It’s called B.C. Day and it takes place every year on the first Monday in August in British Columbia.
It’s a statutory holiday designed to give B.C. residents a chance to spend time with family and friends, relaxing and contemplating just how lucky they are to be living in what is arguably the most beautiful of the Canadian provinces and territories.
The holiday is celebrated under different names in other parts of the country, with New Brunswick following the lead of B.C. in naming the day New Brunswick Day and Saskatchewan following suit with Saskatchewan Day. Others, however, have departed from that convention with Nova Scotia calling it Natal Day and Manitoba celebrating Terry Fox Day. Neither of those latter two provinces have declared the day to be a statutory holiday.
In Alberta it’s called Heritage Day and in Ontario it’s Simcoe Day (in honour of the provinces first lieutenant-governor who they apparently really loved).
Perhaps, though, in a display of Ontarian contrariness, the day is called by at least nine other names by individual municipalities, ranging from Founder’s Day in Brantford to John Galt Day in Guelph.
In Quebec,the day is known as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day but celebrated on June 24, and in Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador the date is a hodge-podge of holidays.
All that being said, B.C. Day is a day when families here can get out and take part in a wide variety of activities, all set with the spectacularly scenic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.
Perhaps the favourite of the special B.C. Day weekend events takes place on Sunday, when tens of thousands of residents and visitors will flock to the Inner Harbour to take in the annual Victoria Symphony Splash.
The symphony, along with a host of musical guests perform from a unique venue – a floating stage – the likes of which can only be found in B.C. It’s one of the largest outdoor orchestral events in North America and a signature event for the province. (See victoriasymphony.ca for further information on this event.)
But there’s a lot of other activities for the family on the B.C. Day long weekend.
Take the Free B Film Festival, for example.This free family event takes place every weekend at the Cameron Bandshell at beautiful Beacon Hill Park and features free screenings of some film favorites.
If your taste runs to country music, the Sunfest Country Music Festival is happening at Lake Cowichan at the Laketown Ranch and features a list of amazing performances. It’s a ticketed event but, by all accounts, worth the price of admission.
Art lovers have the opportunity to take in the Sooke Fine Arts Show at the Seaparc Leisure Complex. This 11-day show runs throughout the weekend and draws more than 8,000 art lovers from around the world. There are demonstrations, guided tours and live music.
Living in B.C. is enough to make anyone want to dance, and the City of Victoria gives you a chance over the weekend to trip the light fantastic in their Dancing in the Square program. It all happens at Centennial Square (by City Hall) and no registration is required.
On B.C. Day the program will feature the Stephanie Greaves Trio and instruction in the Rumba.
With all the fun of the weekend, it stands to reason that folks may work up an appetite.
On Sunday, the Taste of Victoria Food Tour begins at the Public Market and takes participants to explore the wide array of great food and drink available in downtown Victoria. The program requires pre-registration and there is a $49.95 fee, but the six to eight tasting stations make it all worthwhile.
While you’re downtown, wander over to the B.C. Legislature and join more than 100 Royal Canadian Sea Cadets from across Canada as they celebrate the Sea Cadet Centennial with the Ceremony of the Flags. This historic tradition involves ceremonial rifles and field guns, a large band and an incredible amount of pride from Canada’s finest youth leaders.
And, as if that isn’t enough, remember that Victoria is home to a host of summer markets where fresh produce, crafts and more can be found throughout the summer. Some of the most popular include the James Bay Market at Menzies and Superior, the Ship Point Market at Ship Point on the Inner Harbour, the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson and, of course, the Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market at Braefoot Park.
All these activities and more are available on the B.C. Day long weekend and, let’s face it, if someone can’t find something for the whole family to do, they just aren’t trying.
Have a great B.C. Day!