Centennial Square party celebrates start of Olympics

Victoria’s annual Living Colours festival is taking on some Olympic cheer this year to celebrate the opening weekend of the Games.

The three-day event, Feb. 12 to 14, kicks off with coverage of opening ceremonies on a big screen at Centennial Square. To add to the cheer, there will be activity centres for the kids and a “spirit lounge” for the grown-ups. Bucan Bucan will perform, followed by the Poi Pixies.

On Saturday, the live music continues with acts including Outlaw Social. Giant puppets and stiltwalkers, face painting and other artistic attractions will add to the festival atmosphere. Also, the University Ski and Snowboarding Club will demonstrate snowboarding. Participants can also get involved in some winter sports through Wii, Nintendo’s interactive video game console.

On Sunday, the festival sheds its Olympic ties to celebrate the Year of the Tiger in conjunction with Chinese New Year. Expect performances by Ocean Rain, lion dancers and tai chi demonstrations. Kids can learn to make moon cakes, tiger masks and lucky red envelopes.

The event is hosted by the Greater Victoria Spirit Committee and the City of Victoria, which provided $50,000.

All the celebrations take place outdoors, but there will be plenty of cover under tents should it rain, said Spirit Committee organizer Alice Bacon.

“As far as this event goes, it’s rain or shine,” Bacon said. “We’re providing heaters for people.”

Six other community groups were also given grants to host their own Games celebrations, including Burnside-Gorge Community Association, the downtown Silver Threads Seniors Centre and the Oaklands Community Association.

Oaklands will hold an event Feb. 12 from 6 to 10 p.m. with the help of a $500 grant.

As well as screening the opening ceremonies, the evening will include food from around the world.

“We’re going to have various Olympic activities,” executive director Kristi Rivait said. “The kids are going to be able to go into teams and design their own uniforms.”

Games include boat races, “beverage frisbee” and other activities.

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