Winter Activites in Victoria for 2019-2020
Posted by Tom Westley on
With one of the most mild climates in Canada, even Victoria's "chilly" winter months have plenty of outdoor and indoor activities for all ages to take part in. Here we've collected a list of some of the most popular places and events in the city for you to explore during the winter — let us know in the comments which ones are your favourites!
Dine Around & Stay In Town
January 17 – February 2, 2020
Easily Victoria’s most anticipated foodie event, Dine Around & Stay in Town 2020 (Dine Around) will take place from January 17 to February 2, 2020. Visitors and locals alike will experience Victoria’s thriving, diverse culinary scene and enjoy special offerings from over 50+ restaurants with set-price, three course menus. Victoria’s hotels also will join in the fun and offer accommodations at reduced prices.
This year, Dine Around Victoria will officially kick off with the Dine Around Gala on Thursday, January 16. Hosted at the Victoria Conference Centre, the Gala will feature tasty bites from 50+ local restaurants, wine, and beer from VQA Wineries and BC’s finest craft breweries, lively entertainment, and lots of socializing and fun!
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Tea At The Empress
Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel is among the world's best unique tea experiences. Dine on house-made signature Empress scones, pastries, clotted creams and strawberry preserves with fresh lavender, and 21 of the finest loose leaf teas available. The tea list is ethically sourced and certified by the Ethical Tea Partnership, and features the original blend of The Empress Tea and the exceptionally rare Tong Mu Phoenix Lapsang Souchong blend. Live piano music is performed daily in the Lobby Lounge during Afternoon Tea.
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The Pendray Tea House
With its rich wood accents, original stained glass windows, and antique furnishings, the Tea House encourages you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and to appreciate the slower pace of times past. Sip a cup of fine tea from a delicate china cup and nibble on assorted sweets, breads, and small sandwiches as you watch the ships come and go from Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The Pendray Tea House offers a choice of delicious teas with an array of different flavours. From their ever-popular Traditional Afternoon Tea to the newest Vegan Tea, all are offered with TWG Teas.
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The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden
The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden offers four-star guest service and exceptional food in a beautiful setting, giving guests a memory to cherish. Seasonal menus showcase regional or Abkhazi Garden-grown produce, complementing the garden's appearance when it is in bloom. Festive Christmas High Tea is November 21, 2019 - January 5, 2020, and is $55 per person.
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Venus Sophia Tea Room
Welcome to the oasis of high tea rituals, a very special place where time magically slows down as you escape the daily grind. Tuck into one of their tea sets as you nurture meaningful connections with the people who matter most, and collect moments to cherish forever; experience Afternoon Tea, homemade lunch or dessert, in a beautifully designed space with a cozy ambience. Warm, attentive service and a casually elegant take on afternoon tea will make you want tea time to become a part of your daily ritual.
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White Heather Tea Room
The White Heather provides an authentic afternoon tea experience with most of their food, including preserves and cream, prepared from scratch in-house. Tea plates are artistically arranged and presented to you in an intimate white-linen setting. Customer service is friendly and knowledgeable, and the sounds of laughter and good conservation abound. They offer a wonderful selection of teas, from traditional favourites to special blends, herbal teas, green teas and more. In addition to afternoon tea, they serve freshly brewed coffee, as well as light lunches featuring soups, salads, grilled sandwiches, and sconewiches.
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With a strong community of local businesses, farmers, and craftspeople, Victoria's public markets are well-known throughout the country. While the main market season runs from May to October, many indoor markets are beginning to run year round, so you can enjoy fresh produce and crafts whenever you want:
A proud member of the BC Association of Farmers Markets, Moss Street Market provides local and organic farm-fresh produce, local foods, handmade crafts, artisan clothing, inspiring services and community education to folks from the entire Victoria & area region. Moss Street’s Winter Market season starts November 2 and continues every Saturday. The Winter Market is now larger (expanding to the Sir James Douglas School gymnasium, as well as the Garry Oak Room as before) and has longer hours (now 10am to 1pm). Some vendors accept credit card or debit but most do not. Cash is always the best bet. Remember to bring your own reusable bags or baskets.
Victoria Public Market highlights local artisans, farmers, butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, preservers, brewers, vintners, florists and restaurateurs. Showcasing a diverse range of farm-fresh, locally-sourced artisan foods, handcrafted goods, gourmet items and live entertainment, the market’s trendy, interior décor embodies a “raw” public market feel, with high ceilings, exposed concrete and ductwork adding a unique, historical context.
Breweries & Cideries
Victoria is well known for its local craft brewing scene, and a broad selection of breweries, cideries, and brewpubs ensure that you have plenty of tastings to experience no matter what the weather.
Beer has been brewed in Victoria longer than anywhere else in British Columbia, dating back to 1858 when Victoria Brewing was founded by a German man who came north from San Francisco during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Today, 13 separate breweries operate in the Greater Victoria area, each with its own unique style and approach, along with several excellent tap houses and numerous restaurants that offer strong beer menus. Stroll the Beer Mile, a ring of four brewpubs and four breweries that surround the Upper Harbour. Take the Victoria Harbour Ferry on the Pickle Pub Crawl or join a bicycle tour with the Pedaler. West Coast Brewery Tours also offers van tours and operates a hop-on-hop-off shuttle bus that visits all of the downtown breweries.
Canoe brewpub is located in a designated heritage site on Victoria's active inner harbour, and is dedicated to sustainable business practices including Ocean Wise seafood, Green Business Certification, and community support. Motivated to progress with the craft brewing scene, brewmaster Daniel Murphy was inspired to create something for all tastebuds. Their newly revamped beer program consists of eight solid brews: Four of the new beers, “Mainstays”, are permanent fixtures, while the remaining four are available seasonally as a part of the ‘Windward Series’.
Category 12’s head brewer and founder, Michael Kuzyk, has been brewing beer for more than 20 years and has his doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry from UVic. After leading the creation of several world-class research labs, he decided it was time to make his own. Category 12 is the complete Northwest craft brewery experience.
Very few people get to study craft beer under one of the pioneers of the North American micro-brewery movement. Frank Appleton and Sean Hoyne set up the brewery in Victoria’s historic Swans Hotel in 1989. Today, Sean strives to create an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable beer that looks good in the glass, feels good in the mouth, and lifts the spirit.
Starting a craft brewery in 1998, Lighthouse found a market that was receptive to flavourful, locally brewed ales back when bland, generic beers ruled. Their lineup of beers has grown, but their brewing process has kept its quality and consistency.
Moon Under Water's beer is inspired by centuries of European brewing tradition and propelled forward by Canadian passion and creativity. Their German brewhaus allows them to implement the most challenging brew methods into their processes, from step-mashes to decoctions.
Phillips has launched a soda company, a distillery, and most recently a malting facility — the only one of its kind in Canada — with the same renegade passion and creativity that drove a young brewer to start a brewery on credit cards. Philips' malting facility allows them to work with local farmers, cut down on environmental emissions, ensure better control quality, and increase the creativity of their recipes.
Phillips Soda Works was founded by Phillips Brewing Company in 2012 and built on the premise that their commitment to hand-brewing craft beer with real ingredients could extend to soda. Their sodas never use cheap corn syrups, artificial colours or flavours. Instead, recipes are built from actual spices and juices, sweetened with cane sugar, and brewed by real brewers in an actual brewery.
Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria. The ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples. Relax at the cider house and drink in the panoramic water views overlooking our orchard across the Haro Straight to James Island. At the Ciderhouse enjoy a flight of ciders paired with organic cheese and other local delectables, and make sure to check out their famous January wassailing event.
Spinnakers was established to fill a gap in the Canadian beer industry. From idea to opening day, over a period of 18 months, the Spinnakers team managed to put together what became Canada’s first in-house brewpub of the modern era. Classic ales and specialty beers are brewed with time honoured techniques and fresh ingredients for a signature flavour. With over 26 taps at Spinnakers Pub, a large selection of craft beers is on tap and always rotating.
Vancouver Island Brewing is made up of a group of passionate, inspired people, proud to be driving innovation in an industry that they helped pioneer in British Columbia. The facility was purpose-built as the first production brewery in downtown Victoria since Labatt levelled the old Victoria-Phoenix Brewery in 1982. The tasting room at Vancouver Island Brewing was renovated in 2017, and is the perfect environment to hang out and sample a selection of craft beers, featuring a premium Gruber growler filler — the only one of its kind in Canada.
You may think of gardens as a spring or summer affair, but with Vancouver Island’s temperate climate, The Butchart Gardens have something to offer year-round. Enjoy the solitude winter brings, and take in the subtle beauty of their shrubs, trees and flowers, from delicate snowdrops to lush hellebore.
When winter falls, we open the former Butchart family residence, Benvenuto, to our visitors. Inside, you’ll find curated displays of memorabilia that chronicle The Garden’s history, from its days as a limestone quarry to today. From room to room, you’ll see original furnishings, letters and photographs from the early 1900s. open only from January 15 to March 15, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
If you visit between January 15 and March 17, you can experience spring early with the Gardens' Spring Prelude. While the outdoor gardens sleep, the indoor gardens come to life. Step inside the Spring Prelude, and stroll along the flagstone pathways while breathing in the subtle fragrance of flowering shrubs and flowers. Garden beds of daffodils and tulips bloom alongside tropical plants and orchids creating a fantasy garden. Flowering cherry, witch hazel, and other flowering shrubs provide a backdrop to a footbridge where Goldfish gracefully and serenely swim beneath.
Don't forget to drop by the Coffee Shop, Dining Room, or Annabelle's Café for some special seasonal treats, including eggnog cappuccinos, peppermint hot chocolate, chicken pot pie, cranberry trifle, and ginger spice loaf.
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Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience the beauty and curiosity of a tropical jungle up close. As you wander through, you’ll encounter poison dart frogs, tortoises, large iguanas, flamingos, tropical ducks, free-flying tropical birds and more. A large variety of tropical fish swim in a serene pond and stream circulated by a stunning waterfall. Thousands of tropical butterflies (up to 70 species) fly through large facilities the size of almost 3 basketball courts, with a toasty rain forest environment that's a great escape from the winter cold. Stroll through and marvel at lush gardens including tropical flowers, carnivorous plants, and fruits of the world.
Located just five minutes from Butchart Gardens, Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers a fun and educational experience for the whole family.
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Greater Victoria Public Library is a multi-branch library system that serves 10 member municipalities of the Greater Victoria Area. The GVPL provides services at 12 library branches, on their website, and through events out in the community:
Video - The GVPL has thousands of films on DVD and Blu-ray for all ages, tastes, and interests. You can place titles on hold and have them delivered to the branch of your choice. Fastviews include copies of high-demand titles that have a quick turnaround time because they have a shorter borrowing period and can’t be placed on hold. You can also get free access to streaming services such as Hoopla, InstantFlix, and TumbleBookCloud.
Audiobooks - Audiobooks on CD include popular fiction and non-fiction titles for adults, teens, and children. E-audiobooks are a great option if you have a mobile device. You can stream or download titles right to your phone and listen while you’re on the go, doing chores, or at the gym.
Music - Rock, pop, classical, jazz. Stream music on Hoopla and Naxos, or browse the catalogue to discover new music to add to your playlist. Musicians and singers can find sheet music to play in the collection, or can place an interlibrary loan to bring in music from another library.
Video Games - GVPL has video games for players of all ages, including games for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U. Search for games by console and by keyword in the library catalogue, or visit any branch to see what’s in. Anyone with a GVPL library card who is between the ages of 10 and 18 can play Minecraft in the Teen Zone of any branch.
eBooks - Give a tablet or e-reader a try, and experience the fun of having thousands of books, movies, and music at your fingertips. Borrow a Nexus 7 tablet and explore the library’s extensive digital collections, including ebooks, downloadable and streaming audiobooks, movies, television shows, music, and magazines. Or try a Kobo Touch, pre-loaded with a selection of current and popular books.
Events Calendar »
The Royal Theatre opened in 1913. It has seen many of this century's great performers on its stage, including Sarah Bernhardt, Carlos Montoya, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Luciano Pavarotti, National Ballet of Canada, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Tony Bennett. It is Vancouver Island's premiere venue for touring attractions, and home to the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria.
The McPherson Playhouse opened in 1914 as part of the Pantages chain of theatres. It is one of the finest examples of theatres from that period still standing in Canada. A variety of professional, community and amateur events are presented at "The Mac" year-round.
Both the Royal & McPherson have licensed bars and concessions, which accept cash and credit cards.
Performance Schedule »
The BC Aviation Museum
The BC Aviation Museum Society collects, restores and displays aircraft and artefacts related to the history of aviation in Canada, with emphasis on British Columbia. Museum activities include aircraft restoration to static or airworthy status, construction of engine displays, aircraft modeling, artefact maintenance, archive maintenance (aviation books, pictures and videos), and creation of memorials to aviation and the people who made it happen. The Memorial Room contains artefacts from the wars where Canadians fought as members of the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, or Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as a historical display of RCAF Station Patricia Bay, complete with models of all the aircraft that were stationed there during those years.
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CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum
At the museum, visitors can enjoy beautiful historic buildings, a very scenic location with spectacular views, and engaging exhibits and displays that are constantly changing and evolving. Exhibits focus on four distinct military groups that have made an impact on Canada's history and left a lasting heritage:
- Canada’s Navy on the West Coast
- Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC)
- Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS)
- The West Coast Defences
In addition to exhibits and displays, the museum houses an expanding archive and library that includes thousands of photographs and documents, histories of Canadian naval vessels, navigation charts, biographies of important leaders in the Royal Canadian Navy, ship plans, and copies of the Navy List. It is situated within a Canadian Forces Base, at Naden in Esquimalt. You will be required to stop and present your photo identification to security at the main gate to Naden before getting permission to enter.
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Craigdarroch Castle is a shining example of a “bonanza castle” — massive houses built for entrepreneurs who became wealthy during the industrial age. This legendary Victorian mansion, built between 1887 and 1890 on a hill overlooking the City of Victoria, announced to the world that Robert Dunsmuir was the richest and most important man in Western Canada. The immense fortune of the Dunsmuir family is reflected in the four floors of exquisite stained-glass windows, intricate woodwork and fabulous Victorian-era furnishings. With 39 rooms and over 20,000 square feet of interior space, Craigdarroch Castle is the perfect vacation (or staycation!) experience for everyone, just a short drive or leisurely walk from Victoria’s inner harbour.
Greater Victoria Public Library cardholders can now visit for free just by borrowing a Craigdarroch Castle ePass from the library. The pass provides free general admission to Craigdarroch Castle for two adults and two youth (ages 6-18), and children under five are free. Passes are valid for seven days and can be redeemed for a single visit. And don't forget the gift shop - located in the Visitor Centre, there’s always new, local items to browse, from delicious artisan treats to unique crafts and Castle memorabilia.
Craigdarroch Castle is a historic house museum and, as such, there are no ramps or elevators and it is not wheelchair accessible.
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The Maritime Museum of BC
Opened in 1955 as a naval museum located on Signal Hill just outside the gates of the HMC Dockyard in Esquimalt, by 1965, the Maritime Museum had outgrown the original location and found a new home in the former Supreme Court building in Bastion Square. The Museum has since relocated to a new public storefront location at 634 Humboldt St., where you can find their exhibits, public research space, and a gift shop.
The Museum cares for more than 35,000 unique artifacts, in excess of 40,000 historical photographs and an internationally recognized chart collection. Popular educational outreach programs are geared to children and seniors featuring topics such as immigration, pirates and privateers, women at sea, and the fur trade.
Current exhibits include:
- Protecting Our Coast: The Shifting Role of BC Lighthouses
- Lighthouses and their keepers’ original role has been to protect vessels travelling along the coast from crashing into dangerous shoreline. As technology and society continues to change, so too has the role of the lighthouse. Over the years, lighthouses have been put to different roles, depending on the needs of society. In the late 1800’s they served to support colonial development on the coast; in WWII they helped establish a defense system; and now, a new trend has started to rise. As we’ve become increasingly concerned with the state of the natural environment, lighthouses in B.C. are shifting into becoming ecological reserves or are gaining an environmentally-related protected status, with their keepers becoming the guardians of their stations’ landscapes and the surrounding wildlife. This exhibit explores this cultural shift through a timeline approach, questioning what it has meant, and what it now means to protect our coast.
- Life at Pine Island Light Station, 1957-1967
- This exhibit was put together from photos recently donated to the Museum by the Brown family. It documents the life of the Brown family at Pine Island Light Station when they lived there from 1957 to 1967. Pine Island is located east of the northern tip of Vancouver Island, in the south end of Queen Charlotte Sound. The Brown family lived and worked there for ten years, but moved away after a tsunami or “tidal wave” hit the island and devastated the light station. The photos included showcase what is was like to live there as a young family in the mid-twentieth century.
- Art Shows
- As part of their mission and mandate, the Maritime Museum of BC aims to promote West Coast maritime culture by featuring marine artists from BC. All art work is for sale, with Museum proceeds going to support their ongoing educational programs.
- Empresses and Princesses: CPR’s British Columbia coast steamships
- Come aboard the maritime museum of BC’s permanent exhibit, empresses and princesses: CPR’s British Columbia coast steamships. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Company completed the first transcontinental railroad across Canada in 1885, physically linking Canada’s colonial centres in the east with its relatively undeveloped colonial west. Shortly afterward, CPR was operating fleets of transpacific and transatlantic steamships, transporting people, cargo, and mail across the oceans. On British Columbia’s coast, the Steamship Terminal in Victoria’s inner harbour became the main hub for steamship transportation, and ultimately became known as the “gateway to Western Canada”. At the height of the Steamship era, luxurious Prince, Princess and Empress steamship lines dominated the BC’s coast and their influence can still be seen in the province today.
View two of the World's Largest Doll Houses circa 1880 with over 50 rooms beautifully furnished in exquisite detail. Experience the Great Canadian Railway, Canada's National Wonder of the 1880s and one of the World's Largest Model Railways. Visit the Wonderful World of the Circus and return to those nostalgic days when the circus came to town. Feel the magic, the wonderment of the Grand City Parade, the Big Top, the Wild Beasts and the death-defying High Wire Acts.
Enter a time warp to Space 2201 AD and travel in an Avian 1 spaceship to distant cosmic shores. Return to wander through the Enchanted Valley of Castles and experience the many great Castles of Europe then travel on to witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Further adventures, tiny treasure, and little pleasures await all who continue into Frontier Land, Fantasy Land, the Fields of Glory, the World of Dickens and Olde London Towne of 1670.
Special effects in lighting, sound, and animation are added to create these miniature extravaganzas that continue to thrill and delight the young and young at heart!
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The Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum Corporation was founded in 1886; the Archives, in 1894. In 2003, these two organizations joined to become British Columbia’s combined provincial museum and archives, collecting artifacts, documents and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history, safeguarding them for the future and sharing them with the world.
Current exhibits include:
- Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises (May 17 – December 31, 2019)
- This major new feature spotlights the mystery, legacy and resilience of another of the world’s great civilizations: the Maya of Central America. Discover a powerful culture that rose in the tropical rainforests of Guatemala thousands of years ago, and learn how science and belief shaped the Maya identity from ancient times to present day. The exhibition boasts the world’s largest and most impressive display of Maya objects from Guatemala, and features more than 300 precious jade, ceramic, gold, stone and textile artifacts reflecting classic and contemporary Maya culture.
- Our Living Languages: First Peoples' Voices in BC
- A groundbreaking, interactive exhibition celebrating the resilience and diversity of First Nations languages in BC.
- Natural History Gallery
- Explore British Columbia from the warm dry hills of Vancouver Island to the misty cool northlands of Haida Gwaii.
- First Peoples Gallery
- Experience the rich diversity of First Peoples in British Columbia.
- Modern History Gallery
- Explore Old Town, HMS Discovery and more of British Columbia's modern history.
- BC Archives on Display
- Come see authentic, original records that help tell British Columbia’s story.
- Cultural Precinct
- The cultural precinct includes Helmcken House, St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, the Netherlands Centennial Carillon, Thunderbird Park and Wawadiťła (Mungo Martin House).
- Native Plant Garden
- Visionary designers surrounded the museum with one of the first native plant gardens on the west coast of North America.
The Royal BC Museum also hosts the largest IMAX screen in British Columbia, and a gift shop offering items with a distinctly BC flavour — including books, art, jewelry, music, clothing and toys — with all proceeds going to support the museum's programs.
If you're hungry, you can visit the Royal BC Museum’s back courtyard to enjoy an amazing year-round selection of food trucks and carts, including DeadBeetz, Wild West BBQ Salmon, Rolling Reef, Puerto Vallarta Amigos, The Love Perogy and Yummy Truck, plus beer and wine from Truffles Catering. Comfortable outdoor seating is available for dining in the sunshine, with a tent for drizzly days.
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The mandate of the gallery is to create a following for the work of individual aboriginal artists from three areas of the Pacific, the Northwest Coast of Canada, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, in the fine art market in Canada and abroad. In particular, they recognize and promote the work of master carvers living in small villages in remote communities in the South Pacific. Alcheringa reimburses artists at a level that allows them to maintain their position as artists within their communities, and to cover their medical expenses and school fees.
When it first opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibited art in the historic 1889 mansion that is now adjacent to its seven modern galleries. With almost 20,000 works of art, the Art Gallery has the largest public collection in BC and is a vibrant and active part of Victoria's artist community.
Temporary Exhibition: Unformable Things: Emily Carr and Some Canadian Modernists (January 2019 - February 23, 2020)
Featuring the work of Emily Carr alongside some of her notable Canadian peers, including Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, David Milne, and Florence Helena McGillivray, Unformable Things: Emily Carr and Some Canadian Modernists explores the emergence of an increasingly experimental approach to art-making in Canada, an approach which Carr once described as the search for “essence,” or “the unformable things one wants to paint.” All of the work is drawn from the collection of the AGGV, and while the Victoria-based Carr often described herself as isolated from artists in other parts of the country, this exhibition celebrates her connections to a broader narrative.
One of the premiere boutique art galleries in the Pacific Northwest, showcasing contemporary Canadian fine art since 2002. Patrons from around the world are treated to ever-changing exhibits and have access to unsurpassed collections by painters, sculptors, and glass and jewellery artists. This impressive art gallery carries a broad spectrum of modern art that appeals to people new to the contemporary art scene as well as knowledgeable collectors.
Established in 2008, they showcase of unique, high quality, artisan crafted works of art. With a focus on BC talent, and representing a diverse group of artists and craftspeople, they have something for everyone! Located in the heart of Oak Bay Village.
A contemporary and historic fine art gallery located in the heart of Victoria. The gallery exhibits work from Canadian Masters such as Emily Carr, Members of the Group of Seven, J.W. Morrice, E. J Hughes and their contemporaries; art from established and emerging Canadian artists; additionally the gallery also exhibits a world-class collection of Inuit carvings, drawings and prints. From December 7-23 is their annual Deck the Walls exhibition, showcasing new works by gallery artists and a special selection of historic Canadian Art.
Since its establishment in 1986, Peninsula Gallery has prospered into one of Canada's most acclaimed art galleries, presenting quality paintings and sculptures of artists both local and of nationwide praise.
A facility to house and preserve Robert Bateman's legacy, as well as a multi-purpose meeting place for collaboration, creative thinking, and networking about in-nature education initiatives.
The University of Victoria Art Collections consists of some 19,000 art objects which support the teaching and research programs of the University. Since the founding of the collection in 1953, a number of named collections have provided the thematic direction of the acquisition program. The Michael C. Williams Collection underpins the exhibitions at the downtown Victoria Legacy Gallery.
A member-driven artists’ cooperative operating a gallery and affordable studios for practicing artists. They house nine individual and group studios, including the photography studio of Crossgrain Photographic Society.
After a career in the museums and history industry, John Adams decided to bring his passion for sharing Victoria’s stories to life. His vision was to create a unique, engaging experience of Victoria’s rich history by sharing true stories on the streets, in the actual locations where history happened. Discover the Past and Ghostly Walks were born from that vision.
Today, Discover the Past continues to be run by John Adams, along with his son, Chris, a fellow history enthusiast and storyteller. Together, along with their exceptional team of guides, John and Chris lead thousands of people through the streets of Victoria each year, using their extensive research and passion for storytelling to bring history to life.
Ghostly Walks consist of hand-picked routes that explore the streets and alleys of haunted Victoria. On these tours, you'll experience spell-binding tales of eccentric characters, heroic deeds, love, humour, hangings, murder – and ghosts! Guides combine a love for history with a passion for riveting theatre, and while tours are based on practiced and well-delivered stories, each one includes just the right amount of historical detail to create context for the story.
Chinatown Walks run year-round and are an ideal way to explore Canada’s oldest Chinatown. These 90-minute tours include plenty of history, and a good helping of the lively urban scene and recent changes that have transformed Chinatown into one of Victoria’s must-see attractions. Drop in to the traditional Chinese medicine shops to consult an herbalist, climb the creaking stairs to Canada’s oldest Chinese temple, and visit one of the art studios in an upstairs room once used as a gambling den.
Daytime History Walking Tours uncover the compelling stories that make up the history of our fair city. On these tours, the characters and facts of Victoria’s most intriguing moments are woven together, bringing history to life. Routes criss-cross downtown Victoria, James Bay, Oak Bay and other fascinating neighbourhoods that comprise one of Canada’s prettiest cities.
Private Tours can also be booked by contacting Discover the Past directly. They work with groups of all sizes and backgrounds and carefully tailor their programs to be both fun and informative.
Walks Schedule »
Victoria's climate and beautiful views are perfect for golfing year-round. Most of Victoria's golf courses are open 12 months a year and offer many great amenities. Here are just a few:
Arbutus Ridge Golf Club is directly surrounded by nine wineries and offers some of the most stunning views on Vancouver Island. A terrifically scenic 20 minute drive north from the outskirts of Victoria in the heart of the Cowichan wine region and a 40 minute drive south from Nanaimo, the Golf Club’s Tourism Sustainability Award and Four Star Golf Digest Rating make it a must-play on the Vancouver Island Golf Trail.
A golf course in Victoria that will capture your attention from the moment you enter the property until you finish your first round, run by staff that love their course and the game of golf, but don't take themselves too seriously. After all, golf is meant to be an experience with friends where catching up, hitting the occasional good shot, and enjoying yourself in an incredible setting is key. As a certified Audubon Sanctuary (the first on Vancouver Island), you'll see wildlife almost as beautiful as the gardens kept by their award-winning grounds crew.
A well-maintained golf course for players at all levels, with a welcoming atmosphere and high value for members and guests. Located just 5 minutes from downtown Victoria's inner harbor, GV has the proud distinction of being one of the best golf clubs on Vancouver Island. Spread over 143 acres, the 18 hole, par 72 championship layout challenges members and guests with varying elevation changes, mature Garry Oak trees, diverse bunkering and strategically placed water hazards, ensuring every hole is unique. With the choice of five tee locations spanning from 4400 yards to 6820 yards in length, the course provides a real but fair test for golfers of all skill levels.
Victoria's "friendliest golf course", Highland Pacific Golf was created for golfers who want to enjoy a scenic, challenging championship golf course that is playable all year round. Minutes from downtown Victoria, Highland Pacific overlooks the majestic Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Thetis Lake Park. Their two-tiered driving range facility and two spectacular nine-hole layouts are some of the best on Vancouver Island.
Olympic View Golf Club, aptly named for its beautiful views of Washington State's Olympic Mountains, is located just 20 minutes outside of Victoria's downtown core. Rated "Top 10 Best Public Golf Facility" in British Columbia by ScoreGolf Magazine, and previously ranked within the Top 50 Golf Courses in Canada by the Golf Course Ranking and ScoreGolf Magazines, visitors and locals alike can enjoy award-winning golf all year round.
With 5 holes nestled along the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the mighty Pacific Ocean and sea views on most of the rest, you'll become inspired to play again and again where course conditions can change daily, 365 days a year. With 125 years of rich history, the oldest golf course in Canada that's still in its original location pays homage with a modern twist on every carefully designed hole.
Fishing & Charters
As with golfing, Victoria's mild winter climate means that fishing is a year-round activity with plenty of local salmon to be caught. Take your pick of experienced fishing charter companies to help you learn the Gulf waters:
Head guide Darren Beasley has been fishing local waters for over 20 years. Whether you're fishing salmon, halibut, or cod in the Pacific Ocean, or drift fishing down one of BC's pristine rivers for steelhead trout or salmon, you'll be thrilled with the fishing trip of a lifetime.
The Fantasea offers the ultimate Victoria fishing charters and sightseeing tours around Vancouver Island, with a variety of services including party cruises, dinner cruises, fishing charters, whale watching, marine wildlife tours, stag and stagette cruises, and sea memorials. The luxury yacht is skippered by a certified Master Captain with over 30 years of professional marine experience. During your luxury fishing or whale watching charter, there is an onboard certified naturalist who will be happy to answer any of your concerns or questions.
Island Outfitters provides all-inclusive Fishing Charters out of Victoria, Sooke, Port Renfrew, and Cowichan River. With a fleet of 6 fully equipped charter boats ranging from 25ft to a 30ft Grady White, and nine fully licensed and certified guides, they can offer outstanding fishing year-round for both salmon and halibut.
Reel Obsession Sport Fishing offers year-round salmon fishing charters, Chinook salmon and halibut charters available in half- or full-day trips. Their west coast charter fleet consists of covered 24-28 foot fishing vessels that are Transport Canada approved, complemented by the latest in electronics, including on-board toilets for all boats.
Tailspin Charters offers fully guided fishing charters in the comfort of a world class 26 foot Osprey Fisherman, with your professional, fully certified guide Justin Wilson. Fish the nutrient-rich areas of Victoria, Sooke & Port Renfrew with charters available 365 days of the year.