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What to See Vancouver

Fun & Fascinating Indoor Adventures

The weather outside is frightful, but these indoor activities are so delightful


Jan. 2020

Vancouver Aquarium (Photo by KK Law)

Vancouver Aquarium (Photo by KK Law)

1. Get a panoramic view of the city from inside the cozy chalet on Grouse Mountain—with a sinfully indulgent pastry from BeaverTails in hand, of course.

2. Wander through the new COS on Robson Street—the brand’s largest store in Canada—and find an outfit that’s the perfect mix of modern but timeless. While on Robson, check out all the other trendy stores and restaurants.

3. Experience a moment of zen while watching the mesmerizing jellyfish at the Vancouver Aquarium. 

4. Learn the cool chemistry behind crafting the perfect drink at Science of Cocktails, an adults-only event at Science World (Feb. 6). You may never look at science the same way again.

5. Examine paintings by Emily Carr alongside pieces by Indigenous artists from the same time period in Rapture, Rhythm and the Tree of Life: Emily Carr and Her Female Contemporaries at the Vancouver Art Gallery (to Jun. 28).

6. Sip a latte, nibble on a pastry and cuddle a friendly feline at Catfé. Vancouver’s first cat cafe received international attention a few years ago when pop singer Adele stopped by for some kitty snuggles.

Delicious food at The Teahouse (Photo courtesy The Teahouse)

7. Explore Stanley Park in the most delicious way possible: with a special package from The Teahouse that includes a one-hour private tour in a town car, followed by a three-course meal at the restaurant. 

8. Laugh until you cry at all the frenetic fun on the Vancouver TheatreSports stage. Famous folks who honed their improv talents with VTS include Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie.

9. Buy a doggone delightful outfit for your posh pup at Barking Babies, and maybe even treat your precious pooch to a bath and a blow-dry.

10. Sample stellar fare at discounted prices during the Dine Out Vancouver Festival (Jan. 17 to Feb. 2). Pro tip: wear your stretchiest pants. 

Science of Cocktails at Science World

11. Marvel at the 360-degree view of the city from high in the sky at the Vancouver Lookout.

12. Find out if the pen truly is mightier than the sword with a new ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen from The Vancouver Pen Shop.

13. Meander through the Granville Island Public Market, the Net Loft and more on Granville Island, stopping often to refuel at a cornucopia of charming little eateries.

14. Browse for a quirky memento from Main and Local, a Canadian company that proudly makes “souvenirs that don’t suck.” Look for the CBC coffee mug, yoga-bear candle or “Not Sorry” rainbow socks at stores such as Make on Granville Island or Kimprints downtown.

15. Discover your new favourite author at the Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival (Feb. 8 to 13). This year’s highlights include Anna Mehler Paperny, Gary Shteyngart and Jamie Bernstein.

16. Feast on all the seafood delicacies that Vancouver is known for at Lift and Joe Fortes.

“Deep Forest” by Emily Carr (Courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery)

17. Treat your feet to a pair of Blundstone boots or cozy Glerups slippers from the Australian Boot Company. 

18. Linger over breakfast at De Dutch. You can’t beat a pannekoeken (Dutch pancake) with the oh-so-very-Canadian toppings of bacon and maple syrup.

19. Test out an indoor bike at the Peloton showroom, and check out all the cute athletic tops and bottoms that seem almost too nice to sweat in.

20. Dance the night away with The Strumbellas (Jan. 10 and 11), Tebey (Jan. 16), Michael Kiwanuka (Jan. 28), Theory of a Deadman (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1), Stone Temple Pilots (Feb. 5), The Beaches (Feb. 7), The Marcus King Band (Feb. 9), Wolf Parade (Feb. 12), Atmosphere (Feb. 23), Andy Shauf (Feb. 26), and Doug and the Slugs (Feb. 29), all at fabulous Commodore Ballroom (page 49), which has been Vancouver’s favourite live venue since 1929.

Relive the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver

A decade has passed since Vancouver and Whistler hosted the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, where Team Canada secured a record-breaking number of gold medals and finished third overall. Here are 10 ways to recapture the city’s most memorable moments.


Jan. 2019

The Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza (Photo by KK Law)

1. Gaze upon the 10-m- (33-ft-) tall Olympic cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza, with the North Shore mountains in the distance.

2. Take a peek at the Olympic display, which features torches and a full set of shiny medals, inside the Vancouver Convention Centre.

3. Pick up a pair of limited-edition 10-year-anniversary Team Canada mittens from Hudson’s Bay.


PuSh International Performing Arts Festival


Don’t miss FRONTERA at the PuSh Festival (Photo by Adrián Morillo)

Jan. 21 to Feb. 9, 2020 Cross-pollination fuels creativity, and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is positively buzzing with genius. More than 20 companies from nine countries showcase boundary-breaking contemporary dance, music and theatre. Don’t miss FRONTERA, a masterful collaboration between dance company Animals of Distinction, post-rock band Fly Pan Am, and UK-based scenographers United Visual Artists.

Vancouver Art Gallery: Transits and Returns


“Skin Country” by Carol McGregor (Photo by Louis Lim. Image courtesy the artist)

To Feb. 23, 2019 For a unique insight into the nations of the Pacific region, stroll over to Transits and Returns at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In collaboration with Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art, this transportive exhibit connects 21 Indigenous artists—including local First Nations—who tackle themes of movement, kinship, territory and representation. Carol McGregor’s remarkable possum-skin map, “Skin Country,” depicts indigenous plants used by Aboriginal communities near Brisbane, while Taloi Havini’s four-channel video “Habitat III” reveals the tense relationship between Australia and Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Chantal Fraser, of Samoan descent, manipulates objects to challenge cultural interpretations: don’t miss “The Way,” a dazzling rhinestone-studded wind turbine. Through their practices, the artists dive headfirst into ancestral roots and travel routes. And it’s a trip worth taking.

Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival


Greg Hill pursues a carbon-neutral path to outdoor adventure in Electric Greg

Nov. 14 to 19, 2019 Deep alpine powder. Steep granite walls. Rugged backcountry bike trails. At the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, adrenaline-fuelled documentaries, photography exhibits and multimedia presentations take audiences deep into nature’s most spectacular—and challenging—terrain, led by legendary athletes. Highlights include: superstar climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold race a dizzying 914 m (3,000 ft) up Yosemite’s El Capitan in The Nose Speed Record; a trio of intrepid bikers takes an unprecedented approach to Africa’s two highest peaks in Mt. Kilimanjaro & Mt. Kenya on MTB; and acclaimed skier Greg Hill pursues a carbon-neutral path to outdoor adventure in Electric Greg (pictured). Talk about next-level entertainment.

Spirited Stories

Fancy a fright? Vancouver’s tour guides have plenty of spooky tales to tell. Here are a few local ghost stories to haunt your holidays. 


Oct. 2019

Have dinner with ghostly guests at The Old Spaghetti Factory (Photo © Jerry Coli/dreamstime.com)

Heeere’s Jennie! 

If you’re checking into the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and there’s a strange woman in a red gown in your room, you haven’t been double-booked. According to local legend, you’ve just met the ghost of Jennie Pearl Cox—aka the Lady in Red—a regular at the hotel’s ballroom dances until she was killed in a car accident in 1944. Guests report seeing her pass through elevator doors, particularly on the 14th floor. When an episode of The X-Files was filmed at the hotel, she hovered outside the window, frightening a cameraman so badly that he fled the set and refused to return. 


Open-Air Art


Oct. 2019

“217.5 Arc x 13” by Bernar Venet, at Sunset Beach (Photo by KK Law)

Thanks to the Vancouver Biennale, locals are accustomed to larger-than-life artwork springing up all around the city. Some of the pieces remain on a permanent basis, such as Marcus Bowcott’s “Trans Am Totem” near Science World, while others eventually move on to the next destination. The fourth iteration of this alfresco exhibition runs from 2018 to 2020, and it includes works such as “Paradise Has Many Gates” by Ajlan Gharem, which appears to be a mosque constructed from chain-link fence, right in Vanier Park. Another visiting piece is Maskull Lasserre’s “Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight to Forge the Sea,” a colossal installation in Leg-In-Boot Square. The outdoor locations guarantee accessibility for all. Just remember to pack your walking shoes—and an umbrella.

Talking Trees: Cultural Tour and Dining Experience


Oct. 2019

ALL YEAR Vancouver is known as the modern and sparkling City of Glass, but it also has an ancient forest right in its heart. Stanley Park is a must-see, and to experience it in an unusual way, Talaysay Tours has teamed up with Arc Restaurant in the Fairmont Waterfront to offer Talking Trees. This unique cultural experience takes visitors into the heart of the park with an Indigenous guide, in order to learn about traditional uses for local trees and plants. Afterwards, dinner at Arc features an Indigenous-inspired menu that brings the day’s lessons to life—in the most delicious way possible. Who knew local history could be so fascinating, and taste so good? 

Elissa Cristall Gallery: From Here


Oct. 2019

“From Here #1” by Lesley Finlayson

Painting may not be on your list of outdoor hobbies, but after seeing Lesley Finlayson’s work, you might be tempted to branch out. The Scottish-born artist is a fan of the French en plein air technique, meaning the landscape is both her subject and her studio. From Here at Elissa Cristall Gallery (Oct. 3 to 26) focuses on the relationships between light, land and water. Streams of colour splash across each canvas, and it’s not hard to imagine Finlayson embracing every type of weather. Want to give it a whirl? Set up your easel now, before Raincouver—Vancouver’s soggy alter ego—strikes again.

The Magic of Mexico with Cirque du Soleil


Cirque du Soleil: Luzia (Photo by Matt Beard. Costume by Giovanna Buzzi)

Oct 1-Dec 15, 2019
In the mood for something truly spectacular? Cirque du Soleil: Luzia transports audiences to a dreamy, otherworldly vision of Mexico, complete with breakdancing soccer players, hoop-diving “birds” and a galloping, life-sized stallion puppet. It’s also the first touring production in Cirque history to incorporate rain, adding a splash of drama to the already dazzling aerial stunts—acrobats twist, twirl and flip through strategically placed downpours as they soar from one dizzying perch to another. Espectacular!

Literary Festivals in Vancouver


Sep. 2019

The central branch of the Vancouver Public Library is a hub for literary events throughout the year (Photo © Rebecca Brown/dreamstime.com)

Local bookstores and libraries host author readings and book launches year-round, but autumn is literary festival season. Here are five events that celebrate the written word in all its forms. Fair warning: your list of must-read books is about to get a lot longer.


Before Ever After at Jennifer Kostuik Gallery


Sep. 2019

“Twelve Giraffes, Maasai Mara, Kenya” by David Burdeny

African animals and their wild homes take centre stage in David Burdeny’s Before Ever After: Photographs from Kenya and Tanzania. Motivated by the threat of mass extinction, Burdeny is on a mission to show that animals are worthy of our attention—and our protection. Against stunning backdrops, a coalition of cheetahs lines up in formation.  A mini-pride of lion cubs basks in the sun. An elephant wanders through grassy plains with her calf. A tower of giraffes—yes, that’s what a group of giraffes is called—struts across the Maasai Mara National Reserve. If you’ve ever been on safari, you’ll recognize these sights. But there’s no need for a flight to Africa: Burdeny’s striking collection of photographs is on display from Sep. 13 to Oct. 6, at Jennifer Kostuik Gallery.