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Victoria

Journey to the South Pacific

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Shake off those winter blues with a visit to the National Geographic IMAX Theatre for Journey to the South Pacific. Narrated by Cate Blanchett, the breathtaking IMAX® adventure explores the lush tropical islands of remote West Papua, where life flourishes above and below the sea. Jawi, a young island boy, takes viewers on a journey of discovery to this magical place where we encounter whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays and other creatures of the sea. Home to more than 2,000 species of sea life, this exotic locale features the most diverse marine ecosystem on earth. An uplifting story of hope and celebration, Journey to the South Pacific highlights the importance of living in balance with the ocean planet we all call home. 

 

Historic Treasure

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Step back in time at Craigdarroch Castle this winter. The holiday season is magical at Victoria’s historic castle, decked out in traditional Victorian finery each

Decorating the Castle for the Christmas season takes many hours and hands, but the end result is nothing short of magical. Be sure to stop by in December music, children’s storytime and a theatrical treat with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted as a one-man play by Jason Stevens, performed in the Dance Hall December 4 to 6, 10. 11, 22 and 23. Christmas Carol tickets are available in advance at thecastle.ca $20 for adults, $15 for members and students.

Other events include the traditional Scottish New Year’s celebration of Hogmany, and of course, Robbie Burns Day in January.

HOT SHOPPING

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Sweet Winter Dreams

If there was never a season that begged for cosy new bedding, this is it. Luckily Victorians have an excellent selection to choose from at Sweet Dreams Boutique, with stores on downtown Victoria and downtown Sidney. Their excellent section of made-in-BC bedding products and beautiful, cosy accessories are sure to give your bedroom a stylish, inviting ambience…and a comfy place to rest your head this winter!

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Go Green

Looking for something special to take home for your someone special? Stop by Jade Victoria for an array of spectacular selections crafted from BC jade. From wearable art, like these classic cuff links, to desk accessories and oh-so-special hand-crafted d keepsakes, this charming downtown shop is definitely worth a visit.

 

Craft brewing goodness to take home

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Victoria has earned a well-deserved reputation as a craft brew mecca. Come learn more about one of those at the forefront of the movement as Vancouver Island Brewery concludes its  year-long 30th anniversary celebration this winter.

No surprise, the award-winning brewery has marked the occasion with a signature brew, 30th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale. A tribute to the beer that helped make this brewery, Piper’s Pale Ale, this bold, malty, well-hopped beer is the brewery’s way of paying homage to the past and looking forward to the future. Fancy something a little more seasonal? Stop by the Government Street brewery to shop for two winter favourites, the Hermannator Ice Bock and Storm Watcher Winter Lager. Yum!

West End Gallery turns 20

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Downtown Victoria’s West End Gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary in Victoria with a a special group show, November 22 to December 22, with accompanying calendar.

Gallery artists have each been commissioned to produce one major painting to mark the occasion, inlcuding  Steven Armstrong, Alain Bédard, Fraser Brinsmead, Claudette Castonguay, Rod Charlesworth, Richard Cole, Cameron Douglas, Ken Faulks, Greta Guzek, Patricia Johnston, Paul Jorgensen, Irene Klar, Jean-Gabriel Lambert, Raynald Leclerc, Danièle Lemieux, Annabelle Marquis, Elka Nowicka, Paul Paquette, Guy Roy, Michael Rozenvain, Peter Shostak, Robert Savignac, Claude A. Simard, Deborah Tilby, Linny D. Vine and Peter Wyse.

Also on the gallery’s winter caledar is an exhibit of work by Claudette Castonguay November 8 to 19, January’s Collection of British Columbia Artists and and exhibit of new paintings by  Guy Roy February 14 to 26.

Funny Stuff

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Get ready to share a chuckle or two with the 2014 Capital One Just For Laughs Comedy Tour, returning to Victoria with its biggest tour ever! Featuring some of the biggest and brightest names in comedy, take in the antics of stand-up, writer and actor Demetri Martin, host of Funny as Hell Jon Dore, Canadian Comedy Award-winner Levi MacDougall and podcast superstar Todd Glass.

Don’t miss the fun at the McPherson Playhouse, with two shows November 15 (7 and 9:30pm)

Just for Kids

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Fred Penner, Ruby & Max in the Nutcracker Suite…Victoria’s cultural season offers plenty for the kids as well (see listings, page 24 to 26). Fancy something a little different? Kaleidoscope Theatre presents an all-new story featuring the beloved Addams Family. Don’t miss the annual holiday spectacle of the Lighted Truck Parade, December 6.

 

Indoor Escapes

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Victoria

Step inside one of the province’s iconic attractions and take in Royal BC Museum, where until November 11 you can explore the world of the Vikings, in the first North American stop for this international exhibit from the Swedish History Museum. Wildlife Photographer of the Year returns for its third annual exhibition, this year celebrating 50 years of images. Marvel at 100 large-scale, back-lit photographs that include some of the world’s most respected nature photographers and wildlife experts  in this annual competition is run by the Natural History Museum, London, and BBC Worldwide celebrating the beauty and magnificence of the world in which we live, as well as acting as a stark reminder of the fragility of nature.

Also at the Royal BC Museum is the six-storey tall screen of the IMAX Theatre, showing both the ever-popular IMAX movies as well as Hollywood movies given a whole new look with the theatre’s state-of-the art technology. Check with the current online schedule to find out what’s playing, from the finest IMAX films to feature-length Hollywood titles.

Across the road, overlooking the Inner Harbour in the historic Steamship Terminal is one of Victoria’s newest attractions, The Robert Bateman Centre. Take time to explore this definitive collection of the Canadian artist’s celebrated work, which is used to support a dynamic program of public events.

No matter what your age, who can resist such family-friendly escapes as Miniature World, at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and the nearby Bug Zoo, home to all manner of cool creatures? Miniature World offers exhibits fascinating to young eyes, depicting scenes from literature and history – the turn-of-the-century “under the bigtop” display is remarkable – while at the Bug Zoo, knowledgeable entomologists make the intriguing insects interesting to all.

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Just a few minutes from downtown is the historic Craigdarroch Castle, built in 1890 by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir for his family. While he died before it was finished, the stunning result of his vision today welcomes guests year-round who marvel at the beautifully preserved and restored site. Winter highlights include a full calendar of Christmas activities, and of course a full celebration of Robbie Burns Day in January!

 

Esquimalt

Around the Inner Harbour, into the community of Esquimalt, continue your exploration of the region’s maritime history at the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum, at Naden on Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, where four themes run through the displays: Canada’s Navy on the West Coast; The Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC); The Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS); and The West Coast Defences.

 

On the Peninsula

Enjoy a scenic drive out the Saanich Peninsula to take in the tropical splendour of the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, home not only to stunning garden displays and thousands of free-flying butterflies, but also an array of birds, colourful koi and more.

And in lovely Sidney-by-the-Sea, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is the place for budding oceanographers of all ages. Explore the Salish Sea, just steps away, through vast tanks, interactive displays and kid-friendly exhibits. Don’t miss the octopus!

 

HOT DINING: Winter Warm-ups

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When the cool temperatures have you dreaming of sunny days, hearty comfort food shared in good company can be the ideal  solution.

But where to go for your winter warm-up? Here are a few of our favourites:

The Spice Jammer for a delicious blend of Indian and African cuisine – don’t miss the beef samosas!

• Hearty pastas and yummy sandwiches from the Italian Imports Deli on Blanshard – perfect for an eat-in or take-away lunch. Fancy something a little spicy? Try the Il Diavolo sandwich.

Wing’s Restaurant – Specializing in Cantonese dishes, this is a local hotspot for lunch and dinner, with a buffet and various combination meals served in a casual, relaxed setting.

Reef – Savour delicious rotis, Jerk dishes and West Indian curries – best quaffed, of course, with a cold Red Stripe beer – in this island-inspired setting.

• The Noodle Cart – Visit Thailand without ever leaving Victoria at this delicious addition to the Victoria dining scene.

 

Cultural Sensations

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Come explore the magic of the capital’s cultural season

From the Music of the Mad Men Era with the Victoria Symphony to indie rockers The Trews, winter creates a cultural cornucopia in the Capital city.

Local stages are filled with all manner of dance, drama, music, comedy and more as Victoria’s cultural season shines a bright light on the darker days of the calendar.

Drama

The Belfry Theatre offers a diverse line-up on its stages this winter, from to the beautiful and compelling How to Disappear Completely, rounding out the season through March 1 in a double bill with Daniel MacIvor’s Best Brothers.

Langham Court Theatre is a long-standing Victoria favourite – and for good reason. The company shows its theatrical breadth with such unique performances as The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, November 20 to December 6, to January’s People, in which playwright Alan Bennett shows – in great comic style – that everything has a price.

The University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre turns a creative eye to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream November 6 to 22 when two pairs of lovers become entangled in the underground culture of New York’s Greenwich Village in the mid-1970s. Come February, the theatre explores the story of young, lost Isobel who encounters people who are trapped, threatened, and like herself, fighting for their own survival in Judith Thompson’s Lion in the Streets, exploring the redemptive power of forgiveness, presenting a vision of grace that is earned in human, rather than divine, terms.

The holiday spirit comes to local stages through the theatrical stylings of the Victoria Operatic Society’s A Christmas Story: The Musical, following young Ralphie’s desperate attempts to ensure he finds a Red Rider BB gun under the tree Christmas morning – despite protests from all around him that “You’ll put your eye out.” Craigdarroch Castle takes a little more introspective look at the season with its hosting of Jason Stevens’ one-man production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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Dance

Dance Victoria gets winter’s cultural showcase off to a rousing start November 14 and 15 with BalletBoyz, the “boy band” of the dance world, whose 10 dancers will perform two stunning works showcasing their strength and sensitivity in the contemporary ballet genre. Come the New Year, world-renowned ODC Dance brings its athleticism, passion and intellectual depth to the Royal stage for a Mixed Repertoire performance,including Triangulating Euclid, inspired by the discovery of a rare original edition of Euclid’s Elements, perhaps the most influential work in the history of mathematics, and Waving Not Drowning, an exploration of the role of fashion and its implication for women, forms the second part of the evening.

The holiday season is a popular time for both music and dance, and Victoria visitors won’t be disappointed.

Come December 5 to 7, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker takes to the stage, accompanied by the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, but for a different take on Tchaikovsky’s classic, watch for Ballet Victoria’s The Gift. Placing Pandora as the central figure, opening the forbidden box unleashes a host of new characters. Accompanying the dancers for this clever Christmas tale will be the Victoria Symphony, conducted by Joey Pietraroia, fusing classical music with modern pop interludes.

Celebrate the dawn of a new year with the Victoria Symphony and A Viennese New Year, a New Year’s Day tradition featuring the music and dance of Vienna, January 1 at the Royal Theatre, while those of the TV sensation So You Think You Can Dance will want to head to the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in February when the shows starts re-live some of their favourite Season 11 performances.

Music

Sounds for every taste really does describe Victoria’s thriving music scene. From Beethoven and Brahms with the Victoria Symphony and the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra to kid classics from the likes of Fred Penner to hard-hitting sounds from iconic Canadian rockers like Bryan Adams and the Tragically Hip, What do you feel like listening to tonight? Additional not-to-be-missed performances on the winter calendar include local star Ken Lavigne in his Home for Christmas show, Canadian indie favourites The Trews, performing with rock-and-rollers The Glorious Sons, and the Irish Tenors, in concert with the Victoria Symphony.

Blues fan? The Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band’s Tribute to the Blues Songs of Christmas is a must!

Spectacle

Winter is the ideal time to indulge in the spectacle that is opera and Pacific Opera Victoria doesn’t disappoint with Donizetti’s iconic bel canto opera Lucia Di Lammermoor, February 12, 14, 18, 20 and 22 at the Royal Theatre. Enjoy brilliant melodies, tempestuous passions, and murderous deeds – not to mention the most celebrated mad scene in all of opera!

 

Holiday Highlights

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We not enjoy many white Christmases here in Victoria, but we still know how to celebrate the season in style.

The holiday season comes early to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s David Foster Foundation Dinner Theatre, where It’s Christmas entertains on most weekends November 9 through and December 24.

Family fun starts with the Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade, downtown November 22, and continues in neighbouring Oak Bay November 30, when the annual Oak Bay Light-up heralds the start of the Oak Bay Christmas Festival with live music, lighted trucks, roasted chestnuts, a visit from Santa and the show-stopping light-up at 5pm. Watch for the parade of trucks winding its way through the Capital Region Dec. 6, thrilling young and old alike while collecting food donations for local families.

For many it’s not Christmas until Canadian storyteller extraordinaire Stuart McLean comes to town with stories of Dave, Morley and the rest of the Vinyl Café gang. McLean offers two shows this year, November 27 and 28.

The world-famous Butchart Gardens casts a holiday glow around the winter flower beds with its annual holiday light-up, December 1 to January 6. While enjoying the entertainment and browsing the breathtaking gardens, keep an eye out for the special 12 Days of Christmas displays, and don’t miss the chance to take a spin around the outdoor ice skating rink! Nearby, Victoria Butterfly Gardens shines with a holiday glow beginning December 1 offering a sensational seasonal backdrop to this delightful garden.

A highlight of the season for many is a visit to the magnificent Craigdarroch Castle, decked out it its holiday finery throughout December. As a special treat, on select nights through December the castle also hosts A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted as a one-man play by Jason Stevens.

Dance Victoria’s presentation of the treasured holiday classic The Nutcracker, featuring Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, will be a must on the calendar of both locals and visitors alike Dec. 5 to 7, while the Victoria Symphony offers seasonal music for all tastes, including A Sentimental Christmas Carol, December 12 to 14, and the traditional sounds of Handel’s Messiah December 19 and 21.

The season continues past Christmas Day with Ballet Victoria’s The Gift, December 27 to 29. A wonderful Christmas story told to the beloved music of The Nutcracker, young Pandora cannot wait to open a mysterious present from her uncle’s travels. A celebration full of holiday cheer for the whole family!

 

BEETLES AND ANTS AND CENTIPEDES, OH MY!

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Embrace your inner entomologist and head to the Victoria Bug Zoo, a long-time favourite for kids and adults of all ages.

See scorpions, a giant Sonoran centipede, white-eyed assassin bugs, dead-leaf mantis, leaf cutter ants, walking sticks, millipedes, tarantulas and many more unique and fascinating creatures.

Don’t forget your camera to record the adventure!