Whether you are planning an adult weekend getaway or a family trip, a full slate of music, dance, comedy, theater and visual arts events awaits.
Many arts venues are in the downtown area, or can be easily reached by car or by Vancouver’s excellent transit system, which includes frequent buses and the SkyTrain.
Here’s a sampling of current and upcoming performances and arts events.
Learn about the city’s gritty and glamorous past by taking in the “Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver” exhibit at the municipal Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park.
The show displays gems from the museum’s historic photo collection of vintage neon signs, from the outsize to the outlandish to the outrageous.
Among the other exhibits is “Bhangra.me: Vancouver’s Bhangra Story,” an interactive exhibition that chronicles music, dance and politics in the South Asian community. (Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut St.; $8-$35; 604-736-4431, www.museumofvancouver.ca.)
First Nations art
The downtown Vancouver Art Gallery, the city’s largest visual-art venue, opened a display Oct. 29 of 170 pieces gathered from the prestigious Audain Collection.
Focused mainly on British Columbian artists, “Shore, Forest and Beyond” features vintage ceremonial objects from First Nations tribes. It has works by the province’s most distinguished painters, including post-Impressionist favorite Emily Carr.
Also at the gallery: works from the permanent collection, and a show titled “The Distance Between You and Me: 3 Artists from Vancouver, Los Angeles and Guadalajara.” (Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.; $6.25-$17.50; 604-662-4700, www.vanartgallery.bc.ca.)
Dance on the edge
Vancouver’s thriving modern-dance scene takes center stage during the biennial “Dance in Vancouver” fest (Nov. 23-26), which celebrates leading local choreographers and companies.
Over this four-day event at the Dance Centre, you can check out moves by such cutting-edge troupes as Wen Wei Dance, the 605 Collective, the plastic orchid factory and MACHiNENOiSY. (Dance Centre, 677 Davie St.; $18-$20; 604-606-6420, www.thedancecentre.ca.)
Arts & crafts crawl
One of Vancouver’s most popular open-studio art jamborees, the free, annual Eastside Culture Crawl welcomes some 10,000 visitors to wander through 300-plus artists’ studios in a hip East Vancouver.
Browse works by local sculptors, jewelers, potters, printmakers, glass blowers and other artisans, meet the makers and shop for distinctive wares (Nov. 18-20; www.eastsideculturecrawl.com).
While you’re in this lively neighborhood, find libations and eats along Commercial Drive, which is loaded with small ethnic restaurants.
And just up the street is the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, better known as The Cultch. This happening venue boasts an art gallery and two theaters that host many contemporary dance, drama and comedy shows (1895 Venables St., www.thecultch.com).
Rock at the Roxy
If clubbing appeals to you, the downtown Roxy (932 Granville St., www.roxyvan.com) gets it going into the wee hours with a house rock band, a crowded dance floor and a full bar.
For jazz aficionados, The Cellar (3611 W. Broadway St., www.cellarjazz.com) is one of Vancouver’s prime outlets, known for hosting accomplished local musicians and out-of-town acts. A well-stocked wine cellar and a dining menu are other hallmarks of this club in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood.
Granville Island stages
Urban Granville Island, with its produce market, eateries and many shops and galleries, is a favorite year-round tourist magnet. It is also the home of several theaters where you can find improv, musicals and plays.
Among the shows running this fall on the three stages of the Arts Club Theatre is “The Penelopiad,” a play by leading Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, based on her novella about the “desperate housewife” Penelope in Homer’s “The Odyssey.”
Also on the boards: the Broadway-London musical hi, “Blood Brothers.” (604-687-1644, www.artsclub.com.)
Comic improvisation has long been big in Canada, and if you wonder what gets Vancouverites chortling, look to a new comedy venue on Granville, The Improv Centre. It offers shows based on a variety of improv formats, five nights a week. (604-738-7013, www.vtsl.com/mainstage/ the_improv_centre.php.)
‘Romeo and Juliet’ a deux
The Vancouver Opera slated two versions of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” this fall (details and tickets at www.vancouveropera.ca).
One was the opera’s own production of the Broadway classic “West Side Story,” with the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, which ended Oct. 29.
The other is the Charles Gounod opera “Romeo et Juliette” (opens Nov. 26), with French libretto and English titles.
Both will be performed at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (630 Hamilton St.) a well-appointed downtown auditorium that also will present the Alberta Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 28-31 (tickets at www.ticketmaster.ca).
Bill Reid and friends
The late, versatile and much-revered Canadian artist Bill Reid left behind a richly diverse cache of works: drawings, sculptures, gold and silver jewelry and amulets, a towering carved totem pole and his own collection of indigenous tribal art. (His mother was a member of the Haida First Nation.)
The sleek, modern Bill Reid Gallery (639 Hornby St., www.billreidgallery.ca) is a treasure trove, with a special exhibit that traces Reid’s role in the resurgence of the building of large-scale, ceremonial Haida canoes.
Another source of native art is the Museum of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia campus (6393 N.W. Marine Drive; $7-$14; 604-827-5932, www.moa.ubc.ca).
The museum is displaying artifacts and artworks, ancient and new, from its vast collection in “A Green Dress” (through April 8, 2012).
To get into the holiday spirit, Vancouver-style, look to the VanDusen Botanical Garden Festival of Lights. More than a million lights are strung each December in dazzling, decorative displays at this sprawling garden.
Expect community choir performances, a special light show and (of course) appearances by Santa and his merry elves.
(Nightly, Dec. 9-Jan. 2, 5251 Oak St. (at West 37th Avenue), 604-257-8335, www.vandusengarden.org.)