AOL PICK from our Editors
The best Vancouver nightlife ranges from a sometimes-frenzied nightclub scene to opera, symphony and theater. Home-grown musical talent abounds, yes, there’s more than Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlan. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which makes a point of programming modern and Canadian music, is home at the Orpheum Theatre. Vancouver Opera, which specializes in avant garde productions, performs at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Several theatre companies, including improv, main-stage and comedy, offer full seasons at venues ranging from university theaters up to the city’s football stadium draw musical acts from around the world. For a full calendar, Tickets Tonight
is the most comprehensive community events site, and it offers half-price, day-of-show tickets. The city’s major arts festivals are biggies, including the Vancouver International Film Festival in September/October, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in July, the summer-long Bard on the Beach outdoor Shakespeare festival and the midsummer Vancouver International Jazz Festival. The liveliest nightlife districts are Granville Street, downtown between Georgia and Nelson; and Commercial Drive, one of the city’s most-active LGBT hangouts. The main rock concert venue is the Commodore Ballroom, on Granville, which brings in acts of the stature of Reverend Horton Heat and Modest Mouse.
Yaletown’s hippest cocktail lounge is a sleek space with medusa-glass chandeliers, crimson chairs and an emphasis on fresh fruits in their five-page cocktail menu; the mingling of champagne, lemon and strawberry is just one example. DJ music ranging from hip-hop to techno can make conversation a bit challenging, but the atmosphere is ever buzzing.
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Likely the most authentic Irish pub in Vancouver, this Gastown mainstay has more than two dozen beers, a vast number of North American, Irish and Scotch whiskies, and a menu offering the requisite pot pie and fish-and-chips. But hey, this is Vancouver, there are also vegetarian items and BC wines. Weekends bring live Celtic music. The adjacent Shebeen Whiskey House has more than 70 different distillations on the menu, including rare Welsh brands. If you’re feeling spendy, have a go at the 30-year-old Canadian Club, $24 a shot.
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Feeling lucky? If not, talk to your concierge about easy passage into this iconic, downtown nightclub whose three separate rooms offer, in turn, live music every night; darts and billiards; and an intimate, non-smoking venue for conversation and drinks. The signature drink is the espresso martini, designed to keep you going, and going, and going. The action goes until 3AM Friday and Saturday nights.
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Neighborhood: West End
The city’s best-known celebrity-spotting spot is this cosmopolitan bar in the Sutton Place Hotel, the pink high-rise Hollywood favorite at the edge of the West End. Tapestries, walnut leather chairs and a subdued atmosphere enable conversation, and the menu ranges from meatballs (really) to spring rolls. The lounge’s martini menu is a standout, and the faux-English club decor harks back to the days when Vancouver was more Anglo-centric. The Vancouver ethos, by the way, frowns on approaching stars
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Neighborhood: West End
This relaxed bistro in the Listel Hotel on Robson is Vancouver’s best intimate jazz lounge. Local and national artists such as Ross Taggart, Sharon Minemoto and Jillian Lebeck regularly perch at the corner piano, solo artists appear Sundays through Wednesdays, and ensembles on weekends, nightly at 9PM. The massive wine list focuses on BC wines, and includes a good number of rare and vintage pressings. The restaurant is one of the better steakhouses in town. Try the newly popular buffalo flatiron steak, it’s a standout.
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Sports stars and music heavyweights hang out at the Roxy, Vancouver’s quintessential high-energy dance club. Spotlights pick out the vivid fuchsias and melons of the decor scheme, and ripped jeans are not to be seen; please don’t show up at the door wearing such. The house bands, Joe’s Garage (rock) and Troys 'R Us (party music) rock the place six nights a week; Sunday night is country music night, if line dancing is on your list of exotic anthropological adventures.
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