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Victoria

Spring – Hot Dining

HotDineCatalano

Victoria’s Best New Restaurant: 

Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar 

2013 brought Victoria diners a culinary treat with WHERE Victoria Magazine’s Best New Restaurant of the year, Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar, downtown in the Magnolia Hotel.

Boasting a distinctly Mediterranean flare, including Venetian tapas known as “cicchetti,” Catalano draws on the cuisine of such luscious locales as Venice and the Spanish coast. Chef Aaron Lawrence has created an inspired selection of appetizers and entrees interpreted with locally sourced seafood and quality meats and produce from Island farms. Complemented by a well-chosen wine list and excellent selection of traditional and custom cocktails, Catalano has quickly become a favourite for lunch, dinner and late-night dining.

Chef brings local flavour to Fairmont Empress

Victoria’s iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel welcomed new Executive Chef Morgan Wilson this winter. BC born and raised, Chef Wilson looks forward to harvesting the abundant bounty of Vancouver Island into his culinary art, honed in Germany, Australia and Canada. A Certified Chef de Cuisine, Wilson is a Bocuse d’Or Laureate, having represented Canada in Lyon, France in 2005 and placing eighth – the highest of any non-European chef in the competition.

Describing his culinary style as one without borders, always evolving and incorporating international influences, Wilson believes great cuisine involves two simple ingredients: top quality products with flawless technique. Visit to savour Chef Wilson’s personal take on the Fairmont Empress’s menus, from the Bengal Lounge to the Fairmont Room.

Warm & Wonderful

When March blossoms are overtaken by blustery winds and April showers, tucking into a hearty dish of comfort food can be just what the weatherman ordered. Here’s a few of our cool-weather favourites.

1. Spice Jammer – a local favourite for its blend of East African and Indian cuisine. Don’t miss the vindaloo!

2. Wing’s Restaurant – eating in, taking out or enjoying delivery to your hotel room, Wing’s Cantonese cuisine ranges from hearty options for one to full family meals.

3. Saaz Restaurant & Lounge – curries, chutneys and hearty vegetarian dishes in an inviting setting? Delicious!

 

Spring – Hot Shopping

HotShopBayCentre

Sunny Spring Fashions

Covering a full city block in the heart of downtown, The Bay Centre boasts more than 90 streetfront and interior shops, services and dining options, meaning that whatever you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it here!

If a new spring outfit is on your to-buy list, look no further than The Bay, where new fashions by Vince Camuto will be turning heads this spring. Other stores to check out will be BCBGMAXAZRIA, Guess? and Melanie Lyne, along with
Quiksilver and for the younger set, Scallywags Children’s Boutique.

HotShopJade

Discover a BC Beauty

With its excellent array of charming souvenirs, accessories and fine jewellery, a visit to Jade, downtown on Government Street, should definitely earn a spot on your holiday itinerary.

Featuring beautiful works crafted from the finest Canadian Nephrite Jade, not to mention staff knowledgeable about the qualities of jade, its mining and its cultural history, find the perfect keepsake from your Victoria vacation.

 

 

Spring – Hot Art

HotArtButton

Buttoned up

Thousands of buttons and hundreds of metres of thread have helped transform one single swath of cloth into the largest button blanket in the world, on exhibit at the University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Gallery.

For more than 200 years, the button blanket has been celebrated by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, telling the stories of people, places and events.

Students of Dr. Carolyn Butler Palmer, UVic’s Williams Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Arts, created the Big Button Blanket – measuring six metres square – in collaboration with design consultant, curator and Tahltan Nation artist Peter Morin, and elder button blanket makers, during a History in Art class.

The exhibit continues through April 25. Admission is always free at UVic’s downtown art gallery and everyone is welcome.

Will Millar, Cows

Will Millar, Cows

Roving the Avenue

Visit the community of Oak Bay, just a few minutes from downtown, to enjoy the colourful, often light-hearted work of Irish Rover Will Millar at one of the region’s favourite galleries. Millar’s paintings will fill Winchester Galleries’ Oak Bay location March 11 to 29; join the gallery for an artist’s reception March 15 from 1 to 5pm.

Come April, the Oak Bay gallery welcomes a collection of paintings by Victoria’s Brad Pasutti, accompanied by works from local painter and printmaker Avis Rasmussen April 8 to 29; join both artists for an opening reception April 12 from 1 to 5pm.

Spring’s whimsy 

West End Gallery takes a whimsical turn this spring when painter Paul Jorgensen presents a collection of bright and playful new paintings for his much-anticipated solo exhibition.

Featuring locations near and far, lush gardens, twisted paths, elongated shapes and detailed patterning, Jorgensen transports the viewer into a whimsical world based half in reality and half in his vivid imagination. The resulting work is both dramatic and pleasingly whimsical.

“I like work that involves imagination and technique, and that suggests stories,” the artist reflects. “I hope my paintings give people a good feeling, that there might be a pleasant something on the wall.”

 

Spring – Hot Tickets

HotEUbiquitous

Ubiquitous, Synergy Seeker

• March 7, 8 & 14 The WHL Victoria Royals conclude regular season play, and prepare for playoffs at Save-on-Foods 

Memorial Centre. Page 20

• April 4 The Glenn Miller Orchestra
comes to the Royal Theatre. Page 19.

• April 10 Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS, above) brings modern rock to the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, performing with Canadian pop stars Hedley (below). Page 19

Victoria Rocks the Classics

Spring will bring more than March blossoms and April showers to Victoria.

Within one week in March, the city will get its classic rock groove on with three concerts from powerhouse bands Chicago, YES and Texas blues-rockers ZZ Top, all performing downtown at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

Chicago, the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in six decades, gets things rolling March 16. And as a band that has toured every year since first taking the stage, audiences are sure to be in for a treat!

An Evening with YES next fills the arena March 19, when the Grammy-winning English rock band brings its “Triple-Header Concert Tour” to the Victoria stage, performing three classic albums in their entirety, Close to the Edge, Going for the One and The Yes Album.

ZZ Top rounds out the rock & roll extravaganza March 21 as the band celebrates more than 40 years of bringing their unique brand of rock, blues and boogie to the masses.
Rock on!

 

Just for Laughs!

 Victorians love their comedy, so it’s no wonder that the Just for Laughs crew makes the Capital a regular stop during their treks across the country. 

Coming up March 18 is Just For Laughs Festival alumnus and Breaking Bad star Bill Burr, playing the the Royal Theatre following sold-out shows in Vancouver.

Fellow Just for Laughs vet Danny Bhoy hits the Royal Theatre stage April 5, where his natural gift for storytelling combined with a razor-sharp wit has made him a local favourite on his previous Victoria visits.

TAKE 5 in Historic Victoria

VictoriaMaritimeMuseum

While its parks and buildings might seem youthful when measured against some other international locales, the history of southern Vancouver Island is a fascinating blend of ancient First Nations cultures and European settlement history reaching back to the mid-19th century. 

From ceremonial Aboriginal masks at Royal BC Museum to Canada’s oldest Chinatown, come discover the richness that is historic Victoria!

 1.The Royal BC Museum is a must for all ages. The stunning totems outside in Thunderbird Park offer a hint of some of the First Nations treasures awaiting inside, including the longhouse and First People’s Gallery. Other highlights include Old Town, and a variety of special exhibits, including the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, on until April 6. While at the museum, catch a movie at the National Geographic IMAX Theatre, also on-site, and featuring both stunning IMAX features and Hollywood blockbusters.

2. Did you know Victoria is home to Canada’s oldest Chinatown? The neighbourhood’s colourful streets are fun to explore, either on your own or on a popular guided walk with Victoria’s own Discover the Past walking tours. Don’t miss Fan Tan Alley, Canada’s narrowest street, and a delicious lunch at one of the many eateries.

If historic hauntings are more to your liking, Discover the Past delivers the goods with their professionally led Ghostly Walks featuring spooky tales from British Columbia’s most haunted city!

3. At the heart of Old Town is Bastion Square and the Maritime Museum of BC, a favourite haunt for history buffs of all ages. Formerly a courthouse where “the Hanging Judge,” Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, once presided, the building celebrates its 125th birthday this year – take the working birdcage elevator to the third floor to see the restored vice-admiralty courtroom and the meticulous handiwork that went in to the design and construction of this National Historic Site. On the first floor, look for Treasures from Within, a small display featuring some hidden treasures from the museum’s vast collection of 35,000 unique maritime artifacts. 

VictoriaCraigdarroch

4. Just a few minutes from downtown, social history comes alive at Craigdarroch Castle, completed in 1890 for the family of BC coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. Follow the road through the recently reconstructed stone gates to the castle, where gracious elegance fills the 39 rooms. Don’t miss the climb to the top to enjoy views over the city from the Rockland grounds.

A variety of special events are planned throughout the year – visit www.thecastle.ca to learn more. During spring break, March 8 to 23, the castle will host daily story time at 11am and 2:30pm for children in Grades 3 and younger. Come May, the castle welcomes live theatre with an adapted version of everyone’s favourite detective, Sherlock Holmes.

In the West Shore community of Colwood find the Hatley Park National Historic Site and Greater Victoria’s other castle, built by Robert’s son, James Dunsmuir.

5. As the world prepares to recognize the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, Victoria’s Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites provide a look at what life was like then on Canada’s West Coast. Explore century-old coastal gun batteries, including intriguing underground magazines and camouflaged searchlight emplacements, in addition to Canada’s oldest West Coast lighthouse, complete with fascinating interactive exhibits. Take a picnic and make a day of it, exploring the acres of meadows, beaches and stunning ocean views.

Historic Happenings

The Royal BC Museum hosts a special three-day camp for kids, Focus on Nature, March 11 to 14 or 18 to 20. Aspiring shutterbugs from age eight to 12 will develop skills, meet one of BC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners, venture to Beacon Hill Park, and have their work displayed in a photography show. Learn more at royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

In town March 22? Check out the Maritime Museum of BC’s Ghost Hunt, from 10pm to 3am. Open to skeptics and believers alike, search for what really wanders the halls of the old Supreme Courthouse after midnight. For registration details, call 250-385-4222 (space is limited).

Spring Sensations

SpringVictoriaCarriageBlossom

Spring comes early here on the southern West Coast, and when it comes to celebrating its arrival, there’s nowhere better than the City of Gardens!

In fact, whether you prefer to walk, cycle, paddle, or just sit back and enjoy the ride, springtime in Victoria is a breeze…

By foot

Start your springtime visit with a pleasant stroll or bike ride through the  blossom-lined streets of downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods – a beautiful way to enjoy Victoria’s prettiest season.

From downtown, head west along Belleville to Dallas Road and Scenic Marine Drive or north up Wharf Street then over the Johnson Street Bridge to the West Song Walkway and the communities of Vic West and Esquimalt.

To escape the bustle of the city, the 10-kilometre loop trail around Elk and Beaver Lakes, about 15 minutes from downtown, is a popular spot for walkers and joggers for its flat terrain and charming rural scenery.

If a stroll around the links is more your speed, you’ll find opportunities to challenge every level of golfer, from championship courses like Olympic View, Bear Mountain and Cordova Bay to charming regional courses, including Prospect Lake and Metchosin.

 By Bike

Prefer two wheels to two feet? The popular Seaside Touring Route is a lovely way to take in Victoria’s long, picturesque waterfront through its most charming residential communities. (See Map 2, page 45) Along the way, you’ll also come across two of the most popular beaches for locals when the spring sun shines: Willows Beach in Oak Bay and Cadboro Bay Beach in Saanich.

Other popular cycling options include the Galloping Goose  Trail, which winds through Greater Victoria along a former railway line – ideal for a scenic tour or family excursion. Connect with the Lochside Trail and continue out through the rolling farmlands of the Saanich Peninsula. A variety of access points are available along the route.

 By Boat

Surrounded by water, it’s no surprise that boating is among the most popular pastimes for both locals and visitors alike. Explore Victoria’s wilder side with a marine wildlife tour from local specialists Prince of Whales, year-round operators who offer tours and up-close-and-personal views of the West Coast’s abundant marine life.

Paddling is an ideal way to explore the city’s amazing shoreline and waterways from a different vantage point. A variety of rental and tour operators are available or check with Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre at the harbour for more ideas.

Let someone else do the driving aboard a jaunty Victoria Harbour Ferry, offering both short hop trips and longer excursions around the Harbour or up the picturesque Gorge Waterway. Visiting in April? Check out Victoria Hippo Tours, exploring Victoria’s downtown sites and shoreline.

By carriage

A ride aboard Victoria Carriage Tours’ quaint horse-drawn carriages is a relaxing (and romantic) way to explore Victoria’s downtown streets, parks and neighbourhoods.

Come enjoy the ride!

Gorgeous Gardens

Known as the City of Gardens for good reason, taking in all the region’s public gardens could require a holiday all its own! While many of the gardens come into their true glory a little later, early spring brings its own beauty.

Near downtown, in the neighbourhood of Fairfield, history and horticulture come together beautifully in the stunning grounds of Abkhazi Garden, developed by Prince and Princess Abkhazi in 1946 with towering Garry oaks, spring-flowering rhododendrons, bulbs, perennials and more. Beacon Hill Park offers family-friendly gardens filled with early blooms, while for a stunning view over the city, be sure to stop by Government House in Rockland, where volunteers keep the large gardens looking lovely year-round.

A little farther outside the city is the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, Victoria’s “Garden for Gardeners” since 1979. Known by many as Glendale Gardens, the nine acres of spectacular demonstration gardens showcase more than 10,000 varieties of plants and also host the Pacific Horticulture College. Spaces include the Takata Japanese Garden, the recently added Bonsai Garden and the Doris Page Winter Garden.

Blossoms of every variety will be blooming at The Butchart Gardens, where bulbs, blooms and flowering trees bring early season colour to the city’s most famous gardens, a National Historic Site. The indoor Spring Prelude and historical exhibits continue to March 15, while children will be delighted to take a spin on the Rose Carousel. The only carousel on Vancouver Island, the menagerie includes 30 animals hand-picked by Robin Clarke, great-granddaughter of the gardens’ founder, Jennie Butchart. Youngsters can also have fun exploring with the Family Discovery Walk – stop by the Visitor Information Centre for details.

And if you need a hint of something a little warmer, visit the lush rainforest environment of the Saanich Peninsula’s Butterfly Gardens, WHERE Victoria’s Best New or Improved Attraction for 2012. In addition to beautiful, free-flying butterflies, the attraction includes tropical birds, turtles, fish and more, all in a tropical garden.

Brava! Victoria Stages Welcome the Capital’s Cultural Season

Where Cover Winter 2013While Victoria’s artistic community entertains and inspires audiences year-round, winter really is given over to celebrating the local arts scene.

Dance, Victoria!

Dance Victoria boasts a busy winter calendar, opening with Alberta Ballet’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, featuring the songs of Sarah McLachlan November 8 and 9. This Grammy, Juno and Gemini Award-winning artist has sold more than 40 million recordings worldwide and raised more than $7 million for charity.

Following Alberta Ballet’s magical performance of The Nutcracker, January brings a Ballet British Columbia Triple Bill to the Royal Theatre January 30 and 31, including two new works by Finnish-born choreographer Jorma Elo and director Molnar as well as a visually striking work entitled Walking Mad by Swedish choreographer Johan Inger set to Ravel’s Bolero.

Read more…

An Eye for Nature

Wildlife-Photographer-Mouse

Switzerland’s Etienne Francey captured this image, Harvest Gold.

Venture around the world and home again with a visit to the Royal BC Museum this winter. 

A favourite among animal lovers and photography buffs alike, the Royal BC Museum welcomes the spellbinding Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 winners.

Opening November 29 and continuing through April 6, the exhibit from London’s Natural History Museum features 100 large-scale, back-lit photographs chosen from more than 43,000 international entries and 96 countries.

Read more…

Where Victoria | Hot Dining

Hot-Dining-Old-Spaghetti-Factory

Pasta Perfect

When there’s a nip in the air and we’re pulling the coat a little tighter, a hearty dish of pasta is often the best winter warm-up.

And if you’re exploring downtown Victoria’s many attractions, the Old Spaghetti Factory is the perfect place to cosy up this winter. Steps from the Inner Harbour, find such signature dishes as Pesto Linguine, Tortellini Pomodoro and the kid-favourite Spaghetti with Meatballs.

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Where Victoria | Hot Shopping

Hot-Shopping-Quest-for-the-Crown-Thomas-3Kids’ Stuff

Whether it’s toys for under the tree or the sports essentials for kids’ winter activities, Victoria boasts a variety of shops with the younger set in mind.

In the heart of downtown, the Bay at the Bay Centre offers a large toy section, in addition to multiple floors of children’s clothing, gifts and seasonal specialties. Other good choices for toys include Target, recently opened a few minutes from downtown in the Tillicum Centre, and independent toy shops Kaboodles, on Government Street, and Buddies Toys, in Oak Bay’s charming Estevan Village and in downtown Sidney.

In town for a  tournament? Sports enthusiasts will want to check out Sport Chek, also at the Bay Centre, as well as two favourites for local athletes, Sports Traders, in Old Town, and Kirby’s Source for Sports, a must for hockey, lacrosse and baseball enthusiasts.

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Where Victoria | Hot Art

Hot-Art-West-End-Gallery-Linny-D.-Vine,-Snowy-LightWinter’s Wonderful at West End

Visit downtown’s delightful West End Gallery November 2 to 14 to take in Joanne Gauthier’s More or Less. A new collection of expressive paintings, each canvas conveys the duality of Joanne’s fascination with colour, primary and black and white.

Following November 28 to December 30 is the annual Winter Collection Group Show, a festive and eclectic show featuring new paintings from gallery artists, including Steven Armstrong, Claudette Castonguay, Rod Charlesworth, Greta Guzek, Grant Leier and Peter Wyse, along with local artist Linny D. Vine, a new addition to the gallery and a favourite of Victorians. Known for her bright energy, her paintings are alive with joie de vivre.

Don’t miss the opening during the annual Gallery Walk, November 28 from  3 to 8pm.

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The 15 Most Haunted Places in Victoria

A Spirited View of Victoria

As BC’s most haunted place, supernatural events abound in the Capital – and not just at Halloween. While visitors can enjoy a “spirited” visit to Victoria at any time of the year, as Halloween approaches, the Ghosts of Victoria Festival provides even more spooky ideas.

Ross Bay Cemetery, open daily during daylight hours, is a beautiful oceanside Victorian cemetery where phantoms roam. History tours by the Old Cemeteries Society take place every Sunday at 2pm. Two special Halloween events include a Psychic Tour October 20 at 2pm and the annual Ghost Tour October 27 at 1pm.
www.oldcem.bc.ca or 250-598-8870.

Read more…