Picks of the Week – July 27, 2016

The peak of summer is upon us and with the BC Day Long Weekend means a packed line-up of pride picks of the week, here’s just a few of the events this weekend

Bingo: Join Carlotta Gurl and Mina Mercury when they host Pride Bingo For Life supporting Vancouver Friends For Life followed by Pride Cabaret Celebrity Drag Impersonation show

Keys: Tonight tune up your vocals for your Wednesday edition of Keys Piano Bar at XYYVR and then on Monday stay tuned for a special BC Day Keys On The Patio

Gurls: Junction Pride gets started with the Barron Gurl Show, the dynamic duo of Isolde N Baron and Carlotta Gurl presenting their Pride Extravaganza

Ultra: Grab your beach gear and hit up The Astoria, in East Van, for Ultraqueer Summer Bash a pride party for everyone with DJs Teen Spirit and Nikki Nevver

Underwear: Thursday night, Celebrities kicks off #ThisIsPride with DJ Pornstar & an Andrew Christian & Dirt Squirrel Underwear Fashion Show

Shower: The Odyssey’s Pride weekend kicks off with Shower Power Pride edition, with host Berlin warming up the crowd before the shower guys heat it up

YeeHaw: Country meets Pride on Thursday night when Yale Saloon hosts Honky-Twunk, a western-themed night hosted by Raye Sunshine

Cheers to the Davie Street Party
Cheers to the Davie Street Party

Street: Start your Pride Weekend with the Davie Street Dance Party Free entertainment and attractions all along Davie Street, from Burrard to Jervis pre-load a RFID wristband to grab a drink at the beer tents

Bootcamp: Big Roger Events Big Pride Weekend gets underway with a collab with Prism Events Bootcamp powered by Scruff happening at 560 Seymour featuring DJ Eddie Martinez and a performance by xxx star Christian Power.

Alternative: Friday night the Alternative Pride Festival presents Pride Is For Everyone an all inclusive, everything goes party for Everyone, Everybody and Every Body at 1965 Main Street

Sin: after Bootcamp head to Afterlife for Sin: Big Pride’s Friday after hours with DJ Luis Perez

Full: The O’s Pride Weekend continues with Full Length Feature Pride Friday with Hector Fonseca, Raye Sunshine, DJ/VJ Gingerbear and the O Boys

Playboys: XYYVR Pride Friday brings a Rapture 16 double bill of Fourplay & Playboy, a drag showcase hosted by Shanda Leer, followed by a hip hop and RnB night with Jane Smokr with DJ DomTop and Jef Leppard

Rhoda: #ThisIsPride Friday at Celebrities as A Club Called Rhonda, comes to town with the LA clubs residents Goddollars and Paradise

Funktion: Friday at Junction Pride it’s Funktion Pride: Blacklight party with DJ Drew and glowing GoGos

Ruff: The Pint is taken over by Mr Ruff and the Men of Ruff for Ruff Pride Friday featuring music by Mumbles, Karsten Sollars, Jay Douglas and Brian Maier

Pool: The heat is on at the Westin Grand pool when Rapture 16 Heatwave Pool Party makes a splash hosted by Tatiana with DJs Nick Bertossi, Quest and appearances by Brook Lynn Hytes and Gia Metric

Ahoy!: Sail away with Cruisey-T Pride Cruises, two sailings to choose from on Sunday; GoGo and Party Cruise after the Pride Parade and then on Monday the Pride Recovery Cruise wraps up your weekend

Glitter: Saturday night  head to The Imperial for Glitter: Big Pride Main Event 2016 with tunes by Del Stamp and Yinon Yahel

Style: Saturday is The O’s Signature Night: Pride Style with DJ Grind and Karsten Sollars

Play: Saturday’s Big Pride late night Play takes to Afterlife for afterhours fun with Mat Ste-Marie on the decks with Alyson Calagna

Dykes on Bikes kick off Pride Parade 15
Dykes on Bikes kick off Pride Parade 15

Parade: It’s the main event, the 38th Annual Pride Parade brings thousands to the streets of Vancouver as the participants make their way from Robson Street, to Denman and to Beach Avenue.

Sunset: Follow the Parade to the Sunset Beach Festival with entertainment galore

Drag: Untoxicated is an alcohol/drug free street party at Davie & Bute featuring Drag Stars Courtney Act, Morgan McMicheals and DJ Karset Sollors and a slew of local drag queens

Trouble: Get some South Beach style at Cabana Lounge when Big Pride’s 16th Annual Trouble T-Dance takes over Sunday afternoon with DJ Quest

Grrr: Get some rough and tumble at 560 Seymour for Bearracuda vs Pitbull – Pride Sunday 

Flygirl: Pride Hershe Bar – Where The Girls Are takes over two venues at 750 Pacific – Harbour and Prive rooms. with DJs Automaton with Rikki Rocket, Miss M, Kasey Riot and Armistice

Victory: Rapture Pride 16 wraps up Sunday with Victory, the pride closing party with DJ Paulo, Domtop and a performance by Shokra with an international line up of GoGos

Backdoor: Wrap up Alternative Pride Weekend at Backdoor Pride Edition in a unique location at The Villa 494 Railway with something for everyone and every body.



Join an Instameet to #ExploreBCDay


In honour of BC Day on August 1 2016, Hello BC is helping to organize a day of Instameets around the province as a way to celebrate the holiday.

What’s an Instameet? An Instameet is a gathering of photographers and Instagrammers who come together, at a pre-set time and place, to take photos and upload them to Instagram. Visitors and locals can join in the BC Day celebrations by registering for one of the Instameets, happening all over the province, from Prince George to Victoria, listed on the Hello BC website.  Then explore the location taking photos, sharing them to Instagram with the hashtag #exploreBCday and meet fellow photographers (and maybe a few Pokemon Go players along the way).  These events are happening at popular summer destinations and attractions across the province, so there will be plenty of photo inspiration for everyone.  While the Vancouver and Victoria ones are full,

Grab your friends, find a BC Day Instameet near you and get creative. Follow what other Instameet participants are going by following the #exploreBCDay hashtag and see how people around the province celebrate BC Day

Tasting Plates West End coming August 24th

jmintetastingplates_WEGet ready for a tasty summer’s night stroll on Tasting Plates West End, coming August 24, 2016.
This edition of Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting Plates, explores the flavours of Vancouver’s West End from Davie to Denman to Robson Streets.  The diversity of the West End food and drink scene will be on display through establishments like;

Marquis Wine Cellars
Vera’s Burgers
Grotto Italian
Tartine Bread & Pies
Styp Desserts
Whole Foods Market

Like all other Tasting Plates, guests will check-in, in this case at Marquis Wine Cellars, and collect their Tasting Plates card and map, then head off with their friends on a flavourful experience around the ‘hood.  Taste the food, meet the chefs, find new locations and flavours.

Early Bird Tickets for Tasting Plates West End are on sale now on Eventbrite for $29 until August 3rd. Tickets rise to $40 after August 3rd and again to $55 after August 21st.
Tickets include your tasting plate from the participating restaurants.

Firecracker! Explosive Comedy at VTSL


Vancouver Theatresports League (VTSL) has brought out the big guns this summer with their new show; Firecracker! Dynamite Ladies. Explosive Comedy.
Making its debut last night at the Improv Centre on Granville Island, Firecracker! is the VTSL’s first all-female show.   The VTSL cast has always included many different female performers, Firecracker! highlights these funny ladies and provides encouragement to up and coming comediennes.

During the run of Firecracker!, throughout the summer, the show will feature a cavalcade of special guests from the community. On opening night, Rebecca Bollwitt of made her improv debut, showing a natural flare for comedy, managing to crack-up the cast and audience.

The upcoming special guest performers are; lifestyle writer Cassandra Anderton of Good Life Vancouver, singer-songwriter Sadie Campbell, actors Briana Buckmaster, Beverley Elliott, and Nicole Oliver, burlesque entertainer Burgundy Brixx, and comedian/host Morgan Brayton.

Firecrackers! Dynamite Ladies. Explosive Comedy.  plays every Thursday at 9:15pm until September 8th. Tickets are on sale, from $10, at Add a drink at the Improv Centre’s Neil Mcrae Lounge and enjoy the beautiful summer sunsets before the show.

Tasting Plates – Fraserhood recap

Last night, the weather was perfect for a sweet and savoury Tasting Plates YVR walk through the Fraserhood, around Fraser Street between King Edward and Kingsway.

MainStreetHoney_img_6813Starting at one of the city’s most unique speciality shops, Main Street Honey Shoppe has everything that you could think of, made from honey. Liquid local honey, royal jelly, beeswax candles and body care products.  For Tasting Plates, they sampled a selection of liquid honey and offered an example of other ways to get the flavour of honey in a morsel of honeycomb with cheese on a cracker.  Served alongside an Tea Farm Monkey Iced Tea, sweetened (of course) with clover honey.

Nammos_Estiatorio_img_6830Next we made our way to Nammos Estiatorio the recently opened Greek restaurant on Fraser near King Edward. It’s only been open since spring but the recipes tasted like they’ve been there for generations.  Classic good flavours of Spanakotiropita, Kokkinistro with Greek egg noodles, and mushroom fava beans topped with grilled octopus. We opted to add a refreshing glass of white sangria too.

commodity_juicery_img_6831Across the street, Commodity Juicery served a big selection of their dairy-free menu.  A couple of their unique Teatails; Sangria (hibiscus berry tea, basil infused maple syrup, apple and lemon), Pink Lemonade (lavender tea, rosemary infused maple syrup apple and lemon).  I chose to try a sample of Golden Mylkshake smoothie, a wholesome creamy blend of banana, coconut, turmeric, ginger, dates, almonds, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper and almond mylk.  Along with the beverages, we sampled a Greens 2 Go Smoothie bowl, incorporating the ingredients of a smoothie into a spoonable thick blend; kale, banana, avocado, romaine, cucumber, lemon, cilantro, parsley, ginger, spirulina and apple juice.

Chomp_img_6840A bit further north on Fraser, we find a double shot location. Chomp Vegan Eatery and Fairy Cakes share a location serving dairy, egg, nut and gluten free bites on their Tasting Plate. Savoury mini Chomp slider, creamy Caesar salad and a sweet Fairy-o chocolate biscuit sample what the eatery offers on their food delivery service.  Certainly living up to their slogan “Vegan Food That Doesn’t Suck”!

straight_Brooklyn_img_6847At the junction of Fraser and Kingsway, we find a location of Straight Out Of Brooklyn pizzeria serving up their classic NY style slices.  From the oven tonight was the Original (Margherita), Classic (Pepperoni), White (4 cheese) and Spice (Capicollo/Spicy Salami).

Tasting Plates always does a great job of enticing us to visit neighbourhoods other than our own to see what’s tasty and when it’s a perfect summer night for a stroll, it’s even better.
Take a stroll of your own on the next Tasting Plates in the West End on August 24th, watch for tickets to go on sale now

Picks of the Week – July 20, 2016

Drawing closer to the start of Pride Week in Vancouver, we see more fun events coming up in the picks of the week;

vf_TastingPlates_TheFraserhoodBites: Tonight, grab your fork and head out to experience Tasting Plates – Fraserhood, and find out what’s good to eat around the Fraser Street ‘hood

Hello: Wednesday and Thursday finds the long awaited back-to-back Adele concerts at Rogers Arena

Ivories: Drink, Sing, Laugh on Wednesday at XYYVR with Keys Piano Bar & Live Showtunes

Shores: Across the water, another major music fest takes off, Rock The Shore featuring Metric, City & Colour, Current Swell, The Arkells, The Cat Empire and many more over three days, Thursday – Sunday.

Premiere: Thursday night, TD joins forces with Vancouver Pride Society to give Pride a grand kick-off Premiere Party at Celebrities

TUTS:  Theatre Under The Stars presents West Side Story and Beauty and The Beast at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park this season.

Duo: Sing, dance and laugh with the talents of the legendary duo Steve Martin and Martin Short at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Divas: Friday at The Junction Sienna Blaze’s DIVAS – Pride Edition welcomes guests Carlotta Gurl and Gia Metric

Full-Length: This week’s Full Length Feature Friday Party is hosted by Mina Mercury and Oli as they kick off Pride at The O

Improv: The Vancouver TheatreSports League summer line-up includes their tribute to blockbusters The Big Picture – An Improvised Movie, and starting this week the all-female cast of Firecracker! Dynamite Ladies, Explosive Comedy joins the roster

Fest: Saturday and Sunday get a taste of the island life at the Caribbean Days Festival at Waterfront Park, North Vancouver

HMF-Poster-Web-Pink-ArtistsMusic: Saturday, Hiatus Music Festival, a unique boutique-style festival takes over The Waldorf Hotel

Castles: Saturday night, electro act Crystal Castles plays a live set at the Commodore Ballroom then close out the night with a DJ set at Celebrities Nightclub

Stage:  There’s just one week left to catch Rock Of Ages at the Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage before it closes July 30th.

Hip: If you were one of the lucky ones to get tickets, the Tragically Hip farewell tour comes to Rogers Arena Sunday night and Tuesday night


What’s old is new at Fairmont Empress Hotel

Empress_2013-05-06 21.02.18The iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel is a staple of any visit to Victoria, BC, whether it’s taking a photo in front of the famed facade, having afternoon tea, visiting the spa or staying overnight in the century old grande dame.
The stately property recently changed ownership and the new owners have set about to renew and restore the property.  Some of the plans have been controversial, and generated major media coverage but it only shows the place that the Fairmont Empress holds in the hearts of Victorians.

Last winter, half of the rooms of the hotel were closed, and work was carried out to renovate and update the oldest portion of the National Historic Site. Through years of renovations, the 1908 wing of the hotel had become a hodge-podge of room shapes and styles over the years, the renovation stripped the property back to the bones.  Replacement of plumbing, electrical as well as cosmetic upgrades were undertaken and the results opened to the public in late spring.  While The Empress always maintained its grandeur and a sense of class, the new look wing brings those qualities into the 21st century.

I recently stayed in one of the updated rooms and was thrilled to see some of the changes. It’s surprising what a difference a change of colour palate can do to modernize the property.  The elegant new grey tones carry from the  common areas to the new rooms as well. The comfortable new furnishings and accessories felt modern but classic. The expected Fairmont amenities were still present, like coffee pod maker, fridge, flatscreen tvs, and Le Labo toiletries. Thought was obviously put into the design to make the rooms useful for the business traveller and today’s connected travellers.  The desks have been upgraded to include convenient power outlets and USB jacks.  An added bonus is found in the build in outlets beside the headboard, meaning one no longer has to shift the bedside table to get access to an outlet.

The biggest change in the rooms came to the bathrooms, in this wing, the bathrooms were often oddly shaped, after-throughts.  The new bathrooms is a luxurious, spa-like oasis, brightly lit with glossy subway tiles and marble with glass shower surround.  No longer an add-on, they bathroom is a memorable centrepiece of the room.

The renovated rooms make your stay at The Fairmont Empress feel even more like a home away from home. Hopefully you’ll get to see for yourself on your next visit.
I look forward to seeing more of the renovations throughout the property. Half of the rooms have been completed, the other half will be renovated over the Winter of 2016-17.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel is located at 721 Government Street, on Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour.


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