Activities & Outdoors

Canyon Nights @ Capilano Suspension Bridge

image1There’s a lot going on in and around Vancouver during the holiday season, but Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge just might take the cake for most festive (and fun!) Although the Cap Suspension Bridge is often thought of as a tourist playground (which isn’t exactly un-true during the spring/summer time), Canyon Nights transforms the park into a “winter wonderland” that locals (and toursits) alike are sure to appreciate. To avoid long lineups and a crowded park, I’d recommend checking it out on a weekday evening. With hundreds of thousands of lights decking out the park, suspension bridge, cliff walks, cafes and shopping areas, it truly is a sight to see.

It’s crazy to think how much time and effort must go into setting up for Canyon Lights, but it’s well worth the admission price ($32.95) – which may seem a bit steep, but if you’re a BC resident the admission price actually gets you a multiple-use pass that’s good year-round! It’s a great way to spend an evening with friends, family or a special someone. After you’re done taking a walk through the park and throughout the canyon walks, you can grab a spiked hot chocolate (Baileys & hot cocoa) or a craft beer at the outdoor cafe (reasonably priced at about $6 per drink!) There’s also plenty of food and snacks available, as well as gingerbread decorating for the kids (or young at heart). There was a live band performing in front of the souvenir shop when we checked it out last week as well (so festive…)

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The Sociables recommends you check out Capilano Suspension Bridge’s Canyon Nights before it closes on January 3rd! For full details and more info, check out Capilano Suspension Bridge’s website.

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Things to Do in Vancouver: November 2013 Edition

Ah, November… that month between Halloween and Christmas, where your neighbours to the left still have rotting pumpkins on their porch, and your neighbours to the right had their Christmas lights turned on the second the clock struck midnight on November 1st. Lucky for us, there’s plenty of fun events, festivals and fairs happening around town for the next four weeks – check out our (growing) list of Things to Do in Vancouver: November 2013 edition. Sound off in the Comments section and let us know of any other events we may have missed that you think should make the list! If you’ve attended any of these events last year, we’d love to hear your feedback on them as well!

Every Friday NightFriday Night Late Movies at the Rio
November’s Late Night schedule was just released, and every Friday this month, you can catch 80s and 90s classics at the Rio – The Lost Boys, Thelma & Louise, Drop Dead Fred and Heathers (in that order).

Every Saturday from 10am-2pm - Vancouver Winter Farmers Market
Check out the Winter Farmers Market at 30th & Ontario (Nat Bailey Stadium) for some fresh, local, organic eats.

November 7th – 10thVancouver Asian Film Festival
VAFF brings 40 films from local, American and international filmmakers to Vancouver this fall, including one on “Linsanity” with Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin; a cop thriller with Those Asian Guys from “Dexter” and “Twilight Saga”; a North Korean comedy (yes, really) about a trapeze artist; a Japanese documentary on being “hafu” (mixed race); and a chiller about an Asian serial killer with a very particular angle. All screenings take place at (my favorite theatre in town) Cineplex Odeon Tinseltown.

November 7th – 11th –  Circle Craft Christmas Fair
Yep, it’s November, which means it’s basically Christmas. Vancouver Convention Centre West plays host to this year’s Circle Craft Christmas Fair, where you can check out everything from glass blowers to toy makers to sculptors and jewellery designers. Admission is only $10 (or $6 if you go after 5PM).

November 7th – 14thVancouver Jewish Film Festival
The Vancouver Jewish Film Festival is the longest running Jewish film festival in Canada. We have an established track record and we are proud to bring the best and most current films to our Vancouver communities. The Festival is inclusive and encourages multi-cultural interaction and presents high quality entertainment. Comedies, feature dramas, thrillers, hot and timely documentaries and whimsical shorts are programmed to appeal to a wide audience base.

November 11th – 17th, 2013Hopscotch Festival Vancouver
Vancouver’s premium whiskey, beer and spirit festival is celebrating its 18th year in 2013 (that’s right, if the festival were a person, it could legally drink in Alberta!) Renowned as one of the best drinking festivals in the world, Hopscotch Festival boasts over 100 booths, 300 products to taste, as well as a slew of master classes and satellite events. Prep those livers, Vancouver!

November 11th, 2013Remembrance Day at Victory Square
This Remembrance Day, take a moment to stop and pay your respects at Victory Square in Gastown. Their annual Remembrance Day celebration and parade takes place from 10am-12pm (I work right across the street, and every year I make a point to leave the office and check it out)

November 14thYoga with the Beluga Whales
Vancouver Aquarium will be hosting Yoga with the Beluga Whales from 8:30-9:30am on the 14th, where participants will be able to enjoy the serenity of the underwater beluga exhibit while doing the most Vancouver thing possible… yoga. Tickets are $31.50.

November 16th – 17thEastside Culture Crawl
The 17th Annual Eastside Culture Crawl – Vancouver’s 3-day visual arts, design and crafts festival. This event involves more than 15,000 people visiting artists in their studios in the area bounded by Main Street and Victoria Drive north of First Avenue in Vancouver, Canada. I would argue this is one of the most exciting events of the month – it’s a great place to admire all of this city’s dedicated local talent, soak up some culture, and hopefully spark some of your own creativity!

November 17th – Deck the Dark
Deck the Dark is a Strathcona Community guerilla event to bring light to dark spaces, will be happening in MacLean’s park on Sunday November 17th at 4pm. Lights, equipment, and warm drinks will be provided for the community to come together and sporadically light up the space during the beginning of the dark winter months. Residents are welcome to bring their own lights and equipment to add to the display.

November 22nd – 24thVancouver Alternative Fashion Week (VALT)
VALT provides Vancouver’s wildly explosive alt-fashion scene with a unique departure from more traditional runway shows. This multi-day event boasts over 50 jury-selected artists, musicians, performers and fashion designers, in a celebration and promotion of unbridled creativity. VALT 2013 blends music, art, technology, culture and fashion into a fully interactive and immersive experience over 3 nights of futuristically-themed revelry. This year’s theme is broken up into three components – Utopia, Dystopia and Techtopia. Check out VALT 2013 at the Centre for Digital Media. Tickets are $25/night, or $60 for a weekend pass.

November 23rdUgly Sweater Run
Trendy marathons seem to be the thing to do these days in Vancouver, so rummage up the Ugliest Sweaters you can find and celebrate the Holidays by participating in “the best 5k of the year.”  Join thousands of runners and walkers from around North America at a local Ugly Sweater Run near you. If you’ve never run a 5k before, this is a great way to burn some calories before receiving hot chocolate and beer. Cost is $39 if you’re running solo, or $34 if you’re in a group of 4 or more – all proceeds benefit The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

November 23rdCandyTown: A Yaletown Christmas Festival
We checked out CandyTown last year, and it was good ol’ fashioned holiday fun. Mainland street was lined with booths that were selling snacks, hot beverages and Christmas ornaments/decorations, there were ice sculptors putting on live shows, a skating rink built by the Skytrain, horse-drawn carriages, and (the best part of the entire day in my opinion) an adorable one-antlered reindeer. Cool to see that the event will now be an annual occurrence on Mainland Street!

November 30th, 2013 – January 4th, 2014 - Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
I actually just made a trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge this past weekend (my first time going in about 6 years) and I absolutely loved it – The bridge itself still terrifies me, but it’s a great way to spend an hour or two and enjoy the great outdoors. When I went, I noticed a ton of staff lurking in the trees hanging Christmas lights (in prep of Canyon Lights). For some outdoor holiday fun, be sure to check out this annual event, where the entire park is decked out in thousands of twinkling lights. Yes, admission to the Bridge can be a bit pricey, but you’ll feel good knowing that proceeds will be donated to the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund.

November 30th – Christmas on the Drive
The event is on November 30th, 2013 from 1pm- 5pm in Grandview Park (between Charles & Williams Street on Commercial Drive). Santa Claus  will be at the Park (BYOCamera), Horse & Carriage Rides, Ice Sculptures, Photo Booth, The Vancouver Opera will be singing, Kids Activites,  a goody bag for the first 200 hundred people and the lighting of our huge Christmas tree in the park around sunset. All activities are free or by donation with the donations going to The Kettle Friendship Society.

The Deighton Cup: A Weekend at the Races

The Deighton Cup: A Weekend at the Races

Photo courtesy www.the-sociallife.com (Photo by Viranlly Liemena)

Although The Deighton Cup is now in its fifth year, this was my first time attending… and boy, have I been missing out! Every August, the who’s who of Vancouver make their way out to the Hastings Race Course for a weekend of fashion, food, cocktails, cigars, and (of course) horse races. The Deighton Cup is comprised of three nights – the first being The Big Smoke on Friday, followed by the Thoroughbred (the “big” event) on Saturday, and concluding with The Julep on Sunday.

The Big Smoke sets the standard for the Deighton weekend, where one can puff away on a fine cigar, swirl around a tumbler of scotch like you’re part of the ‘Mad Men’ cast, enjoy a nice dinner with beautiful people, and of course, throw down some bets on the races! And this is just the beginning…

The Thoroughbred is the main event of the weekend, where Vancouver’s finest are dressed to the nines. At the Thoroughbred, you wouldn’t believe that you were in “one of the worst-dressed cities in North America,” because my God, Vancouver – you looked GOOD! The people watching alone was worth the $75 ticket price – women looked gorgeous in big hats, bigger sunglasses, gloves and fascinators, while the gents looked dapper in bowties, blazers, suspenders and newsboy caps. It felt like I was at a summer party in the Hamptons and the Kentucky Derby all at the same time! The event was a fun excuse to get dressed up, but anyone who knows me well, knows that my closet is comprised of black, white and grey… Color is strange and foreign to me, so naturally I went for a retro black-and-white outfit for the day.

After a few glasses of Veuve Clicquot and a beer or two from Whistler Brewing Co (side note: I’m now addicted to their Whiskey Jack Ale), I decided it would be a good idea to place a few bets. Fast forward ten minutes later, when I lost every single bet I placed due to the fact that I know absolutely nothing about horses… or gambling, for that matter! So naturally I went back to the bar. The rest of the afternoon was spent smoking cigars, sipping champagne, taking in some live music, mingling and enjoying the sunshine – so basically if you like well-dressed people, good cocktails, cigars, food and music (which should be all of you) – you really need to get a ticket to next year’s Thoroughbred! We also hit up the after party, The After Track at Imperial Club (put on by CanThrill Move The Crowd). Not gonna lie – that part of the day’s a bit of a blur! But it certainly was nice to see everyone in a bit of a more laid back environment, cutting loose and having fun!

The Julep (Sunday’s event) is more of an industry event, where mixologists and bartenders compete in a cocktail competition for a cash prize (and, of course, bragging rights!) The Mint Julep is a popular summer drink that Kentucky Derby-goers are familiar with – so the competition pitted Vancouver’s finest bartenders against one another to put a new “spin” on the classic cocktail. Ultimately Sean McGuigan of The Clough Club took home top honors for his drink called The Guiterrez’.

The Deighton Cup is easily one of the most important social weekends of the summer in Vancouver. This may have been my first time making it out, but it most certainly will not be my last! Keep an eye out on www.deightoncup.com for updates and announcements about 2014′s festivities!

Vancouver Pride Parade 2013 Photos

Vancouver Pride Parade 2013 Photos - August 4, 2013

Vancouver Pride Parade is the largest, inclusive and most internationally renowned all inclusive LGBTQ parade.  This year was the 35th anniversary of this special event and over 650,000 crowded in to downtown Vancouver to take part in this occasion.

Tattoo Removal

Mid-tattoo removal… trying to internalize the pain.

Like many of you out there, I initially started Googling tattoo removal simply out of curiosity (or so I thought). I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t actually want/need to remove one of my tattoos, but perhaps I just wanted to know that it was an option. Well, sure enough, a few days ago I decided to bite the bullet and go in for a removal consultation & treatment. To be completely honest, the only thing that was holding me back from ever booking the removal was the cost – there’s countless places in town (and all over North America) that charge upwards of $300 per session (there’s even a company in town that charges you by the square inch of your tattoo..), and it’s common to need anywhere from 7-10 treatments, depending on a wide array of factors (which I’ll get into later).

After spending a bit of time online one night, I came across Gastown Tattoo Removal (located in Gastown Tattoo Parlor at Abbot & Cordova) – the only place in town that seemed to have affordable removal options. You’ll need to go in for a consultation, but it could cost as little as $75 per treatment (their minimum charge) or up to $150. Hallelujah! A tattoo removal company that was open and honest about their pricing!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-tattoos.. In fact, I have another tattoo (on my spine) that I will never get rid of. If anything, I’ll actually be going back to Gastown Tattoo to get it touched up. I know plenty of people with amazing body art, and I’m all for it. This one on my forearm just wasn’t doing anything for me anymore, though. I just want my forearm back!

I went in for my consultation and met with Ed, who is hands-down one of the most personable, friendly, no-bullshit people I’ve ever met. Another major thing I like about Gastown Tattoo Removal is the atmosphere. I know a lot of dermatologists offer tattoo removal now, but this place has character – the staff is all incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, there’s cool artwork and stencilings all over the walls, there’s music playing… I guess it just had a relaxed, safe feel to it that helped put me at ease about the fact that I was about to endure a ridiculously painful removal process.

The consultation was a pretty smooth, worry-free process. Ed asked me several questions about my health/lifestyle and had me fill out a questionnaire to make sure there were no red flags (If you’re thinking about tattoo removal, the person doing the removal has the right to request a note from your doctor as he/she sees fit) Luckily, I passed with flying colors.

So my adrenaline began to kick in around the time the laser turned on. Suddenly it became real. All the horror stories I had read about the excruciating pain began popping up in my head. When I asked Ed if it hurt, he told me straight up that it’s painful. And he was correct. Gastown Tattoo Removal actually let me and James bring in cameras to document the process, so there’s going to be a video posted in the coming weeks, where I embarrass myself in front of the internet. No, but seriously, the video is going to document the entire removal process – from consultation to completion (which is a long process, let’s be clear), but there’s little to no full documentation of an entire removal process online, so it seems like a video that could help a lot of people better understand the whole removal process, see the progress of my removal over X amount of time, see what kind of weird things might happen to me along the way, and get to know Ed & Gastown Tattoo Removal. So far, so good – it’s been 2 days since the removal, and I’m showing no signs of swelling, peeling, or blistering. But I still have anywhere from 7-9 more treatments to go! Look for our video in the coming weeks!

The Grouse Grind Experience

The Grouse Grind Experience

Having lived in Vancouver for a little over three years now, I’m ashamed to admit I had never done the Grouse Grind… that is, until, I finally grew a pair and gave it a shot this past weekend. That’s right – I lost my Grouse Grind V-Card. Everyone has their own story about “the Grind” (as the locals call it) – whether it’s a horror story (asthma attacks, physical injuries, loss of cell phone reception) or a personal best (y’know… those jackasses who claim they’re “only competing with themselves” and complain about finishing in 35 minutes). I did the Grind with five friends – and only three of us made it to the top…

The beginning of the Grind is deceiving – you see tourists, seniors and visibly-out-of-shape people begin their trek, and you think to yourself, “If those misfits can conquer this mountain, than so can I.” The beginning is a cake walk – how could anyone NOT finish this in 30 minutes? There’s a mild incline, beautiful scenery, and everyone seems to be smiling and laughing as they hop and skip their way up the mountain (for the first 1/4 of it, anyway).

Before you do the Grind, make sure you dress appropriately. I, myself, opted for runners, shorts, an old t-shirt and a ball cap (typical workout gear). If only everyone got this memo beforehand… Morons who thought it would be a good idea to wear jeans and a designer shirt now look like they got thrown into a swimming pool. Poor girls who spent an hour doing their hair and make-up beforehand now look like Dee Snyder. And the old people who were expecting a peaceful uphill trek? Well, let’s just say I emotionally prepared myself to have to bury them on that mountain. It’s almost like there was a point between the 1/4 mark and the halfway mark that separated the men from the boys.

A few minutes later, we lost two of our friends… To be fair, one of them has had respiratory issues from an early age, but attempted the Grind with good intentions. He decided to turn around, and hike back down the mountain, and our other friend decided to escort him down (Side note: Grouse Mountain prohibits anyone from hiking down the mountain. They say it’s to prevent congestion on the path, but skeptics believe it’s just a cash grab so people have to pay $10 to take the gondola to get back to the parking lot)

As the remaining three of us continued up the hill, it was amusing to observe the people on the sidelines. Sure, the three of us took breaks every couple of minutes to stop and catch our breath, wipe away the sweat and chug some water, but there were literally people eating out of Chinese take-out boxes and watching videos on their iPhones. I’m not even kidding. Apparently we’ve all forgotten how to go ONE hour without YouTube or Panda Express.

The hardest part of the climb (in my opinion) lies between the halfway mark and the 3/4 mark. You’ll literally approach the halfway sign, feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation, and then BOOM! Mother nature kicks you in the groin as you struggle to make it to the 3/4 mark. By this point, I wasn’t so much racing the clock as I was just trying not to keel over and die.

Fast forward ten minutes later, when we see a clearing in the trees. Could we finally be at the top of the mountain?! In the distance we can see the corner of the Grouse Mountain lodge, which immediately reminds us that beer is a thing. That was enough motivation for the three of us to haul ass up the home stretch, and b-line it for the lounge. We followed up our strenuous workout the only way we knew how… with pulled pork poutine, burgers and $9 bottles of domestic beer. So how long did it take us? 70 minutes. According to Grouse Mountain staff, it takes most people 90 minutes to complete (I swear they just say that to make everyone feel better about themselves). Regardless, the Grouse Grind was a very rewarding experience… And not just because of the beer. The view at the top is breathtaking, and it certainly feels good to accomplish a feat like the Grind. Not only that, but there’s tons more to do up top like zip lining, paragliding and lumberjack shows!