Coming up in Vancouver: more than just the Olympics

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The main highlight for the year in the western Canadian city is of course the Winter Olympics and the various sports and cultural events between February 12 and 21 in Vancouver and the region, however other happenings are also not to be missed like a game convention, exhibitions and many festivals.

To pave the way to the Winter Olympics (February 12 - March 21), the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad presents 180 events including concerts, performing and visual arts, comics and circus acts throughout the city between January 22 and March 21, including the National Dance Company of Korea, Moscow State Chamber Choir and soul singer India Arie.

Vancouver visitors interested in the artistic representation of the human body, not only in sports, will head to the exhibition Leonardo Da Vinci: the mechanics of man at the Vancouver Art Gallery (February 6 to May 2), showcasing the anatomical research undertaken by the Italian Renaissance master with, for instance, the first-known accurate depictions of the human spinal column.

To forget about the winter exercise, epicurians and wine professionals will head to the Playhouse Wine Fest, between April 19 and 25. This 30-year-old festival attracts some of the biggest industry names from around the world and is firmly established as one of the continent's premier wine events, featuring wine tastings and pairings, gourmet dinners and luncheons, educational seminars and culinary competitions for everyone at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre.

The game industry, which organizes GDC (Games Developpers Conferences) in various locations worldwide, in China (October), Austin in Texas (October), San Francisco (March) in Europe, also has an event in Vancouver, the only one in Canada, that takes place between May 6 and 7, at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Summer in Vancouver will be filled with high-end festivals, beginning with a Shakespeare event, Bard on the Beach (June 3 - September 24), featuring plays like Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V on the waterfront in Vancouver's Vanier Park.

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival also known as Coastal Jazz (June 26-July 5), will present jazz guitar hero George Benson as main headliner for this music event dating back the the 1980s. Folk and world music fans may prefer Vancouver Folk Music Festival, between July 16 and 18, even though the lineup has not yet been announced.