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Insider Itinerary: Arts & Culture

April 24, 2023 |
Wendy Underwood

Rain or shine, Vancouver has plenty of places to experience the city’s eclectic arts scene. From murals on Main Street to a night at the symphony in a 1920s theatre, the culturally inclined can discover work by local indie artists and international stars. With a public art promenade right on The Burrard’s doorstep and easy access to Vancouver’s vibrant venues and innovative art galleries, it’s easy to discover the artsy side of the city.


Polygon Gallery

Head to the North Shore’s Polygon Gallery
Start your day with a SeaBus ride over to the North Shore from downtown’s Waterfront Station. You’ll disembark about 10 minutes later over at Lonsdale Quay, and after grabbing a quick breakfast at the market (al fresco if the sun is shining), head next door to the Polygon Gallery. Focusing on photography and related art forms, the gallery is critically acclaimed, and often features work by locals, BIPOC artists, and others from diverse backgrounds. If you have a little extra time, explore the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood, which is also home to some great microbreweries, distillers and cideries.

Vancouver Mural Festival

Explore East Van’s mural tour
This afternoon, take the SeaBus back downtown, then head to Mt. Pleasant. The Main Street area hosts the annual Vancouver Mural Festival and the side streets between East 2nd and 12th are home to colourful creations by both local and internationally-renowned artists that were painted during the public art celebration or have been added afterwards. Download the online digital map, or take a free guided tour, to learn more about the meaning behind the murals.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Catch the symphony at the Orpheum
Back downtown again, enter the opulent Orpheum Theatre and take a step back in time to an elegant era of entertainment. Opened in 1927, the Orpheum Theatre now hosts classic and contemporary concerts and is home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Look out for their ‘VSO Pops’ series of concerts, where they play popular tunes from doo wop to rock ‘n’ roll. Best of all? It’s only a short stroll back to The Burrard and your bed after the concert.


Digital Orca, Douglas Coupland, Vancouver

Walk an al fresco art trail
Wake up, put on your walking shoes, grab a bite to eat at Elysian Coffee in our lobby, and set out on a self-guided public art walking tour. Take the public art walk down the Burrard Street Corridor to see 17 eclectic outdoor pieces, from a digital orca designed by award-winning author and artist Douglas Coupland to a 65-foot raindrop by Coal Harbour. Or explore works that are part of the Vancouver Biennale collection, scattered throughout the downtown core and the waterfront neighbourhoods.

The Works of Emily Carr at Vancouver Art Gallery

Discover the best of BC art
Before exploring the Vancouver Art Gallery, grab a light lunch at the 1931 Gallery Bistro. If the weather allows, refuel al fresco on the gallery steps before heading to see the exhibits within. VAG hosts major touring exhibitions and the permanent collections include contemporary Asian art, Indigenous art from the region, and works by renowned BC artists such as Emily Carr. Skip the queue by purchasing your ticket in advance online.

Granville Island

Enjoy dinner on Granville Island (then maybe a show!)
Take the tiny Aquabus ferry from the foot of Howe Street across to Granville Island to explore the food market, boutiques, artisan studios and restaurants. Pick up a casual dinner at Popina Canteen, right on the water, or dine on local seafood at The Sandbar. Then take in a post-dinner show at the Arts Club‘s Granville Island Stage, a performance at one of the theatres that’s part of the Granville Island Theatre District, or live comedy at the Improv Centre.

 Looking for an cultural vacation in Vancouver? Check out our great rates for your stay.

Photo Credits
Feature Image – mural by Drew Young & Jay Senetchko: Vancouver Mural Festival
Polygon Gallery: Peter Skaronis via Unsplash
Mural by Graeme McCormack & Allison Woodward: Vancouver Mural Festival
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca: Vancouver Convention Centre
Emily Carr painting: Vancouver Art Gallery
Granville Island Public Market: Patrick Boucher via Unsplash