As you may have heard, this week we've announced the launch of our 34th destination with the introduction of flights between London Heathrow and Vancouver, Canada. The new service will begin on 24th May 2012 and will operate four times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Initially the service will run throughout the summer up until 27th October 2012, and we're looking forward to welcoming up to 40,000 Virgin Atlantic customers travelling between London and Vancouver in the first season.
As you can imagine, we're completely thrilled about this exciting new route. Not only is Vancouver one of the world's most beautiful cities - surrounded by water and set against a stunning mountain backdrop - but it's also the gateway to British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies, and offers easy access to the USA's Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon.
Flights to Vancouver will be on sale from 1st December 2011 but in the meantime, here's our pick of Vancouver highlights which we hope will inspire you to book a city break, fly-drive or wider Canadian holiday next year...
Stanley Park is Vancouver's giant green heart and leading recreational space. Highlights include dozens of marked trails, a seawall pathway with sea and mountain views, family-friendly beaches and a large outdoor swimming pool overlooking the waterfront.
The historic Gastown district's cobblestone streets are lined with Victorian buildings which today house everything from souvenir shops to art galleries to independent boutiques and cafes.
Centred around the Granville Island Public Market - a collection of merchants selling seafood, fresh produce, cheese and breads - Granville Island is both a local's favourite and a huge draw for visitors.
Vancouver is home to North America's third-largest Chinatown after San Francisco and New York. Soak up the atmosphere with lunch at one of the many traditional dim-sum houses, then seek some peace at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Occupying the Granville Street area between 4th and 15th Avenue, South Granville is one of the city's emerging upscale shopping neighbourhoods for visitors.
Grouse Mountain is Vancouver's most visited attraction and an all-season destination. Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, the famous Grouse Mountain Skyride (North America’s largest aerial tram system) takes visitors on a one-mile aerial journey to the Alpine Station, 3,700 feet above sea level.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Make your way across the swaying Capilano Suspension Bridge over the Capilano River, complete with a mini-forest of totem poles, rainforest nature trails, and Treetops Adventure - a network of smaller bridges strung between the trees.
Take the Aquabus across False Creek to Granville Island or the SeaBus across Burrard Inlet to Lonsdale Quay.
English Bay and Sunset Beach
In summer, English Bay becomes the jumping off point for rollerblading escapades, strolling, picnics and ice cream. Kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard.
Discover your love for wildlife with a Zodiac whale watching boat trek from Sewell's Marina in West Vancouver.
Kayaking is one of Vancouver's most popular outdoor activities. The North Shore's Deep Cove area is the launch point for Indian Arm, a tree-lined, finger-shaped fjord that curves northwards for 19 miles deep into the heart of the mountains.
In addition to the new service to Vancouver, we're also delighted to announce the launch of a second service to San Francisco which will operate three times a week. The new service will begin on 26th March 2012 and will run throughout the summer until 26th October 2012.
These two new services strengthen our network in the North American market, which already includes the nine long-haul destinations of New York City, Boston, Washington, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.