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Welcoming the first day of summer in British Columbia's biggest city

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Some Vancouverites may already be counting down the days until they can don their winter gear and cheer on their beloved Canucks at the ice rink. But before you join them on the winter wishing wagon, remember this: June 21, the summer solstice, is just around the corner. Vancouver’s longest day will feature 16 hours, 15 minutes, and 1 second of glorious sunshine. Here are some ways to celebrate the milestone.

Early Morning

Harmony Donut Shop. Start the first day of summer with something sweet at this quirky doughnut shop. Harmony opened more than 40 years ago, and it has reigned as one of the best spots in town to satisfy early-morning sugar cravings. Line up at 6:30 a.m., and receive the first orange coconut doughnut of the day.

Stanley Park. After noshing on heavenly doughnuts, head out for an early morning bike ride through Stanley Park. This park has gardens, sea views, wildlife, and landmarks. Cycle along the seawall to inhale a salty breeze along the waterfront, or forge the way to Brock Point to marvel at the totem pole display. There also are plenty of forest trails with shady fir, cedar, and hemlock trees. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, no sweat; just rent a cruiser at Spokes Bicycle Rentals or Bayshore Bike Rentals.

Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival. At 8 a.m., dragon boats will set sail to the sound of driving drums at this annual event. Stemming from the traditional Chinese summer solstice celebrations, this free event at False Creek celebrates Vancouver’s diversity as more than 180 dragon boats take to the waters to compete. Cheer on the paddlers and top off the excitement with a toast at the Granville Island Brewing Beer Garden. Don’t miss the entertainment at the World Beat Stage during this all-day event.


Afternoon

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. Celebrate summer with mischievous fairies and mismatched lovers at an afternoon performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At 2 p.m., the BMO Mainstage in Vanier Park will come to life with fairy servants, love nectar, and misguided amour to retell Shakespeare’s comical and twisted love story. Get your tickets now to laugh and cringe along with this summertime tale.

Front & Company. If translating Shakespearean English isn’t your idea of fun on a summer’s day, squeeze in some retail therapy instead. You don’t need to be a shopaholic for this peculiar consignment shop to catch your attention; the masterfully designed window displays alone will entice you to peruse the vintage treasures, designer goods, and pre-loved possessions. Dig through the eclectic selections and discover a prized find of your own.

Japadog. For an afternoon pick-me-up, head over to a Japadog food station to taste one of the famous hot dog combinations. Bizarre and surprisingly delicious, these dogs infuse Asian flavors into the all-American staple. The Terimayo is a favorite; it bursts with teriyaki sauce, seaweed, and mayo. Another good one: the Okonomi, which, with spicy bonito flakes, gives new meaning to the name “hot” dog. Find these dogs-in-buns on the corner of Burrard and Smithe streets, the corner of Burrard and Pender streets, and at the Waterfront Station.

Viewfinder Tip: The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival is making noise this June 20-July 1 at the Vogue Theatre. 

Evening

Chambar. Retreat to the brick-walled dining room at this restaurant, in Crosstown, for a more intimate experience. Delectable moules frites and tea-smoked duck only add to the cozy flavor of this trendy restaurant. Thanks to the eatery’s carbon neutral initiatives, you can dine knowing you made an eco-conscious choice.   

Keefer Bar. A Spiced Gimuretto with horseradish and black pepper bitters is enough to lure you away from the solstice sun outside and into this apothecary-inspired bar. Menu cocktails are appropriately named “prescriptions,” and mixologists serve up house-made bitters as if they were just what the doctor ordered.

Cambie Street Bridge. This bridge is one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset. On June 21, that means making sure you're there by 9:22 p.m., to watch the fiery orb dip below the horizon. As the sun sinks, you’ll get a picturesque view of the English Bay and the boats on False Creek. It's a great way to end the longest day of the year. 

What’s your favorite place to watch the sunset in Vancouver?

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