Victoria is well known for it’s vibrant character, gorgeous views, and temperate weather. But what it’s probably known best for is its stunning gardens. Throughout all of Victoria, you can find hanging flower baskets, beds of pansies and gardenias, as well as our signature English roses. With the sunshine starting to stream in, we thought it would be helpful to compile some of our favourite gardens to explore throughout the city! Next time you feel like you have nothing to do, check out one of these gorgeous sites. You might even learn something!
While Butchart Gardens is the obvious choice for the #1 spot in Victoria for flowers, we thought that the quiet serenity you can find within the Spring Prelude Gardens should at least be mentioned within the list. With rotating designers and horticulturists, this quaint spot offers a different view from every angle, and is filled with some of your favourite flowers, as well as a few ones you probably have never seen before! Featuring a calming koi-pond, boarded walkways, all while in the comfort of the indoors, this garden is a perfect way to dip into the sweetness of spring.
Another local favourite, though on a smaller scale, the Abkhazi Gardens offer an intimate, refined garden experience. With sloping rocks, endangered Garry Oaks, and diligence that has kept this beautiful establishment open for 40+ years, this garden is perfect for those who need some time to reflect and enjoy nature. Built by a couple who dedicated their lives to cultivating this 1.6 acre lot, the love and passion that goes into maintaining their work is clear. And if you’re in need of some light refreshment, there is a public teahouse on the grounds as well. Little known, but well-loved, this is a sure-fire way to enjoy your afternoon.
Maintained by the University of Victoria, this garden is a wonderful sprawl to explore. The Finnerty Gardens have over 4,000 different trees and shrubs with more than 1,500 rhododendron and azalea plants, as well as much more. It also offers a self-guided walking tour, if you wish to educate yourself about the beautiful eco-system that uVic has helped create. The Gardens themselves are free, and offer trails, as well as grassy nooks to have a picnic in. This space offers a calm energy to those who visit, and the large grounds allow privacy for reflection. Another classic, West Coast garden to explore.
Built in memory of a rose-expert husband, this beautiful Rose Garden is situated in the heart of scenic Oak Bay. While the gardens themselves are small, treating yourself to a leisurely stroll from Oak Bay Avenue to these beautiful gardens is sure to help make the trip worth it. With coffee shops, art galleries, and a pottery studio open to the public, there is much to do within Oak Bay. After you’re finished exploring, head straight down the avenue to these stunning gardens. With over 500 blooms of many varieties, this idyllic slice of Victoria is sure to bring out the romantic within you!
While there are many stunning gardens in Victoria, these are the ones I found to be most enjoyable. Are you a fan of any other gardens of Victoria? Comment below and tell us, or let us know if you visited any of the gardens mentioned above!
Fulll article from Tourism Victoria here
We’re just going to go ahead and say it: September in Victoria is amazing. The weather is gorgeous and summery, the majority of people are back to work and school and there’s still lots going on around the city. For locals, September is a chance to relax, refresh, and enjoy the last weeks of summer before the fall season.
ATTEND RIFFLANDIA FESTIVAL
Celebrating its tenth anniversary from September 14-17, Rifflandia Festival will bring over 150 performances to multiple venues across the city over three days and nights. With artists spanning genres from pop to indie and electronic music, attendees can curate their own festival experience and choose from shows taking place at almost twenty different stages.
While there is ample opportunity to party, Rifflandia is also super family-friendly and welcomes around 800 kids to enjoy the daytime festivities at Royal Athletic Park each year. Don’t be surprised if you see a tiny human riding atop someone’s shoulders wearing a pair of hilariously oversized ear protection.
Image: Rifflandia Festival
CELEBRATE CRAFT BEER
Have we mentioned that Victorians like craft beer? On September 8 and 9, the Great Canadian Beer Festival will take over Royal Athletic Park to showcase 78 breweries and 2 cideries, a VIP cask tent, food vendors, live entertainment and more. Get all the details and buy tickets online here.
Image: Great Canadian Beer Festival
INDULGE IN SPECIALTY TEA, WHISKY, AND CHOCOLATE
Victoria’s very own Terroir Tea Salon (recently licensed, and with a charming outdoor courtyard perfect for enjoying a cup of tea) will be hosting a special Tea, Whisky and Chocolate Tasting event on Saturday, September 16. The Whisky Manager at The Strath Liquor Store will serve four single-malt whiskies, while the founder of The Chocolate Project will introduce four bean-to-bar chocolates that are making their Canadian debuts at this event. Served alongside four pure teas selected to highlight aroma and flavour fusions and contrasts, this unique tasting menu will certainly highten the senses. You can register for the event online here.
Images: Terroir Tea Salon
LAST CHANCE TO SEE TERRY FOX & FAMILIES EXHIBIT
September is your last month to see the Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada exhibit at the Royal BC Museum. It’s moving on at the end of the month, so visit now while you still can! The exhibit includes a timeline of Terry’s life, including key moments along the Marathon of Hope, as written by Terry in his own journals. His iconic running shorts, shoes and t-shirts are included in the display, as well as the Ford Econoline van that housed Terry throughout his journey.
While you’re at the museum, make sure to visit the permanent ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibit, which showcases British Columbia’s diverse First Nations Languages. Also on at the museum is special exhibit Family: Bonds & Belonging, which offers a surprising and unconventional look at the broad concept of family through the eyes of Canadians over the past 150 years.
Image: Royal BC Museum
DO FRIDAYS LIKE A LOCAL
Another way to feel like a local during your visit to Victoria is to attend the Bites, Brews, Bands on the Barge event at Odgen Point. Each Friday, people gather on a floating barge at sunset to celebrate the end of another week with food trucks, live music, local craft beer and cider, and great company. It doesn’t get much more Victoria than that. On tap will be beers from Phillips Brewing & Malting Co., Hoyne Brewing, and Driftwood Brewery, and cider from Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse.
Images: The Breakwater Barge
ENJOY SPECIAL FARM-TO-TABLE HARVEST DINNERS
Get dressed up and enjoy a spectacular evening overlooking the Inner Harbour from the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa on September 16. Supporting the BC Children’s Hospitality, Harvest on the Harbour will include a harvest dinner, dancing and entertainment under the stars – all for a good cause!
You can also indulge in a special Harvest Dinner at Woodwhynn Farms near Brentwood Bay on September 7. This four-course dinner will feature freshly-harvested heirloom fruit and veggies, locally farm-raised poultry, and more – each course paired with tea cocktails by Silk Road Tea.
Image: Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa
PARTAKE IN THE PGA
If you love golf, September is the right time to plan a visit to Victoria. We’ll be hosting an official PGA Champions Tour event from September 11-17 at the world-class Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa. At the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, you will see top golfers including Sir Nick Faldo, John Daly and Tom Lehman compete for a $2.5 million USD prize purse. See available tickets and learn more about the event here.
Image: Bear Mountain Golf Resort
SOAK IN THE SUMMER WEATHER
It’s looking like summer’s planning to stick around for a few more weeks, so now is the time to cross off those last summer bucket list items. Check out our Essential Summer checklist for inspiration – and 9 Can’t-Miss Patios in Victoria so you’ll know the top spots to soak in the summer rays.
Image: Sombrio Beach, photo by Nik Dunn
Celebrating 150 years of Canadian Pride
Canada 150 marks a celebration like no other. Over 100 free live performances are scheduled for 11 days leading up to the culmination of events this Saturday, where nearly 50,000 proud Canadian’s will gather in Victoria’s Inner Harbour to celebrate what it means to be truly Canadian. For those needing a brief history refresher, Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, marks the historical event in which Canada gained their independence from Great Britain in 1867.
Canada Day celebrations kick off at 12pm on July 1st. The day will be filled with multicultural artistry, diverse food & beverage offerings, and live music, and of course a grand finale fireworks display to commemorate our nation.
Grab your flags and be sure to check out this eventful Canada 150 Day schedule in downtown Victoria:
Main Stage, BC Legislature Lawn:
12pm: Coast Capital Savings living flag tee shirt pickup
2pm: Coast Capital Savings living flag photo
3:00pm: Elder Blessing
3:15pm: Esquimalt Singer & Dancers
3:30pm: Lekwungen Traditional Dancers
3:50pm: “O Canada” – Valdy & The Childrens Choir
4:10pm: Stella Swanson & The Rosie Joyfuls
4:55pm: CIBC Reaffirmation Ceremony
5:30pm: Dirty Mountain
6:15pm: De Temps Antan
7:10pm: En Karma
8:05pm: The Funk Hunters
Harbour Stage, Ship Point Inner Harbour:
12:30pm: Mexican Folklore Dancers
1:15pm: Lilia’s Polynesian Dance Co
2:00pm: To be announced
2:50pm: Sooke Community Choir
3:30pm: Shan-e Punjab
4:15pm: Fortune Killers
6:00pm: Stinging Belle
7:00pm: Deep Sea Gypsies
8:00pm: Band of Rascals
The message is clear, concise, and simple. “I attract to my life whatever I give my attention, energy, and focus to, whether positive or negative.” This is the Law of Attraction in a nutshell. I have to admit the first time I was introduced to the Law of Attraction I was a little skeptical. I hadn’t yet heard about the theory, and it was my old boss who gave me a CD to watch at home. Did you see I just dated myself there? Ah well. Disk in hand, my 20 year old brain immediately sent off warning bells because a) it was work related (or so I thought), b) I thought self help was cheesy (20 year olds have it all figured out, right?), and c) in no way was I going to volunteer 2 hours of my evening without getting paid (I had a lot to learn). Except that I did volunteer those hours and I did take something from it. I may not have been acutely aware of it, but my life did seem to take a turn for the better. My career was taking off, I got married, achieved awards, won a free cruise, and several months later yet another free trip. I felt lucky. Really lucky. I did get a little carried away with the luck factor and started buying lottery tickets for the first time in my life. Of course I wasn’t THAT lucky, but it did make me really think about it all. Maybe it wasn’t luck bringing me all these successes, but my own positive energy enabling me to create these things I wanted in my life.
What prompted this thought is the arrival of an anticipated event in Victoria. Michael Losier is a motivational speaker, radio host, and bestselling author the Law of Attraction. He is hosting a full day event to teach you how to apply the Law of Attraction to your advantage so you can use Law of Attraction deliberately to attract more ideal customers, clients, opportunities, and resources for a successful business. Register for the full day event on October 1st here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/michael-losier-law-of-attraction-tickets-27317255647
With Labour Day behind us and temperatures reaching into the 20’s, the stage was set for a weekend of indulgence as thousands gathered at the Royal Athletic Park for the annual Great Canadian Beer Festival. The energy was high as people sipped on local and national brews reaching as far east as Nova Scotia. Victorians are serious about their beer, with artisanal beers gaining popularity every year. Listen beyond the buzz of tipsy chatter and you will hear conversations about lactic fermentation, quinoa and amaranth composition, cask conditioning, aromatics, finishes, and how toasted coconut and curry powder add a whole new meaning to India Pale Ale. Victoria’s own Spinnaker’s featured local ingredients this year, with fresh hops grown right on site at Spinnakers, and local honey being showcased in their Queen Bee Honey Kolsch. Albeit a beer festival, crowds gathered at Tod Creek Cider, who featured an organic triple-hopped craft cider. Music kept the vibe elevated throughout the day, and food trucks satiated the festival goers so they could keep drinking until the end.
For one magical weekend we came together to celebrate two things that go together so well. Canada and Beer: a match made in heaven.
What are your favourite summertime activities in and around Victoria? If you are looking for some inspiration for the last few weeks of summer, I have asked our team here at Premiere Suites Victoria what has been a highlight for them this season.
You can find her cooling down on hot days with an iced coffee from the Ogden Point Café, walking the picturesque breakwater in James Bay.
As our Operations Manager, Den is always on the go, completing inspections, buying inventory, coordinating trades, and fixing anything and everything in our suites. Rather than kicking back and relaxing on his days off from work, he would rather kick a soccer ball, or explore the trestle bridge and hiking trails around Goldstream Park.
Outdoor movies! Fairy tales at Craigdarroch Castle are among her favourite, but there are so many venues to choose from around town: Beacon Hill Park, Oak Bay Beach Hotel, the Legislature lawn, and Bullen Park to name a few.
Most of Leah’s time outside of work involves textbooks, exams, and studying studying studying. We will ask her again once the school year is up!
As locals, we often forget or overlook the attractions that make us so popular with tourists, like whale watching. She prefers the zodiac experience because you can get up close and personal to the whales, and t
Just spent the weekend camping in Tofino, the small West Coast town that affectionately calls itself the Tree Loving Capitol of the World. Surfing, storm watching, beach combing, birding, camping, hiking, and fishing, Tofino caters to the outdoor adventurist, with a fair number of lodges and resorts for those wishing to experience the West Coast from a comfortable abode.
Loves hitting up the beaches around Victoria. Cadboro Bay Beach because it’s dog friendly year round, Willows Beach because she can walk there from her house, and Gonzales because of the soft white sand and beautiful cove shaped beach which always seems to be warm.
One of my favouite events in Victoria is just around the corner. My taste buds feel like 10,000 tiny children waiting for Christmas to arrive, fiery with anticipation of the scrumptiousness soon to follow: Dine Around Victoria, 2016. You will be salivating, too, once you check out the menu’s offered at over 60 participating restaurants. 60! Good thing the event runs until March, because with 3 course menu’s prepared at $20, $30, $40, or even $50, there is a LOT to choose from.
Oh and I must mention this. If you are at all like me and could spend hours perusing the menus, narrowing down the Can’t-Miss-List from obscenely long to acceptably long (if you were to eat out every day that is)… you will probably want to pencil the Dine Around Launch Party into your schedule.
From 5:00-8:00pm on February 18th, 25+ restaurants have prepared bite sized samples to showcase their Dine Around menu, along featured craft beers from VQA wines to compliment. The Victoria Conference Centre is where you will want to be on February 18; tickets available online at http://www.ticketrocket.co/event/details/87113/dine-around-stay-in-town-menu-launch or at the Victoria Visitor Centre and Spinnakers Spirit Merchant Stores.
In the meantime, you can find me curled up at home in front of the fire with a glass of wine a good menu:
If you are looking for something to engage and inspire you this month, the Belfry Theatre’s feature play, “The Valley” is running through the month of February, and is drawing praise nationwide:
“A wonderful piece of writing…not to be missed” Toronto Star
“Relentlessly topical – and deeply empathetic” The Globe and Mail
“Macleod has a wonderful ear and eye for the everyday details of Canadian life.” Calgary Herald
The strength and fragility of everyday people is the cornerstone of Joan MacLeod’s work and The Valley is her latest gem. In this timely and moving story, a dramatic police encounter binds four people together – a mother and her teenage son, a policeman and his wife. How they – and all of us – are connected is the stuff of great drama.
Located in the friendly Fernwood neighbourhood at 1291 Gladstone Avenue, the Belfry is a professional not-for-profit theatre company that produces contemporary theatre with an emphasis on Canadian work. I encourage you to visit Belfry Theatre’s website for play schedules and calendar of events: http://www.belfry.bc.ca/calendar/
I love summer. I am a summer gal through and through. The warm lazy days that stretch late into the night. The smell of barbeque in air. The sound of lawnmowers and the smell of fresh cut grass. The feel of the sun warming your back. There is so much to love about summer. Did I mention the long summer days? How could one not feel on top of their game with so many hours of daylight energizing you through long lists of tasks and engagements? …So what happens when the leaves start to fall, the wind carries a bite, and the clocks fall back? Halloween comes and goes with a stir of excitement, and then I catch myself whispering of summer’s distant return. But I am determined not to live half a life, one that not just thrives when the sun warms you from above and the wind is at your back, but one that can be equally as rewarding in darker (wetter) days. I am a firm believer that there is a silver lining to everything, even the seasons. With the arrival of Autumn comes an opportunity for change, reflection, and growth. Growing up, Autumn marked the start of a new school year, a chance to meet new friends, take new classes, and try new things. A fresh start if you will. That feeling has instilled within me to this day.
So as much as you may long to stay in bed with a good book on a rainy day (and there is something to be said for that), this post is about inspiring you to get outside and experience some fall friendly activities on our treasured Vancouver Island.
1. Goldstream Park. Running mid to late October through to early December, Goldstream Park is home to the world class salmon spawning stream with thousands of Chum Salmon returning every year. Did you know that salmon see reds, purples, and pinks very well? Avoid wearing these colours to get an up close look at fish actively building nests and watch for spawning behavior. Make a day of it and bring something to cook up on the BBQ pits in the day use area along the river. The forest canopy provides a natural umbrella in drizzly weather.
2. Craft fairs. Many Christmas Craft Fairs begin in November, and why not get a head start on your list by supporting local artisans at the same time? Who doesn’t love some hand knits, preserves, and Christmas baking? Check out:
3. Pamper yourself at the Spa. Everyone deserves a little pampering every once in a while. Victoria hosts some incredible spas, and my personal favourites are located just outside the city: Sante Spa at Bear Mountain (http://bearmountain.ca/Westin-Hotel/Spa) and Brentwood Bay Spa (http://www.brentwoodbayresort.com/spa/spa-overview.htm). Also worth noting are the Spa Magnolia, Spa Sereine (the 30 minute Indian Head Massage is incredible), Sapphire Day Spa, and Silk Road.
4. Take a winery tour. You need look for farther than our own backyard to find some incredible wineries. Just a short drive to Mill Bay (mini-roadtrip!) will bring you to one of my favourite wineries, Cherry Point Estate Wines. Although the bistro closes at the end of September, tours and tastings are offered year round. Do not miss the chance to try the Cowichan Blackberry Dessert Wine. It’s like summer in a glass. Oops, there I go again…. http://cherrypointestatewines.com/
5. Take a cooking class. Fall is the perfect time to learn a new recipe or two. Companies such as the London Chef, Cook Culture, and Olive the Senses offer classes for foodies and beginners alike. My husband came home the other day from a corporate team building day at the London Chef with a pocket full of Eastern recipes. Being the one who normally does the cooking, I just about jumped out of my skin with excitement. And that got me to thinking, wouldn’t this be a fun idea for a birthday party?
6. Shop (for weather appropriate clothes). I grew up in Ontario where the seasons were extreme. If it wasn’t too cold to go out, it was often too hot, too humid, too stormy. To prevent us all from going stir-crazy in the house, my mom would load us kids up into the Chevy and take us to the mall. A change of scenery did us all wonders, and a little retail therapy never hurt either. I have come to learn that owning a comfortable, quality, water-proof jacket is KEY to surviving winter in Victoria. That and a pair of rain boots. I have not put my feet into rubber footwear since elementary school, and that is nearly 20 years of wet sneakers and soggy leather boots. I stand converted. If you do not have a pair in your current collection of footwear, make that be your next investment! If you are looking for a place to shop, I encourage you to branch outside of the malls for a taste of locally designed men’s and women’s fashion boutiques found on trendy Lojo (lower Johnson St). You can also find an eclectic mix of independent delis, boutiques, bookstores, toy stores and more at the seaside village of Oak Bay Avenue.
7. Walk the breakwater. Cozy up with hot chocolate and lots of layers and go embrace the elements. The 850 m. iconic breakwater was built between 1914 and 1916 to protect the Ogden Point piers which were being constructed simultaneously in anticipation of a trade increase due to the nearing completion of the Panama Canal. Yes it will be windy, wavy, and wet… but that is the point! (refer to point #6)
8. Plan a trip. The internet is great for researching destinations and reading reviews, but I strongly encourage you to get out of the house and go visit a travel agent. Let them tantalize you with exotic destinations, load you up with glossy brochures, and build you a custom itinerary. Even if you are not ready to book just yet, the process will bring you that much closer to making it a reality. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to dream a little dream…
9. Leaf through the volumes in Booktown. Sometimes there’s just something about wandering around a bookstore and discovering new things that Amazon can’t beat. Visit Munro’s Books on Government Street — recognized as one of the 10 most beautiful books stores in the world.
10. Be a tourist in your own town. I went out yesterday and bought a travel guide book for Victoria. I have also lived here for 20 years. Yet, there is so much yet to discover, this I am sure. Venture somewhere new, or revisit a long forgotten site and see it through new eyes. I must mention one of Canada’s most beautiful and diverse heritage estates, Hatley Castle. Built in 1908 for coal baron and Premier, James Dunsmuir, this 40-room mansion is a classified heritage building.
Summer is upon us, and what better time to get out and enjoy Victoria’s outdoor events! Put on your dancing shoes, because the city is coming to life with an abundance of outdoor concerts and festivals running all season long. Come check out what’s happening, as there’s sure to be something for everyone with this eclectic line up of local and touring artists being showcased at this year’s Summer in the Square!
Free Lunchtime concerts
July 2 – Sept 11 (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays) from 12 noon – 1pm
July 2 Random Citizen Aug 10-14 Flamenco Festival Concerts
July 7 Elder Sister Plum Aug 18 Bill Johnson Duo
July 8 Hush Pup Aug 19 Knackers Yard
July 9 The O’Brien’s Aug 20 Beats Working
July 14 Chris Millington Quartet Aug 25 Clay George
July 15-16 Accordion Society Aug 26 Weird Party
Sept 1 Kenny Shaw and Brian Temple Sept 2 Bijoux de Bayou
Aug 27 Andrea Smith Duo Sept 3 Bob Watts
July 21-23 Victoria Symphony Concerts Sept 8 Cookeildh
July 28 Shoestring Bourbon Sept 9 Clover Point Drifters
July 29 Lily Fawn Sept 10 Jenny Ritter
Aug 4 Diane Pancel Quartet
Aug 5 The Dylan Stone Band
Eventide Music Series
July 2 – Aug 27 (Thursdays) fom 5-9pm
July 2 Shake/Arama II Kickoff Aug 6 Shake! Records Presents
July 9 A Night of Alt Country/Canadiana Aug 13 Weird Canada Presents
July 16 Afrobeat in the Square Aug 20 LA-TI-DA Showcase
July 23 A Night of Indie Pop Aug 27 Super Summer Jam II
July 30 A Night of Electronica Sept 3 LA-TI-DA Showcase
Summer in the Square Event Listings
Chess in the Square: May 17-Aug 31 (Sundays) from 1-5pm
Check out full details here: www.victoriajuniorchess.com
Lunchtime Wellness Series: June 1, 8, 13, July 6, 12, 20, 27, Aug 10, 17, 24, 31 (Mondays) from 12-12:50pm
31st Annual JazzFest: June 19-28, various times
Check out full details here: www.Jazzvictoria.ca
Salsa Sundays in the Square: June 7, 14, July 5, 19, 26, Aug 2, 16, 23, 30, Sept 6, 13, 20, 27 (Sundays) from 4-7pm
ROMP! In the Square: July 17-19 from 9-10pm
Check out full details here: www.suddenlydance.ca
Dancing in the Square: July 6, 13, 20, 27, Aug 10, 17 (Mondays) from 7-9:30pm
Check out full details here: www.vbds.org
Festival Mexicano: July 11-12 from 12-5pm
Check out full details here: www.victoriamexicancanadian.org
Symphony in the Summer: July 21-23 from 12-1pm
Check out full details here: www.victoriasymphony.ca
Victoria India MELA Festival: Aug 7 (1-6pm), Aug 8 (11am-8pm)
Check out full details here: www.iccavictoria.com
Flamenco Festival: Aug 10-14 from 12-1pm, Aug 15, 16 from 12-6pm
Check out full details here: www.flamencodelaisla.org
Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival: Aug 26 from 6-10pm)
Check out full details here: www.victoriafringe.com
And to think this is just what’s happening in our neighbourhood in Centennial Square. Our vibrant city is host to and endless array of festivals (musical, culinary, cultural, and arts, just to name a few!), not to mention markets, sporting events, parades, theatre, concerts, and family entertainment.
I’ll leave you with City Vibe’s link, which sums up your guide to summer fun:
So get out there, have some fun, and take advantage of what our beautiful city has to offer.
Hope to see you out and about!