Those of us who live in B.C.’s capital city like to see the Victoria Day weekend as our holiday. (Apparently other parts of the country see the statutory day off as a nod to Queen Victoria.)
The lineup of special events over the long weekend is entertaining and varied. Forecasts suggest that the weather may not be entirely cooperative, but as Mom would say, “You’re not made of sugar, are you?” Don’t let a little rain spoil your fun.
Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival: May 18-19, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Topaz Park at Blanshard and Finlayson. Single day admission: adults $15, senior/youth $12, children under 12 free. Sheepdog herding trials, Celtic music, Scottish dancing, haggis eating—and throwing—feats of strength by men in kilts, piping and drumming competitions, and much more. See the full schedule here.
Luxton Pro Rodeo: May 18-20. Luxton Fair Grounds at the corner of Sooke and Luxton roads. Rodeo events start daily at 2 p.m. Admission: adults $20, seniors/students $15, children under 14 free. Cowboys and cowgirls ride and rope cattle, perform barrel circuits at breakneck speed, and risk their necks riding broncs and bulls for your entertainment. There is also a full Midway with carnival rides and fair food, and a rodeo dance on Saturday night. Wristbands for unlimited midway rides range from $27-35.
Victoria Africa Fest: May 17-19. Runs Friday 6-10 p.m., Saturday noon to 8 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. The cultural exhibition and food fair portion of this weeklong festival takes place in Centennial Square. There will be drumming, dancing, African and Caribbean foods, cultural films and a marketplace of goods. Other festival events continue through to May 25. See the full schedule here.
Scattered Artists Studio Tour: May 18-19, noon to 5 p.m. Look for bright green signs around the Cedar Hill golf course area, north of Hillside, south of McKenzie, and between Swan Lake, Quadra, and Shelbourne. Download the map here for this self-guided tour of 15 artists’ studios. FREE.
Victoria Day Parade: May 20. The three-hour parade starts from Mayfair Shopping Centre at 9 a.m. and proceeds along Douglas Street, finishing downtown at the intersection of Douglas and Humboldt. Parade floats, clowns, marching bands—everything you’d expect from a family-friendly civic parade. FREE.
Still want more? Check the events calendar provided by Tourism Victoria.
Mosaic by Vic West artist Hart Downey.
Have you noticed? Victoria’s Vic West neighbourhood is developing a great community vibe. It’s hip, it’s arty, it has a funky coffeeshop and an artisan bakery. It has arrived.
The Spiral Café on Craigflower has long been a communal hub for the area, showcasing local musicians and artists on a regular basis and serving up some mighty good coffee at the same time.
When Frye’s Red Wheat Bakery recently moved into the little commercial cluster known as Craigflower Village, it felt as though something a bit magical had happened. Cheerful baker Byron Fry quickly began selling out daily with his organic artisan breads, batches of eyerolls-to-heaven chocolate croissants and, most recently, his popular wood-fired pizzas.
Fresh coffee. Fresh baking. And for the month of May, fresh art. The Vic West Art Quest is launching with a public opening celebration on Friday, May 10, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
On that festive evening, and through to the end of May, a group exhibit of local artists’ work will be jointly hosted by three stalwart Vic West venues—the Spiral Café, r place salon, and Hemp & Company at 418, 420, and 422 Craigflower Road.
Come out to this creative neighbourhood to see mosaic work by Hart Downey, jewellery by silversmith Diane L. Hill, fibre arts by Ria Bos, beautifully adorned gourds by Raven Wyntre-Clarkson, colourful quilts by Kate Musgrove, striking abstract paintings by Maria Middleton, paintings and photographs by Fern Long, and the works of many other artists.
For another taste of Vic West community on the same weekend, stop in at the Vic West Fest in Banfield Park on Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a family-oriented “picnic in the park” with assorted food vendors on site, live music by local musicians, organized games and craft-making fun for children both in the park and the Victoria West Community Centre. Vic West Art Quest artists will also be on hand to demonstrate their works.
If you appreciate good art, I encourage you to attend the annual Saanich Peninsula Arts & Crafts Society exhibition and sale, April 27-28, 2013.
I do so not just because my Honey, Michael Giles (an experienced and, IMHO, wonderfully artistic potter) is one of the participants. Though Michael will have new work at this show this year, the real reason you should go is that you can see a TON of high-quality artwork for just a $4 admission fee. Children accompanied by an adult will get in for free.
The annual exhibition is primarily a showcase for paintings by Victoria and Sidney artists. Dozens and dozens of fine canvases adorn the walls of the huge gallery space.
But each year the organizers add more three-dimensional art works, including pottery, fibre art, sculpture, and some exceptionally beautiful artisan jewellery. Two featured artists, Shannon Proctor-McLeod and Bob McLeod, will showcase their blown glass pieces this year.
Some years, I just look at all the lovely art; other years, I have to take something home. I have a particular weakness for handmade silver earrings, and I’m still getting compliments on a pair from one SPAC show that incorporates bits of 19th-century wine-bottle labels under glass. They’re gorgeous.
I made a purchase last year, too. I simply could not live without this small horse sculpture in papier mache by Sidney artist Jen Wright. It’s wonderfully true-to-life in its form and the spirit it captures.
Allow yourself at least an hour to see the full show. It really is big.
SPAC Annual Fine Art Exhibition & Sale
Saturday, April 27: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 28: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Avenue, Sidney, BC
Food & Drink
There’s a new cheap eatery in town, and its name is The Tartan Toque.
Kudos to my friend Ann-Marie for her foodie radar on this one. She also snapped the accompanying photo of the new restaurant’s order window. “It is bar service,” she explains, “so you pop up to the counter and order when you’re ready.”
The Tartan Toque’s credentials are good with Barry Thomson at the helm. Patrons of his popular Shine Café breakfast spots will recognize his distinctive Scottish accent.
This time he’s specializing in chicken wings, serving up more than 20 flavours from sweet chili and coconut to teriyaki, jerk, chipotle maple, and candied bacon.
Wings are $9 a pound (about 12-14 pieces), or spend an extra 50 cents and get the boneless version. I love that they offer a vegetarian option, too — tofu fingers ($7), tossed in any of the available wing sauces.
There are salads, wraps, hotdogs, and burgers on the menu, too, with plenty of gluten-free options. Incredibly, the base price for a loaded beef or veggie burger is just $5, with custom toppings of cheese, mushrooms, or avocado for an extra $1 or $1.50.
Ann-Marie reports: “We had the crispy chicken burger ($6) — four kinds of mayo to choose from — and French fries that taste like they are from a traditional fry truck. It was all delicious! Everything, including all the sauces, are all homemade and fresh. I got full but was able to squeeze in one Thai chicken wing with fresh basil. It was amazing!”
You’ll find the Tartan Toque Restaurant in the Stadacona Centre, near the Oak Bay junction, also home to the original Shine Café.
- The Tartan Toque (778-265-9464) 1507 Pandora, Victoria, BC.
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Related Post: A Great Big Round-up of the Cheapest, Hottest, Biggest, Best Chicken Wings in Victoria, BC
UPDATE: NEXT IKEA BUS LEAVES VICTORIA ON FEBRUARY 23, 2013
I often grumble that Victoria doesn’t have its own IKEA store. Why must we be denied regular access to this Swedish warehouse-retailer’s low-priced home decor and organizational solutions—its Bergsbo and Billy shelving systems, its Faktum kitchen cabinetry, its Bågviks, its Lämpligs, its Ringskärs and Domsjös? (It’s a bit like being dropped into a Dr. Seuss story, wandering an IKEA store amid these peculiarly named products.)
Fortunately, there is a surprisingly little-known solution for IKEA-starved Islanders: the Pacific Coach Lines’ IKEA Day Trip.
For $65 per person, you can ride a PCL bus from downtown Victoria to the Richmond IKEA store, spend the entire day shopping, and bring home all your purchases in the bus’s big luggage compartment. That price includes your return fare for both the bus and ferry rides.
The special IKEA bus leaves the 700 Douglas Street depot at 7:30 am, and it deposits you back there with your IKEA motherlode at 7:30 pm.
IKEA has special goodies for Pacific Coach Lines passengers, too.
- A visitor name badge that gets you 15% off in the IKEA store restaurant;
- A coupon for a $50 discount if you buy $250 or more worth of merchadise;
- A ballot for a chance to win a “Swede Shop prize pack.”
When you consider the cost of taking your own vehicle on BC Ferries to tote home IKEA goodies ($133.50 return for car and driver in the off-season, as of Feb. 10, 2013), there’s no comparison. You could order from the online IKEA catalogue, but a package as small at 5 kg incurs a shipping fee of nearly $35.
There isn’t a hard-and-fast schedule for these PCL shopping tours. Check the PCL website for future trips, or, if none are listed there (not uncommon), call the PCL office for more information.
- Pacific Coach Lines (250-385-3348, 1-800-661-1725; www.pacificcoach.com), 700 Douglas St., Victoria, BC
Classic Canadian rock band Trooper will provide the finale performance at B.C.’s Family Day events at Ship Point in Victoria. photo: Kevin Cahoon
I never thought we’d see the day when British Columbians would have a statutory holiday in February. But that day has come — the second Monday in February — and we shall rejoice and be glad in it.
I don’t have any special plans for B.C. Family Day this Monday, other than sleeping late and periodically sticking out my tongue at my alarm clock. Nyah-nyah, Monday!
If you need more stimulation than that, the province is sponsoring a day of live performances at Ship Point on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Singers, drummers, dancers, comedians, poets, jugglers, and clowns are slated from 11 a.m. to 6:05 p.m., when Canada’s classic rock band Trooper takes the stage.
The day’s lineup of entertainers also includes:
For kids, there will face painting, Science World activities, and a scavenger hunt. And if you’ve always wondered what it looks like inside a Canadian Forces ship, HMCS Saskatoon will be in the harbour and open for tours.
Enjoy your day off! (And my sincere apologies to federal employees, who apparently aren’t eligible for the holiday. Sorry, folks. That stinks.)
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Hidy ho, fellow . . . → Click to read full blog