BC Adventures – Our To Do Picks for December 18 – 24

This week in BC: Light up winter solstice, see Winter Harp in Concert, celebrate Festivities at the Fort, dedicate a star and more

A million twinkling lights have transformed Stanley Park

What to do in BC this week

Check out Christmas at Canada Place – December 18-19
Approximately 50,000 people — including Santa himself! — are expected to swing by the 23rd annual Christmas at Canada Place (999 Canada Place Way) this week for a sackful of seasonal celebrations. Some of the festive fun in store? Tap your toes to Music With Marnie, take a walking tour past trinket-trimmed trees to view Woodward’s window displays or enjoy Breakfast With Santa, a bountiful buffet hosted by CTV’s Keri Adams on December 18 and 19 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Prices for the breakfast are $28 for adults, with discounts for children, with net proceeds benefiting the Strathcona Community Centre’s Food Security for Children program. For more details call 604-775-7200.

See Winter Harp in Concert – December 18-19
Ever wonder what it’s like to celebrate the holidays, medieval style? Unless you have a time machine, you’ll probably never know, but Winter Harp in Concert comes pretty darn close to recreating those days of yore. That’s because modern-day minstrels will be clad in old-time attire to perform medieval melodies and heartwarming Christmas carols by candlelight at two Lower Mainland locations. Intrigued? Catch it on December 18 at St. Andrews-Wesley Church (1022 Nelson St., Vancouver) and on December 19 at The ACT (11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge).

Treat the Family to Santa’s Sunday Brunch at Café Pacifica – December 19
Christmas comes but once a year, so why not bypass the Golden Arches and treat the family to Santa’s Sunday Brunch at Café Pacifica in the Pan Pacific Hotel (#300-999 Canada Place, Vancouver)? On December 19, you can heap your plate with all manner of eats — everything from seafood to soup to dim sum — then wash it all down with freshly squeezed juice, coffee and tea. There’s plenty of kid-friendly fare too, from PB&J sandwiches and fries to chicken fingers and chocolate milk. Prices are $69 per person for adults, with discounts for kids and seniors. Reserve your seat for the lunch, taking place from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., by calling 604-891-2555 or emailing festivedesk@panpacific-hotel.com.

Light up the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival – December 21
It’s said we all march to the beat of a different drummer. Not so on December 21, when 
masses of marchers will be stepping to the tune of a posse of percussionists at the Secret Lantern Society’s 17th annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. This illuminating event, which falls on the longest night of the year, celebrates “the return of the light” with a community parade that will snake from Science World (1455 Quebec Street) all the way to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall Street), an inner-city oasis that’ll be the site of music and dance from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is by a suggested $5 donation.

Ski with Santa – December 23-24
Tucked in the southeast corner of B.C., Fernie Alpine Resort is a favourite destination for dedicated ski and snowboard enthusiasts from all over the world. And, along with the usual alpine activities, you can even hit the slopes with Santa himself on the mornings of December 23 and 24, then get a free souvenir pic snapped with him right afterwards. Ski with Santa runs from 10 a.m. to noon, with photo sessions taking place from noon to 2 p.m. For more information, call 1-866-633-7643.

Wrap up the Whistler Mountaineer – until December 24
Talk about a moving present! This holiday season, wrap up a Whistler Mountaineer rail adventure for your favourite travel bug. Until December 24, you can pinch major pennies by taking advantage of the exclusive B.C. Resident Rate starting from $119 per adult on bookings of four or more on round-trip journeys departing between May 20 and September 28, 2011. The three-hour excursion between Vancouver and Whistler runs daily, and offers a choice of two great experiences — the Coast Classic or, for an additional charge, the Glacier Dome. You can bet this is one present that won’t be re-gifted! For more information on this package, call 1-877-460-3200.

Have Christmas Lunch in The Observatory – until December 24
If you’re like most people, you’re too busy buying gifts for everyone else to give much thought to yourself. So go on, get selfish and treat yourself to a day without dishes at Grouse Mountain’s Christmas Lunch in The Observatory, the self-described “crown jewel” of alpine eateries. Santa’s made a list and checked it twice to guarantee diners will enjoy this three-course, $49 festive feast, taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through December 24. And while you’re there, why not make a day of it by checking out the Karen Magnussen Foundation Ice Show or classic Christmas movies at the Theatre in the Sky, too? For further details, call 604-998-5045.

Enjoy Bright Nights in Stanley Park – until January 2

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — especially at the 13th annual Bright Nights in Stanley Park, where a million twinkling lights have transformed the forest, train and children’s farmyard into a dazzling winter wonderland. Amid the aromas of roasted nuts, hot chocolate and fresh popcorn, visitors can wander through the petting zoo or hop aboard the Stanley Park miniature train for a 12-minute journey past Santa’s workshop, tucked deep in the heart of an illuminated forest. Advance tickets for this event, running daily from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. until January 2 (except December 25), are available from Ticketmaster at 604-280-4444, or buy tickets at the train plaza in Stanley Park. Partial proceeds go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

Catch Christmas on the Coast – December 20 – January 3
Where can you find twinkling stars, beautiful West Coast imagery, sparkling city lights, and traditional Christmas music performed by acclaimed Canadian artists, all gift-wrapped in one package? Answer: H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver) where you can catch Christmas on the Coast, a holiday film unspooling daily from December 20 to January 3, excluding December 25. And while you’re there, why not honour the light of your life with a stellar gift by dedicating a star in his or her name? Prices range from $50 to $500, with more details available at 604-738-7827.

Join the Festivities at the Fort – until January 2
The world might be a global village, but it still looks awfully quaint at Fort Langley (23433 Mavis Avenue). From now until January 2, Festivities at the Fort has turned this National Historic Site into a holiday haven, complete with enough hot apple cider to warm the cockles of the coldest heart. As if all this weren’t enough, you can also make Christmas crafts and take a lantern tour. And don’t forget to bring a donation for the food bank so you can vote in the Christmas Tree contest! Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with further details available by calling 

See the Trees – until January 4
Can’t see the forest for the trees? Then you must be at the 24th annual Victoria Festival of Trees, a feel-good fundraiser for B.C. Children’s Hospital. And no need to brave the winter winds to enjoy this copse of Christmas trees ’cause they’re all set in the luxe lobbies of the Fairmont Empress Hotel (721 Government Street) and the Victoria Conference Centre (720 Douglas Street). But don’t rush: You’ve got till January 4 to check out the 50-plus fine firs and to cast a ballot for the People’s Choice Award. The festival is also taking place in Vancouver, Port Alberni, Osoyoos and Sooke.

Stay at the Fairmont for Cheap – until January 9
Holiday visits from out of town in-laws are one way to put the kibosh on Christmas cheer. So thank goodness that you can pack them off guilt-free to the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, now offering special weekend room rates for B.C. residents until January 9, 2011. The price for front-door access to Vancouver’s world-class shopping, nightlife and restaurant scene starts from just $129 nightly at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (900 West Georgia Street) and the Fairmont Waterfront (900 Canada Place Way), with slightly higher rates starting from $159 at the Fairmont Pacific Rim (1038 Canada Place).

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.