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where to stay where to play where to dine

Christmas on the Town PHOTOS AND STORY BY MARK HOOD

From the top of the town to the top of the mountains, there’s no place like home for the holidays.

holiday season offerings guaranteed to make your 2011 personal highlight reel.

For most of us, especially those with children, December is the most hectic month on the calendar. School performances, parties and shopping — and still getting regular work done — combine and conspire to raise stress levels at a time of year that is supposed to be enjoyable.

A month of wonder at the Pan Pacific

Thankfully, there are remedies close at hand. Throughout December there are events and activities around town for the whole family designed to delight the senses and lift your spirits. Downtown, many hotels provide a range of special

Nothing gets you into the Christmas spirit faster than doing something for others. On Wednesday December 7th, The Pan Pacific Hotel is home to the annual Christmas Wish Breakfast. Working with the Vancouver Fire

Department, the Pan Pacific hosts a complimentary carolfilled breakfast buffet for those who bring unwrapped toys for less fortunate children. It’s a great event and well worth attending. Last year they gathered 11 tonnes of toys and raised $14,000 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Christmas Bureau. The Pan Pacific’s festive celebrations actually get underway a few days earlier on Sunday, December 4th, with their first Santa Sunday Brunch — held weekly throughout the month. They’re also putting on special

Puccini, Mozart and more by members of the Burnaby Lyric Opera Society and North Shore-based pianist David Boothroyd.

The quality of the dinners for talent on display Christmas Eve, was astounding. New Year’s Throughout Even if you Eve as well December there are don’t consider as weekly events and activities yourself Winter an opera around town for the Solstice aficionado, the whole family... luncheons combination of and a New sounds, scents, Year’s Day brunch tastes and sights will so reserve early. provide you with one of the The pièces de resistance, most magical nights you’ll however, are their weekend spend during the holidays. Opera Angels Heard On Performances for the month High Nights in the Cafe will be on December 9, 10, 16 Pacifica restaurant. Combining and 17 and the programme selections from one of will include holiday season Vancouver’s finest kitchens with favourites as well as opera the music and songs of some selections. It’s a holiday feast of history’s greatest composers for all your senses. turns your evening meal into an event of epic proportions. Hot, cold and dessert buffets are complemented by a pasta station where you select your fresh pasta, sauce and ingredients and it’s all combined while you watch into a fabulous meal. The evening is rarefied by exquisite live opera music and song performances. We dined there recently and were treated to renditions of opera favourites by Bizet,

Voices raised in song: performers from the Burnaby Lyric Opera Society transform an evening meal into a festive season event at the Pan Pacific Hotel’s Opera Angels Heard on High Nights held weekends during the month of December.

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A festive taste of Europe in the heart of the city

Also downtown is the second annual Vancouver Christmas Market. Located at Georgia and Hamilton in the plaza in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, it’s a festive taste of Europe in the heart of the city until December 24th. CONTINUED

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A34 - North Shore News - Sunday, December 4, 2011

A European tradition: the Vancouver Christmas Market brings a touch of Europe to downtown Vancouver for the holiday season.

Christmas markets are a centuries-old tradition in Germany and each year people from around the world make the trip to historic walled cities like Rothenburg ob der Tauber to pick up handcrafted toys, Christmas decorations and soak in the gemßtlichkeit. At Vancouver’s Christmas market there are traditional

German toys, decorations, music, food, a carousel for the kids and treats galore. The air is ďŹ lled with the scent of sizzling wurst, and listening to live Christmas music while munching on freshly roasted chestnuts over German drinking chocolate or a steaming cup of gluhwein, you

can feel the stress melt away. Booths glisten with beautifully crafted glass, tree ornaments, festive candles and unique gift ideas from Europe. Also on site, renowned Christmas decoration crafters Käthe Wohlfahrt of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany have set up an extensive collection of

nutcrackers, ornaments, ďŹ gurines and gifts that you truly won’t be able to ďŹ nd elsewhere.

Vandusen Festival of Lights

Holiday Nutcracker performances

Further south, Vandusen Botanical Garden will be hosting the 2011 Festival of Lights from December 9-24 at 5251 Oak Street. The gardens come alive with elves, gingerbread, choral performances, the Candy Cane Express model train and nightly appearances by Santa Claus himself.

For many, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet is a holiday season must. Based on a story by E.T.A. Homan revised by Alexandre Dumas, the story of a young girl’s Christmas dream of a nutcracker who turns into a prince has inspired generations of young dancers and musicians.

Beginning at 4:30pm, the Dancing Lights show begins on the park’s Livingstone Lake. There are two separate performances — one on the hour and one on the half hour — that ďŹ ll the darkness with festive light and colour.

Local youth and If you have a special adult choirs someone who’s add music hard to buy for Christmas each night or appreciates markets are to enhance detailed the overall a centuries-old craftsmanship, experience, tradition... a trip to the conjuring up Christmas old memories Market will help of Christmases you reduce your past and creating new shopping list and get into ones for families and friends. the spirit of the season.

This year there are two downtown performances of this timeless classic. From December 15 to 18 at Vancouver’s Centre for Performing Arts, Goh Ballet Academy — featuring principal dancers from the American Ballet Theatre — will be accompanied by the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra in what promises to be a lively interpretation of this enduring festive classic. From December 28 to 31, Ballet BC presents Alberta Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre accompanied by the Vancouver Symphony

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Monday – Friday 10am – 9pm Saturday 9:30am – 9pm Sunday 11am – 6pm Enjoy Park Royal’s extended holiday shopping hours and find that elusive perfect gift at a convenient and hassle free shopping time.

Drop by each week on Monday or Tuesday night to receive a free adorable cookie cutter– collect all three! Limited quantity of 200 per week.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011 - North Shore News - A35

Orchestra. Choreographed by Edmund Stripe with sets and costumes by Emmy awardwinning Zack Brown, this promises to be a spectacularly memorable performance. Closer to home, Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver will also be hosting a pair of youth Nutcracker performances featuring local dance academies. On Sunday, December 11th, students from Seymour Dance will perform at 3 and 7 pm and on Monday, December 19th, the Royal City Youth Ballet will perform at 1 and 4 pm.

Academy — were on hand November 26th in a parade at Park Royal to welcome Santa Claus. It was a lively and engaging performance that kicked off a month of holiday cheer at Canada`s first shopping centre. Until December 24th, there are concerts and events — including performances by local school choirs from December 6 to 16. As well as Santa Claus

in the centre court of Park Royal North, there will be readings from Mrs. Claus at the Holiday Kids Corner in Park Royal South near Indigo books. Here children can watch movies, play games, do crafts and listen to stories at 12:30 and 3:30 pm daily as they get ready for Santa`s arrival. CONTINUED

These youth productions are always heartwarming presentations — students and teachers work hard all year to prepare for the shows and never fail to rise to the occasion.

Come together for the holidays at Park Royal Students from another North Shore dance school — Van Lina Dance

Horns of plenty: members of Santa’s Brass welcome holiday shoppers to a starry month of Christmas cheer at Park Royal in West Vancouver.

“Fall Exclusive” All Inclusive! A fabulous all inclusive stay in a deluxe lakeview guestroom at the Penticton Lakeside Resort! Your visit begins with a bottle of your choice of Mission Hill Pinot Blanc or Mission Hill Cabernet Merlot delivered to your room upon arrival, followed by dinner at the Bufflehead Pasta & Tapas Room. Your dinner includes a caesar salad to start, your choice of chicken parmigiana, broiled salmon or a 10 oz flat iron steak and profiteroles or gelato for dessert. For breakfast you will enjoy a full Canadian Breakfast in the Hooded Merganser on top of Okanagan Lake. All meals include coffee, tea or juice. This package is available until December 30th, 2011.

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A36 - North Shore News - Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wee-awhh. Clik. Clik. Buzzzz. That’s orca for, “Please adopt me this holiday season.” Mrs. Claus will also be hosting the Gingerbread House Decorating festivities on December 10th and 17th from 11 am to 3 pm. The first 300 children to arrive on those dates will be given a gingerbread house and candy to decorate it. Parents must be on hand as well so it’s a great holiday family activity.

This year give a loved one a truly unique gift. The Vancouver Aquarium’s Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program funds important, conservation based research on wild orcas in Canada and around the world. For only $64, you’ll receive an adoption package--including a certificate and ID photo of your 5000 kilogram bundle of joy. Visit www.killerwhale.org or call 604.659.3430 to learn more.

Park Royal has also partnered with the Starlight Children’s Foundation to provide a by-donation gift wrapping service. Dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with lifethreatening illnesses and life altering injuries, the Starlight Children’s Foundation helps children and their families

cope with the rainforest comes alive difficulties of with light, music traumatic and wonder with ...the ancient life events. a festival that rainforest You’ll get always makes comes alive beautifully everyone’s Top with light, music wrapped 10 Vancouver and wonder... gifts and Christmas the children Events list. will get a much The Holiday Band, needed helping hand. dressed in historic winter costume, performs each Capilano night at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30. Glass blower Malcolm Suspension Bridge lights up the canyon Macfadyen teaches guests how to make glass icicle Christmas Beginning December 4th until ornaments and there are byJanuary 2nd, the Capilano donation gingerbread cookies Suspension Bridge will be for decorating and enjoying. holding their annual Canyon The real stars of the show Lights Festival. From 5 to are the light displays. Few 9 pm every evening but places are darker than a forest Christmas, the at night and the sight of the ancient suspension bridge, illuminated and looming across the inky darkness of the canyon like a ghostly portal, is breathtaking. There are also magical glowing reindeer hiding in the woods and children are encouraged to find

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Sunday, December 4, 2011 - North Shore News - A37

them, count them and report back to guest services for entry in a contest.

in a holiday ice show on the skating pond beside Santa’s Workshop.

All of the proceeds from the donations and admission fees will be presented to the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund and the Capilano Suspension Bridge’s goal is to raise $20,000 toward the organization`s Burn Awareness Week in BC elementary schools.

Santa is very much a part of the fun during the Peak of Christmas and you can join him for a memorable festive breakfast from December 14 to 24 from 9 to 11am. Seating is limited so make sure you reserve by calling 604-980-9311.

Peak of Christmas brings the snow to you For some people, it’s not really Christmas until they see snow. We are fortunate on the North Shore to be able to have our Christmas cake and eat it too. Grouse Mountain’s annual Peak of Christmas celebration is literally above all the others. Until December 24th, there’s outdoor skating and ice shows, Santa Claus with live reindeer Dancer and Vixen, carollers, choirs and musicians, Christmas movies and a whole host of holiday season activities.

If you need to come in and warm up for a while, there will be regular screenings of favourite Christmas classics in the Grouse Mountain Chalet’s Theatre in the Sky. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Shrek the Halls and The Grinch are just some of the films scheduled and offer a chance for you to share some of your favourite holiday season viewing with your children.

Also on display is the SOS Children’s Village Parade of Trees. Brightly lit Christmas trees are sponsored and On December 10th and 17th from 1 to 2 pm and 4 to 5 pm, decorated by local businesses and organizations you can learn to ice with the proceeds skate with world going toward champion Karen supporting Magnussen For some people, orphaned and friends. it’s not really and At 5:30 on Christmas until abandoned the 17th, they see snow. children Karen and her around the friends will also world. be performing

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Christmas is a time to celebrate and reflect, to think of those we love and share a little with others we may have never met. From the bright lights of the city to the darkness of the forest and mountain tops, we have opportunities found perhaps in no other city on earth. Take advantage, share, enjoy and savour. Merry Christmas and the best of the holiday season to all. ●

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Weekend Getaways_December 2011  

weekend getaways Christmas edition

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