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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

January 30, 2016 by Martin Vernon

The Royal BC Museum has welcomed back the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition from the Natural History Museum, London.

The quality of these stunning back-lit photographs becomes apparent when you discover that theyWildlife Photographer of the Year - Royal BC Museum are the top 100 selected out of over 42,000 entries. Many are nothing less than “awesome” (badly over-used word): of which we full of awe.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is open daily until 4th April 2016 at the Museum, by the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria.

The Royal BC Museum is one of those “must-see” places to visit in Victoria. So much more than a typical museum it brings the past alive through its permanent displays, major summer shows and its ongoing exhibitions. The 2016 summer show will be Mammoths – Giants of the Ice Age.

Allow two or three hours at least just for the floors of permanent displays. An adjoining IMAX big-screen theatre adds to its impact with a continually changing programme of dramatic presentations.

Celebrating Christmas in Victoria

December 10, 2015 by Martin Vernon

The opportunities for celebrating Christmas in Victoria BC are broader than in most medium-sized North American cities due to the heritage of its cultures and architecture, fanned by the flames of tourism. Here’s a guide to a variety of events offering something for everyone.

The Lighted Ships and Trucks Parades introduces Santa to Victoria sailing by in the Inner Harbour. Celebrating Christmas in Victoria BC

Crafts shows run until mid-December.

The Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens is magical indeed. Even if you are not in the mood for the celebrations this will inspire and delight. My wife and I enjoy this every year.

Our other annual visit in December is to stroll around the Inner Harbour and along Government Street popping into numerous venues for special displays, food and drink.

Musical concerts extend far beyond Christmas carols. They include swing, soul, Bach, celtic, blues, Handel’s Messiah, and even 65 massed tubas.

Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle includes one-man readings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Santa gets around everywhere, often enjoying breakfasts, lunches or dinners; no wonder he’s such a round jovial guy. You’d think his itinerary would keep him slim.

Or you can drive around to admire the Christmas lights and decorations outside homes throughout the Victoria area.

For more specific information, do speak to your Victoria bed and breakfast innkeepers.

Galloping Goose Trail

October 30, 2015 by Martin Vernon

Galloping Goose? An interesting image arises in the mind! However it is a reality here on southern Vancouver Island. The Galloping Goose Trail is the major link in a series of connected trails that contribute much to recreation in the Victoria area. To discover the origins of the trail and its name we need to step back in time.

In 1864, gold was discovered in the Leech River north of Sooke. Within a year over 1,000 mines were dug but the excitement rapidly died as did Leechtown. However the rail link remains, connecting the ghost town to Victoria. Disappointingly, we can not try our hand at gold-panning where Leechtown once sat since it is closed off. But we can enjoy 55 kilometres (34 miles) of a lovely open trail route where trains once ran. Between 1922 and 1931 there was a gas-powered car named, you’ve guessed it, the Galloping Goose.

This photo of distant joggers on the Galloping Goose Trail was taken near Roche Cove in East Sooke, one of our favourite stretches. The Galloping Goose Trail near Roche Cove, East SookeScenes vary along the trail but you’re rarely far from the occasional walking party such as our little group, cyclists and occasionally horseback riders. The western half is the most beautiful but its route through Victoria and westerly suburbs makes it easy for many to take some exercise and fresh air.

The route begins right downtown in Victoria, at the Johnson Street Bridge. For the first quarter of its length the trail is paved but then softer surfaces continue. The route passes by Thetis Lake (accessed at Six Mile Road) and soon the urban setting opens out to the woodlands and small farms of Metchosin. It becomes more forested towards Sooke, passing by Matheson Lake and Roche Cove at Gillespie Road (good access points) before passing close to Sooke Potholes with water views across the Sooke Basin. Towards the end, admire the engineering of the Charters Creek and Todd Creek trestle bridges.

The Galloping Goose Trail, which runs East-West, connects with the Lochside Trail, which runs North-South, in Saanich north of downtown Victoria. Its 29km (18 mile) route also follows an earlier railway track near the east coast of the Saanich Peninsula beyond Sidney to Swartz Bay (BC Ferries terminal).

These hiking trails, and others, contribute much to our life. We are most fortunate to have them on our doorstep.

 

 

Artists and Artisans Shows and Tours

October 20, 2015 by Martin Vernon

Walking through an art show this past weekend reminded me how blessed we are in the Victoria BC with so much fine art. Artists and artisans shows and tours are held frequently, and galleries and markets present a wide range of artworks. What struck us most was the sheer high quality from nearly 300 artists at the juried Sidney Fine Art Show (see an award winner below). Yes, we have the big names like Robert Bateman but there are hundreds of leading artists in their differing fields.There’s something about the lifestyle on the West coast that draws those of an artistic mindset.

To discover these you can take three geographically-based tours which are appreciated on relaxed self-guided routes.Artists and Artisans Shows and Tours - Victoria BC - Deborah Tilby

  • The Stinking Fish Studio Tour is held every July throughout Metchosin, west of Victoria. Juried artists present paintings and photographs, pottery and sculpture, woodworking and printmaking, creative fibres and jewellery at over 20 studios.
  • The Saanich Peninsula Studio Tour takes place on 24th and 25th October 2015 at 18 studios on the Saanich Peninsula just north of Victoria BC.
  • Visit 28 artisans on Salt Spring Island on their self-guided studio tour on a day trip from Victoria.

In August Arts and Music in the Gardens at HCP showcases 60 local artists in a delightful setting.

The Stinking Fish artists have a fall show on 14th and 15th November 2015 at the West Mont Montessori School, 4075 Metchosin Road near Witty’s Lagoon.

Downtown VIctoria has galleries presenting west coast and aboriginal art,traditional and contemporary. Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are certainly well-endowed with talent.

Downtown Victoria tours

September 21, 2015 by Martin Vernon

A variety of downtown Victoria tours can be enjoyed, especially as an introduction to the city. Relaxing and informative they can be expanded upon later by a leisurely stroll around areas of particular interest. Guide books or a Victoria travel website are great for information but nothing beats hearing about a new place from a local.

Downtown Victoria tours - horse-drawn carriage

Whether horse-drawn, on a bus or ferry or on foot these downtown Victoria tours give insights that you’d miss if you were self-guided and they will cover a range of attractions which you can later explore more fully.

CVS Sightseeing offer a wide selection of bus tours, downtown on an English double-decker or on a modern hop-on hop-off bus, visit the Butchart Gardens, and more.

Take a 90 minute tour with Big Bus Victoria on a trolleybus or open-air buses with hop-on hop-off stops.

The Gray Line British double-decker bus tours include an enhanced ticket option to take a Victoria Harbour Ferry too.

A favourite has to be the Victoria Harbour Ferries, those little boats bobbing around the Inner Harbour. Take a tour or treat them as a water taxi.

Tally Ho and Victoria Carriage Tours both have a choice of varying horse-drawn carriage tours. These are a charming way of clop-clopping through the interesting parts of downtown Victoria. Instead of having a horse do all the work you could stop a Kabuki Kab or PediCab. All these will be entertaining as well as informative.

And my favourite, walking tours – when the slow pace ensures you miss nothing and have a chance to quiz your guide at leisure. And for further local information, your B&B hosts are accustomed to answering questions on a wide variety of topics (and you thought the breakfast table was only for eating).

Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival

August 20, 2015 by Martin Vernon

50 shows at 11 venues: that’s the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival 2015. You can catch over 300 performances from 27th August until 6th September 2015.

Fringe theatres are not for everyone but the variety is impressive: there’s drama and comedy, musicals and dance, the spoken word and magic. Victoria Fringe Theatre FestivalParticipants are international, though chosen by lottery (yes!). The Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival has enlivened the downtown of Victoria BC since 1986. Families will enjoy the FringeKids Fest at Market Square on Saturday 29th August, 11am-4pm (it’s been a long time since I bounced in a castle).

A $6 button and a relevant ticket are required to see a show. Encouragingly, 100% of the ticket price goes to the artists you see. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door and passes are available. Drop into Intrepid Theatre at 2-1609 Blanshard Street for more information.

Victoria Chalk Art Festival

August 30, 2014 by Martin Vernon

You’re walking along a downtown street, window shopping with an ice cream in hand, when you stumble upon chalk art at your feet; it’s the Victoria Chalk Art Festival.

On 12th and 13th September 2015 Government Street, the principal shopping street of Victoria, will be transformed by this remarkable art at Canada’s largest chalk festival. Take a look at examples of work by chalk artists exhibiting their street art this year. Free art!

As someone who couldn’t draw the back of a bus I’ve never understood how someone can create a large scale work of art when working close up. I’m no Michelangelo! An example of this will be a related project taking shape in the nearby Royal BC Museum where a 3D creation, 20′ x 20′, will reveal itself over a five day period. Here is the equivalent from last year:

Victoria Chalk Art Festival

This years theme will be “Nature’s Spirits”, a celebration of art and wonder. Kids can create their own works of art in Langley Street by Bastion Square. Needless to say, entry is free so gaze and wonder.

 

 


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