Encompassing 237,000 hectares, including 70 Gulf Islands, the capital region is a sought after destination, renowned for its mild climate, beautiful coastlines and natural ecosystems. The traditional territories of over 20 First Nations span portions of the region, and 11 of those hold reserve lands throughout the capital region.
The region offers a balance between rural and urban lifestyles, from the farming communities in North Saanich to the evergreen hills of Sooke, from the artisan networks on the Gulf Islands to the government and business hub of the City of Victoria, the province’s capital.
The Victoria Symphony, performs at the Royal Theatre and the Farquhar Auditorium of the University of Victoria from September to May. Pacific Opera Victoria, Victoria Operatic Society, Victoria Philharmonic Choir, Canadian Pacific Ballet and Ballet Victoria stage two or three productions each year at the Macpherson or Royal Theatres.
The Belfry Theatre was founded in 1974, and located in the neighbourhood of Fernwood. Their mandate is to produce contemporary plays with an emphasis on new Canadian plays. Other regional theatre venues include: Phoenix Theatre student theatre at the University of Victoria, Kaleidoscope Theatre and Intrepid Theatre, producers of the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival and The Uno Festival of Solo Performance.
The only Canadian Forces Primary Reserve brass/reed band on Vancouver Island is in Victoria. The 5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band traces its roots back to 1864, making it the oldest, continually operational military band west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. It supports the island’s military community by performing at military dinners, parades and ceremonies, and other events. The band performs weekly in August at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site where the Regiment started manning the guns of the fort in 1896, and also performs every year at the Cameron Bandshell at Beacon Hill Park.
The annual multi-day Rifflandia Music Festival is one of Canada’s largest modern, rock and pop music festivals.
Due to the proximity to Vancouver and a 6% distance location tax credit, Victoria is used as a filming location for many films, television series, and television movies.
Beacon Hill Park is the central city’s main urban green space. Its area of 75 hectares (190 acres) adjacent to Victoria’s southern shore includes numerous playing fields, manicured gardens, exotic species of plants and animals such as wild peacocks, a petting zoo, and views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains in Washington across it. The sport of cricket has been played in Beacon Hill Park since the mid-19th century. Each summer, the City of Victoria presents dozens of concerts at the Cameron Band Shell in Beacon Hill Park.
The extensive system of parks in Victoria also includes a few areas of natural Garry oak meadow habitat, an increasingly scarce ecosystem that once dominated the region.
In the heart of downtown Victoria are the Parliament Buildings, The Empress Hotel, Victoria Police Department Station Museum, the gothic Christ Church Cathedral, and the Royal British Columbia Museum/IMAX National Geographic Theatre, with large exhibits on local Aboriginal peoples, natural and modern history, along with travelling international exhibits. There is also the Emily Carr House, Victoria Bug Zoo, and Market Square. The oldest (and most intact) Chinatown in Canada is here too, as well as he Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Craigdarroch Castle, built by industrialist Robert Dunsmuir and Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
Just outside the city of Victoria you will find the CFB Esquimalt navy base, which has a base museum dedicated to naval and military history, in the Naden part of the base.
North of the city on the Saanich Peninsula are the marine biology Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Butchart Gardens, one of the biggest tourist and local resident attractions on Vancouver Island, as well as the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, part of the National Research Council of Canada, Victoria Butterfly Gardens and Centre of the Universe planetarium.
Notable museums just outside of Victoria include the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, and the British Columbia Aviation Museum on the north edge of the Victoria International Airport. There are also numerous National Historic Sites in close proximity to Victoria, such as the Fisgard Lighthouse, Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse, Hatley Castle and Hatley Park and Fort Rodd Hill, which is a coastal artillery fort built in the late 1890s west of the city in Colwood.
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