September in Victoria BC

Traditions run deep in Victoria: July begins with a bang, August with a splash, and September in Victoria BC always begins with all the fun of the fair.

The Saanich Fall Fair has shown local agricultural exhibits, music and crafts –  since 1868 at Saanich Fairgrounds in the centre of the peninsula on the Labour Day weekend. A final summer bash.

That same weekend has a delightful sight in the Inner Harbour: the Victoria Classic Boat Festival, now in its 40th year. The boats may not be the biggest or most spectacular but they are classy and beautiful. See a sail-past and a steam boat parade, watch a rowing regatta in the Gorge Waterway and dory races (small shallow-hulled fishing boats).

For me, the best part of September here is the combination of fine touristy weather (an “Indian summer” is not uncommon), the gradual softening of colours as early fall sets in, and the easing off of the busy crowds. It’s a good time to discover Vancouver Island. One might say that September compares to July and August in the words of Robert Frost “I took the one less traveled by, and that has been all the difference”. So come and take the quieter road: September in Victoria BC.

 

 

August in Victoria BC

August in Victoria BC begins with a splash. On the first Sunday of the month a large crowd happily descends on Victoria’s Inner Harbour for Symphony Splash,  one of the biggest annual orchestral events on the continent. It always ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with carillon bells and cannon fire with fireworks concluding a memorable evening.

Festivals and special events run throughout the month. Take in the spectacular annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, from 18th to 20th August in 2017. Watch 2,500 paddlers in 90 colourful dragon boats dramatically race. The festival includes many opportunities to learn about native culture.

The Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival runs from 23rd August to 3rd September 2017 at numerous locations featuring 350 artists in 58 shows. Buy a festival button or attend one of the free events. There’s drama and comedy, music and theatre.

Free Summertime Movies are screened on Friday and Saturday evenings in Beacon Hill Park at the Cameron Bandstand. The 2017 programme includes the original version of Dirty Dancing.

Summer markets continue with local artisans and growers proudly displaying their ware: Bastion Square, James Bay, The Hudson, Saanich Fairgrounds, North Saanich and the Sidney street market.

Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria (20th August in 2017).  Cyclists bring speed, verve and colour on three routes, from 45km to 140km for beginners to experienced riders.

Arts and Music in the Gardens on 26th and 27th August – over 50 artists set up in the nine acres of themed gardens at The Gardens at HCP on the Saanich Peninsula.

… and don’t forget the impressive illuminations and concerts every evening at the Butchart Gardens and their Saturday night fireworks.

July in Victoria BC

July in Victoria BC always starts with a bang: Canada Day. Join in with the local celebrations even if only to ooh and aah at the fireworks displays. In 2017, Canada Day celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday.

Visiting Victoria BC in July has something for everyone, from regular summer activities to festivals and events.

For example, the Royal BC Museum presents a major exhibition each summer in addition to its highly impressive regular exhibits. In 2017 “Terry Fox: Into the Heart of Canada” celebrates the inspiring story of this heroic young man. Also: visit the Terry Fox monument at Mile 0 of the 8,000km Trans-Canada Highway, at Beacon Hill Park. While there enjoy a stroll through our favourite park with its floral displays, pond and bridge, heronry, petting zoo, cricket pitch and more.

When I visit a new city I like to check if there are any special festivals taking place. One of these in July in Victoria BC is the Victoria International Buskers Festival. In 2017, this runs from 14th to 23rd July. If you miss the Festival you’ll catch a variety of performers on the Inner Harbour causeway every summer day. Look for the one man band (how many instruments does he play?).

The Butchart Gardens are a must for any itinerary, with many hours of delights. These end invariably with a concert on the lawn each evening in July. A wide variety of high quality music is enjoyed in a glorious setting. Afterwards, stay to wander through the illuminated gardens where lights replace flowers for colourful displays. On Saturdays in July there’s the additional bonus of a 15 minute firework display accompanied by music.

Summer markets abound where local artisans and farmers proudly present their wares in a buzz of activity. My favourite is the Thursday evening street market in Sidney, just north of Victoria.

Explore the area – the lakes, beaches, hills, wineries and farms and the Vancouver Island coastline that surrounds us for kayaking, sailing, whale-watching.

Do ask your B&B hosts for information about the events and activities that might interest you. Alternatively, visit the Tourism Victoria InfoCentre in the Inner Harbour for details about all that’s happening in July in Victoria BC and southern Vancouver Island.

Summer Festivals in Victoria BC

Summer Festivals in Victoria BC add spice to a visit to Vancouver Island. It’s a pleasant surprise to stumble upon a festival but better to plan a visit to coincide with one of your choice. Here’s a summary of the major varied summer festivals in Victoria BC.

May
Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival – over 150 years of fun and muscle.

Swiftsure International Yacht Race – four races contested by 200 yachts as the Inner Harbour gets thoroughly nautical.

June
Victoria International JazzFest – over 300 musicians in many styles.

July
Victoria International Buskers Festival – remarkable street performers give free shows throughout downtown.

Moss Street Paint-In – outdoor art created by 160 of Vancouver Islands leading artists. 30 years on.

August
Symphony Splash – join 40,000 people in Victoria’s Inner Harbour on the first Sunday in August. Ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and fireworks.

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival – 90 dragon boats with 2,500 paddlers race in the Inner Harbour.

Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival – 50 shows at eleven venues downtown.

September
Saanich Fall Fair – our agricultural show on the Saanich Peninsula since 1868.

Victoria Classic Boat Festival – 40 years of admiration of these craft.

Victoria International Chalk Art Festival – stumble across street art unfolding before your eyes.

Click on the above weblinks for full details about these Vancouver Island events and spectacles.

Victoria BC tourism map

What to see, where to eat, what to do, where to stay and how to get there? All vital questions which this Victoria BC tourism map will help to answer.

The map shows Victoria and Saanich Peninsula attractions, recreational activities, restaurants, wineries and other tourism related businesses, and, of course, accommodations. (Victoria is on the southern end of the Saanich Peninsula, the area where you’ll be enjoying your vacation in this beautiful area.)

The map is part of an informative website about Victoria BC tourism. Click on these links to prepare for your visit:

  • Attractions so often guests remark as they leave “We wish we were staying longer. Theres so much to do here”. This page has information and links to downtown attractions, Victoria area attractions, gardens, wineries, and recreation on land and on water.
  • The Butchart Gardens – since this is the place you really should visit we’ve dedicated a web page to these magnificent gardens. Allow sufficient time to explore the varied gardens and enjoy its activities.
  • There are videos about aspects of Victoria and Vancouver Island.
  • Local tourism businesses are listed answering some of those What to see, Where to eat and What to do questions.
  • and lastly, that Victoria BC tourism map. Zoom in and out, click on the icons for more information.

 

Our Greater Victoria bed and breakfasts are located conveniently for your explorations of Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula. We look forward to welcoming you to a memorable stay.

A tasty visit to Victoria

Have a tasty visit to Victoria! Your visit should satisfy all the senses: seeing the sights, smelling the roses at the Butchart Gardens, hearing killer whales on a whale-watching boat hydrophone,  touching camera buttons; but what about taste?

Its an oft-quoted statistic that Victoria has more restaurants per capita than anywhere in North America except San Francisco, but let’s ignore quantity and focus on quality.

Yesterday evening my wife and I went with friends to a where we had not dined for several years. The meal was excellent but what struck us most was the new emphases on the menu: healthy, local foods. This is the trend here these days so embrace it and enjoy! The previous day we had visited two farm markets where the same message was tastefully (pun intended) presented: foods are locally grown, distributed and enjoyed. Economic sustainability and environmental responsibility in action.

Southern Vancouver Island’s climate and terrain enables an unusually wide range of agricultural goodies to be grown; fruit and vegetables, berries and grapes (thus wine), meats and prepared local foods – an overflowing cornucopia. In August the North Saanich Flavour Trail Festival is a good opportunity to discover these.

To enjoy these tastes to the full and make your visit to Victoria even more fulfilling, try these:

  • Ignore the chain restaurants and dine at an independent restaurant whose owners and staff are offering the very best of Vancouver Island produce.
  • Visit local wineries, enjoy a tasting or three and purchase our local wines (whites are particularly good here).
  • Tour farm markets and farm stands on the Saanich Peninsula – the producers will proudly share their wares. Pick up a some fresh fruit for your travels.

Your bed and breakfasts hosts will be glad to guide you with further information to help you enjoy a tasty visit to Victoria.

Victoria tourism website

Old friends from the UK emailed me a couple of days ago confirming that they will visit us this year. They asked what there is to do in Victoria and could we recommend a Victoria tourism website. Needless to say, I sent them useful website links.

Our group of bed and breakfasts has a website which will give my friends much food for thought. Victoria attractions listed on the site include something for everyone:

  • From Canadas oldest China Town to the latest IMAX film,
  • From urban shopping to beach strolling,
  • From horse-drawn carriage tours to whale-watching tours,
  • From formal gardens to wild natural parks,
  • From wineries to restaurants,
  • Eight short award-winning videos.

Our bed and breakfasts are located on the Saanich Peninsula. This is just 30km / 20 mile long, from Victoria in the south to Sidney in the north. Here you’ll find the most popular Victoria attraction of them all, the Butchart Gardens.

 

So, here is a three part plan of action to help you prepare for a visit to southern Vancouver Island using this Victoria tourism website:-
1. Take a look at a map to get a sense of the scale and locations.
2. Browse through our website, especially the attractions page.
3. Book your Victoria bed and breakfast and ask your hosts any outstanding questions to make your trip the best it can be.

Souvenirs and gifts from Victoria

Your visit to British Columbia will be made more memorable by souvenirs and gifts from Victoria. The many gift shops in downtown Victoria are evidence of this.

Most of us like to take home souvenirs of a good trip plus a few gifts for family and friends; mementos of your visit to Vancouver Island As you walk along Government Street downtown it is usually thronged with visitors in the summer. In between the coffee shops are the expected gift shops. Some offer hand-crafted goods, others tacky souvenirs. What thought really lies behind a memento for oneself or a gift for someone if it is mass-produced in China, such as a cast resin killer whale or a keyring with a gaudily painted hanging basket? Surely gifts from Victoria can be more inspiring?

They can. Three sources throughout Victoria BC offer local authentic gifts made with pride.

A. Wander along the side roads off Government Street where rents are more affordable and local merchants, rather than chain stores, can set up shop. They will individually source out gifts appropriate to the theme of their store. Some of these will be local crafts. Walk north from the Inner Harbour along Government Street and visit the neighbouring streets.

B. Crafts markets. Victoria has numerous markets, especially in the summer months. Some are more rural with an agricultural element but all present local artisans proud of their wares. What better source for a worthy souvenir? In the downtown area try the Bastion Square Market, Wednesday to Saturday 10.30 5.30 or Ship Point Market (see below) on Friday and Saturday evenings 7.00 10.30. Further north in Sidney is the larger Thursday evening street market (see above).

C. Naturally there are many worthy gift shops in Victoria, not just in the downtown core. As you travel around the area you’ll encounter them in many locations, given that the whole Saanich Peninsula is a focus for tourism. So it becomes easy to find those unique souvenirs and gifts from Victoria which truly reflect a memorable visit.