Dance, Theater, and Music

Arts Club Theatre

Includes the 450-seat Granville Island Stage and the smaller 220-seat New Revue Stage on Granville Island; also performances at the 650-seat Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, housed in the historic Stanley Theatre. The Arts Club produces big-budget productions like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but the club’s credo means it features comedies, dramas, and musicals by Canadian playwrights too. Check out the Vancouver Theatre Sports League (, an improvisational troupe and an always-entertaining place to take a first date. Arts Club tickets $30-60. TheatreSports League tickets $16-18. 1585 Johnston Street; tel. + 1 604 687 1644.


Drab on the outside, the totally refurbished interior is cloaked in gilt and red velvet, sparkling chandeliers, and a dramatic domed ceiling; since it opened in 1927, the Orpheum has had several lives: vaudeville theater, movie house, and eyesore on the brink of demolition. Thanks to public support, the theater survives; now home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; also hosts choral performances and some rock shows. 884 Granville Street; tel. +1 604 665 3050.

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

A team of architecture students and instructors from Montreal’s McGill University designed this modern, 2,900-capacity theater in 1959; the “Q.E.” is home to the Vancouver Opera and Ballet British Columbia, and also hosts other major productions. 649 Cambie Street; tel. +1 604 665 3050.

Vancouver Playhouse Theatre

“This well-established professional company entered its fifth decade repositioning itself as a vehicle for developing and producing exciting new Canadian works and contemporary plays. Kudos for embracing the future.”—Stuart Derdeyn, arts columnist, The Province. Part of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre complex; hosts the theater’s resident company, along with chamber music recitals and special events; 673 seats. Tickets from $32. Corner of Hamilton and Dunsmuir Streets; tel. +1 604 873 3311.

Firehall Arts Centre

“Even as British Columbia’s largest city grows from a former logging center to a jewel of the Pacific Rim, the sheer scale of Vancouver’s diversity finds expression in the scope and range of performances at the Firehall.”—Dominic Patten, Arts & Life editor, Vancouver Sun. This Gastown theater is housed in a 1906 fire station; 175 seats; local productions, from multimedia dance about Native Americans in Paris, to the video game-playing, beer-guzzling trials of the Banana Boys; a lounge for schmoozing and cocktails. Tickets from $10. 280 E. Cordova Street; tel. +1 604 689 0926.

Vancouver East Cultural Centre

“A former church, the Cultch today is a much loved arts space on the sometimes gritty east side of the city.”—Mike Usinger, music editor, Georgia Straight. Hip urban venue just off Commercial Drive; performers include string quartets, singer-songwriters, local and international bands; casual vibe. Tickets from $20. 1895 Venables Street; tel. +1 604 251 1363.



Where you go when you want to dance the night away; Top 40, house, techno, and hip-hop pulsate from the speakers; special nights, like Sensual Fridays and Rockstar Saturdays; long lines; go online to get on the guest list. 674 Seymour Street; tel. +1 604 648 2227.

Commodore Ballroom

Excellent acoustics, a wide stage visible from every corner of the room, and a horsehair and tire-sprung hardwood dance floor. Now owned by the House of Blues; modeled after 1920s English ballrooms; 990-person capacity; past performers include U2, Depeche Mode, Violent Femmes, and Tina Turner. Tickets from $25. 868 Granville Street; tel. +1 604 739 7469.

Lotus Sound Lounge

“A subterranean dance spot that proves, no matter what Eminem might say, plenty of folks still listen to techno.”—Mike Usinger, music editor, Georgia Straight. Young, beautiful people; throbbing music and fun, sweaty crowds. 455 Abbott Street; tel. +1 604 685 7777.

Railway Club

“The Railway is the place you go if you want to rub shoulders with musicians and bohemian-style artists.”—Mike Usinger. Part seedy tavern, part hallowed hall; many Canadian musicians got their start here; friendly hub of a supportive indie music community. Tickets from $6. 579 Dunsmuir Street; tel. +1 604 681 1625.

Richard’s on Richards

Richards has launched many local bands into the “bigger” time; good stage views from all over the venue; huge dance floor; 500-person capacity; high energy. Though it seems to have a perpetual date with the wrecking ball (which it somehow always survives), Richard’s gets a wide variety of acts. 1036 Richards Street; tel. +1 604 687 6794.


Vancouver International Children’s Festival

May. Local kids wait all year for this festival, held for eight days in Vanier Park; dance and drama productions, roving entertainers, and puppeteers; face painting, juggling lessons, and lots of music. Tel. +1 604 708 5655.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

June. Held over ten days at various venues throughout the city; world’s top names in jazz come to perform; includes a two-day dancing street festival in Gastown and Yaletown. Tel. +1 604 872 5200.

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

Typically early June-Sept. “Watching Shakespeare with the Coast Mountains as a backdrop is one of the joys of summer.”—Andrew Hempstead, author, Moon Handbooks Vancouver & Victoria. Under giant white tents in Vanier Park; summer-long series of favorite Shakespeare plays. Tel. + 1 604 739 0559 or 877 739 0559 outside Canada.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

July. Locals cherish the “Folk-Fest,” held over three days at Jericho Beach Park; several stages for music, spoken word, song, and dance; food and crafts vendors. Tel. +1 604 602 9798.

Vancouver International Fringe Festival

September. Ten-day festival celebrates the best in eclectic live theater; most performances are held at Granville Island. Tel. +1 604 257 0350.

Vancouver International Film Festival

September-October. Spans 17 days beginning in late September. Special subgenres include "Dragons and Tigers: The Cinemas of East Asia," "Climate for Change," and "Canadian Images;" held at several venues, including the festival’s Vancity Theatre. Tel. +1 604 685 0260.


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