Activities in Vancouver for the Old-Fashioned and the Cultural Lovers

Last year, I ranted about how Vancouver, BC, Canada is not for the old-fashioned. We’re a true misfit and minority if we love heritage buildings (by my terms, I mean protected and unprotected historically ‘old’ buildings), vintage and antique clothing, antiques, operas, plays, ballets (with costumes fitting the eras), and period dramas. In 2011, I dreaded thinking of having to spend the next few years in my hometown (Vancouver being my hometown is the only reason I’m back here, by the way), deprived of all that culturally enriches and delights me. I just wanted to be back in Europe where I belong!

Luckily during the last few years, I’ve found a few activities and events in Vancouver that will allow us to escape into another time and world. So fret not!

Performing Arts


We need our Shakespeare dosage. Thankfully, young adults and students under 25 are entitled to discounted tickets at $27 rather than $33-47. This year, more special events have been added, including Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Bard, Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical, and Academie Duello’s Fight Night. My personal favourite special event is UBC Opera’s Operas & Arias. These students are talented!

This year, Bard on the Beach will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Cymbeline, and Equivocation (by Bill Cain).

Price: $27 (for youth 6-25 year-olds)
Seating: I believe they changed it this year to assigned seating (please confirm with them) :/ That said, instead of waiting in the queue to pick the best seat, you’ll want to buy your tickets ASAP!
Book: Online, by phone or at box office.
Venue: Vanier Park. There are 2 tents: main (view of water & mountains) and studio (no view)
Facebook: Bardonthebeach


  • Ballet company tours

I’m not saying that BC Ballet is bad but the style simply isn’t mine. I’m sure the dancers are superb and maybe one day I’ll watch one of their performances. Unfortunately for them, if there aren’t pretty tutus, classical music, or classical ballet, I’m just not interested. 😦

In the last two years, I’ve been blessed to be able to attend the Mikhailovsky Theatre‘s Swan Lake and Cuban National Ballet’s Don Quixote, thanks to the discounted tickets from Tickets Tonight. I’ve also seen three versions of The Nutcracker from Goh Ballet, BC & Alberta Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. My one regret is that I missed RWB’s Romeo & Juliet this year. RWB’s ballets usually feature the most beautiful costumes.

Learn and dance to contradances and English country dances for $12 and to live fiddle music! I keep missing the chance to attend one but I’m hoping to try again this autumn. Take a look at the schedule here.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this society in Vancouver! I had taken two Baroque dance lessons in Munich but had to drop it due to limited finances. Imagine my delight when I found out I could learn Baroque dancing in Vancouver! Catherine recently taught five classes at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. She will be teaching more classes at the Dance Centre this summer, so keep your eyes peeled! It’s affordable and it’s lots of fun for all ages. No pressure to be perfect. 😉


I’ve had the misfortune of attending some famous operas only to find modern costumes and sets. It’s just not the same anymore. I usually wait to see what kind of costumes and sets the operas I’d like to see will have before purchasing my O.U.T. (Opera Under Thirty-five) ticket for $30. I’m looking forward to seeing Carmen again this 2014/2015 season. Maybe I’ll even see Die Fledermaus (one of my favourite operas, but VO will set this in Vancouver) and Sweeney Todd.

Price: $30 (18-35 year olds)
Seating: Seating varies. You could be in the mezzanine or upstairs in the balcony.
Book: Online or by phone. Check Twitter, Facebook or their Blogger for the promo code for each performance and provide it when choosing a date.
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Facebook: VancouverOpera

I love visiting the 1920’s Orpheum theatre for any VSO concert. If you’re under 30/35, get the All-Access Pass and attend concerts for $15! Best concert in my opinion is the one-night Last Night of the Proms.

Price: $15 (the website advertises $15 but I’d attended 2 concerts from 2011-12 for $10)
Seating: All except dress circle. I’ve always had row 4 seating (however, you may select your own seat and sit farther away from the stage)
Book: Online. Up to 2 weeks before performance. Sometimes you may have to wait a few days afterwards. Call customer service (604.876.3434) to see if the performance is eligible for the All-Access Pass to avoid disappointment (i.e. waiting til last minute for cheap tix).
Venue: usually Orpheum Theatre
Facebook: VSOrchestra


I still can’t believe there’s a Jane Austen society in Vancouver. They meet every month and there are various events that take place. As much as I love Jane Austen, I don’t feel qualified enough to be a Janeite… but this might be something to try one day. I was really hoping for a Jane Austen ball or something to allow us to dress up.

I had just learned about this society from a church member who said I would like this. I certainly am looking forward to attending a Scriptorium and Dance practise.

Vintage Wear & Hats

  • SMOC (The Society for the Museum of Original Costume)

Every month or so, there’s a historical fashion lecture with models wearing historical and vintage outfits. My very first show that I attended was on the Little Black Dress. SMOC is taking a summer hiatus now but will return on Sunday, 21 September with ‘The Sporting Life: Historical Dress of Fun and Games.’ (Check their Facebook page for updates and photos.)

  • Ivan Sayers’ Historical Fashion shows

Ivan Sayers is usually the main presenter for SMOC’s fashion shows. Known for his wit and knowledge on history and fashion history, he’s also been asked to present in various venues for different organisations. I’ve been honoured to be one of his models for a year now. The next two shows he’s presenting, ‘Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers’ Art Deco Chic: Women’s Clothing of the 1920s & 1930s‘, will be at the Langley Centennial Museum in Fort Langley on Sunday, 1 June.

The Saucy Milliner has several vintage hat blocks so that you can buy a 1920’s or 1940’s silhouette hat for yourself! She also hosts a few 2-day intro to millinery workshops so you can block your own hats. I had the pleasure of taking her weekend workshop in 2011 and have learned how challenging it is to make hats. If hat making is not for you, then do visit her Facebook page to see some of her beautiful works of art!

I had the pleasure of meeting Vivian from Second Chance Hats two years ago when she had her old booth at the Vancouver Flea Market. I have bought countless of vintage hats from her. Not only does she have the most beautiful hats and head pieces from all decades for men and women, she also has some great selections of vintage clothing. Now that she’s moved from Vancouver, she will be visiting the city every so often for the Retro fair at the Croatian Community Centre and for the Time Travelers’ Bazaar.

I missed the first year of Vancouver’s first and only costumers’ market and rummage sale in 2013 so I was very glad to be able to make it this April. While most of the tables featured Steampunk and Dieselpunk, there were a few tables with Medieval and Victorian costumes, as well as vintage hats and clothing.

Historical Buildings

I haven’t joined a walking tour of historical houses in Vancouver yet but I hope to one of these days. I recently learned that in the City of Vancouver, not even a heritage plaque protects historical buildings from being demolished. How I hate Glasscouver.

With Urban Tea Merchant being an exception (because it truly is superior), there’s no better place to have afternoon tea than in a heritage house. I’ve already had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea at Für Elise (a Queen Anne style house) and London Heritage Farm (a Victorian farm house) in Steveston. The latter serves the most delicious lavender scones, by the way. I also plan on visiting Adorabelle (the Old Courthouse from 1925) in Steveston for afternoon tea at some point.


You can visit my other blog, Little Europe in Vancouver, for a list of upcoming events and activities related to Europe, including operas. I’d also written a post last year on discounts for cultured Vancouverites. For more local tips, visit the Local Tips: Vancouver page.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and will find plenty of things to do while you’re in Vancouver. If you have any more suggestions, I would love to hear them!

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120th Anniversary of The Nutcracker Ballet

Ballet dancers and enthusiasts,

My 300th post is dedicated to today’s 120th anniversary of The Nutcracker ballet, an annual Christmas favourite for people around the world. This is one of my favourite Tchaikovsky ballets, along with Swan Lake. My favourite part is the No 14 Pas de Deux. Something about the music just makes me tear up!

Google's 18 Dec 2012 Doodle

Google’s 18 Dec 2012 Doodle

According to Wikipedia, the ballet was first premiered in the [Imperial] Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg on Sunday, 18 December 1892. What is particularly interesting is that the original production was not a success and the ballet only became popular from the late 1960’s on. Below is a photo from the original production, where the children characters were actually played by child students from the Imperial Ballet School of St Petersburg.

English: Photo of Stanislava Belinskaya as Cla...

English: Photo of Stanislava Belinskaya as Clara (left), an unknown performer (center), & Vassily Stulkolin as Fritz (right) in the Imperial Ballet’s original production of the Petipa/Ivanov/Tchaikovsky ballet “The Nutcracker”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May we enjoy many more years of The Nutcracker! 🙂

Recommendation du Jour: Breaking Pointe

Today’s topic is on ballet, specifically, documentaries / reality dramas on real dancers. I’d heard about the movie First Position but while googling for more information one day, I discovered Breaking Pointe, a 6 episode series on dancers from Ballet West in SLC, Utah. I was blown away. I mean, I always am by every dancer out there whether they’re “good” or “bad”. You see, I LOVE to dance. I incorporate dance into my daily life. I think dancers usually end up walking around as normal human beings when they’re not in class or on stage but I’m always walking on demi-pointe or arabequeing my rubbish away. 😛 THAT said, however, I am NOT a ballerina. Why? Because I’m too lazy.

That’s what I figured out today and what I’d remembered Mum telling me years ago (I’d asked her why she had not put me in ballet classes when I was younger and she told me she’d tried to put me in the best ballet school but I refused! I have NO idea what I was thinking about back then – maybe I misheard? 😛 However, when I did take ballet at age 9, I know I NEVER practised outside of class. I still don’t. I’m just too lazy). These dancers practise 8-10 hours daily (if not more?) and keep pushing themselves to be the best. They have a long-term relationship with ballet (yes, it is possible. I can understand). It’s stretching every morning and evening to remain flexible and not feel so stiff the following day.

Of course, some may argue that the series would make non-ballerina/os like me think this is exactly what goes behind the scenes in a ballet company. I think Breaking Pointe gives us a glimpse of what it’s like in ballet companies around the world. I’m not sure about the drama because as a viewer, I think all the dancers are just nice, hard-working, drama-free people. Then Black Swan hit theatres and changed my perception… :/

I still have to see First Position and a few more ballet-related movies. 🙂 Certainly hoping CW renews Breaking Pointe for a 2nd season (please!!!). In the meantime, enjoy some ballet on the telly and maybe learn a few tips! 😉