Vancouver's Olympic Village is about to get a big kick of culture.

The neighbourhood on False Creek, which sprouted up during the 2010 Olympics and is now filled with condo towers, restaurants, pubs and shops is getting ready to open the doors on a new $20.4 - million theatre complex - instantly transforming the area into one of Vancouver's arts hubs.

The 48,000 s.f. Theatre Centre is scheduled to open this fall at 162 W. 1st Ave. The space features a 250-seat theatre, as well as 4 rehearsal theatres.

The venue has already lined up one of Vancouver's preforming arts powerhouses as a tenant.  The Arts Club, the largest theatre company in Western Canada, will close its Revue Stage on Granville Island and move into the new space in early fall.  Bard on the Beach, the yearly  Shakespeare Festival, will also have it offices at the theatre.

An initial burst of $7.6 million in funding for the project was provided by Wall financial, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.  The city of Vancouver then matched that with another $7 million, with the federal governement chipping in $2.5 million and the province gave $1 million. BMO, meanwhile contributed an extra $1.5 million to secure naming rights on the new venue.

The Arts Club plans to kick off programming at the new Theatre as part of its 2015-2016 season with the play Peter and Starcatcher ( Nov. 26- Dec. 27). This unique Peter Pan prequel traces the life of young Peter an how he ended up in Neverland in the first place.  That will be followed up by the (Post) Mistress (Feb 4 - Feb 28, 206), a  one-woman musical about a small town postmistress, and Onegin (March 17-April 10, 2016), a Canadian musical premiere based of the Alexander Pushkin novel. 

Vancouver's Olympic Village neighbourhood. Photo credit: Bruce Irschick | Flickr

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Don’t be surprised to hear the sound of pianos being played in public spaces in Vancouver this summer. The Vancouver public piano project (known officially as Keys to the Streets) is back for another year of spontaneous piano performances and the sounds of “Chopsticks” in the air.

There are 10 public pianos decorated by local artists and cared for by volunteers sprinkled around Vancouver. The pianos offer a space for improvisational gatherings, spontaneous connections, and celebrations of music.

  1. Canada Place at 999 Canada Place (West Side) 
  2. Strathcona at 898 Prior Street (community garden)
  3. Chinatown at 188 East Pender 
  4. Robson Park at 525 Kingsway 
  5. Vancouver Public Library at 401 West Georgia
  6. Creekside Community Centre at 1 Athletes Way
  7. Nelson Square at 808 Nelson Street 
  8. Lot 19 at 901 West Hastings Street (at Hornby)
  9. Stanley Park at the Vancouver Aquarium at 845 Avison Way

The Keys to the Streets concept was first started in 2013 as a student initiative in the CityStudio project school. Since then, it has been identified as one of the most engaging and accessible projects in Vancouver and has transitioned into its own entity.

The Keys to the Streets Vancouver public pianos will only be around until August 24, 2015, so make sure you take some time to see them! For more information about the initiative, or to donate to the pianos, you can check out the official website.

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The Caribbean Days Festival is returning to Vancouver to the city for a full weekend of music and food straight from the islands, July 25-July 26.  Tens of thousands of people are set to converge on North Vancouver's Waterfront Park - just next to the Lonsdale Quay- for the largest event of its kind in the province.

The free festival runs from 10 a.m. - 7p.m. Saturday and Sunday highlighting the best of tropical rhythms, cuisine and culture.  The party kicks off with a Carnival-style parade on Saturday at 10a.m. which works its way to the Waterfront Park.  Once Inside the park, there's live music and plenty of spicy Caribbean food, all backdropped by the Burrard Inlet and gorgeous view of the downtown Vancouver skyline.

The north side of Waterfront Park is transformed into a giant food fair.  Vendors selling Caribbean dishes and other international fare set up tents around the perimeter, while an outdoor beer garden keeps revellers hydrated under the hot sun. 

Getting to and from Caribbean Days is easy.  Waterfront Park is a short walk from the SeaBus terminal at Lonsdale Quay.  Just follow the music.

Image courtesy of TTCS of BC | Flickr

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Vancouver moviegoers may soon be able to enjoy a beer with their popcorn at one of the city's larger theatres.

Council is currently considering granting a liquor license to Cineplex Cinemas Fifth Avenue.  This 5 screen theatre is owned by one of Canada's biggest entertainment companies and would be the first mulitplex in the city to allow drinking.

However the theatre would become an adults-only venue under the new plan. Only 19+ patrons would be admitted into the cinema, where they could enjoy wine or beer from noon to 11 p.m. providing movies are screening at that time. Cineplex is already operating 2 of these adults-only 'VIP' theatres.  In Coquitlam and Abbotsford.  In addition to serving alcohol, they offer upscale menu choices (from shrimp ceviche to an artisanal cheese board) and in-seat service, with special high-backed leather chairs for patrons.  Plans call for similar upgrades at the Fifth Avenue location, part of a $2-million overhaul to attract a more mature audience.

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It doesn't get any more Canadian - playing street hockey on one of downtown Vancouver's streets for charity.

Five Hole for Food (FHFF), a national, volunteer-driven, non- profit organization is travelling on its annual coast - to - coast tour.  They've gone from the East Coast of Canada all the way to the west, playing ball hockey for local food banks,

This Saturday they will be hosting their Vancouver game on Granville Street. So if you and your friends want to raise food and awareness for Canadians and play some friendly ball hockey for a good cause, you can register your team here.  All you need is a can of food and your hockey stick.

Over their first five years, FHFF raised an incredible one million pounds of food in support of local food banks across Canada.

All donations from this game will go to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

When: July 18

Where: Granville Street

Time: Noon  to 6 p.m.

Bring: Food for donation and a hockey stick.

Image: Five Hole For Food / Facebook

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Escape rooms have caught on across Vancouver.  The basic idea is you and a few friends get locked inside a themed room and then the group has to pick up clues, solve puzzles and complete challenges to get out before the time expires.  The lastest offering is downtown's popular SmartyPantz.

Now the escape room experience is coming to Science World with a few twists. For one night only, Science World will be transformed into the setting for The Super Villain, an expericne that combines escape gaming with game-show challenges.  But it isn't for kids.  It's a licensed 19+ event for adults who "need to let off some steam and enjoy a night away from the pressures of adulthood."

It all starts with teams of 4-6 people racing throught a gauntlet of challenges spead throughout Science World and surrounding Creekside of False Creek.  Competitors are pitted against one another in events ranging from 'BubbleSumo' to 'Giant Beer Pong' as well as other competitions designed to test mind as well as body.

Everyone wins in the end however, with an after-party at downtown's Republic NightClub to celebrate the capture of the Super Villain.  All for a good cause - the proceeds go to support the Make a Wish Foundation.

Have fun!!

Photo credit: Differense | Wikipedia

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East Vancouver's Rio Theatre is screeing a bunch of Bond movies this week offering a rare chance to see Ian Fleming's creation on the big screen, so if you're a fan of 007 you will want to see at least one or two of these vintage adventure films.

Tomorrow at 9 p.m. you can see Dr. No.  The 1962 film introduced Bond to the moviegoing public, and was Sean Connery's debut as the spy.  It also features Swedish actress Ursula Andress as the exceptionally named Honey Ryder.

On Friday you can see a double-bill of what are widely acknowledged as among the best Bond films.  From Russia With Love was the 2nd 007 film and features a famous fight scene on a train between Bond and a Russian agent played by Robert Shaw - and Goldfinger, in which Bond has to foil a plot to rob Fort Knox.

Each film is $10 in advance / $12 at the door, or $12 advance / $14 for a double bill.

The Rio is located at 1660 E. Broadway.  Click here for more info.  Have fun.

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Once again Jericho Beach is gearing up for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival which returns July 17 to July 19.  This year more than 60 acts from around the world are set to take to the stage, framed by a backdrop of sand, sea and mountains.  It doesn't get much bettter than this.  The 3 day celebration of folk music in all its forms- from blues and roots to reggae and world rhythms -  is expected to attract 30,000 fans for the outdoor concert event of the summer. The concerts will take place on multiple stages throughout the grassy grounds of Jericho Beach Park, starting as early as 10 am. on the weekend and continuing long after sunset to 11 pm.  The atmosphere includes as expansive artisan market and kids area, not to mention some of the city's top food trucks.

3 Day passes for the event are currently on sale for $155.  Single day tickets are $50 for Friday, July 17 and $80 for Saturday and Sunday.  Kids under 12 are free with an adult.

Photo courtesy Vancouver Folk Music Festival

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The Broadway hit 'Hairspray' is making its way to Vancouver's Stanley Park for the 2015 instalment of Theatre under the Stars which starts July 10th.  It's joined by and another classic, Oliver, The Musical - the stage adaption of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist.

Theatre under the Stars is a unique Vancouver tradition.  Since 1940, nearly 70 seasons of plays, musicals and operettas have been performed, featuring everything from the old-time classic South Pacific to the contemporary hit Footloose.

This year the spotlight is on the Broadway smash Hairspray, which earned 8 tony awards during its wildly successful run.

And of the alternate nights you will be able to catch Oliver, The Musical where you can join along as everyone's favourite orphan and a motley cast of characters adventure through the underbelly of Victorian London.  Enjoy great songs such as  Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, I'd Do Anything and As Long As He Needs Me.

The shows are running from July 10th to August  22 and tickets can be purchased at the Threatre under the Stars website.  Have fun.

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