The Government of Canada designated Victoria the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2005. Victoria is unique in its dedication to both preserving its legacy and history, and celebrating its present and future. Our culture is expressed through a wide variety of art, festivals, and events.
Our culture is our legacy.
As you make your way through Victoria, you may find yourself photographing the beautiful and ornate buildings as much as the rose blooms in November or the cherry blossoms in February. Many of the churches and historic buildings built in the late 1800s and early 1900s have been converted into the theatres and attractions you’ll want to visit. Try the Belfry Theatre (built as a Baptist church in 1891) for world-class acting and direction on a small stage, or the Alix Goolden Performance Hall (the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s home, built as the Metropolitan United Church, also in the 1890s), featuring both local and international musicians.
To learn more about our First Nations culture, check out the Eagle Feather First Nations Artists’ Gallery. While most of us think of galleries when we want to appreciate art, the outdoors in Victoria also offers amazing totem poles to discover. Behind the Royal BC Museum, you’ll find Thunderbird Park with one of the finest collections anywhere. To see the tallest totem pole carved from a single log in the world, visit Beacon Hill Park.
Part of Victoria’s cultural legacy that has recently seen resurgence in interest is Chinatown. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the only one older than Victoria’s in North America, but the 5-foot wide Fan Tan Alley is unique to our city. Walking tours are available, and if you visit in February, you can take part in Chinese New Year celebrations. Make sure to check out local artist May Ip-Lam’s gallery, too.
Celebrate with us during the season of festivals.
Victoria is known for its mild climate, but the season most popular here is festival season. While there are amazing plays, music and artists to check out year-round, March to September showcases even more of our culture through dozens of festivals and events. The Van Dop Arts and Cultural Guide to British Columbia will guide you through the many cultural opportunities available in the region and across British Columbia.
Take part in the Fairfield Artist Studio Tour at the end of April or celebrate our maritime heritage during the Tall Ships Festival in June. You’ll find festivals celebrating Performing Arts (March – May), Arts and Ecology (Emily Carr, April – May), and the Celtic and Highland Games (May). Plus there are music festivals of all styles, including Mozart (May), Bluegrass (Sooke, June), Ska (July), and Electronic (August). Interested in performance arts? Try the Victoria Film Festival in February, the Uno Festival of Solo Performance (May-June), the Shakespeare Festival in July, or the Improv festival in October. Two more exciting events include the Dragon Boat Festival (August) and Luminara, a magical evening of lanterns, music, and light in July.
There are many other places to take in some culture all year round. Don’t miss the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for both static and touring shows, the Langham Court Theatre, Canadian Pacific Ballet, or Pacific Opera Victoria.
Legacy and Celebration.
No matter which neighbourhoods you tour, you’re bound to find some unique and beautiful art to view, a play or concert to check out, or a festival to take part in. Learn about any of the many facets of our history, or celebrate our diversity, creativity and talents at any of our galleries, playhouses, or festivals.