BC Adventures – Our To Do Picks for December 25 – 31

This week in BC: See the Nutcracker and White Christmas, catch Huey Lewis and Brent Butt, and start the New Year with a polar bear swim

The Alberta Ballet’s exciting new Nutcracker comes to town December 29-January 1

What to do in BC this week

See Victoria by Horse-drawn Trolley – December 19-24 and 26-29

Touring downtown Victoria via double-decker bus? Delightful. But why not up the fun factor by seeing the sights aboard a horse-drawn trolley instead? This month, Victoria Carriage Tours is offering narrated Christmas-themed excursions that clip-clop passengers along quaint streets while reminiscing about yuletides of yore. Worried about the weather? Don’t be — the trolleys are fully covered, plus you’ll be tucked in all toasty with a warm blanket. Tours, which run from December 19 to 24 and December 26 to 29, are 45 minutes in length and cost $20 per person, $15 for students/seniors and $10 for children under 12. For more information or to book, call 1-877-663-2207.

Go Skating in Nanaimo’s Winter Wonderland – December 26-30
At this time of year, the term “winter wonderland” becomes a commonly heard cliche, but who cares? It sums up the ambience nicely at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena (2300 Bowen Road), which has been transformed into a self-described “winter wonderland” from December 26 to 30. For just $1 per person, you can rent skates and a helmet then practice your figure eights at this Rockefeller Center-themed on-ice extravaganza. Drop by during public hours, or call ahead to rent your own private session for friends, family or co-workers for $145 plus HST per hour, with further details at 250-756-5200 or nanaimo.ca.

See the Nutcracker – December 29 – January 1
Can you improve upon a classic? When it comes to The Nutcracker, the Alberta Ballet seems to think so. They took a $1.5-million budget and went to town, creating what one Calgary Herald critic called a “sparking and spectacular achievement” full of “fresh, vibrant magic” accented by “stunning set designs and elaborate costumes.” See this new and improved Nutcracker from December 29 to January 1 when it makes its Lower Mainland premiere, backed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in two evening and three matinee performances. For more information or tickets, visit balletbc.com or call Ticketmaster at 604-280-3311.

Catch Brent Butt – December 30

When you’ve got a last name like “Butt,” you can either deal with the inevitable ribbing by getting defensive or by honing a sharp sense of humour. Saskatchewan-born funnyguy Brent Butt chose the latter approach, becoming a stand-up comic by age 20 and going on to become one of Canada’s funniest comedians, with two original TV sitcoms — Corner Gas and Hiccups — to his career credit. But why settle for seeing him on the small screen when you can catch him in person at Boulevard Casino’s Red Robinson Show Theatre (2080 United Boulevard, Coquitlam) on December 30, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49.50, and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 604-280-4444.

Usher in the New Year at Goldfish – December 31
Plan to party like a rock god this New Year’s Eve? So last year. Why not party like a Rock Cod instead, at Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (1118 Mainland Street, Vancouver)? The upscale Yaletown eatery, specializing in Pacific Rim-influenced West Coast cuisine, has earned a well-deserved rep for throwing one of the best New Year’s bashes in town, which explains its annual sell-out status. A $125 ticket buys you a chef-made three-course gourmet meal, live entertainment from DJ Dom and the Candy Girl Cabaret, plus a complimentary glass of bubbly to sip at midnight — which might help bolster your bravado if you’re keen to kiss a sexy stranger. For information or to book, call 604-689-8318 or send an email to info@goldfishkitchen.com.

See Huey Lewis at the River Rock – December 31

Remember Huey Lewis and The News? The Bay Area band wants you to party like a rock star on New Year’s Eve, which is why they’ll be kicking it old school at River Rock Casino Resort 
(8811 River Road, Richmond) on December 31, starting at 11:30 p.m. Back in the ’80s, the rockers were chart-topping hit makers, known for such songs as “I Want a New Drug,” “Stuck With You” and “The Power of Love,” among others. Now they’ve hit the road again to promote their new album Soulsville, which resurrects their rollicking brand of soulful rock ‘n’ roll. Want to make it a “News”-worthy New Year’s Eve? Buy tickets, priced from $175, through Ticketmaster or by phone at 604-280-4444.

Cruise into the New Year – December 31
Celebrate 2011 with a splash! Pride of Vancouver Charters invites you to spend December 31 on a five-hour cruise feasting on a gourmet buffet, sipping bubbly and busting a move on the dance floor. Now throw in the romance of the ocean, a spectacular city skyline and a midnight fireworks show, and it’s definitely worth the $114.50-per-person price. Meet at 450 Denman Street in downtown Vancouver, starting at 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. departure, with more information at 604-687-5533 (toll-free 1-888-987-5533).

Spend New Year’s at the Fairmont Pacific Rim – 
December 31-January 1
It’s only fitting to end the Olympic year with a winning combination, right? That’s the thinking behind Fairmont Pacific Rim’s (1038 Canada Place, Vancouver) New Year’s Eve package, which scores a perfect 10 when it comes to fun. For $599 per couple, you’ll enjoy overnight accommodation with a late check-out, seven-course table d’hôte dinner in ORU, dancing at the Lobby Lounge party to six-piece band Oneside, a tapas-style midnight buffet and a New Year’s Day Resolution Brunch. Can’t afford the full package? No sweat; for $45 per person, you can always just check out the January 1 brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations, call 604-695-5300.

Do the Polar Bear Swim – January 1

It may seem more like punishment than pleasure, but every year more than 2,000 costumed crazies make a big splash at Vancouver’s infamous New Year’s Day frigi-dip known as the Polar Bear Swim. Almost every B.C. community stages a “dunk-and-squeal,” but the granddaddy of ’em all is the one at English Bay. If you think your ticker can take it, join the throngs of chill-seekers for this decades-old Vancouver tradition that’s guaranteed to shake off hangovers in a hurry. Make your splash at noon sharp — and, if you’re lucky, you might even see yourself on the evening news. Just don’t forget your defibrillator! For further information, call the Vancouver Aquatic Centre at 604-665-3424.

See Alice in Wonderland – until January 2

Who would have thought that a straitlaced, socially awkward mathematician by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, could weave a fun and fanciful fairytale like Alice in Wonderland? But the 19th-century Anglican deacon, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, certainly did, creating a masterpiece of literary nonsense that hasn’t lost its lustre in over 140 years. And even if you’ve seen the versions by Walt Disney and Tim Burton, fans young and old will love seeing it in a whole new way — as a traditional British panto at the Surrey Arts Centre (13750 88 Avenue) until January 2. For information or tickets, go to rctheatreco.com. 

Check out White Christmas: The Musical – until January 2

Who doesn’t love a white Christmas? And that holds true whether you’re talking about the weather or Irving Berlin’s holiday classic. That would explain why White Christmas: The Musical has been packing ’em in at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (2750 Granville Street, Vancouver), where it’s playing until January 2. Based on the festive, feel-good film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, this tap-dancing delight — which one reviewer raved is as “warm and sweet as rum and eggnog” is one way to guarantee your day (or night) is merry and bright. For tickets or more information, visit artsclub.com or call 604-687-1644.

Book the Winter Wonderland Package at Sparkling Hill Resort – until January 2
Eat Pray Love may have sparked your desire to do just that, but there’s no need to pull an Elizabeth Gilbert and jet off for a year to soothe your spirit in Italy, India and Indonesia. All you have to do is head to Sparkling Hill Wellness Hotel (888 Sparkling Place, Vernon) for a rejuvenating retreat right in B.C.’s own backyard. And, until January 2, 2011, couples can take advantage of a special Winter Wonderland package that includes a two-night stay in a breathtaking superior suite, pampering treatments at an on-site European-inspired spa, a guided hike in the Monashee Mountains, plus daily breakfast, dinner and an English-style “tea” party. To book this package, priced at $395 based on double occupancy, call 1-877-275-1556.

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