The world has come to town. But where’s it hanging out? With more than 80 nations competing in the 2010 Games, athletes, families and VIP guests have settled into official hospitality houses scattered throughout Vancouver and Whistler.
Many of these so-called “country houses,” like USA House and even Canada Olympic House, are private facilities established by each nation’s respective government, but a number have opened their doors to the public — while still other groups have launched their own come-one-come-all party spots.
Whether you want to cheer on Team Germany alongside German visitors, or just soak up a little international flavour, we’ve dug up some of the best places to see the world without leaving town.
Atlantic Canada House
Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island
The East Coast has set up on the West Coast from February 13 to 28. Events include Maritime performers on the Granville Island stage, multimedia presentations on the Revue Stage, and a down-home Maritime kitchen party at the Backstage Lounge.
Lost Lake Park, Whistler
A newly built “passive house,” or ultra-low-energy building, this unique space is home to the Austrian Olympic Committee, but the public is welcome daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., if you’re keen to check out a house that can heat, cool and ventilate itself.
Bell Ice Cube
Robson & Beatty streets, Vancouver
Who can pass up a chance to party inside a giant glass cube? This downtown centre will be open from February 11 to 28 giving fans a chance to gather and watch major Olympic events live in HD, courtesy of Bell Canada. Each day at 3 p.m., stop by to catch live interviews with Olympic athletes on the Ice Talk show hosted by five-time Olympian Charmaine Crooks.
Steamworks parking lot, Water St., Vancouver
Whoop it up in a Gastown parking lot? Why not, when there’s beer and schnitzel involved? Germany House is closed to the public, but you can get your chance to fill up on authentic German food, drink and music at this outdoor festival running from February 11 to 28.
Canada’s Northern House
602 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Want to know more about our northern neighbours in the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories? Until March 31, you can get an eyeful at this downtown space, which is presenting handmade crafts, traditional stories and songs, plus live demonstrations of traditional Arctic sports.
Roundhouse Community Centre, Vancouver
Little Italy makes it way (temporarily) to Yaletown, at this lively centre for the best in Italian food, drink and entertainment from February 6 to 28.
House of Switzerland
Bridges Restaurant, Vancouver; Mountain Club, Whistler
Switzerland has taken over two popular eateries during the Games to offer up a taste of Swiss hospitality (we’re hoping that means chocolate and cheese). Both houses are open February 5 to 28.
Holland Heineken House
Richmond O Zone, Richmond
The official national house of the Dutch Olympic Committee is open to the public from February 11 to 28. Catch live performances, sample Dutch fare and, of course, sip a frosty Heineken or two at this adults-only party spot.
Doolin’s Irish Pub, 654 Nelson St., Vancouver
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every day throughout the Games! This popular downtown watering hole is playing host to the Olympic Irish Pavilion and promises plenty of live music, traditional pub food and icy-cold pints.
Jamaica Bobsleigh House
Savage Beagle, Whistler
Cool Runnings fans won’t want to miss this chance to meet the legendary 1988 Jamaican bobsleigh team in person, at the current team’s official gathering spot. Plus, enjoy a taste of island life with live music, tasty eats and “the best beer outside Kingston.” Purchase tickets at jambob2010whistler.com
Molson Canadian Hockey House
Concord Pacific Place, Vancouver
Feeling flush? Unload some of that cash at this posh home for Olympic hockey. With passes ranging from $99 for a half-day, to $450 and up for full-day VIP Lounge access, you can indulge in gourmet food (Wolfgang Puck creations, no less) and drinks, watch the great Canadian game on giant screens, and catch live nightly shows featuring the likes of Tom Cochrane, Barenaked Ladies and Colin James.
Maurice Young Millennium Place, Whistler
Jump-start your day with sweet and fluffy Norwegian waffles, on offer each morning during the Games. The rest of the day, however, the house is closed except to Scandinavian visitors.
Place de la Francophonie
Granville Island, Vancouver
Billed as a French Quarter in the heart of Vancouver, Granville Island has been transformed into a European-style festival, complete with live performers, farmers market, art exhibits and more. Open from February 11 to 28.
Pan Pacific Hotel, Whistler
Making Olympic history, this hip lounge was created as a celebration venue for the gay and lesbian community. Featuring a full cocktail bar with TV monitors tuned to the Games, Pride House is open February 8 to March 21.
Vancouver Rowing Club, Stanley Park
No Saxon athletes are competing in the 2010 Games, but that hasn’t stopped the German state of Saxony from invading Vancouver’s oldest athletic club. As well as hosting athletes and officials, Saxony House welcomes one and all to enjoy Saxon food, beverage and entertainment from February 10 to March 2.
Ukrainian Catholic Centre, 3150 Ash St., Vancouver
Open to the public except on select dates, this Ukrainian gathering place is serving up hearty fare and drinks, putting up sports memorabilia for auction and hosting two special dances.
No one expects these will be wild party destinations, but our own national, provincial and local governments have each set up free-to-visit spaces to show off their individual regions before the world:
- Alberta Plaza: Robson & Beatty, Vancouver
- B.C. Pavilion: Vancouver Art Gallery (4th floor)
- Canada Pavilion: Live City Downtown, Vancouver
- CentrePlace Manitoba: Live City Downtown, Vancouver
- Maison Quebec: Concord Pacific Place
- Ontario Pavilion: Concord Pacific Place
- Saskatchewan Pavilion: Concord Pacific Place
- Vancouver House: Live City Yaletown, Vancouver
Read more about what to expect at some of the most anticipated 2010 international country houses.
Kelsie Struch www.KelsieStruch.com