The Top Hikes in Victoria, B.C.

Victoria may be the largest city on Vancouver Island, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of touch with the nature side of things. In fact, there are some incredible hikes, trails and provincial parks right in Victoria’s backyard. Hiking is one of the top things to do in Victoria and it doesn’t take much to get out of the city and into the trees. Don’t believe it? The hiking is so good, you can even book a tour package with an enthusiastic guide to make sure you start off down the right trail. Check out this list of some of the top hikes in Victoria, B.C. and prepare to strap on those hiking boots!

 

Photo by: Glenn Jasechko

Mount Douglas Park

The closest to downtown Victoria in Saanich, Mount Douglas is the easiest escape for city-goers to get a breath of fresh air. The park encompasses from the beach to the summit, leaving visitors with around 21km of trail to explore! Aside from spending the day at the beach, where there is a playground and public washroom, the most popular aspect of Mount Doug is the view. Ascend a trail to the top to get a 360-degree view of Mount Baker and the surrounding city. The park is the largest urban forest to be found in the area, and it makes for a hike as strenuous or as relaxed as you desire.

 

Photo by: Laurissa Cebryk

Mount Work

Despite the ominous name, Mount Work is a fairly breezy hike, requiring some effort to get to the summit, but nothing drastic as far as hiking goes. The Mount Work Regional Park sits on the border of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and is one of the largest regional parks with over 500-hectares. You can kick off the hike to the summit of Mount Work from two entrances – McKenzie Bight near Gowlland Todd, or Munn Road- both are equally rewarding. The various viewpoints give hikers a view of Finlayson Arm, Mount Finlayson, Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and the rest of the Saanich Peninsula area. The hike makes for an enjoyable 2.5-hour-or-so adventure.

 

Photo by: Laurissa Cebryk

Goldstream Provincial Park and Mount Finlayson

Goldstream Provincial Park is a fantastic network of trails about 17 kilometers outside of downtown Victoria. Aside from the comfortable campground, abandoned mine and incredible opportunity to witness a full-on salmon run, there are two main highlights to the park: The Goldstream Trestle Bridge, which passes by Niagara Falls, and Mount Finlayson.

Getting to the trestle is a fairly up-hill, forty-five-minute endeavor. It passes by the stunning Niagara Falls, whose 47.5-meter height makes it almost as tall as its world-famous namesake. It’s especially impressive after a fresh rainfall, and takes next to no effort to see. When you’re there, pass by it for the Trestle Trail, which crosses above the roaring cascade and ends up at the promised bridge. The view from the old train crossing is beautiful, with the summit of Mount Finalyson visible overlooking the trees and river below.

Mount Finalyson is another great hike, as it is considered the Grouse Grind of Vancouver Island. Expect to take about one and half hours to get to the summit, and some rocky scrabbles during your ascent. The 410m elevation climb is well worth it, as the view of the Langford area and surrounding Goldstream Provincial Park are rewarding. Plus, it’s great exercise. If you do it enough, you should expect to have buns of steel and iron calves in no time.

 

Photo by: Andrea Darlington

Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

The trails of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park are stunning to say the least. Sweeping views of Finlayson Arm, waterfalls and beach access are some of the highlights. There are numerous ways to access the park, and a number of trails to embark on from there. You can even walk your way through this park, and into Mount Work Regional Park if you have a ride waiting on the other end. Jocelyn Hill via Caleb Pike is one of the best known and most rewarding, albeit difficult hikes in the park. Taking almost five hours round trip, you’ll want to dedicate your day to this one, and bring lots of snacks, or maybe even a summit beer. It gives the most rewarding view of Finlayson Arm, with its 210m elevation gain showing off views of the stunning, forest-hugged waters.

 

Photo by: James R. Page

East Sooke Park – the Coast Trail

The farthest out of Victoria on this list, the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park, is well worth the drive. To do the whole thing, you can expect to dedicate six hours of your day to the trail – and that’s with a car parked at the other side waiting to take you back to the beginning. However, as it winds its way along the ocean, through the rainforest and across bluffs of rugged west coast beauty, you’ll almost forget you’ve been on the trail for so long. Petroglyphs line the way, giving hints of the Coast Salish people’s history, and there are various finds including Alyard Farm. While some do attempt the entire trail in one day, there are plenty of trails that jut-out back to where you parked, and plenty of shorter loops to explore. The waters surrounding East Sooke Park seem particularly emerald, and the rocks and beaches are a blast to clamber around and explore.

Now that you’ve received a tiny glimpse into the world of hiking that exists within, or just outside of Victoria, British Columbia, it’s time to strap on those hiking boots of yours and hike Victoria!

For more hikes on Vancouver Island, check out www.discovervancouverisland.com’s list of the Top Hiking Spots on Vancouver Island.

What about the Winter Whales?

Wondering if winter whale watching is a thing? Here on the west coast, it most definitely is. Thanks to a healthy population of resident whales, including humpback whales and orcas (killer whales), even a trip in the winter can be a success. While companies aren’t likely to guarantee whale sightings like they do in the summer, many charters still have a sighting success rate of over 75%! That means if spotting some of the ocean’s largest mammals was on your vacation bucket list, but you’re visiting in the dead of winter, you need not fret. Victoria’s whale watching tours are still running full swing and are ready to make that dream come true!

Most whale watching and wildlife tours last for about three hours, and depending on the charter you choose, can be in a comfortable cabin cruiser, or open and wild in a zodiac (yes, even in the winter). Either of these options in the winter will require you to dress warmly. Although you’ll have coverage if you opt for a cabin cruiser, when the whales are spotted, you’ll likely want to be on deck! Zodiac passengers are usually required to wear floater suits, which gives you an extra layer of coverage. You’ll definitely want toques and gloves though.

Although peak whale watching season is from May-October, there are definitely some benefits to enjoying a winter whale watching expedition. Not only are you likely to have the tour all to yourself, but prices are also cheaper than the going summer rate. The sighting rate is still pretty good, and if the sun suddenly comes out, inspiring you for a day on the water, you might be in luck with making a last-minute booking. Finally, you’ll be able to say you were out exploring the Salish Sea in the dead of winter! There’s something to be said about the peace and quiet of a tourist town in the off-season, and the beauty of Victoria from the water on a crisp winter’s day is unrivaled.

If winter whale watching doesn’t quite sound like your thing, the summer season is just a few months away! Hang in there, the flowers will be out in bloom soon enough.

A Day at the Aquarium

I couldn’t help but hold my breath as the doors hissed shut and the sounds of what I assumed were a submarine took over the small chamber. Above, the image of trees and sky began to blur and shimmer as we submerged below the surface. I was alone with my friend, but I could easily picture young kids being either completely enthralled, or completely horrified by this part of their visit. Personally, as a full-grown adult, I was unreasonably excited. After a brief introduction to the Salish Sea and another exaggerated hiss accompanied by some bubbles, the double doors opened on the other side and we walked into the aquarium.

Almost immediately, an employee in an aquarium-branded vest approached to give us a run down and then we were off! Like the rest of the kids in the aquarium, I wanted to see everything.  I, however, slowed down enough to read about the different kinds of animals and fully understand the displays, rather than just place my hands and face against the glass. There were plaques to flip, things to read and tons of other incredible information – all inspiring to get your act together and take better care of the world around us. Over 160 species reside in the 28 habitats, meaning you can try to spot upwards of 3,500 creatures during your visit. I did my best as I stuck my head under a clear bubble-ish depression in a tank that let me be “inside” the habitat as much as possible. Various curves and tubes gave you close up views of the beautiful fish that shimmered and swam by happily. The jellyfish aquarium is a natural favourite, as its bright blue background makes the acrobatic jellyfish vibrant and mesmerizing. Nudibranchs, sea stars, different sea-weeds, anenomes and nameless other animals were enticing to sit and watch.  Pressed for time (we arrived closer to closing than expected), I couldn’t spend too long at any section. That is, of course, until the Queen of the aquarium demanded my attention.

Syliva, the Giant Pacific Octopus, was busy releasing her suction cups one-by-one as we passed under her tank’s archway. She was absolutely stunning, and rumour had it was hardly ever out to play. We stood and watched as she made her way throughout her tank, enamored with her bright pink colour and intelligent, albeit alien, eyes. Nimbly, she ascended one side of her watery home, crossed the arch and descended again, leaving patterns on the glass with her white suction cups. Her bulbous head made ripples on delay as she made her movements through the water. It was so intriguing to see an octopus up close that I hardly noticed as a little hand latched on to mine and tugged. Shocked, I looked down to find a cute, bespectacled child trying to lead me to the other side of the aquarium. His grandma smiled at me, so off we went to play with the sea stars, sea cucumbers and other touchable creatures. The pools were his favourite, he informed me, as we let sand dollars rest on our hands. After the little boy had been fetched by his grandma, an incredibly informative kid wearing the employee branded vest walked my friend and I through the touching pools, handing us sea cucumbers to pet, and various sea stars. With a few words of encouragement, I slowly reached out a finger and stuck it straight into an anemone. You know, the shocking kind from Finding Nemo. To my delight, the “shock” came in the form of an incredible stickiness, rather than pain. Peeling my finger back carefully, the anemone retreated and I inspected my finger in amazement. It was still very much intact. The winning maneuver was having us stick our hands within the sharp bristles of an urchin, watching as it slowly squeezed and entrapped the finger in a “hug.” We were having so much fun in the touching tanks that when the closing announcement reached our ears, we had still missed an entire section of the aquarium!

Hustling out through a small door beside the submarine chamber, we paused for a quick moment to check out the shop. Cute stuffed animals featuring the critters we’d seen in the tanks, as well as plenty of other goods, all made in the Salish Sea Bioregion, filled the shelves. The Coast Salish indigenous art and jewellery were eye-catching, but I restrained myself and we stepped back outside into the real world. Rain threatened, which had been our driving cause to explore the aquarium – as far as rainy-day activities go, an aquarium should be in the top ten. We explored the rest of Sidney’s cute streets and shops before finally heading back to the car where we’d taken advantage of the free parking next to the pier. A stunning sunset, made decorative thanks to the clouds, was the finishing touch to our “underwater” adventure. As the colours kissed the surface, I felt more in touch with the ocean than normal. There’s nothing like diving into the wonders of the waters to make you realize how special it is to be by the sea.

The aquarium is located in Sidney, just twenty minutes outside of Victoria and is a great destination on its own. Check out the page on Sidney to make a day out of it!

To find the top things to do in Victoria, check out our page here.

For hours, information about parking, cost and more information about the aquarium itself, check out their website.

Photos and Article Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

Unique Tours in Victoria BC

Victoria is a dynamic city with endless surprises around every corner. Thanks to its eclectic mix of things to do, there are plenty of unique tours to take while in the city. Not sure what to do during your visit? Check out the list of some of Victoria’s most special tours below to help you decide!

 

Photo by: Kevin Jacobson

Photo by: Kevin Jacobson

Ghost Tours

It might sound like a Halloween special, but ghost tours take place in Victoria all throughout the year. The city has plenty of history and more than a few haunted places, as well as a rumoured underground. If you’re curious about the city’s darkest secrets and want to see the spots they took place, a ghost tour might just be for you. You’ll explore the other side of some of Victoria’s most famous buildings like the Fairmont Empress and Parliament Buildings. Walking into certain downtown shops will never feel the same, and the alleyways of Chinatown might even feel a little closer, and darker, than before.

Check out our blog post about some of the most haunted places in Victoria.

 

Photo by: Jeffrey Neihart

Photo by: Jeffrey Neihart

Horse Drawn Carriage Tours

Speaking of history, nothing brings you back in time like a horse drawn carriage ride! Tours in classic carriages take you through the most charming and historic neighbourhoods of Victoria and around the downtown area. Tour guides in charge of the horses are dressed in classic attire and give great explanations of Victoria and the various areas you pass through. Sitting back to the sound of horses’ hooves as you explore Victoria is a unique and fantastic way to see the city. These tours are so popular, that they’re considered one of the top things to do in Victoria, B.C.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Food Tours

A food tour is a unique way to experience any city, but especially one like Victoria. As the Brunch Capital of Canada, and with the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, food is an important aspect of the city. Not to mention, the areas surrounding Victoria are rich in terms of produce. Plenty of places are geared towards a farm-to-table experience, serving local products when they’re available. You’ll likely even get to explore a Farmer’s or Public Market to truly see the food end of Victoria like a local.

Learn more about artisan goods and local foods in our blog post!

 

Photo by: Rob Hyslop

Photo by: Rob Hyslop

Wine Tours

The nearby Cowichan Valley is a paradise of vineyards. While a wine tour might be old hat, doing one on Vancouver Island is a sweet and unexpected surprise. Wine tours will take guests from their hotels in Victoria out to the Cowichan Valley, where over 15 tasting rooms exist. You’ll be able to explore the vineyards, dig into tasty, locally sourced food and sample wines made from grapes grown right there. Some even stop at a local cidery for an added treat. There’s definitely nothing to whine about when visiting local wineries.

Check out Discover Vancouver Island’s list of vineyards to plan your line of attack in other towns, too!

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Distillery Tours

Even more unique than a wine tour is a distillery tour! With small batch gin, vodka and whiskey becoming a growing trend, Victoria rose to the head of the pack. Now, you can take tours of its distillery and sample their tasty products. They even have a deep indigo gin that changes to a lovely light pink when mixed with tonic.

 

Foraging Tours

The land of plenty strikes again with a unique tour that takes you out into the woods to find your food for yourself! Afterwards, you’ll get a cooking class to transform your finds into a delicious lunch. Mushrooms, and plenty of other naturally delicious plants and berries wait in the wilderness just outside of Victoria.

 

Photo by: Laurissa Cebryk

Photo by: Laurissa Cebryk

Hiking Tours

Victoria was blessed with a number of fantastic hiking trails and parks. Worried you’ll get lost along the way? Book a hiking tour! They allow you to explore some of the best trails Victoria has to offer with an experienced guide to make sure you know the way. Not only is it a great way to tackle trails you might not have attempted alone, but you’ll be getting in some exercise, your guide will be able to give you tidbits about the city along the way, and will be able to point you in the direction of other local hikes to take on. For some, a pitstop at a cidery post-hike is a must – you’ll have earned it.

Find out more of Victoria’s hikes and parks on our hiking pages.

 

While there are numerous other tours to enjoy in Victoria, such as whale watching and kayaking tours, these are some of the most unique to the area. Not only will you have a truly Victorian experience, but tacking on any of these adventures to your itinerary is a great way to enjoy the city even more.

Dogs in Victoria

Your dog is a huge part of your family, so why should they miss out on your family vacation? Anywhere in British Columbia is an ideal place to bring your dog on vacation, but Vancouver Island is definitely one of the top doggy destinations. There’s just so much to do! When visiting the Island, Victoria, B.C. is a natural first stop. So, how dog-friendly is the capital of British Columbia? Read on to find out where to stay, the top things to do with your dog and plenty of other tips to bringing your dog along on your vacation to Vancouver Island’s, Victoria B.C.

 

Accommodation

First things first – you’ll need a place to stay. There are plenty of dog-friendly accommodations in Victoria, so you should be able to find something that suits your style. From luxury hotels and resorts, to cozy cottages and simple vacation rentals, Victoria has it all for your dog.

Here are a few options to get you started:

Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel

Harbour Towers

Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa

Fairmont Empress

Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa

 

When booking your accommodation, be sure their pet policy fits your requirements! Many have an extra fee and some only allow smaller dogs!

 

Top Things to do in Victoria with your Dog

 

Visit a Restaurant with a Patio

During the summer, plenty of Victoria’s restaurants feature outdoor patios and a number of them are happy to have well-behaved dogs join you as your dinner date.

 

Enjoy a Water Taxi Ride

While up to the discretion of the driver that day, dogs are typically welcome on Victoria’s Water Taxis as long as they are pleasant and on a leash! Enjoy a beautiful water adventure with your pooch and take in the sights of Victoria. Why miss out on sight-seeing just because you’ve got your dog along for the ride?

 

Photo by: Tyler Ingram

Photo by: Tyler Ingram

Off-Leash Areas, Parks and Beaches

Dallas Road has a special spot just for dogs to run free next to the ocean, Elk/Beaver Lake is entirely leash-optional except in picnic areas during the summer, and French Beach is a dog heaven with plenty of driftwood sticks and beach to run. Victoria has tons of outdoor options and about 12 off-leash areas to let your pooch romp. What better way to take in the beauty of Victoria’s parks, beaches and trails? While some require leashes in particular areas, there’s typically a place to let them run free, too. After all, aren’t vacations in cities meant to be social?

 

Go Shopping

Downtown Victoria is a haven of sweet boutiques and other fantastic stores. While many aren’t pet-friendly, there are definitely shops that allow both you and your furry friend in to peruse. Chapters, Marks Work Warehouse, Canadian Tire and Capital Iron all encourage some accompaniment as you check out their goods. Better yet is when there’s a pet section, as you and your dog can leave happy with some goodies to show for your efforts.

There are also plenty of pet stores and “pet boutiques” that Victoria has to offer. If you’re in need of specialty foods, forgot your pup’s favourite treats, or just want to get them into the vacation “treat yourself” spirit, you’ll definitely find a place to do so.

 

Explore Victoria by Horse Drawn Carriage

One of Victoria’s most unique tours allows well-behaved and leashed dogs to enjoy. Explore the city by horse-drawn carriage – a magical way to see and learn about historic Victoria. What better way to spend time with your best friend than listening to the patter of horses’ hooves and exploring a brand-new place?

 

Visit the Famous Butchart Gardens

With the exception of the evening firework displays in the summer, your furry friend is allowed to join in on your exploration of the world famous Butchart Gardens. They’re not only one of Victoria’s top things to do, but the Butchart Gardens are like a giant park of beautiful, flower-lined pathways to walk your dog along.  While expected to be well-behaved and on leash (flower arrangements are delicate), they can take time to smell the roses by your side

 

Photo by: J Holland

Photo by: J Holland

Go Hiking

There are plenty of great hikes within Victoria, or just nearby. To tucker your dog out for the day, take to the trails and enjoy some fresh air! From Goldstream Provincial Park, to any of the city lookouts like Mount Douglas, or Mount Tolmie, there are some great areas to get your heart going and give your dog some exploration time.

 

Tips

  • Bring Poop Bags

Plenty of parks provide these, but it’s always handy to have a few with you at all times. The sidewalk outside a store you’ve popped into is not an ideal place for your pup to leave its business.

  • Vets in the Area

Be aware of what vet clinics in the area and perhaps have one in mind should anything happen to your dog – with Victoria being such a pet-friendly city, there are tons of dog owners around and sometimes the dogs don’t get along. There are also plenty of accidents that could happen (like anywhere), so knowing where to take them if something does makes you that much more prepared.

  • Follow Pet Policies

Whether it’s your accommodation provider, or for a tour you’re interested in, it’s important to comply to their pet policies! That way, people can continue to enjoy their vacations accompanied by their best friends, and everyone will be safe and happy.

  • Traveling with B.C. Ferries

B.C. Ferries allows pets on most of their sailing routes, but be aware you may need to stay on deck in the pet area on the car deck, which can get chilly, or in your vehicle. Dogs will be expected to be on leash, too.

  • Research Other Options

Do you really want to go whale watching, but your dog isn’t allowed on the boat, or to be left alone at your accommodation? Victoria is a large city, with plenty of pet owners, meaning there are also plenty of pet services. Book your dog in for a haircut, find a dog walker, or get a pet sitter for the afternoon. That way, your dog isn’t spending your vacation alone, and you can enjoy some of the things you two can’t do together. Just do your research beforehand and pick a service you feel comfortable with.

 

Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

Top Things to Do this Holiday Season in Victoria B.C.

As the summer days fade away and the pumpkin spice lattes come out to play, our minds move straight into fall and the holiday season. Although Victoria is a major summer vacation spot, there are plenty of reasons to love the city, even in the depths of winter. Find out the top things to do this Christmas season in Victoria B.C. and embrace the heart of the holiday season.

 

Photo by: Mario Nonaka

Photo by: Mario Nonaka

  1. Whale Watching

Whale watching may sound like summer, but it is definitely doable in the winter. Victoria’s waters are filled with plenty of resident whales including orcas (killer whales). That means they’re around in both the summer and winter seasons. Better yet, tours are cheaper and the waitlist is shorter! Aside from whales, plenty of other creatures bask in local waters year-round, making any adventure one for the books. Just because it’s winter, does not mean you have to give up those ocean activities until summer days again.

 

Photo by: Dmitry Denisenkov

Photo by: Dmitry Denisenkov

  1. Ice Skating at Bear Mountain

But… it doesn’t get COLD in Victoria, right? Not usually, but that doesn’t stop Bear Mountain from crafting a skating rink from November to January. When the weather cooperates, they deck the place out with beautiful lights, cozy fires and quaint gazebos with stunning views. A winter skate at the rink is the embodiment of holiday charm. It’s even better as a date spot, especially with the Master’s Lounge on site with seasonal drinks for afterwards. There may even be some mistletoe hanging about within the soft glow of the twinkling lights. Call ahead to make sure it’s open before you drive over though!

 

Photo by: Erin Caldwell

Photo by: Erin Caldwell

  1. Holiday High Tea

On the cozier, indoor side of holiday things, let’s talk tea! One of the top things to do in Victoria in general is attending a High Tea at the Empress. It only makes sense that it still makes the list during the winter, especially when the holiday spirit takes over! Since afternoon tea seems to have made a comeback, it isn’t just the Empress where you can partake – check out a number of great spots such as Venus Sophia Tea Room for some more options. There’s something about a cozy cuppa tea that brings that holiday spirit to life and leaves you warm and fuzzy all day!

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

  1. Pub Hop

If tea doesn’t sound strong enough for a winter’s day, how about a beer? Downtown Victoria is riddled with delightful pubs where you can snuggle in and battle the weather one pint at a time. Old timey booths, warm lights, big chandeliers, wooden bars, plenty of taps… But why try one, when you can try them all? Within a short, wakeful walk away, you can be in the next pub. Track down your favourite winter go-to and settle in for the season.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

  1. The Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens

Another famous skating rink in Victoria is featured at the Butchart Gardens during their Magic of Christmas exhibition. However, the rink is just the tip of the iceberg. From December to January, the Gardens are a delight of different holiday chronicles laced into their stunning green thumb paradise. Pay an evening’s visit to really get into the Christmas spirit. With a cup of hot cocoa in hand, the search is on for the Twelve Days of Christmas hidden within the world-famous gardens. Live music chases you through the winding paths, putting a hop in your step to classic holiday tunes. They even feature a holiday high tea, and the carousel is a favourite for younger light seekers. Magic is exactly what is found at the Butchart Gardens during the holiday season.

 

  1. Winter Wonderland in Centennial Square

Victoria doesn’t stop with the Butchart Gardens’ Magic of Christmas in terms of classic winter events. With such a charming downtown core, it’s easy to see why. Winter Wonderland in Centennial Square takes downtown and turns it into a holiday paradise. Santa pays a visit, there are Christmas trees abound and horses stamp their hooves in the brisk evenings. Tours in a classic horse-drawn carriage take guests through bewitching streets bathed in the soft glow of hundreds of twinkle lights. The highlight, however, is the bright Ferris wheel that sits at the square’s center. Enjoy a spin on the wheel with a pause at the top to take in the enchanting scene below. Soft notes of the live music might even reach your ears.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

  1. Light-Ups

The glow of hundreds of sparkling lights isn’t just for downtown Victoria, either. A number of locations have “light-ups” that will charm even the biggest Ba Hum Bug into a holiday high. Every year the Downtown Victoria Inner Harbour has a contest for best-dressed boat and float home, as well as for craziest. Last year over 5000 participants plugged in at dusk to put on the show, and you can see the display from November until the end of December.

Other light-ups to keep an eye out for include the holiday themed lights of the Parliament Buildings, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ogden Point.

 

Photo by: Jennifer Reiswig

Photo by: Jennifer Reiswig

  1. A Christmas Carol at the Craigdarroch Castle

For those who dream of Hogwarts in wintertime and the perfect castle at Christmas, catching a show at the Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria is an excellent holiday option. Tours of the four floors decked out in ribbons and bows set the scene for a one man show of A Christmas Carol in the Castle’s drawing room. Tickets need to be purchased in advance, and if you miss that show, there’s a post-Christmas follow-up performance of Radio, Mistletoe and My Man Godfrey. With displays that take nearly six weeks to set up, you can bet that the Castle is a holiday sight to see. It takes you straight back to Christmas in the Victorian era when the original owners themselves used to adorn the Castle for their celebrations.

 

  1. Holiday Specials at the IMAX

Compared to the Victorian Era celebrations encapsulated at the Craigdarroch Castle, the Royal BC Museum’s IMAX offers a new century’s twist. Take in some of your favourite holiday movies on the big, BIG screen for a short time during the Christmas season. Some, such as the Polar Express, will even be held in 3-D as a popular pastime. Pack the popcorn and a loved one and recover your holiday spirit on the big screen!

 

  1. Christmas at the Market

Naturally, Christmas Markets are a big hit and a must-do at least once during the season. The Public Market at the Hudson happens to do a fantastic job, and you can wander the aisles of artisan crafts, goods and amazing food to fulfil your shopping list. Not only will you cover all your festival feast needs, but are likely to find something for everyone on your list, including yourself. Under the tree, or on the table, the spirit is contagious at the Hudson during the holidays.

Ten Reasons to Book a Kayaking Tour in Victoria B.C.

Whether you’re an old hand at it, or want to try kayaking for the very first time, the waters surrounding Victoria have something for everyone. There are plenty of outfitters that do rentals, as well as numerous kayaking tour companies. From short harbour paddles, to overnight adventures, booking a kayaking tour will guarantee an adventure to remember. After all, it is ranked as one of the top things to do in Victoria!

 

  1. Instructions

Wary of the waves? Not to worry. When booking a tour, companies go over all the safety instructions, techniques and have plenty of safety equipment on each boat such as lifejackets and whistles. Plus, guides are typically certified in First Aid. Kayaks themselves are quite stable, so the likelihood of tipping over during a tour is very low. Kayaking tour companies usually don’t require any experience to participate in their tours, although beginners may find some longer, or overnight tours a bit tougher. If you’re unsure, just ask before you book!

  1. Safety

Paddling in unfamiliar waters with different currents, tides and traffic can be dangerous, even if you know what you’re doing. Considering the Inner Harbour is still a working harbour, there are plenty of boats, and even planes, coming and going at all times. Booking a kayaking tour through a company means your guide is going to be familiar with everything involved in navigating Victoria. Some of them have been doing it so long, they could probably find their way around with their eyes closed!

 

IMG_3714

  1. Motivation

Whether you have kayaked plenty of times before, or are doing something new, having a kayaking tour booked and on your schedule is a good motivator to make sure it happens! Not to mention, having a set route and someone telling you where to go, as well as a timeframe ensures you get to where you want to go.

 

Photo by: Geoff Williams

Photo by: Geoff Williams

  1. Equipment Included

Rather than lugging your own equipment with you on vacation, booking a kayaking tour ensures you have great equipment to use supplied by the company. Better yet, it means you don’t even need a vehicle at all, as the outfitter will take care of the tough part for you. A lot of Victoria’s accommodation is located close to where tours depart. All that’s required is for you to show up ready to paddle!

  1. Knowledge of the Area

Even if you’re a fantastic paddler, if you’re not from the area, you’ll be missing out on some great aspects of Victoria and Vancouver Island. Kayaking guides in the area are knowledgeable and often have great anecdotes and information that go along with the paddling tour. That way, you’ll have a greater understanding of what you’re seeing, where you’re paddling and of life on the west coast.

 

Photo by: Lindsey Bobinz

Photo by: Lindsey Alton

  1. Areas to Explore

Being on the coast, Victoria has plenty of coastline to explore. Not to mention, the Gulf and Discovery Islands are close enough to explore by kayak. Kayaking tours explore the Downtown Inner Harbour, the Gulf Islands, the Discovery Islands and plenty of other waterways in the area. Departures from Sidney can include an adventure out to the Sidney Spit and its provincial park, too. With so much water around, there are plenty of areas to explore and stunning views to be seen, either independently, or as part of a kayaking tour.

  1. Wildlife

While the nearby forests and parks contain plenty of wildlife, from deer and bears to various types of birds, the Pacific Ocean is a gateway to countless more animals. Jelly fish, seals, sea otters and whales are common on the coast, and being out amongst them on a boat is a unique way to get up close and personal with more than a few of them. While seeing whales may require an actual whale watching excursion (although occasional kayakers do get lucky), there are so many other sea creatures to see! Most kayaking guides are very familiar with the animals of the coast, and will be able to point them out and tell you about their role in the ecosystem you’re paddling through.

 

Photo by: Tracy and Joe

Photo by: Tracy and Joe

  1. Exercise and Fun

Spending all day paddling around is a great form of exercise. Paddling a kayak involves your arms, back, shoulders and even your abs. Better yet, it’s so fun, you’ll hardly notice you’re doing any real exercise at all! It’s surprising how much area you can cover as you zip along in a kayak and, of course, a race or two may be in order. Nothing feels better than spending a healthy day outside on the water.

 

Larry n Jill

Photo by: Jill Liedtke

  1. City View

Downtown Victoria is incredibly popular, and by the end of your trip, you’ll likely have walked its streets from top to bottom more than a few times. Booking a kayaking tour lets you see a new side of Victoria! Looking back at the city from the harbour provides a stunning view point of the city – one that relieved sailors see after days on the ocean. With the Parliament Buildings, Empress Hotel and the bustling walkway hugging the harbour seeing Victoria from the water is nearly a must.

  1. Unique Experience

When visiting a beautiful city that sits on the west coast of Vancouver Island, it’s great to take advantage of every activity you can. Depending on where you’re from, you may never have the chance to hop into a kayak and explore a working harbour, or stunning coastline ever again. Victoria is lucky enough to have so much nature and water within reach, and enjoying it first hand by kayak is a great way to appreciate the beautiful city even more.

Convinced? Great! The next step is to book your tour. To find out more about kayaking in Victoria, and tips on some things you’ll want to pack along for your kayaking adventure, visit our Kayaking page.

 

Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

Fun Facts about Victoria’s Top Things to Do

The top things to do in Victoria, B.C. are already on the list because, well, they’re really fun and offer fantastic experiences while in the city. Aside from being the main attraction though, there are plenty of not-so-obvious fun facts that add to these top activities. Read on to find out some more tidbits about Victoria’s top things to do that make them even better!

 

Photo by: Steve Sutherland

Photo by: Steve Sutherland

Whale Watching

When visitors think of the coast, they’re often excited at the idea of heading out on a whale watching tour. Seeing these giants of the ocean first hand definitely makes for a memorable day. So, what else makes whale watching amazing? Whales on Vancouver Island, especially orcas, are some of the best and most studied in the world. Depending on the season, a whale watching tour gives visitors the opportunity to see resident orcas, transient orcas, humpback whales, gray whales, or even minke whales, along with tons of other marine animals such as dolphins and porpoises.

 

Salmon-VictoriaBC

Fishing Charters

While summer fishing is best on the west coast of Vancouver Island in Ucluelet and Tofino, the winter season is Victoria’s time to shine. With more sheltered waters, fishing charters can get out, even in less than perfect weather. There are plenty of good-sized chinook, and halibut on the menu, but you already knew that. What you might not know is that Ogden Point used to be an offloading point for hundreds of commercial fishing boats back in the 1900’s. Fishing has been a west coast staple for years, and booking a fishing charter treats visitors to yet another aspect of life on Vancouver Island.

 

Photo by: H.K. Tran

Photo by: H.K. Tran

Parliament Buildings

The Parliament Buildings are a dominating feature of Victoria’s downtown harbour. Aside from the usual facts doled out during a tour of the place, there are plenty of other lesser-known aspects to the building. For one, it’s thought to be haunted by its own architect, Francis Rattenbury. He met a particularly gruesome death at the hands of his wife’s lover back in England, and made his way back to Victoria to wander the halls of one of his best creations. The other building he’s rumoured to roam is the Empress Hotel.

 

Photo by: Victor Hugo Carrera

Photo by: Victor Hugo Carrera

The Empress Hotel

Just across from the Parliament Buildings, the Empress is another familiar, Victoria sight. Besides incredible rooms, a famous high tea and several reports of hauntings, the Empress has plenty of other fun facts and history to its name. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada, and opened in 1908, making it one of the oldest hotels around. Fancy a cup of tea? Each year the Empress Hotel serves around 500,000 cups of the stuff – you’re in good company.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens are likely one of the first things to spring to mind when the topic of Victoria is at hand. It has six gardens that make up the stunning 55-acre area. If the incredible flowers weren’t enough, the gardens feature fireworks during the summer, and an incredible light display over the holidays. Not only are the Butchart Gardens a National Historic Site of Canada, but they also see about one million visitors every year. Amazingly, they’re still owned by the founding family, who started the gardens in the early 1900s.  No wonder they’re one of the top things to do in Victoria! By the way, considering how popular the Butchart Gardens are, it should be no surprise that Victoria is known internationally as the City of Gardens.

 

Photo by: Hannu

Photo by: Hannu

Royal BC Museum

For a dose of B.C.’s history, the Royal BC Museum is a must-see. Especially perfect for rainy days, the displays and infamous mammoth can be a ton of fun for everyone. Amazingly, aside from the full and part-time staff that run the museum, over 500 volunteers donate over 42,000 hours to the museum each year! It’s partially thanks to their dedication that the museum can remain one of the top things to do in Victoria.

 

 

Photo by: Kelly

Photo by: Kelly Powers

Dallas Road

For an easy-going day filled with plenty of beautiful scenery, Dallas Road is the city’s go-to. In fact, its breathtaking mountain vistas and cruisy road and walkways with beach access easily put it on the top things to do in Victoria list, even in the winter for storm watching. An added fun fact is that it intersects with Mile 0 and its monument. Why should Mile 0 matter? It marks the beginning of the Trans-Canada Highway, which, with 4,860 miles following that marker, is the longest highway in the world. While there, check out the Terry Fox monument as well.

 

Photo by: Jessie Thomas

Photo by: Jessie Thomas

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides

Victoria is perhaps the perfect setting for a horse-drawn carriage ride. The old downtown and stunning, older areas of town set the mood of old-time Victoria and gives visitors a historical sense of the city. Besides the classic tours of the city offered by companies, the rides can also create a romantic setting and are a popular place to pop the question!

 

Photo by: Jim Knitis

Photo by: Jim Knitis

Water Taxi Rides

It’s no surprise that a water taxi would be one of the top things to do in Victoria. For those from land-locked places, having the option to get from A to B by boat is pretty exciting! It’s also a great way to see the city from a new perspective, and some companies give round tours with plenty of information. The fun part? There’s also a water taxi that doubles as a pub crawl.

 

Photo by: Kyoshiok

Photo by: Kyoshiok

Beacon Hill Park

With 200-acres, a petting zoo, landscaped gardens, trails and playgrounds, it’s easy to spend the day at Beacon Hill Park, which is a major reason why it is one of the top things to do in the city. It is also home to the tallest freestanding totem pole in the world, which stands at 37m high. But these things aren’t all there is to Beacon Hill Park. Parts of its history are disturbing and strange, and at night, there are tales of other-worldly things occurring within the shadows. Besides the top things to do list, it’s also made the list for Haunted Places in Victoria.

 

Photo by: Alex Loy

Photo by: Alex Loy

Ogden Point

Fit with a small lighthouse at its end, the Ogden Point Breakwater is a beautiful stroll just outside of downtown Victoria. Plus, an amazing mural of First Nations art, known as Na’Tsa’Maht – The Unity Wall, is a stunning feature. The walkway used to be open to the elements, but saw the addition of railings in 2013. Aside from walk, there’s the fun fact that Ogden Point is the busiest port of call in Canada for cruise ships. While there, visitors will be able to see plenty of action from the giant boats themselves, to barges, fishermen and scuba divers, too!

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Downtown Inner Harbour and Causeway

Not only is it charming, but Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the heart of the city and is in the middle of the actions. Boats come and go; historical buildings flank every side and plenty of festivals take place in the area. A particular highlight is the presence of street artists, musicians and performers all along the Causeway. There are 24 full time musicians and 9 full time street performers. Over the holidays, a competition for best decorated boat takes place, and the tall ships adorned with twinkling lights look incredible. What’s more to the action? Despite its status as a tourist attraction, it is still a working harbour.

 

Photo by: Diana Krust

Photo by: Diana Krust

Fisherman’s Wharf

Today, Fisherman’s Wharf is a colourful display of quirky float homes mixed with boutique shops and fair-weather restaurants. Perfect for a sunny, summer day, Fisherman’s Wharf is typically filled with tourists making friends with its most popular residents, the seals. Unbeknownst to many, this top activity in the city has a history as colourful as its floathomes: it was home to plenty of fishing boats and crazy characters who created an eclectic community on the docks. Often, it was a hideaway place for characters with outstanding arrests, keeping the cops on their toes.

 

Photo by: Jacee Tan

Photo by: Jacee Tan

Craigdarroch Castle

A castle in Canada is bound to be something special – when a country is only 150 years old, they’re pretty hard to come by. That’s why the Craigdarroch Castle is one of the top things to do in Victoria. Letting guests in on what it was like to be one of the elite in the 1890’s, the rooms, décor and architecture are next to none. What’s more is the castle’s holiday celebrations, where every room is decked out how it would have been by the original owners, who reportedly had Great Gatsby-esque tendencies. The decorating is so extensive, it takes nearly six weeks to get set up. Then, guests can enjoy live music, stunning Christmas trees and live theatre with the castle as the stage. By the way, the Craigdarroch Castle is another on the list of haunted places in Victoria as well.

 

Photo by: Linny Heng

Photo by: Linny Heng

IMAX

Attached to the Royal BC Museum, the IMAX theatre in Victoria just adds to that rainy-day activity perfection. With a series of new releases and National Geographic documentaries, there’s bound to be something for anyone. Plus, visitors can bundle museum tickets with show tickets, making it an irresistible deal. They even do holiday classics during the Christmas season – some of them in 3D! The fun fact? Victoria’s IMAX screen is the largest in British Columbia!

 

Photo by: Kelly Dickinson

Photo by: Kelly Dickinson

Emily Carr House

For anyone into art, the Emily Carr House is easily one of the top things to do in Victoria. Her work, in the form of paintings, sketches and writing, are part of the backbone of great Canadian artists and history. Not to mention, her pet monkey made for quite the conversation piece. The house itself was the artist’s childhood home, and is now a museum that pays homage to her life and her work. The house itself is a highlight for its architectural style and historic touches. More fun facts include the rumours, of course, that the house is haunted. It’s also kind of fun to know that the area the house is located, in James Bay, used to be known as Bird Cage Walk.

 

Photo by: Kristine Mendoza

Photo by: Kristine Mendoza

Fisgard Lighthouse

Finding its importance as the first lighthouse on the West Coast of Canada, the Fisgard Lighthouse is still nautically quaint on the rocks where it sits. While the downstairs is now part-museum, it is still a beacon for those heading to Esquimalt and the Royal Roads moorage. For something a little new and unusual, the Fisgard Lighthouse participates in the Luminara Lantern Festival, a stunning festival of light celebrated on July 24th each year.

 

Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

Ten Reasons to Visit B.C. Wineries and Distilleries this Fall

Fall brings out feelings of cozy coats and scarves, crisp air, pumpkins and mugs of tea, or maybe even a dash of something stronger. Once the summer crowd has come and gone, it’s the perfect time to explore Victoria and the surrounding area’s wineries and distilleries. Visiting vineyards, indulging in wine tastings, sampling spiced distilled creations and basking in beautiful winery buildings while dressed in my fall best sounds more like the change of season than anything else. As if wine itself wasn’t enough, here are ten reasons to visit a winery, distillery, or both this fall.

 

Photo by: Keith Ewing

Photo by: Keith Ewing

  1. Less People

Like many businesses in touristic places such as Victoria, wineries thrive off of the summer crowd. Tasting rooms are filled with tour groups and sometimes, it can feel like all you get is the same pour and spiel as everyone else. Once those crowds disperse and the tours thin, wine tasting becomes a top activity for locals. Having the tasting room to yourself and being able to ask questions and take your time is a nice change from bumping elbows.

 

Photo by: Peter J. Bates

Photo by: Peter J. Bates

  1. Harvest Season

Depending on the season’s weather, you may be able to witness the wineries at their harvest time. Aside from grapes, plenty of the wineries in Victoria and the Cowichan Valley are located on farms, so you can enjoy the fall scene of gourds and other cornucopia-type veggies being harvested from the rows of fields. There’s nothing like a pile of pumpkins, or loaded apple trees in a brisk breeze on a beautiful fall day to get that autumn giddiness going.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

  1. New Wines

For some wineries, fall marks the time to release the wines! New labels, new varietals and new bottles take to the shelves. Even if the wines you’re tasting are a standard production at winery, it might be a wine new to you, which is just as exciting. The sampling of any new wine is a good wine in my books.

 

Photo by: www.heatheronhertravels.com

Photo by: www.heatheronhertravels.com

  1. Fall Foods

Plenty of wineries pride themselves on featuring a bistro or restaurant onsite. Considering the Island is such a haven of home-grown goods, most prepare scrumptious meals with the produce available from local farms. That means plenty of rich and comforting fall foods, which, by the way, are good for the soul.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

  1. Warmth

Warmth is really where distilleries come in, although a good bottle of wine can certainly keep you cozy as the weather turns brisk, too. However, nothing quite ignites that inner fire like a sampling of spirits. From gin and vodka to whiskey, Victoria’s distilleries have the kindling to spark that flame and keep it going straight through the winter.

 

Photo by: Peter J. Bates

Photo by: Peter J. Bates

  1. It’s not Pumpkin Spice

While I’ll admit to indulging joyfully in a pumpkin spice latte or two over the fall season, there are plenty of other fall flavors to get excited about. Take mulled wine for example. Realistically, I’d trade in my cups of Starbucks for a pot of the bubbly red stuff any day. The way to find the best recipes and the best wines for a heady, fall concoction is, of course, by going straight to the source. The only problem here is that the wines discovered in Victoria’s local wineries might just be too good to mix with other things.

 

Photo by: www.heatheronhertravels.com

Photo by: www.heatheronhertravels.com

  1. Get Holiday Ready

Already feeling the pressure of the holiday season to come? Want to show off to your family that yes, you really are doing alright as an adult? Visits to wineries and distilleries will have you set for the holiday season. Whether you’re getting ahead on your gift list, are planning the perfect holiday dinner, or want to create cocktails for cozy nights, beautiful bottles of wine or spirits are a perfect go-to. Plus, you technically get to sample all the gifts you buy first, how fun is that?

 

Photo by: Alex Cantoni

Photo by: Alex Cantoni

  1. Fall Vibes

Imagine walking up a gravel driveway as a brisk wind catches your scarf and ruffles your hair. Surrounding you are rolling hills riddled with lush vines made heavy with ripe grapes. Beyond are fields with twists of pumpkins being pulled and picked. Trees with coloured leaves send orange spirals to the grown. Inside the large front doors is a beautiful room with round casks and stunning wooden tables and bars. Sips of perfect wines await with fresh cheese on the side. Anticipation sits on your tongue. Could it be? The perfect fall scene? Yes, and that’s why visiting wineries during the off season is the best – they get you set with that beloved, cozy fall vibe.

 

Photo by: www.heatheronhertravels.com

Photo by: www.heatheronhertravels.com

  1. It’s Good for Rainy Days

West coast falls and winters are notoriously rainy, but guess what? Tasting rooms are indoors. That makes wine and spirit sampling a perfect, rainy day activity. While you may not have the chance to wander the property and check out the vines (if you forgot your umbrella), you’ll be able to cozy on in with samples of the nature’s nectar, and maybe even tuck into a hearty fall meal if the winery has an onsite restaurant.

 

Photo by: Peter J. Bates

Photo by: Peter J. Bates

  1. You Don’t Have to Drive

Wine tasting may sound great, but what about driving to different wineries after you’ve already sampled at a few? Booking a wine tour is definitely the solution. With less crowds, you are likely to be able to snag a last-minute booking, and some companies may even have lower rates for the off season. All you have to do is kick back in those fall boots and sip the day away at multiple top wineries in the area. Sounds like the perfect autumn day to me!

So, if you needed all ten reasons to convince you that winery and distillery exploration is a must for the fall, there you have it! Convinced? Excellent, because Vancouver Island has plenty of amazing wineries and distilleries to explore. It’ll take you all season to see them all!

 

For more on wine tasting and wineries, take a peek at our wineries page.

For the top things to do in Victoria, B.C., cruise our list of things you can’t miss here.

 

Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

Festivals Unique to Victoria

Victoria is a dynamic city where you can always find something going on – rain or shine, winter, fall, spring or summer. There’s something for everyone and there are numerous festivals that are strictly unique to Victoria. No matter what season you’re visiting, you’re guaranteed to find a unique and fun experience to join in on.

 

Winter

 

Festival of Trees

Summer is usually the best time to visit Victoria, but that doesn’t mean the winter is void of all activity. In fact, alongside the citywide holiday festivities are a couple of unique festivals that lie close to the hearts of Victoria’s citizens. One of those is the Festival of Trees, which is celebrating its 26th anniversary. The event? From November 15th – January 3rd, nearly 100 trees are decorated by local businesses and put up for display. They create magical winter walkways in the Bay Centre and at the Fairmont Empress. The presence of the trees act as an unofficial kick-off to the holiday season and all of the proceeds, which come from visitors making a donation as a vote for their favourite tree, go towards the BC Children’s Hospital.

Victoria Film Festival

A rainy winter’s day often calls for staying in and watching piles of movies. Luckily, this is exactly what the Victoria Film Festival has been giving the citizens of Victoria a chance to do. Since 1995, the festival has taken over ten days in February, screening over 100 movies from both Canadian and International independent artists. It is the largest film festival across Vancouver Island, and takes places in a series of events at multiple venues throughout the city. Can’t get enough? The Victoria Film Festival also puts on events throughout the year, much to the enjoyment of cinephiles across the Island.

 

Spring

 

UNO Fest

Although plenty of theatre festivals exist all over the world, Victoria possesses one that stands out in a field of its own. As the name hints, UNO Fest is dedicated to solo performances. Not to mention, 2017 marks the 20th year since the festival first came to fruition in the basement of the Bedford Hotel, making it North America’s longest running festival of performing arts. For eleven days, from May 17-27, ticket holders can dive into a multitude of performances and solo exhibitions of talent from all over the world. Tickets are available at the door for most performances, and there are 5 show and 3 show passes as well. As a bonus, the opening show for each act comes with a “pay what you can” price tag.

 

Photo by: Nicole Hamilton

Photo by: Nicole Hamilton

Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival

Victoria has a large Scottish population that typically slip by unnoticed with the exception of 10 days every May. Then, it’s as though the city has been taken over by tartan as kilts line the streets next to the tune of bagpipes and drums. The Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival is celebrating its 154th anniversary in what they’re expecting to be the largest celebration yet. Nearly 25,000 people are anticipated to show up to the main event at Topaz Park on May 20, 21 and 22nd. Before the actual games, there is a week of events that take place all over the city including a tartan parade, kilted golf tournament and pubcrawl. There’s even Tartan Day on April 8th. Whether you’re Scottish or not, this unique festival is bound to put a little jig in your step.

Photo by: Ron Green

Photo by: Ron Green

Swiftsure International Yacht Race

Considering Victoria is a harbour city, there is no shortage of nice boats to be seen all year round. However, if you’re visiting near the end of May, you may get to see even more yachts and sailboats than you bargained for. The 25th of the month marks the 74th annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race, where for span of four days, nine races over five courses take place in the waters surrounding Victoria. The main event takes sailors over the US border to the rounding mark, before returning to the finish line. Visit the Inner Harbour to see the boats head out on their way, and hang out near the Ogden Point Breakwater to watch the winner cross the finish line.

 

Summer

 

Photo by: Billy He

Photo by: Billy He

Feast of Fields

Nothing says summer like fresh eats outside in a sunny field. One of the most unique festivals in Victoria during the summer months, Feast of the Fields is a three-hour, wandering celebration of the bounty of our beautiful Island. Through a gourmet wine and wander, the harvest festival highlights the connection between farmers and chefs, the field-to-table movement and farm folk and city folk. August 27th marks the 20th annual festival, so get tickets while you can.

 

Photo by: foundimagination

Photo by: foundimagination

Victoria Symphony Splash

Taking over the natural amphitheater of the Inner Harbour on August 8th is another crowd favourite. Victoria Symphony Splash sees over 40,000 guests every summer. You can hardly see the ground as the thousands of spectators take over the waterway, inner causeway and even the grounds and stairs of the BC Parliament buildings. Then, the VS Orchestra takes over the floating stage and the performance begins. For 28 years, 400+ volunteers have made this incredible event come together and there is nothing like the grand finale: Tchaikovsky accompanied by an extravagant firework display. There’s no other symphony celebration like it.

 

Photo by: Karen Ng

Photo by: Karen Ng

Victoria Classic Boat Festival

There’s one last chance to get a dose of Victoria’s nautical vibe on September 1st-3rd in the Inner Harbour. Stunning traditional crafts take over the waters during the 40th annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival. Take a walk through a classic tall ship and help celebrate the city’s maritime heritage, cheer on your favourite boat during the Schooner Cup boat race and dive into the festive atmosphere of the bustling causeway.

 

Fall

 

Art of the Cocktail

Cozy cocktails might just be the perfect fall activity, and of course, Victoria has a festival just for that. Put on by the beloved Victoria Film Festival, Art of the Cocktail has become a great go-to for a fun fall’s night out. Rounding its 9th year, festivalgoers don their fanciest after-five outfits and hit the venue to sample creative cocktails crafted by Victoria’s top restaurants and newest distilleries. A drinking night wouldn’t be complete without snacks, so there are fresh appetizers from some of the best chefs of the coast to accompany the beverages. The second day is a line up of seminars designed to get you up to date on the latest of greatest of the drinking world. This year, the festival is taking place on October 14th and 15th.

Rifflandia Festival

For an eclectic musical adventure that will lead you to explore the entire city, Rifflandia is a must. 2017 marks its 10th year, and since its began, it has only grown in popularity. Not only are the day and park events family friendly, but some pretty big names have also taken over Victoria’s favourite venues. Tickets run for about $100-$200 making it an affordable fall stop-over for four days in September. Be sure to check the schedule and show up to the venue where your favourite bands are playing well in advance – last year’s line up featured bands including Jurassic 5, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Jesse Roper, Vince Vaccaro and the Zolas.

 

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Photo by: © Natulive Canada

Victoria International Chalk Art Festival

For a sunny day in September, bright colours and beautiful drawings consume the streets of Victoria. The International Chalk Art Festival is a surprising delight that brings back memories of days past spent colouring sidewalks as a kid. To the sound of live bands and laughter, you can take in art by some of British Columbia and the world’s most talented street artists. There are even some who have mastered the art of 3-D chalk art. A child friendly festival, of course, you can stop by the Inner Harbour and try your hand at creating a new chalk masterpiece of your own. Each year follows its own theme, and while you may think drawing with chalk is child’s play, this festival is guaranteed to be a pleasant surprise.

 

Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk