To get to know a city, it’s people and quirks, taking part in local celebrations is key. Vancouver has a couple of amazing, hilarious and beautiful festivities that give the city a special flavour.These are my five favourite celebrations and festivities throughout the year:
Not all Germans carry the Carneval gene. In Munich, Oktoberfest is way more important than Karneval (ask someone from Cologne or Mainz though!). Dressing up was never one of my obsessions. But being creative is – and that’s why the contagious Halloween-fever in North America finally got to me this year. While I was half-heartedly dressed as a budget-saving “London Eye”-riddle last year (obviously no one knew what or who I was), this year I will actually make an effort to get some proper accessoires and fake blood on me. And what’s not to love about this holiday: Adorable kids dressed as Oreo Cookies and Mini-Zombies on the sidewalk, carving pumpkins with friends, eating candy, watching Beetlejuice and taking walks through the neighbourhood looking at peoples tricked out gardens transformed into graveyards and skeleton-parties. Fun.
Polar Bear Swim
The Vancouverite way of starting the new year is with blue lips and clacking teeth. The Polar Bear Swim is an infamous annual hangover cure that separates the Vancouverites into three groups: The bystanders holding towels, hot chocolate and rum; the brave swimmers, partly costumed; and the whimps, those that can’t face the cold waters of English Bay. Too bad I am not in town for this years swim. Next year I will take the plunge. Maybe.
I had no idea what an array of maple leaf accessories there were out there. On Canada Day Canadians go all out. Everyone is in their red and white gear and out on the beach, BBQ’n it up and celebrating Canada’s birthday. This year was particulary nice as the 1st of July was one of those über-hot 36°C summer days. I highly recommend going down to Wreck Beach to celebrate with the locals.Never have I seen our beloved Nudie Beach (We call it FKK in Germany, meaning ‘free body culture’) so packed. Needless to say the Canada Day costumes down there were legendary. I’ve never seen more relaxed beach cops either, playing frisbee with some Wreck regulars and ignoring the obvious cocktail pitchers (and yes, we are in North America after all. We have beach cops.). There is also a funky parade and fireworks. Which leads me to another favourite in my calendar…
The Celebration of Light
I thought my New Years experience in Sydney, Australia in 2007 was hard to top. But I had seen nothing yet. The Celebration of Lights is something else, especially because it is in the middle of summer. It’s three days long and three nations compete to show who can create the best firework show. The whole city is watching, even on TV. The professionally orchestrated pyro-show is accompanied by music which you can tune in on the radio. Bring a camping chair to any high ground or make friends with someone living in a high rise with a waterfront view and you are set for the jaw-dropping celebration.
Terry Fox Run
I had never heard of Terry Fox until I moved to Vancouver. Shocking, I know. His ‘Marathon of Hope’ (1980) across the country to raise money for cancer research made him a national hero and running legend. He could not finish his run due to cancer in his lungs and when he died in 1981 at the age of only 22 the whole nation was grief-struck.
“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.” – Terry Fox
His legacy kept running strong. Terry has become synonymous for the fight of cancer and every year thousands of people gather in his memory to participate in running events across the country to keep his goals alive: Support Cancer research and never give up on your dreams. Read more about the Terry Fox Foundation here. Who’s joining me 2015?