British Columbia Day, the first Monday in August, is a Provicial Holiday. (We didn't know that.) It's a bank holiday, so most "public facilities" (like banks and post offices) will be closed. Also, a lot of restaurants and shops are on reduced "holiday" hours.
The night before B.C. Day there are festivities in Victoria Harbor, including a concert which culminates in the 1812 Overture and a big fireworks display. In good weather, people like to picnic around the harborfront.
There are loads of festivals and lighted parades in Victoria over the Christmas holiday. You can even enjoy a screening of Christmas movies outdoors with the family.
My favourites include the Lighted Ship Parade in Victoria's Inner Harbour and the Victoria Harbour Ferry Santa Ballet (Santa and his reindeer perform the Nutcraker!)
This festival takes place during the summer in the Inner Harbor and the main attraction is the Dragon Boat Race.
This festival offers something for everyone such as live performances, free food samples in the Forbidden City’s food court among other Asian activities.
From June to late July, you can experience the Folkfest - an international festival of food and music held on Victoria's waterfront. A stage hosts performances by various artists (not all folk type it seemed, but I don't know much about music... just what I like). It's expensive to get in with tickets over C$25.
One of the only festivals that I attend in Victoria is called the Luminara Festival. It takes place annually in Beacon Hill Park; in 2006 it will be held on July 22nd. It takes place after sundown in the park, and thousands of people bring hand-made lanterns to the park and walk around viewing specially lit music, drama, dance and art displays. In the preceding weeks, the Victoria Inter-Cultural Association offers classes to adults and children that teach you how to make safe lanterns. I am always inspired by the beauty of Luminara and would recommend it people of all ages, with or without lanterns of their own.
For the past eleven summers, people from around the world have gathered in Victoria's Inner Harbour to participate in the Dragon Boat Festival. The highlight of the festival is the Dragon Boat Race, in which mixed-gender teams of 16-20 rowers race 500 meters across the Inner Harbour in elaborate dragon boats (based on a traditional Chinese design). The race celebrates Victoria's rich history of multiculturalism and teamwork. Other activities occur as part of the event, including musical performances, face-painting and ethnic food samples. The festival is usually held towards the end of August.
If you're in Victoria on July 1st then head over to Beacon Hill Park for a wonderful day of celebration.
There's a bit of a story with this photo. It was taken on July 1, 2000. I took my friends, Jorge & Patty, to the festivities that day. They had recently moved from Mexico City and I wanted to show my amigos how my country celebrated its birthday.
We came upon this huge cake and learned that they would soon be cutting it up and handing out pieces for everyonet. Patty, feeling her new found Canadian pride, insisted that we wait so she could have a piece. Like good boys, we shrugged a passable "sure" and she headed off to wait in line ... a fairly long line. Jorge & I stayed near the cake, where Patty would eventually end up.
The line eventually got moving. We waited. One of the "cake servers", seeing us there, came up and offered us each a piece. I politely declined but Jorge accepted.
Just as he was about to bite into his piece of cake, some older lady, who had been in line near Patty, started screaming at us and waving her finger in a ferocious manner. "How dare you two bud into line. That's not fair!", she exclaimed. We thought about explaining to her that we had just been standing there minding out own business when cake was offered to us but mutually decided that she'd probably beat us with her cane! So us two chickens made a quick exit stage left.
Patty was killing herself laughing the entire time.
Every May the Swiftsure is held in Victoria. There are different routes for different types & sizes of boats.
I've never participated but it's a neat thing to watch from the shore. Well ... for a few minutes anyway!!!
In the summer, there are 'Concerts in the Park' at the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park near downtown. This usually features local folk bands (my favorites pictured - The Bill Hilly Band.)