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.

14th Annual Santa Claus Parade is coming to town

With a wink of an eye and a twist of his head…the jolly ol’ elf is coming!

It’s time for the man in the big red suit to come riding into town as the 14 annual Vancouver Santa Claus Parade presented by Telus fills downtown Vancouver with festive fun on Sunday December 3rd, 2018.

Starting at Noon, the parade route begins at West Georgia at Broughton Street, runs east on West Georgia to Howe Street then comes to an end at Howe at Davie Street.  Global BC news anchor Chris Gailus leads the parade as this year’s Grand Marshall, along with colleagues from the city’s other media outlets and the CKNW Orphans Fund, one of the parades charity partners.  Another beneficiary is the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, volunteers will be on hand throughout the day, to collect cash or non-perishable food donations for the food bank.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to line the streets and participate in the parade in bands, choirs, floats and community organizations.  Before the parade, feed your troupe with Breakfast with Santa at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver from 9:30am – 10:30am then get in the holiday spirit at the Christmas Square, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  From 10am until Noon, the Square features fun for kids, young and old face painting, gingerbread man and christmas ornament decorating, ‘letters to Santa’ writing stations and entertainment on the Main Stage. After the parade, head to Telus Garden at Seymour and West Georgia St, to get a picture with Santa.

With the big crowds it is best to plan ahead, take transit and arrive early. If you can’t make it to downtown Vancouver to watch the parade in person, tune into Global BC and BC1 to watch the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade telecast starting December 17th, 2018.

Vancouver Christmas Concerts for 2017

Christmas has a long association with music;  carols, hymns and cantatas, bringing spirit to the Season’s concerts.  Calendars are filled with school and church concerts, and to help you get in the song-filled spirit, here’s a list of concerts around Vancouver to take in this Season for your listening pleasure:

Handel’s Messiah: Friday December 1 & Saturday December 2, 2017, Vancouver Playhouse
Early Music Vancouver presents Messiah for the first time, with Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Vancouver Cantata Singers.

Kenny G The Miracles Holiday & Hits Tour: December 3, 2017, Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Award winning instrumentalist Kenny G performs some of his biggest hits as well as holiday classics from his best-selling Miracles: The Holiday Album.

A Jann Arden Christmas with the VSO:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017, Orpheum Theatre
Join Canadian pop songstress as she joins the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for an evening of song and her quick wit.

A Traditional Christmas: Friday December 8, Saturday December 9, 2017, Sta Andrew’s Wesley Church, plus dates all around Metro Vancouver through December 17th.
Join the VSO and host Christopher Gaze (Bard on the Beach) for the 25th Anniversary of this Christmas favourite.

Making Spirits Bright with Vancouver Men’s Chorus

Vancouver Men’s Chorus are Making Spirits Bright:

Saturday December 9, Sunday December 10, Thursday December 14, Friday December 15, 2017, St Paul’s Anglican Church
Are you naughty or nice? Doesn’t matter the VMC will entertain you for their lighthearted Christmas concerts.

Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir by Leigh Righton.

Good Tidings, a Good Noise Gospel Christmas:  Friday December 15 and Saturday December 16, 2017, Christ Church Cathedral
Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir with special guest vocalist Maureen Washington and the 90 voice choir bring joy of the season.

Christmas with Chor Leoni: Friday December 15 and Monday December 18, 2017, St Andrew’s Wesley Church (twice/night)
A Christmas tradition to gather friends and family together to enjoy old Christmas favourites and encounter new ones as sung by the men’s choir.

Festive Cantatas – Vivaldi – Gloria and Magnificat: Saturday December 23, 2017, Chan Shun Concert Hall at Chan Centre for Performing Arts
Early Music Vancouver presents Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat as they were originally performed, by an all-female ensemble.

Polygon Gallery anchors Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver

The Polygon Gallery
Photo: Ema Peter Photography

After nearly 30 years of planning, The Polygon Gallery has opened to the public on the Waterfront at Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver.  Since 1976, the Presentation House at 3rd and Chesterfield has been a community art space that for the last three decades has had a focus on photographic arts.

Now in its new space next to Lonsdale Quay, the stunning $20million gallery provides an anchor to the evolving Lower Lonsdale precinct.  The Polygon Gallery joins the new residences, bistros, restaurants, pubs and shops that have replaced the industrial spaces that were North Vancouver staples for decades.  The Patkau Architect designed Gallery is constructed to the highest standards for sustainable building.  The Gallery is a bright, open, light-filled space, with a fully-glazed ground floor and exterior cantilever, jutting over the boardwalk offers shelter from the weather.  The new building’s lower floor boasts a welcoming Gallery lobby and gift shop, a café, and a multi-purpose exhibition and event space. 

The second level features four exhibition spaces and a large exterior terrace overlooking Burrard Inlet, which, even on a recent dreary night, the sparkling skyline of Greater Vancouver, and the city’s busy harbour create a magnificent work of art of its own.  While the exhibition space is vast but feels intimate to not overwhelm the art within, the all white interior is a blank canvas to highlight whatever work fills the space.  

The Polygon Gallery’s inaugural exhibition N. Vancouver, is on display until Spring 2018.  N. Vancouver honours the Gallery’s home with photographic works capturing its rich and varied history from Coast Salish village, to industrial port city to the emerging urban metropolis of today.  Pieces reflect the industrial port, concrete grain terminals, docks and rail yards, all set against lush coastal mountains and natural beauty of the Skwxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh territories. The most ambitious project in the Gallery’s history, N. Vancouver features commissioned works by more than fifteen artists, including Andrew Dadson, Gabrielle Hill, Althea Thauberger, Stephen Waddell and Tracy Williams, paired with existing work by Stan Douglas, Greg Girard, Fred Herzog, Curt Lang, and Jeff Wall, among others. 

Polygon Gallery Now Open

The Polygon Gallery is located steps from Lonsdale Quay, at 101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver.
The Gallery is open 10am – 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday (closed Mondays)
Admission is by donation.