Canyon Lights at Capilano

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is back again this year with hundreds of thousands of lights transform the park into a multi-level Winter Wonderland.

In January I had family visiting from New Zealand, so we took them to the Park for a Winter Christmas visual experience. The parking lot was full so we drove a little further on and found street parking then walked back. We arrived just before dusk and by the time we had navigated the entrance lineups it was blue hour magic time.

My sister and family from New Zealand

We headed to the Cliffwalk first so that they could see the view below and also look at the Suspension Bridge over the River before it got dark. This was good as it wasn’t too crowded and we were able to go at our own pace.

The Cliffwalk

Following the path back from the Cliffwalk we saw lighted owl displays as part of the “Snowy Owl Prowl”.

An owl

It was very very cold so we had a brief stop at the Winter Pavilion to warm up before heading to the Bridge. The Pavilion had drinks and some food available for purchase and had craft activities for kids. There was a huge line up to get on the Bridge itself but it moved along reasonably well and it wasn’t too long before we were able to walk across.

Cathy and Emma on the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge

The other side of the Bridge has the TreeTops Adventure and a walking path around the pond. Treetops Adventure is a series of seven suspension bridges connecting eight massive Douglas Firs. There are viewing platforms from which you can stop and look down onto the forest floor below. This year the TreeTops Adventure is getting even more decoration and the 250 year old Douglas Firs will be the tallest Christmas Trees in the World!

The lights are spectacular throughout the Park and each area is different. My favourite part was the walk around the pond. The lights were hung at varying heights and reflected in the pond giving the whole area an incredible sense of depth and dimension. It was very beautiful and quite eerie.

With a Winter craft tent, a gingerbread cookie decorating station and a scavenger hunt, the park is very family friendly.  Parking can be difficult due to the number of visitors so allow extra time to find a park, or consider taking the free shuttle from Canada Place.

Canyon Lights runs this year from November 23, 2017 to January 28, 2018 and is open every day (except Christmas) from 4 pm to 9 pm. Canyon Lights tickets are valid all day so you could go and enjoy the park during daylight hours, then stay for the lights in the early evening. I’d recommend dressing very warmly for after the sun goes down.

And don’t forget your camera!

 

 

The Orpheum Theatre

This week I was lucky enough to go on a self-guided tour of one of Vancouver’s most magnificent buildings, the Orpheum Theatre. Built in 1927 the Orpheum originally hosted vaudeville acts and showed Hollywood silent movies. The theatre’s decor is opulent, with grand staircases, gold leaf, crystal chandeliers and detailed walls and ceilings.

It’s a photographer’s dream location!

Before I say more about the tour, take a look for yourself. Here is a quick video I shot while walking through the theatre.


See? Did I not say it’s magnificent?!

The tours run 3 times a day on Tuesdays, Wednesday’s and Saturdays. I went on a very quiet Tuesday and it was almost like having the whole venue to myself. The tours are for one hour and are self-guided which means you can take your time – be sure to stop for photographs! Theatre staff members are around to assist and answer any questions.

The history and stories of the Orpheum are very interesting.  It was at one time Canada’s largest and most opulent theatre. It still houses its original Wurlitzer organ. The Wurlitzer is the last one in Canada still in its original location and working. Staff told me it’s worth over a million dollars today!

The Mighty Wurlitzer
Wurlitzer detail

Tony Heinsbergen, the artist who painted the iconic ceiling mural in 1975-6, was also involved in decorating the Orpheum before it’s original opening in 1927.

The ceiling mural was painted by Tony Heinsbergen in 1975-6
Details of the domed ceiling

There are 145 crystal chandeliers in the Orpheum.

The detailing in the walls and panels is incredible.

In 1973 Famous Players decided to convert the Orpheum into a multiplex movie theatre. A “Save the Orpheum” public protest and a fundraising campaign was launched.

The moving picture projector

In 1974, the City of Vancouver bought the theatre for $7.1 million. It underwent restoration in the mid-seventies and was recognized as a National Historic Site in 1979. The theatre is now home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

The Orpheum is an amazing venue and well worth a visit. Whether you are a local or a visitor to Vancouver, put this iconic Theatre on your must-see list. You won’t be disappointed.

Climbing the Sea to Sky Via Ferrata

What is Via Ferrata? Via Ferrata is Italian for “iron road” and essentially it is a vertical route equipped with anchored rungs and steel cables to aid climbers. This allows inexperienced or new climbers (that’s us!) to explore alpine regions and steep scenic areas that would usually be inaccessible.

We were lucky enough to experience the Via Ferrata with Mountain Skills Academy at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish.

We didn’t really know what to expect when we booked our Via Ferrata experience, and truth be told, I was a little nervous. I’m pretty open to new adventures and I like hiking, but climbing kind of freaks me out. It’s not the climb, it’s gravity and the thought of falling.

Here’s the great thing about Via Ferrata – this style of climbing uses a system of lanyards attached to steel cables which effectively limits the danger of a fall. Whenever you reach an anchored pole, you unhook one carabiner and clip it back onto the cable on the other side of the pole before unhooking the second carabiner. This double clip system means you should always be connected to the cable at all times.

What was it like? Here is a video of our experience – footage shot on a GoPro attached to my helmet.

A synopsis of the climb: We met our guide, Lora, at the top of the gondola where we were fitted with climbing harnesses, helmets and lanyards. Then it was a short hike down the track to the beginning of the Via Ferrata. Lora explained how the system worked and answered our questions and then it was time to climb.

The route started off gently enough and was more of a hike than a climb as we gently traversed around the side of the mountain. This was a good opportunity to get comfortable with the lanyard and carabiner system.

Things got much more vertical once we reached the first ladder.

Our guide Lora making it look so easy!
Yes, I am having fun!

There were just the two of us on our tour which meant we were able to go at our own pace. There was plenty of time to enjoy a few unusual rest stops along the way.

Just chilling on the edge

And take in the views.

Looking towards Sky Pilot Mountain

Once we had conquered the vertical parts, the terrain leveled out quite a bit. Our legs were happy about that! We hiked across a footbridge and around the mountain towards the Summit Lodge. We came up under the suspension bridge and had made it – finishing our climb back at the top.

Yes, we did get very hot and our hands were very dirty from the cables, but the sense of achievement was awesome!

After getting cleaned up, we enjoyed a well-deserved beer on the patio and took in the amazing view before taking the gondola back down.

Mountain Skills Academy have many tours available, including 2 Via Ferrata adventures in BC; this one near Squamish and a 4-hour climb in Whistler. If you are curious but have any reservations about fitness level or ability, we’d recommend trying the Squamish one first. The climb takes about 1.5 hours and for a novice, it’s challenging but not too difficult. The experience is exhilarating and the views are spectacular.

Via Ferrata is a unique and fun adventure. We are really glad we did it and hope to do the Whistler Via Ferrata someday as well.

Let us kow if you’ve tried it too.