Inside Vancouver’s Summer Patio Party Series – Part V

Photo: Gord McKenna

Photo: Gord McKenna

Part V: Patio for Live Music

Wining, dining and schmoozing al fresco is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to rock out (or be serenaded, depending on your mood and life situation). Music is a powerful force – just ask the hundreds of commuters bopping down the city streets and crooning in harmony with their iPods – and that’s amplified tenfold when you add sizzling sunshine, cold drinks and cushy seats. Say it with us now: there’s a patio for that!

Patio Criteria:

  • Enough acts to tickle a range of musical palates
  • Crisp acoustics and decent volume
  • Appropriate seating for hard-core groupies and chatty Cathys alike


The Gallery Café

The Patio. Known across the city for a covetable patio that’s consistently referred to as one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets, The Gallery Café morphs from casual crowd-pleaser into party central come summertime. Live performances get going in mid-June, but until then you can order a glass or six of champagne (just $5 a pop!) or a bucket of beer for $15 (!!), drape yourself on a couch situated under lush tendrils of vine and spend a lazy afternoon nibbling on buttermilk chicken bites or cheese and charcuterie while classical music fills the air (yes, you’ve wandered into a Monet painting). In summer, regulars like myself are treated to the unexpected delight of outdoor table service, making it infinitely easier to refill that champagne without standing in the inevitable lineups snaking through the café interior. And extended hours mean you can stake out a spot and loll around for hours before peeling yourself off the patio and heading to your next destination.

The Music. The Gallery Café only hires local acts (we love that), some of whom pack serious award cred – like, Juno-class serious. Starting on June 17, four bands will take turns entertaining the masses on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: Andrea Superstein, a flame-haired jazzist who injects her music with rousing du wop; Juno award-winning jazz singer Jaclyn Guillou, who’s toured across Europe, Canada and the U.S.; Sangre Morena, a spicy Spanish duo who pair their songs with flamenco guitar; and the Just Jazz Trio, an all-male group with velvety voices that’ll cause a heat wave of their own.

Your Seat Strategy. Get up close and personal to the performers – and maybe start an impromptu dance party – by heading straight for the seats across from the stage area. If you prefer your music more muted, settle in at one of the tables overlooking Robson Square. Bonus: when the Vancouver Art Gallery unveils its Douglas Coupland exhibit at the end of May, you can watch passerby affixing their chewed-up gum to the artist’s massive Gumhead sculpture at the Art Gallery Plaza. Entertainment at its finest!


Lobby Lounge Terrace at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

The Patio. During the heat of summer, the glass walls enclosing this ethereal terrace annexed to the ground floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim open out toward front-row views of delegates streaming into the Vancouver Convention Centre and joggers limbering up before hitting the seawall – but the patio’s people watching possibilities are just the proverbial icing. Here’s what else you can expect: fresh and artistically presented dishes from the in-house RawBar; an unrivalled decadence that encourages indulgence (think crystal chandeliers and an Italian-made Fazioli piano); and, most importantly, round-the-clock live music ranging from lilting piano to rousing cover bands. Oh, and by the way: the Lobby Lounge was a crowd favourite among delegates who attended this year’s TED Conference. If it’s good enough for Cameron Diaz, it’s good enough for us.

The Music. During the week, the Lobby Lounge features laidback acts ranging from old-soul jazz (Ali Milner) to trippy pop/rock (Mike Weterings) – perfect for a post-work decompress. The set list amps up on weekends with high-energy funk (Champagne Republic), rousing guitar spliffs (Freeflow) and a multitude of cover bands crowing old hits. We’ll make it simple: if you like music, you’ll love the Lobby Lounge patio.

Your Seat Strategy. If you’re the type of person who sits in the front row while the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra blasts Carmina Burana, take a hiatus from the terrace and pull up an armchair in front of the piano – you’ll definitely “feel” the music. Otherwise, gather your friends around one of the central long tables or, if you’re dining á deux, snag a low two-seater and cuddle over the candlelight. The flawless surroundings will pull you out of reality and into a private fantasyland complete with soundtrack. Dreamy.

Photos: Krista Edwardson

Stay tuned for the final segment of Inside Vancouver’s Summer Patio Party Series: Patios with a View.

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2 Responses to Inside Vancouver’s Summer Patio Party Series – Part V

  1. Pingback: Inside Vancouver’s Summer Patio Party Series – Part V

  2. Doug McLeod

    I was so excited when I saw on Google “Summer Patio series!” Part V. Best Patios for Live Music!” Exactly what I and lots of others are looking for! Then I saw there were two… I know our beloved Vancouver needs a lot of work but I just wanted to say thanks. And that what you’re doing is going to help. You’re giving attention to what’s working and also to what still needs to be done. Keep it up!