Winter Travel ’09: British Columbia

The Olympics aren’t the only games in town

091113_travel_BC_wideTHE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST WALKING TOUR/VICTORIA (December)
A 90-minute tour of Victoria’s supernatural past includes the story of Adelaide Griffin (she died in 1861, and her image is the city’s first documented ghost sighting, first spotted at Christmastime) and the ghosts of Helmcken Alley, at the site of the old town jail. The prison was torn down in 1885 but, some claim, rattling chains and footsteps can sometimes be heard in the alley, while others swear they’ve seen a man dressed in prison garb. Brave participants learn about the legend of Christmas Hill and a murder that took place on the steps of St. Andrew’s following Christmas Eve mass in 1890.

CLAYOQUOT OYSTER FESTIVAL/TOFINO (Nov. 19 to 21)
Tofino’s stunning coastline warrants a visit any time of year, but for one weekend every November the city, where 50,000 gallons of oysters are harvested annually, celebrates all things from the sea. Visitors can partake of raw oyster bars, educational oyster farm tours, and a Mermaid’s Ball (prizes are awarded for the best costume and best oyster slurper). During the Oyster Gala wrap-up party local chefs compete to create the best oyster dishes.

TWILIGHT ZIPTREKKING/WHISTLER (December to March)
Once the sun sets, adrenalin junkies, with only a headlamp to guide their way, are harnessed to a steel cable before stepping blindly off canopy bridges and boardwalks in Whistler’s snow-capped rainforest, about 46 m above the ground. As if there wasn’t enough outdoor adventure in Whistler.

VANCOUVER BIENNALE (now until 2011)
This free international art fair features exhibits throughout the city. Take advantage of the mild West Coast weather this winter and admire 30 sculptures from more than 25 nations, light installations from 100 artists, and various performance art and new media installations. Among the most anticipated works include LED neon displays by Jittish Kallat of India, the renowned “laughing man” pieces from Yue Minjun of China, and the overwhelmingly positive contemporary works of Jaume Plensa of Spain.

THE 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS/VANCOUVER-WHISTLER (Feb. 12 to 28)
For those willing to shell out for, well, just about everything, the Olympics in Vancouver promise to be the biggest party Canada has seen since Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988. Sure, scoring tickets to the big events this late in the game is nearly impossible, but every bar and restaurant in town will be teeming with Olympic spirit. For those who find themselves without a pair of tickets to the gold medal hockey final—or are just in need of a break from all the action—consider taking in Vancouver’s 2010 Cultural Olympiad, showcasing the best in international and Canadian arts and culture. Between Jan. 22 and March 21, the Olympiad will feature a number of musical performances, including a Neil Young tribute headlined by Broken Social Scene. Other events range from a magical carnival to the explosive Japanese martial arts drummers of Tao.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.hellobc.com

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