O Canada! The time of year has come to unreservedly show our national colors and revel in all things Canadian. Celebrate the nation’s 149th birthday with a relaxing waterfront picnic in the park, the pulsing sounds of a local concert, a festive and colorful parade, a spectacular fireworks show and a great big slice of Canada Day cake. Check our local guide Canada Day festivities will keep you from missing out on any of the celebrations.

Victoria, BC Getaways

The Living Flag

The city hopes to break their 2015 record of 2,500 participants this year. Photo: Victoria Celebrates Canada Day
The city hopes to break their 2015 record of 2,500 participants this year. Photo: Victoria Celebrates Canada Day

Grab your favorite red or white T-shirt and gather on the BC Legislature Lawns with 1,500-2,500 of your neighbors to create a living, breathing image of Canada’s iconic red and white stripes and maple leaf. A tradition since 2006, Victoria lays claim to having the longest running “Living Flag” on Canada Day.

However, the tradition has sparked some inter-city rivalry with Winnipeg, who has challenged Victoria to beat their record of 3,500 participants last year. While the competition is a friendly one, it is all the more reason to show up early and help Victoria claim victory. 

Picnic at the Gorge

Celebrate Canada Day on the water at Gorge-Tillicum. Photo: Gorge Tillicum Community Association
Celebrate Canada Day on the water at Gorge-Tillicum. Photo: Gorge Tillicum Community Association

Deck out your bike with flags, follow the sounds of fire trucks, police cars and bagpipers to the intersection of Gorge and Tillicum and join in the Canada Day Family Parade as it makes its way to Craigflower-Kosapsom Park. Here you’ll find the annual Gorge Canada Day Picnic, where you can spend a relaxing day on the water.

Refuel with a delicious pancake breakfast or sweet and savory treats from the array of multicultural food vendors. Check out classic cars, play a game of street hockey or ply the waters in canoe. If you are need of some R&R, cozy up on a blanket by the Gorge on Art stage to watch featured performances or shop artisan the market for unique clothing, jewelry, accessories, natural soaps and small-batch backed goods.

Festivities in Sooke

Explore Canada's colonial past with historical activities in Sooke. Photo: Sam Cox
Explore Canada’s colonial past with historical activities in Sooke. Photo: Sam Cox

Dig out your kilt and bagpipes and venture a little further from Victoria’s urban center, to for an authentic small-town Sooke Canada Day celebration with a little British flair. Good news for you late risers: the events don’t kick off until 1 p.m., with a parade led by the Sooke Pipes & Drums and local RCMP. The afternoon is filled with music, fair games, logger sports, a pie eating contest and, finally, fireworks in the field at the campground.

Raven Baroque Performance

Raven Baroque brings this classical musical style into modernity. Photo: Catherine Allen
Raven Baroque brings this classical musical style into modernity. Photo: Catherine Allen

For a truly unique way to celebrate Canada Day, head to the top of the stunning Mt. Tolmie for a free concert (admission by donation) by Raven Baroque, a Victoria-based 14-piece classic baroque music group. Dressed in 16th-century attire, the unplugged ensemble will treat you to the melodic sounds of the violins, guitar, cello, bass and vocalists, making for a spectacular visual and auditory performance.

Live Music on the Lawn

The 2015 musical guests included global music giants Delhi 2 Dublin. Photo: Victoria Celebrates Canada Day
The 2015 musical guests included global music giants Delhi 2 Dublin. Photo: Victoria Celebrates Canada Day

Jam to scintillating tunes as the BC Legislature Lawns transform into a one-of-a-kind multicultural concert experience. Rock out to melting vocal harmonies and infectious beats from like Vancouver-based indie darlings Mother Mother and catchy hip-hop from the Acadian French duo Radio Radio. You can also listen to sweet sounds the multicultural performers such as 2014 Juno Award winner, George Leach, and Lapis—the duo of sitarist Mohamed Assani and composer Rup Sidhu.

Fireworks at the Inner Harbour

The fireworks are dazzlingly close in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Photo: Victoria Celebrates Canada Day
The fireworks are dazzlingly close in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Photo: Victoria Celebrates Canada Day

End your day with a bang when the sun goes down (at approximately 10:20 p.m.) by watching a vibrant fireworks light up the night sky over the serene waters of the Inner Harbour. Tune in to the Zone @ 91.3 or 100.3 The Q! to for some sweet tunes to accompany the magnificent display.

Wave your flags, wear your maple leaf T-shirts and hats and join in the festivities. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be celebrating the nation’s birthday like a local.

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Feature Photo: Ruben Schade