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Jill Von Sprecken

Spiritual Journey: MOA’s (In)visible Exhibit

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

“Miao” by Li Jiun-Yang

“Miao” by Taiwanese artist Li Jiun-Yang

Take a trip into another world—no passport required—at the Museum of Anthropology’s (In)visible: The Spiritual World of Taiwan Through Contemporary Art (to Apr. 3). Ghosts, spirits and deities reign supreme in Taiwan, a tiny island nation with a fascinating history. For millennia, trade and colonialism have contributed to the complex spiritual landscape, which encompasses Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and animism, to name just a few. Now, seven artists explore the otherworldly through art, such as Li Jiun-Yang’s “Miao” (pictured), an installation piece that resembles a Buddhist temple. Certainly a worthy addition to any itinerary.

Join the Après-Ski Scene

After a day spent playing in powder, skiers and snowboarders head down the mountain for après festivities that earned number-one ratings from SKI magazine and range from dancing-on-the-bar revelry to craft cocktails enjoyed fireside

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Longhorn Saloon’s lively patio. (Photo: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler)

Longhorn Saloon’s lively patio. (Photo: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler)

BEER & BURGERS
That last run down the slope is where things begin in Whistler Village, and Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill is just a sliding stop from the base of Whistler Mountain. Watch skiers from the patio or peel off layers by the fireplace. DJs and live music keep the energy high, while pitchers of beer and pub fare make it the perfect kick-off point. (more…)

A Toast to Juniper

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The Catalan gin and tonic with thyme, grapefruit and Mediterranean tonic

Head to Juniper for the Catalan gin and tonic with thyme, grapefruit and Mediterranean tonic

Newly launched Juniper is shaking up Chinatown with a potent mix of charisma, cocktail creativity and Cascadia-inspired, down-home dishes. The spirited space features Pacific Northwest flavours that range from Fraser Valley pork to juniper-cured salmon, and lively libations such as no-nonsense negronis—on tap, no less—regional wines, and over 30 gins for matching with an array of aromatic tonics. We’ll raise a glass to that (mostly so we can order another).

Flight of Fancy

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

From November through February, nearby Brackendale boasts one of the world's largest populations of bald eagles

November through February, nearby Brackendale boasts one of the world’s largest populations of bald eagles

Birds of a feather flock together. It’s especially true in beautiful Brackendale, where from mid-Nov. through Feb., the tiny town hosts one of the largest populations of bald eagles worldwide—all thanks to the feast of spawning salmon. For a bird’s-eye view of the feathered arrivals, take a float down the Cheakamus River with Sunwolf. Expect to see dozens of eagles along the glacier-fed river, plus breathtaking views of the Tantalus Range and surrounding scenery. It’s the perfect place for nature lovers to flock together, too.

On the Brink: PuSh Festival 2016

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

See  at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. (Photo: John Lauener)

See Century Song at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. (Photo: John Lauener)

Ready to bend your boundaries? Then head to the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (Jan. 19 to Feb. 7). Now in its 12th year, the annual fest celebrates groundbreaking theatre, dance, music and visual arts in over 150 performances by an array of globetrotting artists. See works such as Century Song (pictured), a provocative piece that uses voice and body to move audiences through the 20th century. It’s an evening spent on the edge—of your seat, that is.

Opera Warriors at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

See Opera Warriors at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. (Photo: Image China)

See Opera Warriors at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. (Photo: Image China)

Opera Warriors has everything a theatre-goer could ask for: gravity-defying acrobatics, amazing martial arts and jaw-dropping dance. The spellbinding spectacle follows three young martial arts protégés, who join a theatrical troupe to find their fortunes onstage. If the thrilling story of life, death and beauty doesn’t dazzle, the over 200 extravagant costumes and 40 masterful dancers certainly will. See it at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Jan. 5 to 6.

Holiday Magic: The Nutcracker

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

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Journey to the Land of Sweets with The Nutcracker, Dec 29 to 31

If visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head, you just might be at The Nutcracker. The Alberta Ballet and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra bring to life the Land of Sweets in a lavish production that sparkles with opulent Imperial Russia–themed sets and costumes. Pirouette your way to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to see this classic performance, Dec. 29 to 31.

Great Shakes from Soft Peaks

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Soft-Peaks-MilkshakeGroup

Not just the place for ice cream, Soft Peaks has milkshakes too

Soft Peaks is no stranger to shaking up dessert. When the Gastown shop first opened in February, lengthy line-ups for the swirls of handmade ice cream persisted despite the winter weather. Now the menu has expanded to include milkshakes made from the same queue-generating organic soft serve. Put a straw in flavours such as original (with its hint of honey), chocolate, and vanilla, or the rotating monthly flavour. Definitely worth the wait—whatever the weather.

Lee Bul at the Vancouver Art Gallery

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

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“Untitled” by Lee Bul (Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein courtesy of Lehman Maupin Gallery, New York)

Stepping into Lee Bul’s self-titled exhibition is like falling down the rabbit hole. From coloured drawings of monstrous cyborgs to mirrored labyrinths to glittering installation pieces, the acclaimed Korean artist’s retrospective creates a world that would earn the Mad Hatter’s approval. Take a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery (to Jan. 10) for works such as “Untitled” (pictured), a chandelier-like sculpture that evokes both utopia and chaos in one seductive-yet-ruinous sculpture. Welcome to Wonderland.

Get Snow Globed!

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

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Hop in a snow globe and snap a few pictures for charity at Harbour Centre

Even if flakes aren’t falling on temperate Vancouver, it’s possible to step into a winter wonderland. Just head to Harbour Centre to Get Snow Globed (to Dec. 24). The set-up is perfect for shaking up traditional holiday snaps—sitting on Saint Nick’s knee not required. Plus, all proceeds go to the Kettle Society, a program that provides support to those living with mental illness. Cool keepsake, warm heart.

Vancouver Life: Framing the City

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

PacGateway

Alan Chung Hung’s “Gate to the Northwest Package”

In a twist on convention, the monumental “Gate to the Northwest Passage” seems to be the frame—and the city view, the art. Crafted to commemorate the arrival of the city’s namesake, Captain George Vancouver, the weathered steel sculpture made waves when it was first installed in Vanier Park in 1980. Even the Globe and Mail chimed in, teasing that it could be “the world’s largest paper clip.” In reality, the piece was inspired by two—rather more impressive—instruments: a plane table and Davis quadrant, likely used by Captain Vancouver when navigating his 18th-century explorations. These days, the sculpture by Alan Chung Hung is nothing short of iconic. And regardless of what you see—tools, frame or paper clip—the view through its centre is always spectacular.

Local Art: Eastside Culture Crawl

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

CultureCrawl

“Ali’s Bachelorette” by Jessie McNeil, one of many works by participating local artists

Want to get up close and personal with Vancouver’s vibrant art scene? Then get ready to take a peek into the homes and studios of local talent. No, it’s not snooping. It’s the Eastside Culture Crawl (Nov. 19 to 22), back for its 19th year. Download a map from the Crawl’s website and join more than 20,000 art admirers as they rub shoulders with artists in their workspaces on this free, self-guided tour. Explore edgy East Van and peruse original works, including pieces by mixed-media artist Jessie McNeil (“Ali’s Bachelorette,” pictured).