Among my favourite pastimes are listening to chamber music, talking to visual artists about their inspirations and hearing Ivan Sayers speak.
I'm in luck next year as the Tri-Cities' arts scene will offer all three opportunities.
Here's a preview of the best for the first half of 2014 so mark your calendars:
Jan. 16: Fashion historian Ivan Sayers talks about post-World War 2 haute couture including designers Chanel and Dior - and how their styles related to the politics and economics of the time - at Coquitlam's Place des Arts as part of its salon speaker series. Visit placedesarts.ca.
Jan. 18: Tuck into a wee bit of haggis at the annual Robbie Burns' night at Place des Arts in Coquitlam, featuring the music of faculty member Rosie Carver and her Celtic band Blackthorn. The night includes a traditional Scottish dinner. Visit placedesarts.ca.
Jan. 18: Grade 12 arts students in School District 43 exhibit their skills at Emerging Talent 17 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam. The show is part of the Emerging Talent Festival, happening Jan. 26 that features film, visual arts, theatre, dance and music by youth. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.
Jan. 25: The Port Moody Arts Centre Society hosts an Art4U gala at the Westwood Golf and Country Club in Coquitlam to raise money for its expansion project into the Centennial/Appleyard House, which will be attached with a glass atrium. The additional 2,000 sq. ft. will allow the centre to offer more programming and gallery space; a grand opening is expected in May or June. Visit pomoarts.ca.
Jan. 25: Six-time Grade 1 world champions the SFU Pipe Band and last year's Grade 3 world champions the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band will perform at one of the best Robbie Burns' dinners outside of Scotland, at the Executive Plaza Hotel in Coquitlam. Visit sfupb.com.
Jan. 28: The Arts Club on Tour returns to the Tri-Cities with Driving Miss Daisy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Alfred Uhry that was turned into a film in 1989 starring Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy and Dan Aykroyd. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.
Feb. 9: Beginner drawers can get tips from professional graphite artist Mark Anthony at the first annual drawing jam, a free event held during the Port Moody Arts Centre's Family Day open house. Visit pomoarts.ca.
Feb. 9: The city of Port Coquitlam launches its 15th annual Sunday Coffee Concerts at the Terry Fox Theatre with blues/swing band The Twisters. The series continues on Feb. 23 with Deanna Knight and the Hot Club of Mars and folk/rock/soul singer Dominique Fricot on March 9. Visit experienceit.ca.
Feb. 20-23: Eight events will be held over four days at the PoMo ArtsFest (formerly known as the Port Moody Festival of the Arts) at Port Moody city hall. The gala reception on Feb. 21 will include a performance by the Juilliard-trained brass musician Jens Lindemann who has played with such classical stars as Sir Neville Marriner, Doc Severinsen and Jukka Pekka Saraste. Visit pomoarts.ca.
March 5: Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, a production by the Arts Club Theatre that was conceived and directed by Tracey Power, runs at Coquitlam's Evergreen Cultural Centre. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.
March 15: Tapas and wine will get your creativity started at Palette... eat, paint, create!, a new event at Place des Arts in Coquitlam aimed at "unleashing your inner artist." Visit placedesarts.ca.
April 3: Clay for You - a group of ceramic artists who practice traditional Korean pottery, under the direction of master potter Clay Jung Hong Kim - marks its 10th year with a month-long exhibit at the Port Moody Arts Centre. Visit pomoarts.ca.
April 24: Dancers and choreographers Jay Hirabayashi and Barbara Bourget, who produce the Vancouver International Dance Festival, delve into the art of Japanese dance, telling stories and showing videos about the form at Place des Arts in Coquitlam. Visit placedesarts.ca.
April 24: The Coquitlam community theatre group Stage 43 has its last production of the season at Coquitlam's Evergreen Cultural Centre with Seduced by Moonlight, a show about a middle-aged married couple who write romance novels but can't seem to rekindle their own magic. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.
May 7-9 and 14-16: Gleneagle secondary school cuts a rug for its final musical of the academic year with Footloose, featuring Andrew de los Reyes as Ren and CBC-TV's Over the Rainbow contestant Jennifer Gillis as Ariel. Call the school at 604-464-5793.
May 15: Tri-City author D.B. Carew, who works at Colony Farm Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, releases his first novel, The Killer Trail, about a social worker who gets dragged into a high-profile kidnapping and murder case. The work of fiction, which has been shortlisted for the 2013 Debut Dagger Award by the Crime Writers Association for best unpublished crime novel, will be printed by NeWest Press.
June 7: The 50-member Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which calls the Evergreen Cultural Centre home, ends its season with Pathways that features works from Fred Stride, Alfreed Reed and PSWE's artistic director David Branter. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.
June 15: The Coastal Sound Music Academy - yes, the same choirs featured before millions of television viewers this month on Michael Buble's third annual Christmas special - will appear on the Evergreen Cultural Centre stage in Coquitlam for twoFather's Day shows. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.
July 4-5: Tri-City teens will once again showcase their musical, theatrical and other artistic talents at the third annual Port Moody Youth Arts Festival, organized by the Port Moody Arts Centre Society. The 2013 audience saw performances from young singers, rock bands, dancers and a filmmaker. Visit pomoyaf.com.