Cultural Activities in Victoria

Cultural Activities in Victoria: Theatre

When it comes to cultural activities in Victoria, the list is endless. From international visiting music and theatre productions, to numerous art galleries, artisans and local artist guilds. Four theatres provide the main theatre and music venues for the city. The 1,416 seat Royal Theatre opened its doors in 1913, and today is Vancouver Island’s premier venue for touring attractions. This downtown fixture retains its original Rococo/Renaissance Revival style décor.

Affectionately known as ‘The Mac’, the MacPherson Playhouse another fixture since 1914, offers a variety of professional, community and amateur events throughout the year. A smaller theatre at 772 seats, The Mac is conveniently located downtown adjacent to Chinatown.

Residing in a renovated heritage building that was a former Baptist church built in the late 1800’s, the Belfry Theatre is a non-profit professional adult theatre company dedicated to producing original, contemporary plays. Producing up to twelve plays per year including one or two summer productions, the Belfry’s mission is to “produce theatre that generates ideas and dialogue, and that makes the audience see the world a little differently.”

Finally, the Langham Court Theatre is a community theatre seating just 177 people with shows happening periodically throughout the year excluding the months of July and August. A number of other venues host musical events throughout the year most notably several of the larger churches.

Cultural Activities in Victoria: Art

Cultural activities in Victoria include numerous art galleries that dot the city, displaying local talent from every corner. Geography heavily influences local artists and west coast themes of the ocean and its inhabitants, lush forests, arbutus and oak are central themes. The highest concentration of galleries showcasing local artists, and all within several blocks of each other is found in Oak Bay Village. Numerous other downtown galleries specialize in aboriginal artwork, glass, ceramics, and other media.

West coast aboriginal art from carving, silversmithing, and knitting are on display in numerous locations. For art purchases, check out Hill’s Native Art for carvings, and Cowichan Trading and Sasquatch Trading for Cowichan knits and sweaters, native jewelry and souvenirs. Alcheringa Gallery is a good spot for contemporary native west coast style art.

Public galleries worth seeing include the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Emily Carr House. The Spencer Mansion built in 1889 and donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in 1951 houses permanent collections by Canadian icon Emily Carr, and one of Canada’s most significant Asian art collections. Other sections include ‘The Lab’, an ever-changing contemporary art space within the gallery. Outside in the gallery’s garden you will see the only authentic Shinto Shrine in North America of the Meiji period. Exhibitions rotate regularly at the gallery.

Emily Carr is one of Canada’s best-known and beloved artists. Born in Victoria in 1871, the year of Confederation and the eighth of nine children, she expressed herself with brush and pen in modernist style, producing heavily west coast inspired works including aboriginal peoples and later, landscapes such as her well-known paintings of coastal BC forests. A National and Provincial Historic Site, you can tour Carr House where she lived in James Bay, now dedicated to preserving and sharing her life story.

Cultural Activities in Victoria: Music Festivals

Victorians love their music and especially during the summer on any given day, you can locate a music venue for fabulous entertainment. Keep tabs on LiveVictoria.com – a handy site for daily concert listings and locations. Check the festival sites for exact dates and locations. A few of the noteworthy annual festivals and dates are as follows:

Victoria International JazzFest: Local and international talent combine at a variety of locations over a full ten days for the full jazz experience. When: Last ten days of June.

Victoria International Buskers Festival: This free family oriented festival is ten days of buskers from all over the world entertaining on the streets of Victoria. Enjoy the talents of musicians, magicians, acrobats, comedians and clowns, and mimes and jugglers among others. For 2013 enjoy the Japanese duo Funny Bones, prior Cirque du Soleil performers The Mat Velvet and Charlie Show, USA Breakdancers, UK’s Reuben Dot Dot Dot, Street Circus and many more. When: Last ten days of July.

Victoria SkaFest: Ska and Reggae in the heart of downtown. Music is at Ships Point (Inner Harbour) and several other locations. When: Mid July.

Victoria International Buskers Festival: This free family oriented festival is ten days of buskers from all over the world entertaining on the streets of Victoria. Enjoy the talents of musicians, magicians, acrobats, comedians and clowns, and mimes and jugglers among others. For 2013 enjoy the Japanese duo Funny Bones, prior Cirque du Soleil performers The Mat Velvet and Charlie Show, USA Breakdancers, UK’s Reuben Dot Dot Dot, Street Circus and many more. When: Last ten days of July.

Victoria Summer Music Festival: Chamber music at its best featuring world class musicians at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall at the University of Victoria’s School of Music. When: Last week of July.

Victoria Electronic Music Festival: A family-friendly, all-ages festival the VEMF features a week long showcase of local and import cutting edge DJ’s, producers and live acts. Get ready to dance! Check website for August dates.

Tango Festival: If you love the elegance and sensuality of Tango, you will love the Tango Festival, showcasing a number of musical acts from Canada and the US. Events take place at Centennial Square and several other locations. When: Beginning of August.

Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival: Enjoy live comedy, drama, dance, spoken word, musicals and physical theatre in close to fifty indoor shows during eleven days at seven venues with local and international performers. The shows are un-juried and uncensored, the work of independent producers and artists. As the Fringe says, “Once you start, you won’t want to stop! It’s really the best part of the summer.” When: Last ten days of August.

Victoria International Chalk Art Festival: This free family-friendly festival featuring a large array of international and local chalk artists takes over downtown streets and buildings during September. Works of chalk art will be created both at The Bay Centre’s lower level, centre court and on the pavement of Government Street, Broad Street and in Spirit Square. Kids will love it! When: MidSeptember.

Rifflandia Festival: With more artists and higher caliber acts each year, and one of Vancouver Island’s largest music festivals, Rifflandia brings you a full slate of local and international indie rock. When: MidSeptember.

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