Getaway for Christmas at The Empress

Many of the Christmas traditions we know and love were established in Victorian England, and that Christmas charm lives on in the city of Victoria.  Central to Victoria’s Yuletide spirit is the famed Fairmont Empress.  The grand Castle on the Coast is making spirits bright with Christmas at the Empress, the first festive season following its grand $60 Million restoration; events and festivities throughout the hotel.

Friends and relations send salutations over Festive Tea at the Empress, pouring until January 2, 2018. Traditional afternoon tea with famous seasonal offerings and classic desserts is made extra special for Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea including a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne. On December 16, 17, 23 and 24, live carolers singing Christmas favourites in the Lobby Lounge add even more Christmas spirit to the festivities.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, until December 23rd, take the chill off and enjoy the Inner Harbour views from the Fairmont Empress’ Winter Veranda. Find a selection of hot beverages and holiday bites while making s’mores around a fire.  If adult libations are more your speed, step into Q Bar for the Season of Joy Drinks, the Empress mixologists are pouring warm and cold modern interpretations of classic festive cocktails throughout the Holidays.

On New Year’s Eve, Q at the Empress and the Crystal Ballroom have a celebration fit for a Queen. In Q, find a five-course set menu, followed by a grand dessert buffet in Lobby Lounge. In the iconic Crystal Ballroom, a modern, Chef-attended festive buffet with live music and cash bar starts the celebrations. After dinner, ring in the New Year with live music at the most elegant New Year’s Eve party in Canada’s most romantic city with a live performance by local jazz and pop singer, Amanda Woods.

 In the morning, start the New Year off right, at Fairmont Empress Resolution Brunch on January 1, 2018 from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm in the Lower Lobby. The best brunch in town, filled with everything sweet and savoury to kick off the New Year and wrap up Christmas at the Empress for another season.

 For complete list of Christmas at the Empress and New Year’s Eve events, visit the Fairmont Empress holiday brochure online.

Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival illuminates PNE

This Friday, December 15, 2017, the PNE debuts the Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival, the largest of its kind in Canada. One of the most beautiful and culturally significant festivals will light up the skies of Vancouver with dozens of spectacular gossamer lanterns, some reaching nearly 200 feet in length.

Bin Zhu, Director of Sichuan Tianyu Culture Communication Co. Ltd says, “We believe our lantern festivals can improve cultural communication between China and the world.”

“It is a tremendous honour to have been selected by this leading cultural organization as the inaugural host in Canada for this important festival,” says Mike McDaniel, President and CEO of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). “We anticipate people from all ethnicities and cultures from across our region will be excited about the opportunity to see this important and impressive display.”

Lantern festivals started during the Han Dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. For centuries, lanterns festivals have been lit on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese calendar to pray for a good harvest, and to gain favor of Taiyi, god of heaven. Today, the lantern festivals are still held each year around the country, with each major Chinese city having its own light festival.  In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs such as the ones that will be on display at the PNE.

The Festival will be featuring Dragon, White Pagoda, Kylin, and Huabiao Column lanterns, each lantern symbolizing a Chinese sage or legend. The columns are said to be protectors of the residents and a reminder for the emperor to pay attention to his duties.

In addition to the lantern displays, the festival will also include two nightly performances in the PNE Amphitheatre: Sunday to Thursday at 6:30pm and 8:30pm, and Friday and Saturdays at 7pm and 9pm. Featuring Face Changing, Acrobatics, Plate Spinners, Folk Dance, Jar Balancing and Erhu. These exciting performances are family friendly, and are sure to wow. The lantern festival will also feature a food and beverage program and additional children’s activities.

Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival opens December 15th, featuring 35 illuminated displays transforming over 14 acres of Hastings Park running daily from December 15th, 2017 (closed Christmas Day) until January 21, 2018.

For further information and tickets visit vancouverlanternfestival.ca 

Vancouver Foodster Holiday Market Recap

This week, Vancouver Foodster presented the first edition of Holiday Market, a great evening of browsing, shopping and tasting.

The event brought together two dozen vendors at 4 locations around South Granville, Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant. The evening’s vendors included a mix of food products, artisans, and gift ideas just in time for Holiday shopping.  New enterprises, established ventures and collaborations were all presented by the vendors to educate the participants on their wares and services.

All participants checked in at Milano Coffee Roasters on West 8th Avenue which was filled with Holiday Market patrons anxious to see what lay ahead.

Within the cafe, Milano was warming everyone up, serving a duo of their award winning coffees to sip while browsing the vendors around the room including;

Olympia Komianos: Jeweler, Olympia showed her beautiful, rustic hand made silver and gold jewelry.

Foodie Books: Cookbooks by Brad Hill – The North Shore Foodie, The East Van Foodie, The Gastown Foodie are all part cookbook, neighbourhood restaurant guide and history book.

Hayat’s Garden: Floral salads and nutritious, athletic foods created by Saj & Co

Livia Sweets: a small, boutique bakery creating homestyle goodies for sale in cafes and markets around the city.

Jonny Hetherington Essentials: Clean, simple and delicious fruit based Hot Sauces and Ketchups from Jonny Hetherington

Whipped and Beaten: a brand new Vancouver baker creating gluten-free and traditional cakes and pastries.

Faculty Brewing: The False Creek brewer works in collaboration with Milano to brew the 599 Cold Brew ESB also serving their popular Citra (citrus based) Pale Ale.

Next up we visited Meinhardt Fine Foods at 14th & Granville in South Granville, where the store itself is a treasure trove of sweet and savoury gifts for everyone on your lists.  Here we found even more new and established vendors to show us what they’re all about;

Meinhardt’s kitchens prepared some of their renowned bites for patrons to indulge in as they walked over the threshold.  Perfectly balanced housemade Egg Nog, Fried Shrimp of savoury crackers, and Curry Chicken.

ARC Iberico: reminiscing of Spain, we sampled some Chorizo, Iberico Ham and more.

Sal de Ibiza: now in North American Sal de Ibiza presents 30+ products all touched by the Queen of Salts, Fleur de Sel.

Paw Paw’s Cocktail Cherries: Paw Paw is a Southern US term of endearment for Grandfather, who in this case, is on the bottle of these sweet, tart and perfect cocktail cherries.

Justea: Ethically, fair-trade tea direct from Kenyan farmers served their vibrant Purple Rain and Purple Mint teas, yes they’re really purple.

Maureen’s Natural Foods:  Maureen served her classic Caribbean Rum Cake

Terra International Foods: Great European foods gifts sourced from around the continent, like Stollen, Speculaas and more

Laiki Crackers: Simple and Satisfying red and black rice crackers, collaborated with
Blue Heron Creamery: a Vancouver plant-based non-dairy cheese maker
creating savoury cheese and cracker bites

Be Fresh Market Cafe on Bayswater was the next stop filled with more vendors from the shelves of the market curated by Spud.ca

Be Fresh Catering: tempting, tasty vegetarian bites, perfect for your next party like Roasted Zucchini and Brie Cheese Sliders and more.

Tempea Foods:  Rich, and ‘meaty’ Tempeh ‘meatballs’ do not make you miss the beef .

Biota Fermentation:  The small batch fermentor, specialized in fermented pro-biotic foods and kombucha and served a fresh tart and tangy wheatberry salad

Blume Latte:  Zesty, Spice, Sweet are the flavour palate that comes when you try Blume’s trio of Latte Mixes. Turmeric, Chili Turmeric, Beetroot

Kapow Now!: Plant-based superfoods crafts crispy, healthy crackers and much more.

Talk To Me Naked: Artist Tori Swanson is inspired by you, your body is her muse for her custom ink works

On 4th Avenue, Silk Road Tea has so much in-store they didn’t need other vendors to fill out our Holiday Market evening.

Serving a selection of their Wellness Teas, and a rich and decadent Tea Hot Chocolate, the Silk Road Tea shop is filled with create gifts for yourself or those on your lists.

The Vancouver Foodster Holiday Market was truly and evening of delicious inspiration.

Look out for the next Vancouver Foodster event, Noodle Mania January 10, 2018. 

 

 

Donate to Donnelly Fund Toy Drive – December 5th

Since its beginnings as a few employees enjoying festive drinks and donating a few toys, the Donnelly Fund Toy Drive has raised over $350,000 in monetary donations, given over 12,000 toys to children and hosted more than 5,000 Donnelly Group staff for an annual holiday party.

Donnelly Group also invites the Vancouver community to participate by bringing unwrapped toy donations to Royal Dinette, The Blackbird Public House and Barber & Co. (905 Dunsmuir Street) on December 5th any time between 5pm – 8pm. 

While many lament that the Holiday Season has become more about consuming, it’s nice to know people are still willing to participate in giving, too. The Toy Drive Event brings the year to an end for Donnelly Group staff, ending in a celebratory holiday party where employees will donate their gifts and enjoy a festive evening sharing the company of each other around a massive pile of toys.

Holiday Light Displays for the 2017 Season

As the Holidays draw near, Metro Vancouver twinkles as people and places put up light displays all around the City. Some of the brightest and most festive displays are opening to the public in the coming weeks, here’s a list of light displays to enjoy the twinkle of the Holiday Season:

Lights of Hope at St Paul’s Hospital – Celebrating 20 years, St Paul’s Lights of Hope have illuminated the West End helping to raise much needed funds for the hospital. The 2017 Lights Of Hope lit up last week with a public event featuring fireworks, food trucks and family entertainment at St Paul’s Hospital on Burrard Street. Stroll past, admire the lights, look for the sponsor’s stars – Free Admission

Bright Nights
Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Bright Nights, Stanley Park Christmas Train– Two million lights twinkle throughout the plaza and Miniature Train. Ride the train, watch the dozens of festive displays while strolling the plaza sipping a hot cocoa, from November 30, 2017 to January 6, 2018 opening hours vary for Matinee and Night Trains. – Matinee Train tickets are $6 for all ages, Night Train tickets are $12(Adults) or $9(Children/Seniors). Admission Bright Nights Train Plaza only, is by donation (suggested $4, proceeds to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund)

Canyon Lights

Canyon Lights Winter Festival at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park opens November 23rd, 2017 and runs until January 28th, 2018. Thousands of lights spread throughout the Park, the bridge, Treetops Adventures, with 8 of the tallest living Christmas Tree. – All-day Adult park admission is $42.95, includes the holiday activities, crafts and entertainment beginning at 4pm each day.

Heritage Christmas presented by Concord Pacific at Burnaby Village Museum – Celebrating a Heritage Christmas with the Holiday traditions of a century ago at Burnaby Village. Explore the illuminated Village looking for clues on the 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt, November 25th 2017 until January 5th, 2018 – Free Admission / Carousel Rides $2.65

Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Garden
Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Garden

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden run December 1st, 2017 to January 7th, 2018 opening at 4:30pm. Over a million lights turn the botanical gardens into sparkling winter wonderland.  Carolers, dancing gnomes and the popular Dancing Lights show (on the half hour) make this one of the city’s most popular and Instagramable #vandusenFOL Christmas Light displays – Adult Admission $15.24 (in advance) or $18.10 (at door)

Christmas at Canada Place – Port Metro Vancouver presents the 30th annual Christmas at Canada Place holiday event, from November 23rd to December 31st, 2017, stroll the festive fun along The Canadian Trail (west promenade) to see the new Canada’s North light display at the North Point of Canada Place, glimpse the iconic Woodward’s department store holiday windows, take in the Christmas fun at Fly Over Canada and don’t forget to look up to the Canada Place Sails of Lights. – Free Admission

Glow Christmas – For the first time, Milner Village Garden Centre in Langley sets the Fraser Valley aglow with a half-million lights over four Christmas Gardens, Food Trucks & Bar, Craft Market and more from 4-10pm, November 23rd to December 30th, 2017 – Admission – Adults: $19.99 (in advance) $25 (at door)

Lights at Lafarge – Coquitlam’s Winter Light Festival is the largest free light display in the Lower Mainland, Town Centre Park is illuminated with hundreds of thousands of lights, with roving performers, hot chocolate & cookies, a Holiday Market and of course Santa are all just steps from Lafarge Lake – Douglas Skytrain Station, from November 25th, 2017 to January 21st, 2018 – Free Admission

Chanukah in the City – Celebrate with music, hot chocolate, doughnuts and gelt as the Silber Family Menorah, Canada’s tallest, lights up the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza from December 12th to celebrate the first of the 8 Days of the Chanukah Festival Of Lights

Strathcona Beer Company celebrates first anniversary.

This weekend, Strathcona Beer Company is celebrating their one-year anniversary, by launching a special edition birthday beer. Called Primo, a Double IPA, launches with a weekend long open house with brewery tours. In addition, they will release new branded clothing and feature an art installation in the tasting room from infamous New York graffiti legend, KR. 

Strathcona Beer Company is located on the corner of East Hastings and Campbell Street in the heart of Strathcona, Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhood.  The world class beer company and tasting room has quickly become a neighbourhood favourite for both locals and visitors from outside the area. In their first year, they have experienced substantial growth with their lineup of classic, local and international beer styles, winning several awards, while constantly striving to push the boundaries of craft beer and design.

Strathcona Beer Company’s collective interests in art, music, skateboarding and design have influenced all aspects of the brand’s contribution to the craft beer scene.They are a community based brewery that is focused on supporting local, from charitable and non-profit groups to incorporating local ingredients into their product.

“We are proud to be located in the Strathcona neighbourhood working in collaboration with local artists like Andrew Dadson and Matt Aiken along with international creators such a Rob Cristofaro from Alife and Craig Costello from Krink.” says Strathcona Beer Company President, Tim Knight.  This has been a year of learning, improving and being humbled by the incredible growth we have experienced to date. We look forward to our second year in business and what we will be able to accomplish together as a team and community.”

Strathcona Beer Company’s Primo Double IPA is a limited release and will be available exclusively for tasting and purchase in the brewery’s tasting room (895 East Hastings St.) starting today Friday, November 17th, a perfect present for the beer lover on your Christmas list.  An official anniversary party for customers also takes place tonight from 6pm to 11pm with music by special guest DJ Flipout.

Holiday Market from Vancouver Foodster

‘Tis the season for shopping and browsing the Holiday Markets around the city and on December 6th Vancouver Foodster introduces a Holiday Market like no other.  A night of tastings to celebrate the Holiday Season, Vancouver Foodster’s Holiday Market explores a trio of neighbourhoods to see what merchants have in store.

South Granville, False Creek and Kitsilano welcome holiday explorers to visit a selection of markets that will feature various vendors offering a  selection of savoury and sweets, plus beverages for guests to enjoy and peruse.  Market visitors will have a chance to browse, try and perhaps purchase many different foods and beverages throughout the event, meet some new food loving friends, meet the producers and chefs, and learn about each of the participating vendors and markets.

Guests will check in at Milano Coffee Roasters, at 156 West 8th Avenue to receive their Market Passport and Menu before setting off to explore the rest of the Holiday Market.

In addition to Milano Coffee Roasters the Vancouver Foodster Holiday Market also includes;

Meinhardt Fine Foods
3002 Granville Street, Vancouver

Be Fresh Market Cafe
1900 West First Avenue, Vancouver

Silk Road Tea
2066 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver

Tickets for Vancouver Foodster Holiday Market are on sale now from Eventbrite.
Ultra Early-Bird: $18 per person before November 22, 2017
Early-Bird: $25 per person after November 22, 2017
Regular $30 per person after November 29, 2017