Treat the kids (or the kid in you) to our annual holiday festivities begin November 23. Bring your family to Santa’s Workshop and meet reindeer, or take a sleigh-ride through our mystical alpine forest. You can also experience the tranquil beauty of skating on our 8,000 square foot mountaintop Ice Skating Pond, surrounded by snow-topped trees. Learn more about Santa’s reindeer at our daily ranger interpretive talks or have a digital photo taken with Santa to keep a memento of your Peak of Christmas visit! Visit the Theatre in the Sky to enjoy classic Christmas movies on our large high-definition screen. Or listen to joyful Christmas carols sung by the enchanting voices of Vancouver choirs. Walk through the spectacular SOS Children’s Village Gingerbread Village in the Spirit Gallery. These fabulous Peak of Christmas activities are all complimentary with your Grouse Mountain Alpine Experience ticket, Annual Membership, Winter Season Pass, or Lift Ticket. Peak of Christmas Family Ticket is also available. Snow much fun with just one ticket!

open 9am-10pm @ Grouse Mountain, The Peak of Vancouver
Various ticket prices


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Like belting out holiday music in front of complete strangers? Like to look at Christmas lights? Fancy doing both things while inside a wooden trolley racing through the streets of downtown Vancouver?

Well, you’re in luck.  One of Vancouver’s more unusual holiday traditions is back for another year.

The Karaoke Christmas Lights Trolley will be crooning its way across the city once again, starting Dec. 11.  As the name suggests, the unique tour combines the joys of karaoke with a trolley ride to some of Vancouver’s best seasonal light displays.

Passengers hop on board the festively decorated trolley parked outside Canada Place for the three-hour, singing tour.  As you whiz past downtown’s city lights, the on-board karaoke machine is fired up and the mic gets passed around.  And just when your ears are about bursting with holiday cheer, the party on wheels pulls up to stop number one:Bright Nights at Stanley Park.

More than three million twinkling lights are hung from the trees as part of the annual display, now in its 16th year.  At the miniature train plaza, live music and entertainment, seasonal snacks and, of course, the big man in red himself lend proceedings a festive air. But don’t wander too far – There’s more karaoke in your future.

Hop back in the trolley for a few more tunes and a dash across town to Vancouver’s other glittering, glowing light spectacular: the Festival of Lights. The 55-acre VanDusen Botanical Garden becomes the setting for this elegant display, with millions of twinkling lights – choreographed to “dance” to holiday music – strung on trees around Livingstone Lake.  

Stretch your legs while mingling with the creepy Scandinavian Christmas gnomes, Svend and Jens, enjoying shadow puppet performances, listening to three different community choirs or jumping on board the Candy Cane Express model train.

Finally, it’s back in the trolley for the return trip and – just maybe – a rousing round of the mother of all holiday ballads: the 12 Days of Christmas.

The three-hour Karaoke Christmas Lights Trolley runs Dec. 11-Dec. 30, with pick up at 6:30 p.m. outside Canada Place.  Tickets are $40 for adults, $25 for children and $35 for students and seniors.  A portion of the proceeds go to the B.C. Professional Firefighters’ Burn Fund.  

Photo sourced from Vancouver Trolley Company

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If our beaches are the crown jewels of  Vancouver’s beauty then our North Shore parks are the tiara. Our constant accolades awarded by the likes of Outside Magazine (Best Weekend Escape 2012) and Travel + Leisure Magazine (Top 10 Canadian City to visit 2013) can definitely be attributed to our evergreen-fringed North Shore parks.

Whether you like a lazy picnic at Panorama Park in Deep Cove or a half day hike at Lynn Canyon Park, there’s a huge variety of recreational destinations just across the Burrard Inlet.

The District of North Vancouver manages over 100 parks and facilities including 140 kilometers of trails, 39 Baseball Diamonds, 43 Tennis Courts, five Sport Courts, three Skate Parks and 53 playgrounds. To help visitors navigate this plethora of parks, the District of North Vancouver launched a DNV Parks App in September.

 

Compatible with Androids and iPhones, the DNV Parks App includes information on park size, hours of operation, amenities available and my favourite feature: whether or not dogs are permitted off leash or on.

The interface is pretty easy to use and includes the ability to browse parks in an alphabetized list, by a map, or proximity to your current location. You can even narrow down what kinds of amenities you’re looking using filters.

So for example, if you want to go for a game of tennis, a picnic and bring your dog then the app suggests you visit Cates Park/Whey-Ah-Wichen, Murdo Frazer Park or Princess Park, each open from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

The best part: the App is free and available for download from the Apple App store or Google Play. Happy Exploring!

 

View from Cates Park/Whey-Ah-Wichen Photo credit: Flickr/ bill@ontheroadin

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For the fifth year in a row, the local mountains opened in November to kick off the ski and snowboard season for another year! Saturday marked the official opening weekend for Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain with blue skies, impressive snow coverage, and smiling faces.

 

Now, going into the second week of skiing and boarding, the mountains are slowly opening more terrain thanks to colder temperatures and advanced snow-making capabilities.

Grouse Mountain has opened its beginner run area, as well as the Peak chair (open until 4pm), which takes you to the very peak of the mountain and offers an astounding view of the city before you shwoosh down the slopes back to the chalet for a pound of fries. For the daredevils, Grouse also has their jib park open with 5 features that’ll keep you happy for hours. 

 

Cypress Mountain boasts a bit more open terrain with the Eagle Express Quad running from 9am – 4pm with three runs open top to bottom for all your skiing and snowboarding pleasure!  Cypress also has a terrain park open with 6 features to slide, grind, and jump over.


Now is the time to check out Grouse or Cypress Mountain as prices are incredibly low thanks to such an early season start. For a full day lift ticket at Grouse, you’re paying $40. While at Cypress a ski ticket will cost you $42.

If you’re not into early season skiing, this is just a perfect reminder to tune up your ski/snowboard before the winter truly kicks off!

Grouse Mountain Vancouver


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William Shakespeare once said, “Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.”

Many Vancouver establishments take it upon themselves to do exactly as Mr. Shakespeare recommended. We are particularly good at feasting in Vancouver. The fall harvests of mushrooms, squash, beets, apples and other luscious, locavore items inspire Vancouver chefs to prepare seasonal menus or arrange long table dinners.

There’s something lovely and serendipitous about sharing some cheer and making a merry feast next to a stranger or strangers at a giant table. It’s like the magic of a large family meal, minus the dysfunction. Below you’ll find a list of seasonal feasts and family-style dining that’s sure to please your palate if not expand your social circle.

La Pentola della Quercia – “La Famiglia supper series is all about bringing together friends, families, neighbours for communal dining to enjoy a family style ‘feast’ featuring many of our amazing local suppliers,” explained Opus Hotel’s Shelley Lyons. On the last Sunday of each month La Pentola sells tickets to a themed 10 course dinner that hones in on a regional suite of flavours. Past La Famiglia themes include Wild Game, Flavours of Tuscany and Olive Oil. La Pentola chef Lucas Syme works with Vancouver-area, artisan foodies like Two Rivers Meats, Lockstock Farms and Domenica Fiore organic olive oil to concoct his sell out dinners. Check their website for the next La Famiglia in January.

Irish Heather – Earlier this month you likely read about the Irish Heather’s Long Table Dinner Series. To recap: each Sunday and Monday, the Irish Heather hosts about 40 patrons for a set meal. For around $17 you get a hearty dinner and a drink plus a chance to sit next to a table of awesome strangers.

Cin Cin – If you love mushrooms, this is your time to gorge on both BC and European fungi varieties. Markets are bursting with curly-edged chanterelles and stout, knobby pine (or matsutake) mushrooms. Until the end of this month, Cin Cin will celebrate a variety of flavourful fungi with its Festa del Fungo. Truffles, chantrelles, oyster, portabello, hedgehog and more are on offer. Chef Andrew Richardson creates gorgeous pasta dishes, working with Cin Cin’s in house wine expert Shane Taylor to recommend the perfect pairings from the Robson Street resto’s deep wine cellar. Book now because Festa del Fungo only runs until the end of November.

Edible Canada Bistro – Beets, squash, bison and elk figure prominently in Edible Canada Bistro’s special Fall Feasting menu. On now until November 30, the three-course meal gives you a choice of two salads, three appetizers and four entrees. If you’re looking for a wee bit of adventure for your taste buds try kicking up your dish up a bit with a little juniper jus on your Elk medallions or Allegretto sheep’s cheese on your Bison and Bacon meatballs.

Hart House Restaurant– If you’re traveling out-of-country this holiday season and will miss your turkey dinner then a visit to the Hart House in December is a must. Each year the Hart House hosts the Dickens Buffet on their second floor overlooking Deer Lake Park. A lunch affair, the Dickens Buffet is served between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. from December 2nd to 2oth. Turkey and all the fixings, a roast beef station, fresh seafood, charcuterie and cheese are all on the menu. While you may not sit at a long table you may sit at a table for a long while, thus opening your afternoon for meeting old friends or new.

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Santa’s coming to town! The 2nd annual CandyTown comes to Yaletown this weekend to kick-start the holidays. Last year, 15,000 people visited the outdoor Christmas festival to shop, enjoy live music, go for horse-drawn carriage rides, and of course, visit with Santa. CandyTown is the only free winter festival in downtown Vancouver and promises to get visitors into the Christmas spirit. Candy canes and Christmas lights will line Mainland St while costumed characters parade along, transforming Yaletown into a winter wonderland.

 

This year’s CandyTown features free horse-drawn carriage rides, live music, street performers and candy making. A specialty “All I Want for Christmas” gift market will carry unique gifts and holiday treats made by local artisans, while a Christmas tree lot will sell small pine and rosemary trees. Located behind the Yaletown-Roundhouse skytrain station, the Christmas tree lot will benefit the Yaletown Rotary Club, with all proceeds going back into community projects.

 

Visits with Santa will take place between 1-6pm and will be by donation to the BC Children’s Hospital. Please bring your own camera or have your smartphones ready. There will also be an ice carving demonstration between 2-6pm and a “CandyTown Cocktail Tour” for adults between 6-9pm. Participating local restaurants, such as Yaletown Brewery, Hapa Izakaya, and the New Oxford, will be concocting candy-themed cocktails for the evening, so take the self-guided tour by asking servers for the featured CandyTown cocktail.

The CandyTown holiday festival is free and open to the public, so take a trip to the North Pole without leaving the city and revel in the holiday spirit at CandyTown this weekend.

CandyTown: A Yaletown Holiday Festival
When: Saturday, Nov 23rd @ 12-9pm
Where: 1000 – 1100 block of Mainland St
Cost: Free

 

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he holidays are upon us and as our neighbours to the south prepare for their own Thanksgiving, there’s one special day for any shopper out there that’s circled and marked on the calendar: Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving in America is called Black Friday because, similar to our Boxing Day, retailers offer deep discounts to move massive amounts of stock hoping to jump “in the black” in their books after operating at a financial loss throughout the year.

Black Friday is November 29, 2013 and Canadian retailers are taking advantage of the trend including several shopping hot spots around Vancouver. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate all of the deals, discounts, and specials in your local shopping centre:

 

Black Friday at Pacific Centre

Black Friday Promotion Dates/Times
Friday, November 29, 2013 from 7:00am to 9:00pm

What’s in Store
Pacific Centre will offer a $10 Cadillac Fairview SHOP! CARD to the first 100 shoppers to arrive at the Granville Street entrance on Black Friday. A list of sales will be available on the Richmond Centre website on Thursday, November 28, 2013 as of 9:00pm.

Black Friday at Metrotown

Black Friday Promotion Dates/Times
Friday, November 29, 2013 from 7:00am to 9:00pm
Saturday, November 30, 2013 from 10:00am to 9:00pm
Sunday, December 1, 2013 from 11:00am to 7:00pm

What’s in Store
Metropolis at Metrotown is launching its first ever Black Friday sale this year with deals and promotions throughout the weekend. The first 250 shoppers through the doors at the Atrium Court on Friday will receive a Metropolis gift card with amounts ranging up to $500. There will also be a gift card flash sale from 7:00am to 10:00am where you can receive a 10% bonus on gift cards between $100 and $500. This offer is valid at both customer service centre locations and the gift card photobooth truck parked outside by Coast Capital. A full list of shops and services with Black Friday deals is available on the Metropolis at Metrotown website.

 

Black Friday at Richmond Centre

Black Friday Promotion Dates/Times
Friday, November 29, 2013 from 7:00am to 9:00pm

What’s in Store
Richmond Centre will offer a $10 Cadillac Fairview SHOP! CARD to the first 100 shoppers to arrive at Guest Services (in the Main Galleria near White Spot and Tommy Hilfiger) on Black Friday. A list of sales will be available on the Richmond Centre website on Thursday, November 28, 2013 as of 9:00pm.

Black Friday at Central City

Black Friday Promotion Dates/Times
Friday, November 29, 2013 from 8:00am to 9:00pm

What’s in Store
Central City’s annual Black Friday Sidewalk Sale is on now until December 1, 2013 and participating stores will open early at 8:00am on Black Friday with Jack FM broadcasting live on location.

 

Black Friday at Guildford Town Centre

Black Friday Promotion Dates/Times
Friday, November 29, 2013 from 7:00am to 9:00pm

What’s in Store
The first 200 shoppers to spend $200 or more (before taxes) on Black Friday at the newly renovated Guildford Town Centre will get a $20 gift card. The first 200 shoppers to line up at Centre Court on black Friday will also receive a free gift that includes a mystery gift card valued anywhere from $5 to $100. A full list of retailer and service deals can be found on the Guildford Town Centre website.

Coquitlam Centre Unwrapped

Happening just a few days before Black Friday, Coquitlam Centre’s Unwrappedshopping event is worth noting. On Tuesday, November 26, 2013 from 7:00pm until 10:30pm you can have a VIP shopping experience at Coquitlam Centre after hours while supporting local charities in the process. Enjoy glam stations, discounts, entertainment, wine and beer tastings, and samples from a local restaurant. Tickets for the 5th Annual Unwrapped – A Charitable Night of Shopping are available now at Guest Services for $10. Must be 19+ to attend. 100% of all ticket sales will support 90 participating charities.

Holiday Tree Outside Central City in Surrey

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The fourth annual Vancouver Christmas Market opens this Friday. The authentic German Christmas market houses more than fifty traditional wooden booths, with vendors selling delicious food items, drinks, treats, and unique Christmas gifts, decorations and handcrafted goods. Along with seasonal music, authentic folk groups, and carousel rides, the Vancouver Christmas Market offers a special cultural oasis in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

German Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkts, are a 700-year-old tradition in Germany. Though seasonal markets were held year round, Christmas markets were noted for their joyousness, good food, and beverages during the holiday season. They were a festive meeting place for locals to meet and buy and sell homemade Christmas ornaments, decorations, and gifts. Each Christmas market was distinct to their town, as local wares, food, and drink displayed regional characteristics.

The Vancouver Christmas Market hopes to bring some of that old-world tradition and charm to Vancouver by transforming Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza into a festive wonderland. The outdoor market is sure to get you into the holiday spirit with its traditional wooden booths, twinkling lights, and Christmas carousel. It’s the ideal place to do some Christmas shopping, sample some delicious food, and partake in some family fun.

The market is open daily from this Friday, November 22, through to Christmas Eve, from 11am to 9pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for youth 7-12, and free for children under six. Adults can get in for $3 on Mondays to Friday between 11am-4pm. For the price of any paid admission, visitors will also receive a free season’s pass, enabling them to return and enter the market at any point throughout the season at no additional cost. Entry tickets are available at the main entrance. Carousel ride tickets are an additional $3, or $10 for a book of five.

For more information, please visit the Vancouver Christmas Market website.

Vancouver Christmas Market
When: November 22 – December 24 @ 11am-9pm
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza
Admission: $3-$6, free for children under six.

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Secret supper clubs and underground restaurants have slowly begun to gain popularity in Vancouver. Allowing guests to escape from the typical restaurant world, a secret supper club is typically held in someone’s home out of their kitchen. Fresh, local food is featured for a nominal fee, but the location and the dining experience are what makes it priceless.

The Swallowtail Supper Club joins other underground dining experiences, including 12B and NFA (No Fixed Address). But, what makes the Swallowtail Supper Club stand out is its themed pop-up restaurant and foraging experiences.

 

Created by Chef Robin, The Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club is “fine dining in the most unlikely places”, and your guide to the “best gourmet experience that British Columbia has to offer”. The club regularly hosts food tours that has guests foraging for their own dinner with mushroom hunting and fishing trips for local Dungeness crab.

They also create gourmet experiences for groups that make dining out more than just about a meal. In December, Chef Robin is organizing a delightfully themed Murder Mystery dining adventure.

The location for the murder mystery: “The Last Supper” is a secret until the ticket is purchased, but it is being held from December 5-8th at a secret juice joint in the forest. You and the other guests are given the opportunity to find out “whodunnit” (although, YOU might have done it!).

Tickets to the murder mystery dining experience cost around $115 each and feature a buffet feast and entertainment for the evening (sleuthing!)

If you’re not interested in solving a murder mystery with your desert, you can sign up for the Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club newsletter, which keeps you informed about all of their invite-only pop-up restaurants, dining events, and foraging feasts.

 

secret supper club vancouver

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Do the opening notes of Dueling Banjos give you goosebumps?  Then this event is for you.

The Vancouver Playhouse is set to host a unique tribute to the glories of the banjo – in Western music and beyond – on Saturday, Nov. 16.  Bang Danjos, presented by the Vancouver Chinese Music Society, offers up a trio of virtuosos from different cultures, all of whom will be plucking away on variations of the banjo.

From Japan, fancy folk-plucker Hiroshi Yamaguchi will showcase the sounds of thetsugaru shamisen.  Rarely heard in Vancouver, the three-stringed instrument resembles a banjo, with a long neck and hollow body covered with skin.  The strings are struck with a special pick that also taps against the body to produce a percussive effect.  An ancient instrument, the tsugaru shamisen is being revived by younger artists, who integrate traditional songs with pop, rock, jazz and blues.

Meanwhile, from China, Evelyn Chang will show her stuff on the sanxian.  Sometimes called the “Chinese banjo,” the sanxian is a three-stringed, long-necked, fretless lute that plays an important role in traditional Chinese music.  The rectangular body generally has a snakeskin front and back.  It’s used in dramatic performances and as a solo instrument and produces a twangy sound, accentuated by rapid-fire rolls and long slides.

Finally, Vancouver’s own Nick Hornbuckle will showcase the banjo’s bluegrass potential. The familiar banjo of Dueling Banjos fame actually traces its roots to Africa. Modern banjos generally have four or five strings, with a body consisting of synthetic skin stretched over a cavity.  Hornbuckle, who also plays with the local act The Jaybirds, incorporates both traditional bluegrass and influences as diverse as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin in his playing.

Bang Danjos is Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m.  at the Vancouver Playhouse.  Tickets are available for $20 (plus surcharge) at brownpapertickets.com.

Photo credit: Flickr Commons

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This weekend, take in a free movie with Cineplex Community Day. The event promises free movies and cheap snacks, all in support of charity. With family-friendly movies, it’s the perfect way to spend time with the whole family while getting out of the November gloom.

 

Community Day will be held at Cineplex Theatres all over the country. (To find a participating theatre near you, click here  for a list.) Beginning at 9am, you can take your pick of five different movies, including one in 3D. Doors are at 8:30am, and seating is on a first come first served basis. Select concession items will be $2, such as regular popcorn, regular fountain drinks, and selected candy. All proceeds from concession sales will go towards the Canadian Olympic Foundation. It’s a great event for the whole family, so check out a movie you’ve never seen before and enjoy some snacks, all while supporting Canadian athletes. For a full list of movies and start times, please see below.

 

9:00 Men in Black 3
9:15 The Pirates! Band of Misfits
9:30 The Smurfs
9:45 The Amazing Spider-Man
10:00 Hotel Transylvania (3D)


Cineplex Community Day
When: Saturday, Nov 16th @ 9am
Where: Cineplex Movie Theatres
Cost: Free!

 

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As the days become darker and the nights grow colder, autumn brings a yearning for comfort – this could be a cozy atmosphere or hearty meal. Luckily, the Irish Heather provides both with their Autumn Long Table Series.

On Sunday and Monday nights when Gastown is at its quietest, the Irish Heather is bustling with great food and bold chatter. Those who take part in the Long Table Series are seated at – you guessed it – a long table to eat, drink and socialize.

 

The evening starts with the ringing of a bell to signal the beginning of dinner, and everyone cozies up at the table like a family. Next comes the delivery of a frothy pint of beer, which is included with the dinner; however, more drinks can be ordered should the beer disappear quickly. Finally comes the nosh, and the Irish Heather doesn’t disappoint. The idea is to warm the body with some traditional comfort food.

Currently, the Sunday dinners include Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding paired with Russell Brewing’s Blood Alley Bitter. Mondays serve up Turkey with Onion Stuffing and Cranberry Chutney paired with Grimbergen, a Belgian beer. The whole evening includes one entrée and one 20 ounce beer all for a bargain price of $17.
For you vegetarians and vegans, have no fear. Substitutions can be made ahead of time to suit your conscience and your taste buds.

 

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A mid-afternoon wine tasting: Now there’s an idea whose time has come.

Advance tickets for the Vancouver International Wine Festival, Feb. 24-March 2, are now on sale, and the 36th annual instalment is offering up some intriguing new twists.

Each year, the festival draws more than 20,000 wine lovers to Vancouver for a solid week of gala wine tastings, wine-paired dinners, seminars, lunches and even boozy brunches. This year’s fest will feature no fewer than 178 wineries from 14 countries, pouring 1,750 different wines at 54 events.

Of course, the highlight as always is the International Festival Tasting Room, Feb. 27-March 1.  All 178 wineries pile into the Vancouver Convention Centre for the mother of all wine tastings.  Picture thousands of people sipping hundreds of the world’s best wines over the course of several hours – all in one huge room with sweeping views of Coal Harbour – and you get the idea.

As in past years, International Festival Tastings will be held on three consecutive evenings, Thursday, Feb. 27-Saturday, March 1, from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. ($89 or $79 early-bird through Dec. 31).  But for 2014, organizers have also introduced a very handy afternoon tasting on Saturday, March 1, from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ($68 or $58 early-bird through Dec. 31).

Here’s guessing that the afternoon tasting, with its lower prices and daytime hours, ends up selling out fast and becoming a regular feature of the fest.

Lovers of French wine are in for a treat this year, as the theme country is France.  Some 52 French wineries will be on hand, representing some of the world’s most storied wine regions, including Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Rhone, the South of France and Champagne.

On the subject of Champagne, the “global focus” for the 2014 fest is bubbly.  Sparkling wine lovers will find plenty of opportunities to fill their glasses with a lineup that includes eight official Champagne houses, as well as dozens of Cavas, Proseccos and other sparklers from around the world.

Apart from the International Festival Tasting, more than 50 smaller satellite events are held throughout the week at restaurants, hotels and other venues around Vancouver. Advance tickets to the International Festival Tasting are now available on the Vancouver International Wine Festival website.

 

wine bottle photo: wine and bottle wine.jpg

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If you’re too busy being an adult all day, it’s time to let your inner child come out and play at Science World After Dark on Friday, November 15th.

Perfect for date night, or just for a fun thing to do with friends, Science World After Dark is a bi-monthly event that provides exclusive adult-only programming without any youngsters hanging around and hogging all the cool stuff.

 

On November 15, 2013 Science World will be taken over by adults from 7pm to 10pm as they get a chance to explore the science centre with an adult beverage in hand.

 

This month’s After Dark Adult-Only Evening is an AMPED-themed night inspired by music, technology and creativity. AMPED lets you discover the science and engineering behind musical instruments and music technology through hands-on exhibits and programming. Create your own music, play along with a local Vancouver band, or BYOG (bring your own guitar) and jam the night away!


On top of the regular exhibits and AMPED, there will also be a Cher impersonator performing as well as non-stop karaoke!

Tickets for Science World After Dark are $18 until November 13th, then the price raises to $25.50. It’s a good idea to buy tickets early as the event has sold out early in the past.

 

Science World After Dark next happens on November 15, 2013 at 7pm until 10p


science world adult evening


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Contortionists, silk dancers, body painted dancers, ringleaders and more are part of the entertainment at the second High On Life Circus Show. The event, this Friday November 8 at Venue on Granville Street, follows the successful first High On Life Circus Show, which took place this last summer.

 

The event has its origins in High On Life, a group of Vancouverites who have built up an online presence via their YouTube channel and their Sundayfundayz videos. In the videos, the Lifers document their travels, pranks and all-around zest for life.

In addition to the performers, the High On Life Circus Show will have carnival games, cotton candy and cherry-noir-flavoured snow cones. High on Life’s resident DJ Ramble will spin, and Vancouver vocalist/actress (and the evening’s Ring Master) Donna Benedicto finishes the evening with a 12:30 a.m. performance.

 

High On Life Circus Show
Venue (881 Granville St.)
tickets (advance $12).

 

Contortionist Tamsin Linton performs with the High On Life Circus Friday Nov. 8 at Venue. Photo courtesy The Underground Circus.

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Cats are funny creatures. They love you, they hate you, they puke under your bed… and they star in thousands of YouTube videos that boast over four million views.

Luckily for cats in Vancouver, Vokra (Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association) is a top-notch organization that traps, neuters/spays, and arranges adoptions of previously unloved cats & kittens. Best of all, unlike the SPCA, Vokra doesn’t keep the cats awaiting “forever homes” in cages. They rely on a network of loving fosters who take these cats & kittens into their homes and help to socialize/train/love the animals.

Vokra cat foster

And guess what, you could be a loving foster too!

Whether you’ve always wanted a cat (but didn’t want the huge commitment), you’re looking for a cat, or you just want to meet as many cats as humanly possible, fostering for Vokra is a great experience.

Being a Vokra foster takes all the hard stuff out of being a cat owner. They give you food, they give you litter, they give you a cat… You just get to play with the cat, make the cat chase the laser pointer, clean up the cat poop, feed it daily…

Then… someone adopts the cat. And you get a whole new cat. (UNLESS YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE CAT AND ADOPT IT YOURSELF).

Being a Vokra foster volunteer is a great way to help cats & kittens find a new home, and it’s a fun/selfless way to get to hang out with cats all the time.

Where: Your House
Why: CATS!
How much: Free
Website: www.orphankittenrescue.com

Vokra cat foster

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Two things Vancouver excels at come together Nov. 6 when improv comedy meets video games.

In Minus World Improv, Vancouver’s Fictionals Comedy Co. engage in some video-game themed improv. The show includes live gaming tournaments on the big screen and more.

 

Minus World Improv is the latest show from The Fictionals, the troupe behind Improv Against Humanity, a regular and well-received attraction at the Rio.

We talked to The Fictionals’ Daniel Chai, who had this to say about Minus World Improv.

Q: What is the show’s format?

A: It’s a team-based competitive improv show. Two teams of gamers, played by improvisers from The Fictionals and special guests, are trapped in Minus World by the evil villain Gamer X. The only way out of Minus World is to buy passage through the “Warp Zone”, and for that they have to battle to win coins from the audience judging and applause. The team with the most coins at the end of the show wins and get to game another day. The team with the least amount of coins lose and are trapped in Minus World forever.

The show will feature mostly classic short form improv games, like those seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but with a video game twist. MWI performers will face such challenges like “Glitch”, “Accents Around The World” and “Freeze” (the funny kind). As well, teams will be able to use coins won from audience members to buy power-ups to help them or hinder their opponents.

Q: Are you basing the improv on video-game concepts?

A: The Fictionals will be getting suggestions of video game concepts from the audience to inspire our improv. We invite all level of gamers, from the hardcore fanboys to those who have never picked up a controller in their life. We want to bring video games to life from all aspects, including real-life situations featuring games. It might be a couple on a first date playing a video game. Maybe it’s a parent teaching a child how to play Angry Birds. Like all improv shows, the possibilities are endless!

Q: Will you be playing video games onstage?

A: Yes, we will be playing video games live on the Rio Theatre big screen every month at Minus World Improv. We will be holding a live video game tournament each show. On Wednesday, November 6 we are playing Street Fighter 4! Winners will be awarded prizes from EXP restaurant, Gamedeals Video Games (who is also our video game system sponsor), and Big Pete’s Collectibles. There will also be free play before the show and during intermission, and live video game challenges for the improvisers.

Q: Are the concepts all based on older video games or newer ones too?

A: My personal love of video games are of the retro variety, as I grew up in the Nintendo and Super Nintendo era. However, Minus World Improv will definitely encompass a wide spectrum of gaming, including modern hits like Grand Theft Auto 5 and even Farmville.

Q: Video games don’t seem like a natural fit for improv comedy. Where do the laughs come in?

A: To me, the laughs will not just come from us making loads of in-jokes and references to games. Instead, we aim to put on an entertaining night of improv comedy with video game inspirations and aspects. It’s not just about gaming, it’s about our relationships to these games and our nostalgia – how video games make us remember parts of our childhood, and help us connect to each other.

The laughs will come from audience members remembering playing these games while growing up or even the afternoon before a show, and in seeing how The Fictionals Comedy Co. take video game suggestions and weave them into epic, fast and furious improv comedy scenes!

In every improv scene, the performers invite the audience to come on an adventure with us; isn’t that what all good video games do too?

Minus World Improv  – A LIVE Video Game Comedy Experience debuts Nov. 6 at the Rio Theatre (1660 Broadway near Commercial), doors 7 p.m. /show 8. Tickets $6 advance / $9 door. 19+ only with bar service

 

 

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You might not have heard of bitcoins, but they’re coming to an ATM near you.

Vancouver has just become home to the first ATM in the world that allows users to exchange bitcoins – the controversial, all digital currency – for cash.  Users can also feed cash into the machine to top-up their virtual bitcoin wallets.

The ATM is inside an otherwise unassuming Waves Coffee House at the corner of Howe and Smithe streets in downtown Vancouver.  New bitcoin users will have to have their palms scanned in order to set up a bitcoin wallet and use the machine.  Then, they can either deposit or withdraw bitcoins in conjunction with a corresponding smartphone app.

While bitcoins have yet to enter the mainstream market, they have attracted a loyal following of users around the world.  The virtual currency was created by an unknown computer developer in 2008 and, despite the odds, grown steadily since.

Bitcoins are not controlled by any central bank and those who use them remain anonymous (as opposed to customers who use credit cards and traditional banks). Bitcoins are transferred over decentralized peer-to-peer networks and all transactions appear on a publicly accessible ledger, which makes the currency completely transparent even while actual users are anonymous.

Merchants appreciate bitcoins because they don’t have the high transaction fees associated with credit cards and they transfer immediately.  Meanwhile, the currency has also gained notoriety for use on illicit websites like Silk Road, the online drug portal shut down earlier this year.

Currently, approximately 16 businesses in Vancouver accept bitcoins, according to the Vancouver Sun.  Among the merchants are Krystal Fit Studio, a personal training business, and Pacific Bliss Yoga, which was the first business in Western Canada to take bitcoins from customers.

While some questions remain about whether bitcoin even is a real currency, the value of the digital coins has nonetheless skyrocketed more than 1,000 percent over the past year.  In January 2013, bitcoins were being exchanged for $13.  Now, they’re selling for around $200 each.

Approximately 11.5 million bitcoins are currently in circulation.  “Minting” will cease once 21 million bitcoins are in circulation.

Photo credit: zcopley | Flickr

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