The cake is decorated, champagne flutes are full and loved ones are gathering to celebrate this memorable occasion. No, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day. Tourism Vancouver is joining the nation in celebrating 10 years of marriage equality across Canada and 12 years in British Columbia!
Since 2005, same-sex marriage has been the law of the land across Canada. But over in the beautiful west coast city of Vancouver, B.C., guys legally started marrying guys, and gals marrying gals back in 2003.
“Tourism Vancouver is thrilled to celebrate this incredible milestone with the local and visiting LGBT community,” said Candice Gibson, manager of Consumer Marketing. “Vancouver has proudly celebrated 12 years of marriage equality, and what sets us apart is that we don’t just market our city as a gay-friendly destination – it goes beyond that. Diversity of all kinds is welcomed here. It’s organic to Vancouver’s culture and lifestyle. Combine that with the city’s stunning scenery and array of outdoor and urban experiences, and it makes Vancouver the ultimate getaway for people of all walks of life.”
To celebrate these marriage milestones, Tourism Vancouver gives you 12 ways to keep the love alive in Vancouver – one for each year of marriage equality.
1. Toast to true love at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. One of North America’s largest wine festivals, the event features more than 170 participating wineries, 1,750-plus wines on pour and over 50 festival events (including wine seminars, winery dinners and an assortment of lunches and brunches at Vancouver’s top restaurants and hotels). February 20 to March 1.
2. Experience cherry pink Vancouver. Come spring, more than 40,000 cherry trees announce the end of winter by blanketing Vancouver’s streets with delicate petals. Take a romantic stroll through Vancouver’s array of colourful gardens, have a picnic under a lush canopy of blossoms or check out the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s diverse selection of events. April 2 to 29.
3. Delight your taste buds at the Spot Prawn Festival. During one of the tastiest events of the year, enjoy cooking demos by Vancouver’s top chefs, live entertainment, local wines, and a mouthwatering spot prawn boil. Takes place in May.
4. It’s all about jazz, baby. The Vancouver International Jazz Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with what’s sure to be one of its biggest years yet. Kicking off with a special performance by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett in May, the festival draws more than 560,000 attendees annually. This year’s festival will feature 1,800-plus artists – ranging from the globe’s best jazz, funk and Latin to fusion and world music – at 300 concert venues across the city. June 18 to July 1.
5. Couples who sweat together, stay together. Host city of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Vancouver is the perfect destination for couples keen on athletic pursuits. Top events in 2015 include the BMO Vancouver Marathon (May 3), lululemon SeaWheeze (August 15), RBC GranFondo (September 12) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (October 25).
6. Fireworks, Pride and one heck of a party. It’s no secret that Vancouver Pride is one of the best times of year for LGBT travelers to come to Vancouver. Visitors and locals – gay and straight alike – flock to a variety of events, including the 37th annual Pride Parade (August 2), which draws more than 650,000 attendees annually, followed by the ocean-side Pride Festival at Sunset Beach. But the cherry on top of this action-packed week is the annual Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition, the largest offshore fireworks competition in the world (July 25, 29 and August 1).
7. Bare it all. Oil up and hit the sand at Wreck Beach. Canada’s first and largest clothing-optional stretch of sand, Wreck Beach has been named one of the top 10 nude beaches in the world. Drop by in August to take part in the annual Wreck Beach Bare Buns Run – just make sure you get your base tan first.
8. Immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood North. Vancouver – also known as Hollywood North – is a hotbed for television and film production. Recent credits include Fifty Shades of Grey, Once Upon a Time, and the soon-to-launch Tomorrowland, as well as old favorites like The Twilight Saga, The L Word and X-Files. Take your sweetie on a self-guided tour of your favorite show or indulge in some celebrity spotting at the city’s celebrity-favored hotels, restaurants and bars.
9. Calling all culture lovers.There’s more to Vancouver than just beautiful scenery – it’s also home to a thriving culture scene. Start in the downtown core at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. After, check out the under-the-radar Rennie Gallery in Chinatown, and then hop a bus to the UBC Museum of Anthropology. Continue along the city’s beaches, parks and seawall to check out the Vancouver Biennale’s 30-plus outdoor sculptures. And if you’re still craving culture, come back in November for the annual Eastside Culture Crawl.
10. Ready, set, showtime! From razzle dazzle Broadway hits to theatre en plein air, Vancouver is a hotbed for incredible year-round performances. This year’s highlights include Broadway Across Canada’s The Book of Mormon (April 7 to 12) and ONCE (November 17 to 22), Firehall Art Centre’s PROUD (April 5 to 25), and Arts Club Theatre’s Godspell (June 18 to August 1). Come summertime, crowds flock to catch popular outdoor performances, such as Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival (June 4 to September 26) and Theatre Under the Stars (mid-July through August).
11. Bring the kids.Vancouver is home to hundreds of kid-friendly outdoor and indoor activities, interactive museums, cool attractions and amazing parks. Insider’s tip: Treat your kids to the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, May 25 to 31. This festival for kids of all ages features live music, charming puppetry, thrilling acrobatics and inspiring theatre.
12. Renew your “I do’s” with a view. Renew your vows atop Grouse Mountain where your guests will enjoy stunning views of the expansive ocean and city 3,700 feet below. For those wanting to stay closer to the water, the legendary Teahouse in Stanley Park offers sublime views of lush greenery and nearby English Bay.
To view Tourism Vancouver’s LGBT travel section, click here.