The Inner Harbour of Victoria

January 30th, 2015 by Martin Vernon

As the kitchen is the heart of the house so the Inner Harbour of Victoria has been its heart for over 150 years. The early pioneers who came to Vancouver Island centred their defences around it and settlements steadily grew out from there. Travelling by water was the easiest option so it became the major trading centre of the region. Today the Inner Harbour has traded trade (ouch!) for tourism attractions and festivals yet it has never left the heart of its people: it is where we celebrate.

Some have the good fortune to enter Victoria’s Inner Harbour by ferry, seaplane or helicopter or they return to it The Inner Harbour of Victoria BCfrom a whale-watching tour. Beyond the busyness of the harbour are some imposing buildings with wonderful character. For these we owe much to Frances Rattenbury who designed the domed British Columbia Parliament Buildings, the classical columned Steamship Terminal now housing the Robert Bateman Centre and, front and centre, the Empress Hotel. Nestled among them, but rectangularly modern, is the Royal BC Museum with its IMAX theatre. Visiting all those will occupy a couple of days so many of our guests pick one or two (the Museum should not be missed) and soak up the vibrant life of the causeway and moorings. You can walk around the harbour and beyond; a lovely stroll on a sunny day. Do pop into the Tourism Victoria Info Centre to gather information about the many places to see and things to do in the Victoria area.

That vibrant life really comes to life with the sights and sounds of the many festivals such as these favourites. In May the Victoria Harbour Boat Show fills the Inner Harbour with 200 vessels and the Swiftsure International Yacht Race brings distant thrills and occasional spills. Street-life is celebrated with the Victoria International Buskers Festival on the causeway and Government Street in July, and the next month everywhere is crowded as 40,000 people and small boats cram in for our biggest annual party, Symphony Splash. The Dragon Boat Festival in August brings vigour and colour. Throughout the summer you can enjoy a browse through the artisan markets at Ship Point and Bastion Square. September visitors may see remarkable art created at the Victoria Chalk Art Festival and, lastly, there’s the fun of the Victoria Lighted Ships and Trucks Parades in early December. One thing is guaranteed: there’s never a dull moment at the Inner Harbour of Victoria.

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