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.

Visiting Victoria BC with kids

Kids have rights too, and they know it! Visiting Victoria BC with kids can be OK for them too.

You checked into your Victoria bed and breakfast, and yes, they accept children! The next morning, you spent several hours at the amazing Butchart Gardens (wishing you had worn sneakers), had afternoon tea (zero calories, of course), gone whale watching, and taken in the Royal BC Museum. And the kids, for the most part, behaved themselves – sort of.  So does Victoria have family attractions?

Well, just take a look at this. There’s a petting zoo at Beacon Hill Park, and a goat stampede – every day! Your kids can pet alpacas, a pot bellied pig, even a miniature horse.

As we all know, the kids always have to go to the bathroom, so you scope out their locations at all the tourist spots. But sometimes that musical phrase we all hear, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom,” means more than that. It sometimes means, “Mom, I’m bored.”

When you mention “museum”, kids’ eyes often glaze over and they think of the video games they have left behind, not to mention their favorite TV program. That’s when you can tell them about some of Victorias activities:

  • “There’s an interactive area in the museum just for kids. You can touch and explore and go back in time”. Its big screen IMAX theatre will enthrall.
  • Another good place if it is wet is Saanich Commonwealth Place whose pool complex includes a wave pool and waterslide.
  • Then there’s the Victoria Bug Zoo. What a great place, all about creepy crawly insects: bugs that glow in the dark, huge tarantulas and praying mantises. Kids can actually hold in their hands a 400 leg millipede.
  • Also downtown, those fun-looking little boats, Harbour Ferries, crossing the Inner Harbour take you all to such places as Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • And if the kids are tired of being told to stop running around (all kids need to run around, and scream too), there’s the WildPlay Element Park. They can zip from tree to tree in a forest canopy like the animals.
  • Fort Rodd Hill is great for more energetic explorations with its parkland and coastal gun bunkers. Neighbouring Fisgard Lighthouse sets imaginations buzzing with its exhibit of life in a lighthouse in the days of shipwrecks.
  • And if they have the urge to be an F-1 driver, there’s the All Fun Recreational Park where your kids can drive mini golf go karts on a raceway.
  • Think big – explore the universe. The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory has the awesome 1.8 metre Plaskett Telescope, there are stargazing events and everyone can travel the constellations in the StarLab Planetarium.
  • Play a family round of golf, putting 18 holes of mini golf style at Matticks Farm.
  • Explore the ocean and its ecosystems at the Ocean Discovery Centre at Sidney-by-the-Sea.
  • Butterfly Gardens, on the other hand, is totally delightful – hundreds of butterflies and moths, also birds, frogs and intriguing tropical plants.
  • … and let’s not forget food. Instead of burgers and fries had at home, Victoria is a great place for English-style fish and chips.

Visiting Victoria BC with kids is likely to be enjoyable for all with this range of family attractions to hand. All is not lost when you hear those words “Mom, find something for me to do?”