December is a bit of a trickster. On the one hand, the year is coming to a close and it feels right to accelerate its end with debaucherous belly-filling and liver crushing, while on the other hand, it feels just as right to slow things down and pile in all the good things that you meant to do before year’s end. Similar, yes, but miles apart. It’s a hard month to reconcile, but we’re going to give it a shot. Here are 31 things worthy of consideration…
MOUNTAINS | Whether you’re looking at their snow capped peaks from the shoreline of a beach or making your way up one of them to hike, ski, snowshoe or snowboard, Vancouverites win the mountain lottery in December.
LOUNGE | Forget the hustle and pressure of the holiday season and focus on the cheer. December begs for an idle cocktail, pint, or late afternoon tea in a proper hotel lounge. We suggest Hawksworth, The Sylvia, Yew in the Four Seasons, or in front of the fireplace at The Wedgewood.
SHIRE | The final chapter of the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit opens on December 17th. Honestly, what says holiday cheer more than pipes filled with Old Toby, scrappy elves, a jolly white-bearded fellow in a funny hat?
CROWDS | If you don’t have to buy anything, be anywhere in a hurry, or use a public washroom in an pinch, winter crowds can be quite magical. Drop into the slipstream and let it carry you for a few blocks.
ROAD TRIP | The Vancouver Canucks have ventured out on a league-leading 12 day, seven game road trip before the Christmas break that sees them playing against eastern teams like the powerhouse Penguins, hapless Leafs, and unpredictable Habs.
COFFEE | Warm up with a cup of the dark the new location of Elysian Coffee (opened this morning).
OWLS | Expect over a dozen snowy owls to holiday out at Boundary Bay. Respect the visitors by keeping your distance. They freak easily.
PEN PAL | Want some karma? Put $50 towards the purchase of new books and materials and help the Writer’s Exchange get inner-city kids stoked about reading and writing.
SKATE | Grab your skates (or rent them once you’re there) and hit Robson Square for a spin around the rink. Remember that rentals are cash only!
SOLSTICE | On the 21st the sun will come up at 8:05am and set at 4:16pm, making it the shortest day of the year. Silver lining? After Sunday, things are on the up-swing. Little by little we’re headed toward those beautiful mid-summer 9pm sunsets, the memory of which all Vancouverites cling to during these winter months.
YORKSHIRES | Eat chef Neil Taylor’s fabulous Yorkshire Puddings (served in triplicate) at his cozy Coal Harbour pub, The Fat Badger.
SCOUT 25 | Our anticipated list of the best and most emblematic restaurants in Vancouver is being constructed as we speak by over a dozen gourmands and food and beverage professionals. The Scout 25 will be published on the first day of winter, December 21st. Name your picks on Twitter, using the hashtag #Scout25.
ROCK OUT | The Biltmore Cabaret turns 7 this month. Celebrate by sinking into one of those sexy red velvet booths and enjoying some music and good times. Needles and Pins (Punk) and Ladyhawk (Alt Rock) play December 18th.
CELEBRATE | There’s nothing quite as magical as joining a procession of strangers meandering through streets with handmade lanterns on a chilly night. Winter Solstice Lantern Festival goes down Sunday, December 21 in Yaletown, Chinatown, and on Granville Island.
WRITE | By hand or keystroke, send a card or email to catch up with an old friend. Pay a visit to The Regional Assembly of Type on Main Street for inspiration.
FONDUE | It’s easy to justify making a meal from a giant bowl of melted cheese and some bread. It’s cold! And there are friends coming over! Better still, follow up the cheese fondue with a chocolate version. Les Amis du Fromage has you covered.
HANDEL | The Vancouver Chamber Choir is performing G.F. Handel’s “Messiah” at The Orpheum on December 12th. Choral masterworks might not be everyone’s cup of whatever, but whatever. This is Handel, yo, and he’s the freakin’ best.
BONFIRE | A winter bonfire on a beach is worth the hassle of obtaining the permit you’ll need to light a few logs on fire. If you didn’t get around to the paper work but still love the idea of a huge pile of wood burning outside, hit Dundarave Beach on Saturday, December 20th for the annual Christmas Wassail and Bonfire Night.
BEACHES | Beaches are quiet, clean, empty meditative places of solace this month. Bonus: cooler temperatures inhibit the growth of plankton, which in turn increases depth visibility in the ocean.
BLACK TIE | Vancouver isn’t exactly the sort of city that encourages fancy dress, so take full advantage of the holiday season and find a reason to slip into the cocktail attire you’ve only ever worn once.
VIVALDI | The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra plays Vivaldi’s epicly evocative Four Seasons on Friday, December 19th at 8pm at the Chan Centre.
STEAM | Combat cold weather with warm steam. Hastings Steam & Sauna (open since 1926) runs $20 for an hour (towels, a sheet and face cloths).
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH | The Carousel Theatre presents Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach December 6 – January 4.
LIGHTS | Candles on tables, strings of Christmas lights on houses, fireplaces, lanterns…December glows!
ROSY CHEEKS | Particularly on children. Quiet, happy children who are on their best behaviour so as not to incur the wrath of a vengeful Santa.
BRUNCH | Gastown’s L’Abattoir is set to start their brunch service this month, so be sure get all over that (watch our front page for the imminent details).
HOLIDAY LUNCH | Robson is ridiculous in December. It begs for a civilized sanctuary away from the bustling hordes. Thank goodness for CinCin! The veteran dinner-only restaurant will be tabling a special lunch service in the run-up to Christmas.
SPECIAL TREATS | Christmas cookies? Shortbread? Chocolates? Yes please. Score the good stuff at Thierry, Cadeaux, Beaucoup, Chez Christophe, Beta5, Thomas Haas, Terra Breads, or Chocolate Arts.
LOST LAGOON | Beautiful even when covered with a sheet of ice, Lost Lagoon is a perfect break from the business of the city without having to leave it.
HY’S ENCORE | There is no month better suited to an evening at this cozy Vancouver institution than December. Those stuffed potatoes…