Festivals & Events

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Sunset in Victoria. Credit: Hannah Lise.

Sunset in Victoria. Credit: Hannah Lise

This summer has been absolutely gorgeous, so make sure to relish every last second of it and take advantage of all of the August things to do in Victoria. Escape the heat by checking out sporting events and festivals on the water, view fashion shows to get ideas on how to update your wardrobe for fall or soak in some arts and culture at fairs and farmers markets. Whether you are an adventurer, fashionista or a foodie, there are plenty of fun ways to wrap up your summer in Victoria.

Enjoy the End of Summer in Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Downtown Victoria

Dragon boat races. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong.

Dragon boat races. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong

This month, there are an incredible number of festivals and events to experience and explore, especially around Victoria’s Inner Harbour. As a result, you will be able to simultaneously have fun, enjoy scenic views of sparkling water and stay cool. From August 14 through 16, you can watch about 100 dragon boat teams race each other on a 500m/1,640 ft. course, for free, during the 21st Annual Dragon Boat Festival. However, viewing the races themselves is not the only thing to do during the festival. On the first night there is an eye dotting ceremony, where eyes are painted on the dragon faces adorning the boats to “awaken the dragon” as well as a lantern lighting ceremony. Throughout the festival there will also be live music from a variety of genres and dancing ranging from traditional Esquimalt dances, to Chinese dances and to even belly dancers.

Chinese lanterns. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong.

Chinese lanterns. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong

Near the end of the month, you can also catch the latest locally produced clothing designs at Victoria’s Fashion Splash, an outdoor fashion show. The show is accompanied by the Ship Point Night Market, which will be open from the evening of Friday, August 21 to afternoon of Sunday, August 23. The market will be full of handmade jewelry, clothing and accessories created by Victoria designers and will also feature live music and food trucks. This a great opportunity to stock up on fall fashions or discover out what will be “hot” in the coming year.

Canadian Snowbirds. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Hisgett.

Canadian Snowbirds. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Hisgett

If you are looking for more things to do in downtown Victoria, make sure you do not miss the Snowbirds (the formation flying team of the Royal Canadian Air Force) while they are in town. They will be visiting the BC Aviation Museum in Sidney on August 11 to chat with guests and performing aerial displays over Clover Point on August 12 as a part of an free event for C.H.I.L.D.

Likewise, check out the 29th Annual Victoria Fringe Theatre. According to the festival website, Fringe features “an eclectic mixture of spoken word, drama, musicals, dance, comedy, magic, theatre for young audiences and more.” There are close to 50 fun and hilarious plays presented at 11 different venues downtown, so you are sure to find something that will tickle your funny bone.

Head Up to Oak Bay for More Fun in the Sun

Oak Bay. Creative Commons Licensed by rpaterso.

Oak Bay. Creative Commons Licensed by rpaterso

To soak up more arts and culture, head east to Oak Bay for their inaugural Arts and Cultural Festival. The festival kicks off with a welcome ceremony performed by the Songhees First Nation and is full of other fun activities that are perfect for the whole family. Learn to eat (and perhaps cook) like a local on a heritage picnic or culinary arts tour and explore the arts on a summer gallery walk or at music and movie nights. Visitors to the festival can also partake in a tweed ride, a vintage car festival, Songhees Island cultural boat tours and the Oak Bay Village Night Market.

More August Things to Do in Victoria

Want to take a break from your routine and go on a summer getaway but find yourself short on time? Take day trip to Victoria, the less than three hour trip from Seattle to Victoria on Clipper makes for the perfect international escape. Victoria is incredibly walkable, so it is easy to shop, sightsee (many popular attractions are found in the heart of the city) or hop a tour that will transport you to a specific location. Whether you are a foodie, history buff, avid shopper or outdoor enthusiast there are plenty of activities that can be done in just a day.

The Butchart Gardens. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

The Butchart Gardens. Credit: Brenna Ciummo

    • Hop on a The Butchart Gardens & City Highlights Tour to visit The Gardens and wander through the grounds to see the Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, Italian Garden, Japanese Garden and Mediterranean Garden, which are each filled with a variety of unique plants and flowers. Along the way your guide will tell you Victoria’s culture and point out popular landmarks.
Bon Macaron Patisserie. Photo Courtesy Victoria Food Tours.

Bon Macaron Patisserie. Photo Courtesy Victoria Food Tours

    • Treat your taste buds to the very best food in town and explore the city at the same time on the Victoria Food Tour. You’ll visit secret, insider hot spots and have the opportunity to talk to the chefs, cooks and proprietors about their scrumptious creations.
    • Take a break for traditional Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress. You will feel like you have stepped back in time when you are served delicious scones, pastries, sweets and savories on fine China. You can even give your little prince or princess the royal treatment with kids tea options.
The Gates of Harmonious Interest. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

The Gates of Harmonious Interest. Credit: Brenna Ciummo

    • Explore the historic streets of Victoria’s Chinatown, which is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s. Maps located near the ornately decorated Gates of Harmonious Interest will provide historical tidbits and help direct you to various points of interest. Make sure to check out Fan Tan Alley, which is the narrowest street in Canada and houses many small boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
Pedaler Tour in front of Craigdarroch Castle.  Photo Courtesy of Pedaler Tours.

Pedaler Tour in front of Craigdarroch Castle. Photo Courtesy of Pedaler Tours

    • Visit the historic Craigdarroch Castle, which was created for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir that contains 39 rooms and over 25,000 square feet. The castle is still decorated with ornate furniture from the 1890s and has beautiful stained glass windows and carved woodwork that is worth viewing.
    • If you enjoy shopping, you are in luck as there is no shortage of shops in and around Victoria. Trendsetters should check out the fashionable Johnson Street, which is full of locally-owned boutiques selling everything from top-of-the-line vintage to fresh, one-off, custom-made designs. Other popular spots for shopping are Government Street, Broad Street and the Bay Center.
    • View over 100 works of stunning wildlife photography taken by the famous Robert Bateman at the Robert Bateman Centre or learn everything you ever wanted to know about the human and natural history of British Columbia through interesting and interactive exhibits at the Royal BC Museum.
The Victoria Public Market. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

The Victoria Public Market. Credit: Brenna Ciummo

    • During the summertime (and even year-around) the lively and vibrant Victoria farmers markets are full of local, fresh produce and a variety of handmade arts and crafts. Stop by Bastion Square Market, the James Bay Community Market, Moss Street Market or the Victoria Public Market to pick up some goodies to bring home.
Ross Bay Pier. Photo Courtesy of Pedaler Tours.

Ross Bay Pier. Photo Courtesy of Pedaler Tours

    • Take a tour of Victoria by bike! The Bicycle Tour of Castles, Hoods and Legends will take you past popular attractions like Chinatown, Craigdarroch Castle, Beacon Hill, Cook Street Village and the Dallas waterfront.
Miniature World. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Miniature World. Credit: Brenna Ciummo

  • If you are traveling with children or just young at heart, stop by the Victoria Bug Zoo as well as Miniature World. At the Bug Zoo you will get to view and get hands-on with a variety of insects, while at Miniature World you will be able to see scenes from history, fantasy books and more created in miniature.
  • Toast to a day well spent with a craft beer on the Brewery Express Tour and Beer Tasting. This two hour tour will take you to one full production craft brewery and one craft beer venue to go on a behind the scenes tour, chat with brewers and sample beer. This is the perfect tour if you want to experience Victoria’s craft beer culture but are short on time.
Vancouver, BC in the summer. Photo Credit: Breanna Rogers.

Vancouver, BC in the summer. Photo Credit: Breanna Rogers

Happy Summer! While Canada Day is over, there are still plenty of July things to do in Vancouver to help keep the celebratory mood all month long! Get outdoors and attend a concert, go local by stopping by a farmers market, explore an undiscovered part of your community to learn something new about its culture or pick up some new decorations for your abode at an art fair. You are sure to fill your calendar no matter what your interests.

Discover Vancouver’s Diverse Community

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Creative Commons Licensed by Daderot.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Creative Commons Licensed by Daderot

One of the great things about Vancouver is the diverse community that contributes to the region’s rich and lively culture, and this July there are a variety of festivals that allow you to explore them. Near the beginning of the month, check out the Indian Summer Festival, which celebrates both sunny summer days and artists and thinkers from Canada and South Asia. This year’s festival lineup award-winning novelists and DJs, social entrepreneurs, a Hollywood set designer, one of India’s famous musical maestros and even a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. You can expect to hear readings and lectures from the guests, view galleries featuring unique art such as creations using a truck as a canvas or a woven sculpture, enjoy concerts dancing as well as sample delicious cuisine at the food bazaar.

Likewise, you can learn more about Coast Salish culture near the end of the month at the All Nations Festival. The event is perfect for all ages as it has talks, art exhibits and performances that incorporate Salish language and identity, and a Dragonfly Kid’s Market with creative stations to teach children about plants, animals, green energy and provide a place to pick up art from Coast Salish artists and artisans. Other festival highlights include a 10 foot long barbecue where wild salmon, bison burgers, elk sausage, Indian tacos, corn on the cob will be cooking up as well as a Lacrosse Camp and Clinic run by the Vancouver Stealth pro Lacrosse players.

Experience the Arts Outdoors

Vancouver Folk Festival. Creative Commons Licensed by Christian Muise.

Vancouver Folk Festival. Creative Commons Licensed by Christian Muise

Explore Vancouver’s art scene and the summer weather with outdoor events that focus on music, dance, theater and visual art. Listen to music by well-known artists and take in beach views 38th Vancouver Folk Music Festival. The three day festival spans genres such as outspoken, old-timey, bluegrass, pan-Africa, blues, Celtic and more and also features a Artisan Market and Community Village with interactive booths by organizations that have a focus on green living, creating a sustainable environment and positive community development.

Another popular summer fair is the Harmony Arts Festival, which draws crowds from all over the mainland for art exhibits, outdoor concerts, drop-in art activities, movie screenings and demos, workshops and hands-on classes. There is also the opportunity to enjoy the culinary arts as well, with two beachside restaurants and a variety of food vendors. Should you want to take some art home with you, check out the Fresh St. Art Market, where you can buy photography, jewelry, textiles, glasswork, painting, fine woodwork, ceramics, metal, mixed media, sculptures and more.

Bard on the Beach. Creative Commons Licensed by Irene Kehler.

Bard on the Beach. Creative Commons Licensed by Irene Kehler

With so many July things to do in Vancouver, it may be hard to get everything mentioned here checked off your list. However, some of the events and performances happening this month are not limited to July, but run all summer long, so you can double or triple your fun. For instance, you can enjoy Shakespeare and waterfront views from Vancouver’s Vanier Park during Bard on the Beach, which runs until September 26, 2015. This year’s performances include King Lear, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Comedy of Errors and Rebel. There are even interesting talks 40-50 minutes prior to each performance that provide a preview of the story line and the characters. Or, on Friday nights during July and August, you can listen to music and dance the night away at the Enchanted Evenings concert series present by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Not only will you get to enjoy the musical styling of the artist of your choice but you will also have a chance to explore the beautiful grounds of the gardens at sunset. Since there are multiple performances of both the plays featured at Bard on the Beach as well as the Enchanted Evening concert series, you have the option of attending immediately or stretching out your summer fun and planning for August.

More July Things to Do in Vancouver, BC

Summer is here and it looks like it will be a hot one! Cool off by celebrating Independence Day at a local park, backyard barbeque or festival! The U.S. Women’s soccer team also just made it to the World Cup Final, which is in Vancouver, BC on July 5, which is a great reason to travel north to Canada for the long weekend or at least watch the game from your favorite air conditioned watering hole. Of course, there are plenty of other July things to do in Seattle. Take advantage of the variety of festivals and events happening this month to explore historic wooden boats, sample local wines, beers and cuisine, compete for the fastest bike time from Seattle to Portland in the STP or create the biggest sand sculpture.

Celebrate SeaFair!

Fourth of July Fireworks. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

Fourth of July Fireworks. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

It would not be summer in Seattle without Seafair, which has been an annual event since 1950. The festivities “officially” began at the end of June with the landing of the SeaFair Pirates on Alki. However, SeaFair related events really kick into high gear this month and continue in to August. This weekend, July 4, head over to Gasworks Park or South Lake Union Park for a day of celebration at the Seafair Summer Fourth. During the afternoon there will be plenty of activities, games and music to enjoy, capped off by a daring skydive performance over Lake Union. After the singing of the National Anthem, a stunning fireworks display set to music will take place at about 10:20 p.m.

Other SeaFair festivities include community events such as the SeaFair Milk Carton Derby where nearly 100 creatively designed boats constructed out of milk cartons compete to see which vessel can travel across Green Lake fastest. Near the end of the month, on July 25, is the much anticipated Torchlight Parade. This year the parade will be marshaled by Seattle Mariners players Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, and will include giant balloons, drill teams, horses, clowns, pirates and bands. Make sure not to forget to attend the classic Grand Prix West Seafair Hydroplane Races and Blue Angels performances (they are back this year with more exciting acts and aerial maneuvers than ever) on the following weekend July 31-August 2. With a slew of family-friendly events, you are sure to find an activity that will appeal to all ages.

Blue Angels. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

Blue Angels. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

Explore Seattle Like a Local

Whether you are a greater Seattle area resident or just visiting the region, use the month of July to soak in the flavor of the city. There are a few chances to sip Seattle’s locally produced wines, beers and spirits. During Wine Rocks, you can enjoy wine and music performed by brew masters (as well as a few local musicians) who happen to know a thing a two about both arts. If you prefer beer, head to the Seattle International Beerfest to sample beers that are rare or hard to find. With over 220 beers to choose from, you are sure to find something new or that you have not heard of before.

Of course, you cannot try the local beverages without also sampling Seattle’s cuisine. Stop by the Ballard SeafoodFest to celebrate the fishing industry and the Ballard neighborhood’s Nordic roots. While you are there make sure to try the traditional salmon barbeque, listen to local music, check out the arts and crafts available for purchase and sample even more seafood! There is also a wide variety of food to explore at the Bite of Seattle, which is another long-standing Seattle tradition. Here you can find everything from alligator on a stick to truffle oil to wine slush. For foodies who want to sample everything, many vendors offer menu items that are $3.75 or less so you can get a taste of each type of cuisine. In addition to food, the festival also has five stages where there will be a variety of musical and dance performances.

Sand castle. Creative Commons Licensed by Something12356789.

Sand castle. Creative Commons Licensed by Something12356789.

Speaking of annual traditions, there is Seattle to Portland (STP) Bicycle Classic, which attracts about 10,000 riders who vie to see who can make the 202 mile trek the fastest. Upon reaching the finish line, riders are award with a free apparel item of their choice and a meal at the finish line in Portland. You can also compete creatively this month at the Sandsations contest in Long Beach, and see what team can build the most imaginative sand sculpture in six hours. In addition to being able to escape the heat by spending time on the beach and enjoying ocean views, you will also be able to curb your hunger with free hot dogs and enjoy a beach bonfire. Finally, end the month on a high note at the Capitol Hill Block Party to listen to tons of local bands and party with the community.

More July Things to Do in Seattle

Happy summer! With so many fabulous, blue-skied days ahead, there is no better time to get out, enjoy your summer and discover all the July things to do in Victoria. You will find hanging baskets bursting with colorful flowers, public markets full of fresh, home grown produce and handcrafted goods and a variety of outdoor concerts and festivals. Whether you are an adventurer or foodie, there are a variety of fun ways in and around Victoria to fill your summer.

Celebrate Canada’s Birthday

Canadian Flag. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Webster.

Canadian Flag. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Webster

Help celebrate Canada’s 148th birthday by making merry at one of the many parties around town on Canada Day on Wednesday, July 1, which honors the day Canada became a new federation with its own constitution by signing the Constitution Act. Visit Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse to join in the festivities for this special day and take in fantastic views. Dance to live music, sing a rousing round of “Oh, Canada” or take part in a variety of fun activities for all ages. Of course, you must not forget to save room for a piece of “Canada Day’s biggest birthday cake” at the end of the evening.

Another option is to stop by Bear Mountain’s Canada Day BBQ to hangout by the pool in the afternoon with live music being spun by DJ Spencer Looysen or enjoy a Canadian inspired barbeque in the evening, live music performed by Shaky Ground, lawn games and great prizes. There will also be a bouncy castle and face painting for kids.

Take Pride in Your City

Rainbow. Creative Commons Licensed by  Anemone Projectors.

Rainbow. Creative Commons Licensed by Anemone Projectors

June 27 kicks off Pride Week in Victoria, and this year the city has done something extra special to lead up to the celebration. The intersection of Pandora and Broad streets have painted with three permanent rainbow crosswalks to celebrate the city’s diversity and show support for the local LGBTQ community. However, these colorful crosswalks are not the only fun thing happening during the Pride Week there is Youth Pride Dance, the Big Gay Dog Walk – a great way watch cute dogs in costumes, Pride in the Word and Drag Ball – Baseball. The event culminates in the annual parade and festival on July 5, which features more than 100 vendors and stages acts that everyone will enjoy.

In addition to Pride Week, there are a variety of other fun festivities and celebrations happening in Victoria throughout July. Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine returns for its seventh year highlighting locally produced food and wine. During the event more than 30 BC wineries will be pouring over 100 wines and treats from some of Victoria’s popular restaurants like the Fairmont Empress and Veneto Tapa Lounge will be served. Festival-goers looking for additional entertainment should check out the Victoria International Buskers Festival to watch flame throwers, acrobats, magicians, jugglers, unicyclists, balloonists, musicians and more. There is even opportunity to sample more cuisine as there will be an International Food Village with bites from a variety of countries. For a little music, head to the annual Rock the Shores concert in the scenic town of Colwood and enjoy performances by artists such as Black Keys, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jane’s Addiction, Bleachers and more.

Discover Local Arts and Crafts

Lavender Fields. Creative Commons Licensed by Silar.

Lavender Fields. Creative Commons Licensed by Silar

No summer in Victoria is complete without visiting at least one garden, so why not stop by the Damali Lavender Fest and stroll through the fragrant fields of lavender, get lost in the labyrinth or explore the vineyard where you can sample wine infused with lavender complemented by lavender treats. There will also opportunities to learn more about lavender, such as the harvesting process, an essential oil distillation and soap making demonstrations and a farm tour. If you would like, you can even get hands on and pick your own lavender or make a lavender wand.

Go local and attend festivals that showcase arts and crafts that have been produced right here in British Columbia. The Sooke Fine Arts Show features over 375 original works of fine art created by artists on Vancouver Island and the surrounding BC coastal islands. During the 11-day event you can enjoy live artist demonstrations, talks and music and of course view the beautiful jewelry, pottery, sculptures, photography and paintings created by the artists – you may even find a few pieces to take home!

More July Things to Do in Victoria

Seattle Skyline. Credit: Photo Courtesy Haykan Axelsson.

Seattle Skyline. Photo Courtesy Haykan Axelsson

While it appears that summer has already arrived in Seattle, after all 80 degree weather in the beginning of June is pretty spectacular, the season does not officially begin until June 21. However, since summer is one of the most glorious times to visit Seattle (picture sparkling waters, blue skies and verdant scenery) there are a variety of June things to do in Seattle before and after the beginning of summer, to help celebrate the arrival of the much anticipated season.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Stilters at the Solstice Parade. Creative Commons Licensed by Joe Mabel.

Stilters at the Solstice Parade. Creative Commons Licensed by Joe Mabel

One of the most popular ways to start the summer season is with the annual Fremont Solstice Parade and Fair. The festival begins on Friday, June 19 with the first Solstice Concert Series performances on the Redhook Main Stage and Main Stage Beer Garden. However, the things really heat up on Saturday with the Solstice Parade itself, which is full of floats, marching bands and bike riders outfitted in crazy costumes and body paint. During the weekend you should also keep an eye out for the Seattle Art Car Blowout, featuring over 75 cars decorated in funny and interesting designs, such as a phone, stiletto, fish and more. There will also be a street fair, craft market and a variety of buskers such as chalk artists, musicians, magicians and jugglers. The fair wraps up on Sunday, June 21 with a cute twist – the Sunday Dog Parade, where four-legged friends of all sizes will march through the fairgrounds. Do not forget to make time to do some sightseeing while you are in town and stop by the Fremont Troll, statue of Lenin or real Soviet-era rocket or visit many of the eclectic shops and businesses in the neighborhood.

Cheers to Dads and Grads

Beer Flight. Photo Courtesy Road Dog Tours.

Beer Flight. Photo Courtesy Road Dog Tours

The Solstice Parade is not the only fun way to kick of summer over the weekend. Toast to summer, dad as Father’s Day is also June 21 or recent school grads at the Washington Brewers Festival. Over 400 beers from 105 Washington breweries will be represented at the festival, as well wine and cider tastings, great food, live music and an all-ages playground featuring balloons, inflatable toys and kids crafts. There will even be a root beer garden, with different varieties on tap throughout the weekend, so families have a place to enjoy dinner together. Want to sip more local brews? Try going on the Seattle Brewery Tour, which will transport you to three of the best breweries in town, where information on what goes into a good brew, the history and culture of craft brew and plenty of beer will be freely dispensed.

Family Fun in the Sun

Booths at the Edmonds Arts Festival. Photo Courtesy of the Edmonds Arts Festival.

Booths at the Edmonds Arts Festival. Photo Courtesy of the Edmonds Arts Festival

There is no better way than spending every minute possible of summer weekends outdoors so you can soak up every ounce of the sun. In the mood for some art appreciation? Head over to the Edmonds Arts Festival, which features a field filled with over 240 artists booths containing everything from paintings, to jewelry, to photography to sculptures and yard art as well as 20 food vendors. Those needing a break from the sun can also find three juried art galleries in the nearby building and school art class exhibits with over 1,000 student creations.

If you would rather take in classics of another kind, visit Seattle’s historic waterfront to view over 50 stylish yachts during Classic Weekend. The classic ships will make for a stunning sight as they parade into Bell Harbor Marina on Friday, June 19 and you will be able to explore most of the yachts from the inside on tours throughout the weekend. While you are downtown, check out of the many new, local businesses that have set up shop on the Waterfront and in Pioneer Square that are helping revive this area steeped in history. Not sure which places to check out? Watch our video guide for ideas:

More June Things to Do in Seattle

Downtown Victoria. Photo Courtesy Brandon Godfrey.

Downtown Victoria. Photo Courtesy Brandon Godfrey

We are excited that there are a variety of festivals and June things to do in Victoria that are near and dear to our heart. This weekend is World Oceans Day at Fisherman’s Wharf, which is designed to help educate the community about how they can help care for and conserve our oceans. Keeping local waters clean is important to ensuring they remain home to amazing wildlife like orca whales, Dall’s porpoises, harbor seals, bald eagles and migratory birds. Not to mention these very same waters enable us to quickly transport you between Seattle and Victoria. In order to teach everyone about the different ways to protect the ocean, there will be fun activities for all ages, such as a scavenger hunt, touch tanks and displays from Ocean Network Canada, Ocean Wise, Robert Bateman Center, Royal BC Museum and others.

Victoria's Inner Harbour. Credit: Ryan Reynolds.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Credit: Ryan Reynolds

In addition, one of the wonderful things about Victoria is that you do not need a car to get there; you can travel to Victoria with just a single step by hopping on the Clipper. As we like to say “You can walk between Seattle and Victoria from here.” Once you arrive in the city of Victoria itself, you don’t have to go far to shop or visit popular attractions like The Parliament Buildings, the Fairmont Empress, Royal BC Museum and more. As such, we are happy to see Downtown Victoria celebrate its walkability with Car Free YYJ. During the festival, six blocks of Douglas Street will be taken over to host live entertainment, a craft beer garden, artishow, food trucks, farmers market and vendor booths full of unique goods.

Of course, Victoria would not be the city it is today without its original founders – BC’s Aboriginal people. Learn more about the First Nations with three days of performances by the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations as well other Aboriginal performers from across the province in celebration of National Aboriginal Day. Besides experiencing First Nations culture through dance, musical performances and storytelling, you can also explore their art as a number of Aboriginal artisans will be on-site with carvings, prints and jewelry for sale. Some artists will even be able to give demonstrations on the creative process for their crafts. While you are at the festival, make sure to try some of the delicious food, such as BBQ salmon, fry bread and clam chowder, created by the Songhees Nation and Chef Roger.

These festivals are just the beginning of the many things to do in Victoria this month. You can listen to the sweet sounds of blues and jazz, sample local cuisine or stock up on summer reading at the Comic Book Expo.

Dance the Night Away with Bluegrass and Jazz

View of the Sooke River. Creative Commons Licensed by Ruth Hartnup.

View of the Sooke River. Creative Commons Licensed by Ruth Hartnup

Experience the beginning of the summer the concert season with two lively festivals during the last two weekends in June. First, relax and camp on the banks of the Sooke River Campground (The Flats) and take in the beautiful views and music during the 13th Annual Sooke River Bluegrass Festival. Over the course of the weekend you will get to listen to performances by a variety of local and visiting acoustic talent. In addition, you will have the opportunity to attend workshops hosted by the artists themselves, so you can pick some tips on things like bluegrass harmony singing as well as bluegrass and old time rhythm guitar, fiddle, bango and more. The TD Victoria International JazzFest runs nearly simultaneously during the last week two weeks of June. Not unlike the Bluegrass Festival, JazzFest features a number of different artist performances and workshops. Thus, if you prefer jazz to blues you might want to head here or if you like both genres, stop by JazzFest during its second week so you can catch performances at both shows.

Taste Local Fare at a Variety of Fairs

Charcuterie on the Local Libations on the Peninsula Tour. Courtesy of West Coast Brewery Tours

Charcuterie on the Local Libations on the Peninsula Tour. Courtesy of West Coast Brewery Tours

If you are a foodie, do not miss your chance to sample gourmet food, local wine and craft beer from some of Victoria’s most popular restaurants, breweries or wineries during them at new the food festival, YYJ Eats. Tickets to the festival will get you ten tasting tokens and automatically enter you to win over $400 in gift certificates from the participating restaurants. However, this is not your only opportunity to sample delicious cuisine this month, there is also Fernwood Bites, which has treats from a few more our favorite vendors.

If you can’t get enough of tasty dishes and brews, revisit your favorite places or discover even more local hot spots on either the Victoria Food Tour or Local Libations on the Peninsula tour.

More June Things to Do in Victoria

It is hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is already almost here! If you have yet to figure out how to spend your long weekend, you do not have to look any further than your own backyard, as there are plenty of May things to do in Portland. Experience a few of the features that make the city unique, like wonderful wines and beers, the lively biking community and the many flowers found in the city; after all, Portland is the city of roses. It looks like Portland is due to have a fabulous weekend in terms of weather, so there is no better time to get out and explore the city.

Taste or Cycle Your Way Through Portland

Willamette Valley grapes.

Willamette Valley grapes.

Wine and bike enthusiasts rejoice! This long weekend grants to you the opportunity to immerse yourself in either your favorite grapes or the creative world of cycling or a mix of both if you desire. Travel to Williamette Valley for Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country where you can sample wines from over 150 wineries and tasting rooms in the area. Relax and take in stunning views while you taste new wines from your favorite labels, sample food and specialty wine pairings, listen to live music, tour a winery or enjoy a vineyard picnic.

Still from Cyclocross Jump by Patrick Deijkers. Photo courtesy of Filmed by Bike.

Still from Cyclocross Jump by Patrick Deijkers. Photo courtesy of Filmed by Bike.

If bikes and films are more your speed, check out the 13th Annual Filmed by Bike Festival, which features the best bike movies from around the world. The event kicks off with a street party hosted by New Belgium, where attendees can enjoy live entertainment, a speed raffle, a beer garden, a video storytelling booth as well as a photo booth. During the festival, you can get a glimpse into worldwide bicycle cultures by watching these 50 short films that have been produced as close to home as right here in Portland, to as far as way as Slovenia, Hungary, Portugal, Australia, France and Ireland. Throughout the festival there will also be variety of special events each day, such as filmmaker question and answer sessions, a panel discussion on women in cycling and a biking brewery tour with the filmmakers.

Stop to Smell the Flowers and Enjoy the Festivals in the City of Roses

Rose. Credit: Eric Huff.

Rose. Credit: Eric Huff

Celebrate the city of Portland with the CityFair, also known as the Rose Festival. The event opens on May 22 just time for Memorial Day weekend and continues to run for the two subsequent weekends, ensuring you get a chance to enjoy the fair. On the first night of the fair there will be a dance party and concert as well as gigantic fireworks display. The second weekend of the Fair is filled with more music, and activities that are also great for the whole family, like an exotic animal zoo, arts and crafts, and treasures from past festivals in the Rose Festival Museum. This weekend you can also watch the ever popular Starlight Parade that has been a Portland tradition since the early 1900s. About 100 illuminated floats, some of which are even hand built, along with marching bands and other community groups parade down through the city. Festival-goers in the mood to continue partying after parade, can attend the first ever Starlight After-Party in the Rose Festival “RoZone” and dance the night away to Sir Mix-A-Lot, Crazy 8s and Nu Shooz. The third and final weekend is a treat for those interested in all things maritime, as it highlights Fleet Week with ships from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Maritime Forces.

Luckily, all the fun events in Portland do not end with Memorial Day weekend, in fact it is just the beginning. The following weekend starts another renowned festival in the city, the Festival of Flowers, which takes place in the heart of Portland. Every year the Pioneer Courthouse Square collaborates with a local artist or design firm to create a colorful design that spans the Square grounds out of thousands of plants and flowers. This year’s design, titled “Donut Trip” celebrates two Portland classics, coffee and donuts. The design has yet to be created, but the site plan for it looks pretty incredible. While you will want to make sure you catch sight of these flowers when they are on display, the festival is followed by a flower sale where you can cheaply purchase the plants used to make the design.

More May 2015 Things to Do in Portland

This time of year is all about taking in the culture of the city and enjoying the longer, warmer days by finding more activities to do outdoors, and there are a number of May things to do in Vancouver, BC that can help you do exactly that. Celebrate the arts by attending some of the many art festivals and performances around town. Likewise, get ready for summer by visiting a farmers market to stock up on fresh, local goodies or by attending a beer and tequila festival to discover what drinks you should have on hand for your summer barbecues and parties. Whether you are entertaining or want to be entertained, there is no shortage of things to do this month.

Discover Local Brews and Foods at Farmers Markets and Festivals

Raspberries at the West End Farmers Market. Creative Commons Licensed by Jennifer.

Raspberries at the West End Farmers Market. Creative Commons Licensed by Jennifer

One of the best things about this time of the year is the return of farmers markets. Most of Vancouver’s farmers markets open this month, with a few opening in June, so you can peruse through the stalls for fresh produce, meats, flowers as well as artisan food and arts and crafts. The Richmond Night Market is also now open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until October 12. The market features a variety of goods, with 80+ food vendors and 250+ retailers. You can also expect to find live entertainment and carnival rides.

Taps at Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week.

Taps at Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week

If you are looking for some new brews to wet your whistle this summer, indulge in Vancouver Craft Beer Week, which runs from May 29 to June and features a lumberjack theme this year. Whether or not lumberjacks are your thing, the week’s proceedings certainly will be, as the festival includes 60 breweries, over 30 venues and more beer events and tastings than you can you can imagine. The week kicks off with an opening night gala where attendees will receive a souvenir tasting glass, unlimited craft beer samples and canapés from the CRAFT Beer market. Other events throughout the week include a rare brews and barbecue tasting, a trivia night, sandwich and beer paring, a Belgian beer showcase, sour beer paired with six food courses, fruit beer tastings and more.

However, if you prefer your beverages slightly harder, there is also the Vancouver International Tequila Expo that features over 25 tequila and mescal brands. Better yet, tickets to the festival get you 20 tokens to use for drink samples.

Take in Vancouver’s Arts and Culture

Vancouver International Childrens Festival. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver International Childrens Festival.

Vancouver International Childrens Festival. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver International Childrens Festival

This May there are also a number of opportunities to take in Vancouver’s arts scene with performances and art shows. Enjoy a show set in a forest full of whimsical and enchanted creatures with Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai. To check out visual arts, head to Art! Vancouver the first international art fair to be held in Vancouver, which is designed to showcase fine arts like paintings, sculptures and photography. During the festival collectors and visitors can go guided art tours, listen to lectures from prominent art professionals and see musical acts.

There’s even a chance for kids to experience arts and culture, with the International Children’s Festival. Performances include stories by Anne Glover featuring a woven loop of string, an extravaganza of circus, music, theatre and comedy all rolled in to one show put on by Les Parfaits Inconnus, French-Canadian folk music and a puppet show. Kids also have the opportunity to get an the action by learning circus skills, exploring a musical maze or playground, playing string games, creating origami or bicycle spin-art or getting their face’s painted.

More May 2015 Things to Do in Vancouver, BC

Victoria's Inner Harbour

Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Credit: Natalie Ortiz

Memorial Day weekend is nearly upon us and with it comes lots of great ways to spend time in Victoria. From farmers markets to boat races, there are tons of great things to do in Victoria this month.

Swiftsure International Yacht Race

The 72nd annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race kicks off on May 23 in Victoria, offering three thrilling days of sailboat races for participants and spectators alike. Thousands will flock to Victoria’s Inner Harbour to watch more than 175 vessels compete in five races over Memorial Day Weekend. Races begin 9:00am Saturday, with festivities running from Thursday through Sunday.

Victoria Public Market 

If the Swiftsure festivities have left you famished, swing by the Victoria Public Market. Located in the ground floor of the iconic Hudson Bay Co. building, the Public Market is home to an incredible assortment of both pre-made foods and ingredients that are sure to please. The Market is open Monday-Saturday 10:00am-5:30pm and 11:00am-5:00pm on Sunday.

Night at the Museum: Gold Rush!

Step into the shoes of a prospector or adventurer! The Royal BC Museum is hosting “Night at the Museum: Gold Rush!” on May 23-24 from 6:30pm-9:00am. This special event features a thrilling night of activities, games and more. The night will include a hunt for gold nuggets, a special IMAX screening and a behind the scenes tour of the museum! Admission is $80 per person with a 10% member discount.

More May Things to Do in Victoria



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