Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Getting Jolly for the Holidays

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us and there are many ways to celebrate the season in Vancouver.

If you want to make the most of your holidays with local delights, here's some activities I've unearthed for you.

If you've watched my wee video, you've seen the fun that is singing Christmas carols via a karaoke machine with random people.  My advice?  Grab MANY friends and book the trolley for your private party.  Fill thermoses with Bailey's and hot chocolate, then gaze merrily at the Christmas lights of Stanley Park, VanDusen Gardens, and Canuck House all while singing badly.

Perhaps the trolley isn't your thing, but lights are.  Head up to VanDusen Botanical Gardens for their amazing lights.  Really, these lights are amazing.  There is nothing much more I can say.  Except you can also get waffles, crepes, hot dogs, cocoa, chat with Santa, watch a musical light show, and listen to the choir sing 'Silent Night'.

For kids, and big kids, Stanley Park puts on a fun light show complete with train ride through a lit up forest.  Proceeds go to the Firefighters' Burn Fund so it's a good cause. Buy your tickets online but still be prepared to stand in line, especially on weekends.  Your ticket also includes entry to the Children's Farm.  But if you don't care to see a turkey, you can always check out the raccoons running around the grounds.  Chestnuts roasting on an open fire are extra, but the hot firemen are included.

The good people at Capilano Suspension Bridge light the bridge, and surrounding area up, to create a magical winter wonderland.  Especially if snow covers the surrounding trees.  A truly beautiful experience.

Check out the free light show that plays on the sails of Canada Place timed to favorite Christmas carols.

Several Gingerbread creations line the lobby of the Hyatt.  Made by students from grade school right to pastry chefs, these edible concoctions are a fun way to spend a few moments and escape from the bustling streets of Vancouver.  I was especially blown away by the Cinderella's castle.  Oh, and you can vote on your favorite!

7.  The skating rink at Robson Square
A new addition this winter (but an old favorite from years past), Vancouverites can once again skate outdoors.  Rink is free, but skates will cost you ($3) - and it's covered so you can glide arm in arm with your sweetheart while the rain patters above you.

And last, but probably the most enchanting:

Screw the Grind, the best thing about this mountain is how it makes Christmas a truly wonderful white wonderland.  For the price of admission, you can escape the city (which is often raining and without snow) and find yourself atop a snowy haven.  You can ice skate (on a small pond but it's on the top of a mountain!), go for a sleigh ride, or snowshoe.  Top it all off with hot chocolate or wine by the blazing fire.  Even I loved going snowshoeing - it was so peaceful.  You can head up during the day, but I prefer the night when the stars are out and you don't even know a city lies before you.

I hope this inspires you to get out there and enjoy the holiday season before it's over!!

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