Cultural events for the rest of us

Where to see the coolest Games-time cultural events.

Credit: Kris Krug for W2 Culture + Media House

The new W2 Culture + Media House will host many events throughout the Olympics.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the free and low-cost cultural events during the Games? 


Yeah, me too. I knew if I didn’t take time to dig through it all and find stuff that both looked interesting and would allow me to avoid the crowds, I’d just end up staying home and missing everything.


Here are some Vancouver-area venues and events that actually make me want to venture out of the house in the next few weeks. You’re welcome.


W2 Culture + Media House

The W2 Culture + Media House (pictured) isn’t just the first independent social media centre during any Games, it’s also host to a number of cool events, including the Bikes Inside party (indoor bike races, dancing and projected “bike porn visuals”) and the W2 Real Vancouver Writers & Culture Series, four weekly events designed to introduce dozens of Vancouver’s best writers and publishing professionals to the world.


W2 Real Vancouver Writers & Culture Series

February 3, 10, 17 and 24, 2011, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.


Bikes Inside

February 20, 9 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

W2 Culture & Media Centre, 112 W Hastings St, Vancouver


Surrey 2010 Celebration Zone

If you’re looking for free concerts, but want to avoid the downtown crowds, head to the largest Olympic site south of the Fraser, the Surrey 2010 Celebration Zone. Walking distance from the King George Skytrain station, the venue has great near-daily lineups offering a nice balance of multicultural, mainstream and indie artists, too. Head out February 20 for evening performances by local indie groups Mother Mother, Hey Ocean!, and Said the Whale.


Surrey 2010 Celebration Zone

February 12–28

Wednesdays & Thursday 3-10 p.m.; Fridays 3-11 p.m.; Saturdays 11-11 p.m.; Sundays 11-10 p.m.

Holland Park, King George Highway and Old Yale Road, Surrey


Place de la Francophonie 2010

Just because you dropped out of grade 10 French, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great free French-language performances at Place de la Francophonie 2010’s mini French Quarter. Enjoy Valentine’s Day performances by Pierre Lapointe, Angelique Kidjo and Alpha Yaya Diallo, among others at the Air Canada Stage; or check out more intimate performances at Club Adrenaline, where you’ll find an amazing menu francais featuring cuisine from Seb’s Market Café and the Stock Market.


Place de la Francophonie 2010

February 11–28, 11 a.m. to midnight daily

Cartwright St, Granville Island, Vancouver


CODE Live at Great Northern Way Campus

The Cultural Olympiad’s digital edition, CODE, aims to showcase interactive digital work by national and international artists. Projects include the mesmerizing renewable-energy powered light show Vectorial Elevation and scores of digital short films and art projects. But the real draw is CODE Live, which will present a series of multimedia concerts you won’t find at the bigger venues, including Bell Orchestre (February 18 at 10 p.m.; tickets $18), who’ll play a live score for a nature film, and Vancouver’s 14-piece groove orchestra Hard Rubber in the Drum & Light Festival (February 11 at 10 p.m.; tickets $20).


Great Northern Way Campus, 577 Great Northern Way, Vancouver


Which Games-time cultural events are you attending?