Cocktails, Canapes & Croquet make for a ‘wicket’ day at Fairmont Empress

Where better than the iconic Fairmont Empress in Victoria to host a leisurely garden party and croquet tournament.

On August 26, 2018, don your best summer garden party, cricket-friendly attire and join MC Joe Perkins of CTV Vancouver Island as the Fairmont Empress brings the beloved pastime to the front lawns of the restored grand hotel.  Just as the hotel has gone under a $60+million rebirth to bring new life to the hotel’s rooms and interior spaces, the social scene is returning to the hub of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.  Like the social affairs of the colonial era, the verdant front lawns of Fairmont Empress, have been transformed to roll out a civilized Croquet tournament. The lush flower gardens Victoria is famous for, bloom around comfortable lounge seating, as the participants and guests enjoy culinary treats and craft cocktails from the Fairmont Empress team of chefs and bartenders, creating an ‘only in Victoria’ afternoon.

No experience is required to participate in the tournament, croquet attire consists of grass friendly footwear (flats, sandals, or wedges, no heels on the lawn), a sun hat to shield your eyes, and your smartest summer outfit to  impress and intimidate the competition. Prizes are awarded for best dressed croquet team.  If you don’t want to play, spectator tickets are available also.

Register, on Eventbrite, as a team (two people), or as a single to be paired with a teammate at the event:
$89 per person plus tax & gratuity after August 1, 2018 at 5pm (must be 19+ to attend)

Included in ticket price:

  • Pimm’s Welcome cocktail
  • Passed canapes, finger tea sandwiches, sweet bites.
  • Access to social lawns including lounging, games, food and cash bar
  • Minimum of two rounds of croquet play on the front lawns of The Empress

 

August 15th Dine Out for Les Dames d’Escoffier Summerdine

This August 15th, Les Dames d’Escoffier BC Chapter present their unique annual dining event Summerdine.  A delicious province-wide dining celebration featuring fabulous food and glorious wines, Summerdine takes place on one evening only at different restaurants, wineries, and culinary venues across BC. It could be in a vineyard, aboard a yacht, at a picnic table or in an elegant dining room.

Some of the locations participating in Summerdine 2018 include:

Forage Private Courtyard

VANCOUVER

  • AnnaLena in Kitsilano
  • Boulevard in The Sutton Place Hotel.
  • Burdock & Co. on Main Street
  • Forage on Robson Street (weather permitting, in the private courtyard)
  • A long table set on Pacific Yacht Charters moored in Coal Harbour
  • A private dining room at Vij’s on Cambie Street

OKANAGAN

  • al fresco dinner hosted by Dame Wendy Rose at Bella Wines on the Naramata Bench
  • Terrafina at Hester Creek by RauDZ
Sea Cider Ciderhouse

VICTORIA

  • al fresco long table at Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse  in Saanichton catered by Dame Chef Ali Ryan of Victoria’s popular Spinnakers Gastro Pub.

See the complete Summerdine list and book tickets online at lesdames.ca/summerdine for locations, menus and photos.  Regardless of the location, all diners will be treated to a specially-designed multiple-course menu, wines selected to complement that menu, a special table or location and an opportunity to meet and chat with the chefs and restaurateurs. 

All Summerdine dinners are priced at $80 per person and include the multi-course meal with wine (gratuity not included). One exception is the Victoria event at Sea Cider which is priced at $100 per person. All funds raised from Summerdine go to support Les Dames d’Escoffier BC Chapter’s Scholarship and Outreach programs.

Les Dames d’Escoffier is a world-wide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality, with a mandate to support the advancement of women in the hospitality and culinary domains as well as fostering industry excellence through educational and charitable activities.

Egypt comes to Royal BC Museum

Journey back to a time when civilization grew along the Nile, pyramids rose above the desert and the people believed gods walked among us, with Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs at the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Running until December 31, the impressive exhibition, now open with more than 300 original artifacts, some up to 4,500 years old, covering all aspects of ancient Egyptian life, from the emergence of ancient Egyptian civilization along the fertile Nile valley to the Ptolemaic and Roman eras millennia later. 

Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs includes a mix of interactive displays, video and dioramas, to support the ancient artifacts which include the coffin of Nakht, an 790 kilogram sandstone bust of Hatshepsut, thousands of year old stoneware and pots, ornate gold and stone jewellery and much more.

Step into the exhibit’s temple doors, and learn about everyday life on the fertile belt of the River Nile, to the worship of the ancient Gods. Look at the life of the Pharaohs – Gods among men, and test your heart to see of you’ll make the voyage to the afterlife.

The only Canadian stop for this one of a kind collection, guests will be the among the first in North America to see the collection of artifacts curated from the collections of the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, the Roemer-und Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Germany, the Gustav Lübcke Museum in Hamm, Germany, and the University Museum of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs runs at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria until December 31, 2018.  In addition to the exhibit, visit the IMAX Victoria in the Royal BC Museum to watch Egypt: Mysteries of Egypt, a perfect companion to the exhibition.

The Phillips Backyard Weekender announces 2018 line-up

Phillips_Backyard_WeekenderWhile we’re still in the grips of winter, The Phillips Backyard Weekender has come along to make us think of summer with the release of the 2018 festival line-up.

For three days in July, The Phillips Brewery backlot transforms into Victoria’s biggest backyard brewery party.  Great music, great beer, and a great audience make the Weekender one of the city’s most fun.  The compact festival, expanded beyond the Backyard last to include Discovery Street and ANIÁN Yard to add The Picnic’er Stage to the festival.

The music line-up was introduced this week

Appearing in The Phillips Brewery Backyard :

Friday: Keys N Krates, Too Many Zooz, DJ Shub, Moontricks, Grossbuster

Saturday: Reggie Watts, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Federale, Louise Burns, Slim Sandy & the Hillbilly Boppers, Miles Mosley and the West Coast Get Down

Sunday: The Revolution, Kelis, Hollie Cook, Miami Nights 1984

And spinning tunes between sets :The Champion Sound (Murge & Verse)

Appearing at The Picnic-er Stage at ANIÁN, curated by Do250

Diamond Cafe, Dylan Stone, Electric Sex Panther, Jason Verners, Small Town Artillery, Tan and Hide, Zee and The Empties plus more acts to be announced.

The Phillips Backyard Weekender is a 19+ event, Phillips Beer and Spirits, along with food trucks and more fill your weekend.  For more information and tickets visit backyardweekender.com

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.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel – a home away from home

Oak Bay Beach Hotel & Pools

For 90 years, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel has stood overlooking the waters off the Victoria suburb. The current luxurious property is the third hotel to occupy the position after the original was destroyed by fire and the replica closed in its old age.  Since reopening in 2012, the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel was rebuilt to an elevated standard and has won accolades for its service ever since.

For a recent family gathering in Victoria, we wanted to stay out of downtown Victoria and Oak Bay Beach Hotel provided a perfect home, away from home for the weekend. Even though the new hotel is larger it still retains much of the old world charm of the original property.  In fact, the new property retains many original architectural elements and furnishings from the original, including windows, bricks, beams. The original doors of the hotel were reinstalled as the entrance to Kate’s Cafe, the hotel’s cozy, neighbourhood coffee house.  The Snug Pub, was Victoria’s first neighbourhood pub and is still welcoming locals and visitors for a pint and good grub with stunning views over the beautiful gardens and seaside outdoor spa pools.

Our sumptuous corner suite featured stunning views from all sides over Oak Bay Marina and over the pools, looking out to the Chain Islets. We didn’t witness any first hand but pods of Orca has been known to frolic offshore to the thrill of guests.  The suite’s double aspect meant guests can enjoy views from the bedroom and the spacious living room while sitting by the fire. We could make coffee or tea in the kitchenette and enjoy watching the sunrise from the one of the two balconies.  The large bathroom, featured a soaker tub, stand-up surround shower, double basins, heated tiled floors and separate WC.

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s location is ideal for a peaceful excursion out of downtown Victoria. There’s not really any need to leave the resort but when you do, Oak Bay and Estevan Villages are close at hand with many shopping and dining options.   We had the pleasure of driving an Acura TLX for the weekend which made the road-trip a driving joy.  The Acura TLX made smooth work of the open highway from Vancouver to Victoria, then hugged the winding coastal roads around Greater Victoria.  The comfort and space of the vehicle was great for the family visit too, having plenty of room to take extra family members out for brunch or lunch. The luxury of the Acura TLX matched the luxurious surroundings of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

After getting a taste of the beautiful property and experiencing the excellent customer services we look forward to returning for another stay at Oak Bay Beach Hotel.  With so much else to do on our weekend, we didn’t get a chance to make use of the hotel’s pools, spa or take in much of the dining options.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel is located at 1175 Beach Drive in the Oak Bay suburb of Greater Victoria. Call 250.598.4556 or visit oakbaybeachhotel.com for information and reservations.

Missing from City Opera Vancouver Honours the Missing

“Sparrow”
Artwork by Kelli Clifton

Opening this Friday, City Opera Vancouver with Pacific Opera Victoria presents the world premiere of Missing, a profoundly moving and pivotal opera ripped from the headlines. 

Focusing on the national crisis of missing and murdered, Missing is written by distinguished Canadian Métis playwright Marie Clements, with a gripping score by JUNO Award-winning composer Brian Current.  The work confronts the tragedy of more than 1,200 missing and murdered First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls in Canada, and the affect it has on the communities and families – both First Nations and non-First Nations – dealing with their loss.

Baritone – Clarence Logan Mezzo – Rose-Ellen Nichols Soprano-Melody Courage Photo : Emily Coopper

“With Missing we have the rare opportunity to inform about this crisis in a meaningful and unprecedented way,” says Charles Barber, Artistic Director, City Opera Vancouver. “We commissioned Marie Clements to write her first-ever opera libretto to honour the memory of each and every missing and murdered Indigenous woman. The poignant tale she so brilliantly conceived lends itself to opera, as the human voice is a powerful vehicle to draw deep emotion and introspection. It is the story of two women who represent so many – one who survives and one who does not, and it’s through their story we find hope and, for some, healing.”

“The story of Missing can’t answer the questions I’ve been asking my whole life, but I am hoping it will join other voices who are asking the same questions, telling their stories, and demanding an end to what should be unfathomable,” says Marie Clements, Librettist.

Missing is set between Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and BC’s notorious Highway 16 – the Highway of Tears, where at least 18 women have vanished or been found murdered since 1969. Told through both English and the First Nations language of Gitxsan (widely spoken in First Nations communities along Highway 16), this chamber opera follows the fate of an Indigenous and non-Indigenous young woman whose lives become tragically intertwined. White girl ‘Ava’ becomes mysteriously drawn to the language, traditions and sufferings of the ‘unknown Native Girl’ with whom she crosses paths, and, thereafter, she finds herself in internal conflict as her community struggles toward reconciliation.

Missing takes the stage, November 3,7,9 & 11 at 8pm, and November 5 at 2pm at The York Theatre. Tickets are available online at thecultch.com