Entertaining ideas for your winter days and nights

There’s plenty to do around the Lower Mainland these winter months. Check out Austeville’s latest activity roundup for the details.

Calling all aspiring thespians

Who doesn’t love a good holiday panto? These interactive musical comedies are a UK import that have made themselves at home on the West Coast. This season there are no fewer than three to choose from in Greater Vancouver. East Van Panto is showcasing Beauty and the Beast at the Cultch from November 22 to January 7. Check out the antics of Belle and Friends in person or online. Tickets start at $20. Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver is presenting the hilarious O Christmas Tea on December 30. Hurry — tickets are going fast! Metro Theatre in Vancouver is showcasing Ellie King’s rendition of Sinbad from December 7 to January 1, and is a fun way to ring in the New Year. Tickets start at $30 for adults and $26 for children.

Light up the holidays

Vancouver rain has nothing on the dazzling array of light displays that illuminate the city at this time of year. Head to Granville Island between November 12 and January 3 to pick up a few artisan gifts or some amazing fare for your festive table. At the same time, take in the cornucopia of shimmering baubles and garlands that create a canopy of lights across the island’s 40 acres. Best of all, parking is free from 6 pm onwards. You can also ride the Bright Nights Train in Stanley Park, which, after a few years hiatus, is chugging the rails amidst thousands of lights and incredible holiday displays. The brilliant extravaganza is made possible by local firefighters in support of the BC Professional Firefighter’s Burn Fund. Bright Nights runs until January 1. Food and beverage vendors are on site if you want to warm up or grab a snack. Finally, no tour of Vancouver’s best light displays is complete without a visit to VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights, on until January 7, or a walk through the glittering forest of the Canyon Lights display at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, on until January 21.

Take it outside

True Greater Vancouverites don’t let the cold winds or rains of winter slow down their outdoor pursuits. Pick a new adventure this season from the many the region has to offer. Snowtubing at Gnarly’s Tube Park on Cypress Mountain allows even amateur winter enthusiasts to enjoy the thrill of the slopes by innertubing down the mountain’s six 100-meter chutes. The best thing? They have a mechanized tow to bring you back up the hill. If you prefer old-fashioned sledding and hefting your sled back up the hill under your own power, Cypress has a facility for that, too. You could also take a sleigh ride through Grouse Mountain’s winter wonderland. The rides are complimentary with a Grouse admission and suitable for all ages. Of course, the most daring Vancouver athletes brave the frigid waters of English Bay for the annual Polar Bear Swim on January 1. This year marks the 103rd anniversary of the frosty plunge. Advance registration is recommended and will entitle you to a participation certificate to impress your pals.