Vancouver Adventures: Our Picks for May 31 to June 6

This week: devour spot prawns at The Blackbird, experience Europe without the plane ticket, visit Thomas the Train Engine with your kids and more

Credit: Flickr/Steve Tannock

Private Brunch at Reflections

Looking to wow your friends? Throw a brunch party, al fresco, on the Reflections patio. For the first time ever, Reflections will be hosting private brunch parties, where the fare will be as appealing as the scenery. That means fresh fruit, decadent pastries and a RAW bar smoothie and juice station that dishes out refreshing beverages. A warm food station means tasty eats like the spicy chorizo, red pepper and caramelized onion frittata wrap will be available if you’re feeling particularly peckish. The program is available any day until 10:30 a.m. If you’re ready to throw a seriously impressive breakfast party, call Reflections at 604-673-7043.

HSBC City of Bhangra Festival – May 29 to June 7

To most Western ears, bhangra doesn’t have the name recognition factor as, say rock, roots or rap. But maybe the HSBC City of Bhangra Festival, taking place from May 29 to June 7, will help change your tune. This 10th annual musical mash-up, held at venues throughout downtown Vancouver and Surrey, features performers from around the world set to entertain audiences with everything from interactive workshops and demos to gala parties and outdoor entertainment at the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza.

Credit: Katie Almeida

Spot Prawn Boil #2 at The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar – June 1

The Blackbird‘s first Spot Prawn Boil was so deliciously good, it’s back for an encore. Here’s the deal: Chef Alvin Pillay will hop on a boat that morning to collect a ton of spot prawns for the evening’s event. At the table, the incredibly fresh and delicious spot prawns will literally be dumped on the table along with roasted potatoes and cobs of corn. Sip on a cold beer, cover everything in sumptuous garlic butter and get to eating. Evenings like this are where the phrase “finger-licking good” comes from. Get tickets here.

Vancouver Heritage House Tour – June 1

Lookie-loo alert! If you’ve always wanted to see how the “other half” lives, check out the Vancouver Heritage House Tour on June 1. You’ll browse through 11 high-end homes, including Casa Mia in Vancouver’s ritzy Southlands neighbourhood, the stomping ground of CEOs, surgeons and scions. Tickets are $40 per person for the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

HSBC ChildRun – June 1

Kids + cancer = every parent’s worst nightmare. Join the fight against this devastating disease by participating in the 29th annual HSBC ChildRun for BC Children’s Hospital on June 1, starting at 9 a.m. Over 4,000 people are expected to take part in this fun 5K or 1K trek, which helps fund childhood cancer research and programs. After the race, which starts and ends at the RCMP Parking lot at 4949 Heather St in Vancouver, be sure to stick around to enjoy a community carnival.

European Festival – May 31 and June 1

Can’t afford an overseas excursion this summer? Do the next best thing at the 17th annual European Festival on May 31 and June 1 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby. With over 30 countries represented, it offers a weekend full of family fun, including everything from folk dancers, singers and musicians to a European marketplace, food tent and beer garden. Buy day passes online or at the gate for $15, or $20 for the Saturday-night concert.  

Songfire Festival of Song

Of music’s many genres, few are as little known as Art Song, described as a “dynamic fusion of music and poetry.” Luckily, the Songfire Festival of Song will get you up to speed fast with a month-long program of engaging performances and lectures, probing dialogues and thought-provoking workshops from June 2-24 at various Vancouver venues, including UBC. Ticket prices range from free to $40 at or at the door, cash only.

Day Out with Thomas & Friends – June 7-8

All aboard! Thomas-loving tots are in for trainloads of fun at West Coast Railway Heritage Park (39645 Government Rd, Squamish) this month. That’s because the loveable locomotive is set to chug into the station on June 7-8 then again on June 14-15 to whisk kids off on a Day Out with Thomas & Friends, a 25-minute train ride that includes oodles of onboard entertainment, with departures taking place between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Buy tickets online for $24.15 per person.

CycleTreks to Butchart Gardens – Until October

Without a doubt, Butchart Garden is Victoria’s most visited landmark. But did you know the site is easily accessible by bike? Until October, CycleTreks (1000 Wharf St, Victoria) is rolling out a self-guided tour that begins with one-way transportation to the Gardens for a morning visit, after which you’ll journey back to Victoria aboard a Rocky Mountain bike, pedalling through Central Saanich, scenic countryside and the Lochside Trail along the way. Cost for this three- to four-hour, 36-km tour is $95 per person, and includes equipment rentals and admission to the Gardens. 

Credit: Skwachays

Skwachays Lodge

For a multi-culti city, Vancouver’s First Nations heritage often gets short shrift. That’s starting to change, thanks to the opening of Skwachays Lodge, a new aboriginal themed hotel at the crossroads of Gastown and Chinatown in downtown. This experiential boutique hotel, designed by six aboriginal artists, boasts rooms featuring animal spirits and original indigenous artwork, along with a sweat lodge, smudge room, artist’s workshop and a traditional longhouse.