Victoria, BC has a vibrant arts and culture scene. It seems there’s something going on almost every day of the week here, from live music concerts and theatre to poetry readings and food festivals. All you have to do is walk down Government Street or venture out to Cook Street Village or Fernwood Square to find something interesting.
Victoria has the highest opera attendance of anywhere in Canada and the city was also home to renowned artist, Emily Carr (we stop by Emily Carr House on our Highlights City tour). Robert Burns, author of “Auld Lang Syne”, is commemorated with a statue in Beacon Hill Park (another stop on our city tour) and award-winning author Alice Munro lived here as well—her family founded the popular bookstore Munro’s Books, located on Government Street.
Cycling through neighbourhoods like Fernwood, you’ll notice community-painted telephone poles and all over the city, you can find tiny libraries—the books are free, so if you’re in need of a read to bring to the beach, you’re welcome to drop off your finished novel and pick up a new-to-you one. You’ll also find amazing street art: check out Discovery Street, behind Phillips Brewing & Malting Co., Ogden Point Breakwater (you have to step down to the lower level facing the open ocean), and the interactive music experience in the Bastion Square Parkade.
Victoria, BC also loves to celebrate its local arts and culture. Throughout the year, you’ll find free live music in Bastion Square (also home to a great Thursday-Sunday market, featuring local artisans), Friday night festivals at the Breakwater Barge, and free live music and community events at Beacon Hill Park.
Special events you won’t want to miss during the summer include:
In the beginning of July, the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival takes over Victoria, featuring street entertainment for children and adults alike! Just walk down Wharf and Government streets to find the action.
The Victoria Pride Festival welcomes thousands of people to Victoria’s downtown core for the annual Pride Parade, followed by live music and activities at MacDonald Park in Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood.
The TD Art Gallery Paint-In (July), which combines with the Moss Street Market for a giant, art-filled street festival in Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood.
The Phillips Backyard Weekender, also in July, held in the Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. brewery downtown, features hip hop, rock, ska, EDM, and everything in between in a fun, weekend-long (and very affordable) music festival.
Close to our hearts, the Victoria Bicycle Music Festival (July) features live music powered completely by cycling!
The Symphony Splash takes over Victoria’s inner harbour at the beginning of August, where the Victoria Symphony plays live on a floating stage. If you can get a water-facing room at The Empress hotel, you’ll have the best seats.
If you love live theatre and performance, the Fringe Festival is a must-see at the end of August/beginning of September.
Lastly, another great event held around downtown Victoria is the Vancouver Island Blue Bash, where local and international talent take to stages that can be heard across the city.
Our Highlights city cycling tours of Victoria, BC go by most of these event venues and we’re happy to point out more local arts events to attend while you’re here. Come celebrate with us!