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July
15
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Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden has been listed among the top 1000 places to see before you die. If, however, you happen to visit during one of its Enchanted Evenings concerts, it would be easy to include the garden in a much smaller list of the world’s essential attractions. 
 
Enchanted Evenings at Sun Yat-Sen offer an experience like no other: an intimate concert on a beautiful summer evening in an enchanting classical Chinese garden in the middle of downtown Vancouver. And this year’s there’s yet another reason to attend, as the event will feature a dinner option.
 
Guests arrive at 7pm to enjoy a picnic dinner and cocktails (options range from “summer snack” to “Mediterranean feast”) then wander through the spectacular garden before settling in for the concert at 8pm. 
 
There are just four Enchanted Evenings this summer, so it’s advisable to get your tickets before they’re all, inevitably, snatched up. General admission seats are $24, reserved front-row seats are $35, and seats on the “mountain-top” patio will run you $50 (which includes a glass of wine or beer and personal waiter service).
 
This year’s Enchanted Evenings are:
 
Thursday, July 17th | Tomoe Arts with cellist Peggy Lee
Traditional Japanese dance is accompanied by beautiful cello music in this stirring performance ideally suited for the garden’s idyllic setting.  
 
Thursday, July 24th | Jim Byrnes
Winner of the 2014 Canadian Male Vocalist of the Year award as well as three Juno awards for best blues album, Jim Byrne is a Canadian blues legend with a stories 40-year career.
 
Thursday, July 31st | Vancouver Piano Ensemble
32 hands on 8 pianos create incredible music that’s (probably) unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before. 
 
Thursday, August 7th | Deanna Knight and the Hot Club of Mars
Groove to the swingin’ gypsy jazz of sultry chanteuse Deanna Knight and her fantastic band. 
 
Enchanted Evenings make a great addition to the itinerary of any of our guests here at the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district, just a 20-minute walk or short cab ride from our hotel.
 
Now in its 25th season, Vancouver’s annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vanier Park has been hailed as one of the most beautiful settings for Shakespeare in the world. And while the backdrop is indeed idyllic—a picturesque vista of False Creek, the downtown Vancouver skyline and the Coast Mountains—the real appeal of Bard on the Beach is the quality of its productions, which boast world-class talent, both on the stage and behind the scenes.  
 
Here’s the scoop on this year’s Bard on the Beach productions, which run all summer through September 20th. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
One of Shakespeare’s most accessible and most widely performed works, this lighthearted comedy gets a thoroughly theatrical treatment from Director Dean Paul Gibson, complete with uproarious antics, outrageous costumes a crowd-pleasing contemporary soundtrack.
 
The Tempest
This dark and magical tragicomedy weaves together murder, romance and betrayal. Directed by Meg Roe, who reprises her 2008 hit production, the play features a live string quartet, strobe lights and haze. 
 
Cymbeline
This fast-paced and physical adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s lesser known romances tells of a youing girl’s sectretl marriage, a betrayal of her fathr which results in all manner of jealousy, betrayal and redemption. Featuring one of Shakespeare’s strongest female lead characters, the play is brought to life in a unique way by director Anita Rochon. 
 
Equivocation
One of the seldom instances of Bard on the Beach staging a non-Shakespeare play, Michael Shamata’s production of Bill Cain’s Equivocation engages contemporary themes of art and politics as it tells the story of a 17th-cenutry playwright tasked with penning the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.
 
For anyone visiting Vancouver, the Ramada would be pleased to be your Bard on the Beach hotel. Located just 5 minutes from Vanier Park, in the heart of downtown, we are your ideal home base for exploring the world-class attractions of Vancouver.
 
When we hear the term “busker”, most of us think of a scruffy troubadour singing on a street corner with a guitar case full of coins at his feet. And while this is, indeed, a timeless form of busking, it only scratches the surface of what’s possible in the wild and wonderful world of street performance.
 
Taking place on the last weekend of June, coinciding with one of the most exciting weekends of the year in Vancouver which includes the Jazz Fest and Canada Day celebrations, the Vancouver International Busker Festival showcases world-class street performers from across the globe. For 2 fun-filled days, Granville Street will be closed to traffic between Smithe St. and Dunsmuir St. (just a few blocks from our hotel!) for all manner of lively performances and festivities.  
 
The festival has a spirit of inclusiveness that’s truly refreshing: it’s about bringing people together to laugh, dance and be amazed. There are no stages, no spotlights, no tickets to buy and just a few feet of concrete between you and the performers. It’s all free, of course, although donations are encouraged when you see a performance that catches your attention!
 
Local vendors will be in attendance selling art, handmade jewelry and much more. Vancouver’s famous food trucks will also be on site serving up delicious cusine!
 
Performers include musicians, acrobats, magicians, comedians, daredevils, jugglers and mimes. There are 5 “stages” in total, interspersed with vendor booths and food trucks. Shows happen from noon to nine of each of the days, so wander through any time to catch some amazing acts!
 
For anyone staying with us at the Ramada Vancouver, we highly recommend checking out the Vancouver Busker Festival—it happens just 3 blocks North of our hotel! 
 
For anyone planning a trip to Vancouver this summer, we would be delighted to provide you and you family with comfortable accommodations in the heart of downtown Vancouver.
 
The Seattle Times called the Vancouver International Jazz Festival “the hippest jazz festival in the world”. It’s also one of the biggest, hosting a total of 1800 artists in 300 shows at 35 venues over 12 days. 
 
Best of all, perhaps, is that more than half of the festival’s performances are free. That’s right, 100% free. Not a word you hear all that often in this city, especially when it comes to an event that boasts this much world-class talent. 
 
This year’s headliners include prodigious pop vocalist Bobby McFerrin and saxophone icon Maceo Parker. 
 
The festival’s 12 days are bookended by three marquee outdoor events, the first being the Downtown Jazz Weekend that kicks off the fest on June 21st & 22nd. 
 
Encompassing the entire block surrounding the Vancouver Art Gallery, the opening weekend event features 3 stages, a beer gardens, an artisan market and several interactive happenings including a silent dance party sponsored by high-end headphone manufacturer Sennheiser. More than 150,000 attendees are expected. 
 
The following weekend, June 28th & 29th, is David Lam Park Jazz Weekend where, in similar fashion to the opening weekend, music lovers can take in all sorts of free concerts and activities at the Yaletown waterfront, including some intimate free shows at the nearby Roundhouse Community Centre. 
 
On Canada Day, July 1st, the festival’s finale takes place on Granville Island. Like the other events, it’s largely free and features an eclectic mix of acts—everything from francophone pop to old-school soul.  
 
 
Here at the Ramada Inn & Suites, we couldn’t be more excited to hear all this great music around downtown Vancouver during the festival. Our hotel is located within easy walking distance of both the Vancouver Art Gallery and David Lam Park, so our guests will have plenty of opportunities to take in the shows.
 
If you’re visiting from out of town during the festival, book your stay with the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel today!
 
 Vancouverites love their food.

 

“Well, who doesn’t?” You might say. It’s true that every city has its own diverse dining scene, but Vancouver especially, perhaps owing to its costal locale, fashion-forward culture and overall affluence, is home to an incredible variety of top-tier restaurants, fuelled by a cuisine-crazed public perpetually hungry for the hottest dining experience. Even if you’re more of a cook-it-yourself type, there are few other cities in North America where you have such abundant access to fresh seafood, organic produce and world-class wine (the latter of which we owe credit to the nearby Okanagan Valley).

 

As a food mecca of sorts, it seems natural that VanCity is host to an annual culinary extravaganza showcasing the best of its local restaurants and chefs. Happening May 30th, May 31st, and June 1st at BC Place Stadium, the EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival offers 3-days of epicurean delights and culinary wisdom.

 

 

The event is a lot more extensive than its titular imperative suggests. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to “EAT!” but there are also seminars from celebrity chefs, wine tastings, cookbook author Q & As, and an artisan marketplace, to name a few of the hightlights. Taking place at the recently revamped BC Place, the event offers food lovers the chance to learn new culinary techniques, watch master chefs in action, shop for new kitchen gadgets at more than 250 exhibit booths, and network with local industry insiders.

 

Tickets, good for any day of the festival, are $15 (or $75 for a VIP pass). Admission to any of the many culinary classes is extra—$28 per session.

 

BC Place Stadium is located at the eastern edge of downtown Vancouver, within easy walking distance of our Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel. The EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival would make a great addition to your itinerary when you stay with us for your Vancouver vacation.

Right across the street from our Ramada Hotel, on the east side of Granville Street just before the bridge, are two of Vancouver’s oldest structures, the Yale Hotel (Granville and Drake) and the Holman Block (Granville and Davie).
 
Constructed in 1889, these modest buildings have been bystanders to nearly the entirety of our city’s history. Home to hotels, dwelling places and taverns, their walls have seen travelers and transients, down-and-out loggers, wealthy railroad magnates, famous blues musicians, fearsome gangsters and just about every character you can imagine passing through town over 125 years, as Vancouver grew from a provincial backwater to a world-class metropolis.
 
 
Located at the south corner of Granville and Davie, the Holman Block began life as the Golden Gate Hotel, which was advertised as offering “First Class Board, Pool and Billiards”. Unfortunately for owner F.G. Twigg, it started to attract some rather unsavoury patrons. Just two days after having his bedroom burglarized while he slept, Twigg was held up by robbers, who stripped him of $265 while he was hitching up his horse and buggy outside.
 
By 1920, the hotel, then known as the Tourist, converted its rooms to apartments and hosted a doctors office and a Bank of Montreal on the main level. Today, it’s still home to private apartments, with the Two Parrots Taverna occupying the main level. 
 
 
A block south of the Holman Block is the legendary Yale Hotel, also constructed in 1898, which is best known as Vancouver’s home of blues music. From the mid 80s up until its closure in 2012, the Yale was host to nightly blues concerts, welcoming performers like John Lee Hooker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. 
 
The Yale began life as the Colonial Hotel, but got its present name in 1907 in reference to the settlement of Yaletown, centred just east of the hotel. In 1909, an eastern addition to the building was constructed (at the old bar, a noticeable dip in the floor indicated where the two buildings were joined).
 
Currently unoccupied and for sale, the Yale faces an uncertain future, but we hope that it will one day continue to serve as a hotbed of Vancouver’s music scene.
 
This post concludes our History of Granville Street series. Come visit us here at the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel to stay in the heart of this historic district. And stay tuned to our blog to learn about the coolest events and attractions happening in and around downtown Vancouver.        
 
Images and historical info courtesy of Changing Vancouver
April
17
Photo credits: rickchung.com
 
20 years ago, most people called them “comic book conventions”, and, for better or worse, they were considered the exclusive domain of pocket-protector-sporting “nerds”. Not the case anymore. Not even close. The “fan conventions” of today are hip, even glamorous affairs, hosting high-profile celebrity guests and celebrating every aspect of fantasy and sci-fi culture.
 
This Easter weekend, Fan Expo Vancouver will set up shop at the Vancouver Convention Centre, hosting 3 days of shopping, Q & A sessions, workshops, meet-and-greets, multimedia exhibitions and interactive activities.  
 
For many fans, the Expo is more than just an opportunity to see their favourite star or find a rare comic; it’s a chance to inhabit a whole new persona. Costume-clad role players make up a sizeable segment of the attendees, and you can expect to see every character from Anakin Skywalker to Zelda.
 
Tickets are $20 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $30 for Sunday; $69 for all three days. Not a bad deal when you consider the number of attractions on tap for the weekend. Highlights include:
               
  • Celebrity guests Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) and Robert Englund (best known for playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films), along with many others
  •                      
  • Rue Morgue Festival of Fear, the county’s largest horror expo taking place within the Fan Expo
  •                      
  • Cosplay Masquerade with awards for best costume
  •                      
  • Easter-themed events including egg hunts, stormtrooper egg rolls and a special Easter reading from voice actor Christian Potenza
 
 
 
If you’re in town for Fan Expo Vancouver this weekend and looking for a place to stay, consider the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Vancouver’s Granville Entertainment District, just a short walk, bus or cab ride to the Vancouver Convention Centre.  
The Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest existing corporation in North America. Since the late 19th century, HBC department stores have occupied an important place in the commercial centres of major Canadian cities, especially Vancouver. 
 
The Hudson’s Bay building at the corner of Granville and Georgia in Vancouver’s downtown core is among the city’s most recognizable structures. Its elegant cream terra cotta façade, classical columns and block-wide footprint distinguish it as a place of great importance and history.
 
The Bay Store in 1936
 
The structure dates to 1914, but the presence of HBC in Vancouver began in 1887, when the city had fewer than 500 residents. By the end of the 19th century, HBC operated a bustling retail store at its present location on Granville and Georgia, sourced by the company’s massive warehouse at 321 Water Street (which still stands today).
 
In 1914, construction began on the first phase of the present-day terra cotta Bay building, which was constructed adjacent to the original 3-story red-brick Bay store. In 1925, the original store was demolished and the terra-cotta building was expanded to span the entire block of Georgia Street between Granville and Seymour.
 
More additions would follow in 1949, extending the store north along Seymour Street to its present dimensions. In total, 650,000 pounds of steel was used in its construction and more than 38 miles of electrical wiring.
 
In the mid 80s, the Bay was connected, through its lower floors, to the newly constructed Granville SkyTrain station and Pacific Centre Mall. 
 
The Bay Store as it appears today
 
Today, the Vancouver Hudson’s Bay store serves as one of the company’s flagship locations, receiving more than $300 million in upgrades over the past three years, including the addition of the world’s second largest TopShop store.
 
You’ll find the Bay just 5 blocks north of our Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel. It’s a must-stop destination on your Vancouver shopping itinerary!
 
Check back next month for the final instalment of our History of Granville Street series.  
March
12
 
Craftsmanship is so in right now. That may sound a little silly, but it’s true. Artisanal goods are enjoying a significant surge in popularity—everything from homemade pickles to hand-carved hat boxes. In our culture of disposability, people are increasingly recognizing the value of handmade, locally produced goods, the sort of things that are made with care and built to last.
 
This March in Vancouver, three high-profile artisan markets (two of which are entirely new) are happening on three consecutive weekends, giving savvy shoppers three chances to browse some of BC’s best artisan food, décor, art, clothing and more.
 
Heritage Hall. 15th and Main. 
Salt Spring Island, the most well known of the idyllic and unspoiled Gulf Islands, has long been a haunt of hippies artists and craftsmen. At this first-of-its-kind event, some four dozen of the islands’ artisans will offer their products for sale. Absorb the island vibes and take home some goodies that you literally won’t find anywhere else, short of taking a ferry ride to the island itself. 
 
Creekside Community Centre. Olympic Village
Designed to encourage Vancouverites to shop local, this vibrant artisan/craft fair offers a wide variety of fashion, jewelry, art, edibles and toys. Grab a Shop Local punch card at the entrance, get it stamped with your purchases and enter to win a PW gift card.
 
Woodward’s Atrium. 111 W. Hastings.
After enjoying great success in their first year of operation, the people behind the Eastside Flea Market are launching the first Eastside Artisan’s Market, showcasing the products of a talented group of local artisans, artists and craftsmen. Partial proceeds will be donated to the Vancouver Inner City Artisan Society.
 
Spring is an exciting time to visit Vancouver. If you’re heading to Van City this spring, stay in the heart of it all at the Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel. 
February
26
The Vancouver Block shortly after its constuction crica 1913
 
When you look from a distance at downtown Vancouver today, it’s hard to identify any truly distinctive features of the downtown skyline—it’s a mass of steel and glass high rises that, while attractive, are rather unremarkable. 
 
It wasn’t always that way, of course. When the Vancouver Block was constructed near the bustling intersection of Georgia and Granville in 1912, the 15-story building was the tallest in the city and an instantly iconic feature of the Vancouver skyline, with its stately Edwardian architecture, terra cotta flourishes and large clock tower.  
 
In an era when Vancouver was enjoying rapid economic and urban growth, the Vancouver Block was a symbol of the city’s seemingly endless prosperity. 
 
The Vancouver Block as it appears today
 
When ground was broken for the structure in 1910, the commercial centre of Vancouver had begun to shift from Hastings and Pender Streets (in present-day Gastown) to Granville Street. Encouraged by the CPR, who owned much of the land along Granville Street and offered incentives to commercial builders, wealthy businessmen began to set up their new ventures along Granville Street, which quickly gained a prestigious reputation as the “new” centre of the city.
 
Prestige was certainly on the mind of business magnate Dominic Burns when he commissioned the city’s preeminent architectural firm, Parr & Fee to design the 265-ft high Vancouver Block to be built on the highest point of land in downtown Vancouver. In an era of economic abundance, one-upsmanship was often the motivating factor in the construction of grand new buildings, and there was no doubt that, with the visually striking Vancouver Block, Burns one-upped every other building owner on Granville.
 
In 1927, neon lights were added to the clock tower, making it an even more eye-catching feature of the skyline (and helping it fit in with Granville’s neon-lit theatre row).  
 
The iconic clock tower (credit: JMV)
 
The clock's inner workings (credit: JMV)
 
The marble staircase (credit: JMV)
 
Today, the Vancouver Block stands as one of the most recognizable buildings in the city, and one of the greatest achievements of architects Parr & Fee, who were responsible for a number of other iconic Vancouver buildings including the Hotel Europe.
 
The Vancouver Block is located between Robson and Georgia St. on Granville, roughly five blocks from our Ramada Downtown Vancouver Hotel. Be sure to look skyward when you pass by it!
 
Stay tuned to our blog for the next installment of The History of Granville Street.
 
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