Victoria Beer Week

February 29, 2016 by Martin Vernon

Much is written about wineries in the Victoria area so it’s refreshing to take a look sat Victoria Beer Week.

From 4th to 12th March 2016 over 50 craft breweries from southern Vancouver Island and elsewhere in British Columbia will be showcasing their beers during Victoria Beer Week 2016.Teaming up with the Island Chefs’ Collaborative will result in foods which pair with favourite craft beers.

The opener is Cask Night on Friday 4th March with over 25 casks at Victoria Public Market. Events include tastings naturally, educational seminars and workshops, a brewers’ brunch, selected foods from vendors. Go to Beer School! There’s beer and pizza, beer and cheese, beer and storytelling, beer and a cruise, a beer-b-q, and, of course, a beer crawl.

Victoria Beer Week 2016

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.

New Year celebrations in Victoria BC

December 21, 2015 by Martin Vernon

New Year celebrations in Victoria BC have two distinct opportunities to roll out the old year and welcome in the new. As well as the calendar year, the Chinese New Year is more significant here than in many cities.

Parties and dinners are everywhere in Victoria on New Year’s Eve. Just about every restaurant, pub, club and hotel offers its own brand of celebrations. The sheer variety is impressive: elegantly formal or casual, themed, live music, dancing, and dining options galore. Check with your bed and breakfast innkeeper.

The Chinese New Year on 8th February 2016 is heralded as the new moon rises. New Year celebrations in Victoria BC - the Chinese New YearIn the earlier years of Victoria BC the Chinese community established the oldest Chinatown in Canada as a centre for their community and trading. After a decline, today the influence of the Chinese continues more broadly within the Victoria area and the Chinese New Year is as important as ever. On 14th February, you’ll see cultural demonstrations, displays and parades including dances such as the famous Lion Dance (about 11.00am), all set within the character of Chinatown around Fisgard Street with the Gate of Harmonious Interest and little Fan Tan Alley. Incidentally, the superb Chinatown display at the Royal BC Museum will form the basis of special tours on 2nd, 9th and 11th February at 11.00am.

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.

Victoria Classic Boat Festival

August 30, 2015 by Martin Vernon

The Victoria Classic Boat Festival sums up the best of Victoria rather well: a maritime tradition, vessels in the Inner Harbour, character and charm, tourism, and celebration. It promotes those warm fuzzy feelings that catch us by surprise as we enjoy a moment from our past (or imagined past). So from 4th to 6th September 2015 I’m going to wander around the boats in the Inner Harbour, soaking in the good feelings. Join me.

The Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend was established in 1977, inspiring the nautical community in Victoria to establish their own celebration of maritime heritage so in 1978 the The Victoria Classic Boat Festival was born. 32 boats participated that first year, now more than fourfold ranging from small motor vessels to tall ships. The festival website has many excellent photos illustrating the variety of fascinating vessels you will see.

The highlights will be on Sunday 6th September when the sailpast and classic sail race provide a spectacle from Ogden Point (by the Inner Harbour) to Clover Point, along the southern coast of Victoria. There are displays and demonstrations, live entertainment and food. Admission is free.

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 Dragon Boat Festival

July 30, 2015 by Martin Vernon

For 20 years the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival has brought a splash of colour to summers in the Inner Harbour of Victoria BC. Culture and energy combine, on and off the water, for three days of one of the liveliest festivals you’ll encounter.

On 14, 15th and 16th August 2015 catch the vibrancy in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, joining up to 80,000 others on the grandstands and along the harbour walls. Highlights are the energeticVictoria Dragon Boat Festival dragon boat races on Saturday and Sunday from 8.00am to about 4.00pm. The boats surge through the water as paddlers crouch forwards following the strokes of the leading pair. Like rowing, strokes are synchronised but unlike the flowing movement of sculls dragon boats rise up out of the water with each rapid stabbing stroke. At the front of each boat sits a drummer who sets the pace of up to 70 strokes per minute. Races are held in numerous categories over the 500 metre course.

The Cultural Stage presents musical headlining bands and the nearby Forbidden City Food Court offers cultural delights.

Associated with the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival is Lights of Courage at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour. By purchasing a paper lantern for $2 you support the BC Cancer Foundation. On the lantern tag write a message of hope, love, inspiration or remembrance and hang it with the array of others which are illuminated after 9.00pm. Since 2008 this has raised over $500,000.

Our rural past comes alive

June 10, 2015 by Martin Vernon

Heritage Acres is just that, acres of heritage. It’s a place of fascination for most of us as we experience the past coming alive. In this case, it is the rural past when the Saanich Peninsula was forested with isolated communities and homesteads.

The Saanich Historical Artifacts Society have collected steam engines, agricultural machinery and Heritage Acres on the Saanich Peninsulaartifacts from the past all lovingly restored and demonstrated. A highlight has to be a tour of Heritage Acres on the small gauge railway. See demonstrations at the blacksmith’s shop. View the saw mill and carpentry shop, the waterwheel from the old quarry at the Butchart Gardens. Other buildings include a school house, a tiny chapel and a boat house overlooking the pond. Over 35 tractors and working steam engines spanning the past century are in use periodically.

The Summer Fair at Heritage Acres on 20th and 21st June 2015 (Father’s Day weekend) is one of several summer events when the past comes alive here. Our agricultural past can be enjoyed adjoining Hwy 17 (Patricia Bay Highway) just south of Island View Road – easy access if you’ve a car or horse and buggy.

Victoria International JazzFest

May 30, 2015 by Martin Vernon

The Victoria International JazzFest is one of those major festivals in Victoria which benefit from the strengths of the city’s music and of its tourism: one might describe this as supply and demand.

Musicians abound here in every genre since, I suppose, artists of all persuasions Victoria International JazzFestare drawn to the West coast lifestyle. They provide us with a rich source of pleasure which we share with the many visitors to Victoria. So events such as the Victoria International JazzFest are a natural outcome of this combination.

The 2015 festival runs from 19th to 28th June with a lineup of worldwide musicians who embrace blues and world music as well as jazz. Now in its 30th year, the JazzFest includes workshops and has over 300 musicians performing in venues throughout the city.

The organizers, The Victoria Jazz Society, also run the Vancouver Island Blues Bash in September, one of the many Arts events in Victoria of every imaginable style we can enjoy every year.

Swiftsure International Yacht Race

May 10, 2015 by Martin Vernon

Some major festivals are just perfect for their place – the Swiftsure International Yacht Race in Victoria BC is one of those. Driving around the Victoria area one spots thousands of boats: from masses of masts in the marinas to stored vessels on home driveways. People here love their boats.

The race began in 1930 with just six entrants, sailing to the lightship on Swiftsure Bank and back. Swiftsure International Yacht RaceThis year, the 72nd running of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, about 200 entrants will contest four different races, the longest being 140 nautical miles typically taking boats 20 – 40 hours to complete. The currents and winds of the Juan de Fuca Strait are unpredictable, creating a challenge for the finest sailors from around the globe. One year over 100 boats were blown way off the course yet on others the races are referred to as “Driftsure”.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the place to be from May 23rd to 25th 2015. There can be plenty of drama but there’s always a great spectacle offshore and nautical events onshore. The Tourism Victoria Info Centre in the Inner Harbour can guide you as to when to be where for the best viewing.

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