It may seem counterintuitive, but January and February are busy months in Vancouver. Years ago, restaurateurs got together and created Dine Out Vancouver to help combat slow post-Christmas sales. It’s become a tradition and there can be fierce competition to get reservations for the discounted, set course meals at some of the swankier tables in town. One of the most anticipated events, though, is not all that swanky. Street Food City is a four-day gathering of some of Vancouver’s hottest food trucks and many of them have added Dine Out exclusive dishes. I suspect there will be line ups around the block again this year.
Other events have grown up around the Dine Out frenzy, like Feast Van, which offers prix fixe meals at a nice selection of mid-range restaurants, with $1.00 from each meal benefitting the Strathcona Community Center Backpack Food Program. I admire their model – great food for a great cause.
Another favourite of mine is the Hot Chocolate Festival, which runs until the middle of February. It’s a great way to wait out the last of the chill and sample some of Vancouver’s finest chocolatiers.
It’s not all about food, though. This weekend, the Museum of Vancouver is presenting their annual Winter Wander, which allows you to visit all six Vanier Park venues for a total of $5.00. It’s a great way to explore these out-of-the-way attractions and I suspect a lot of people buy yearly memberships after their visits – a boon to venues and patrons alike. It’s also time for the PuSh Festival of Performing Arts, which seems to get bigger and more innovative every year.
In sadder news, the legendary Ridge Theatre will be screening its very last films in the coming weeks as they present their Last Film Festival. Vancouver has lost so much of its cultural capacity and heritage to out-of-control, cookie-cutter condo development. The Ridge and The Waldorf are just the latest casualties.
Though it’s true that venues come and go, in Vancouver they seem to go and go and go. Affordable space for upcoming musicians, actors, and dancers seems increasingly endangered. I don’t think the solution is for ‘everybody’ to move to New Westminster, either.
My worries about the future aside, I’ll leave you with something to look forward to – the 2013 Vancouver Poutine Festival has just been announced and it’s going to be bigger than ever. You might want to make some travel plans for early March, as at least one of my out-of-town friends is trying to arrange.