Forty years ago, the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss coined the term "the raw and the cooked " to describe the dichotomy between what is found in nature (raw), as opposed to that which is a product of human culture (cooked).  Lévi-Strauss felt that this duality exists in all societies to varying degrees, and that human beings have a need to find a balance between the raw and the cooked. In my estimation Victoria has evolved into an ideal combination of the two, but until recently, it's been better known for the raw than the cooked.  Victoria has often been referred to as a sleepy and laid back place, but that is no longer a fully accurate description.  Nowadays, it also offers the kind of vibrant cultural experiences that are typically associated with large urban centers.   If you're surprised by this revelation, you're not alone - even locals have been slow to notice the city's transformation into a dynamic cultural center. It is true that there are lots of opportunities to unwind in Victoria - our fresh sea air, breathtaking scenery, and relaxed pace are the perfect antidote to the stress-filled hustle and bustle of the modern world.  But Victoria also offers a great mix of cultural and arts activities as well, and there is a much hipper vibe than you might expect, particularly if you know where to look. There is an increasingly wonderful independent arts, music and theater scene here.  In fact, a significant part of what I enjoy about living in today's Victoria is that it offers the juxtaposition of sophisticated big city experiences and amenities, with virtually immediate access to nature.  Whenever I'm feeling overly "cooked", I head to the ocean or to one of our many gorgeous parks, lakes or trails to rejuvenate, and whenever I'm craving big city experiences, I attend an art show, see a play, or go to a musical performance. Speaking of which, if you're planning a visit to Victoria and thinking about taking in some live music, check out Atomique Productions.  They bring excellent performers to Victoria, and you frequently get to see up and coming artists who are often on the verge of major success in an intimate setting, at a very affordable price.  Atomique is like having a cool friend with great musical taste. Dance Victoria For music of an entirely different sort, take in the Victoria Symphony.  They offer a wide range of high caliber performances from experimental music to pops, along with very traditional classical music.  Pacific Opera  is also well worth attending.  The music, the costumes, the sets and the entire experience makes for an unforgettable night out. For excellent live theater (which is also often incredibly affordable), check out Intrepid Theatre.  This company puts on the Fringe Festival in Victoria, along with a terrific selection of other productions throughout the year, and it's always a good idea to see what they are up to when you are in town. Atomic Vaudeville  is a local favourite for their cabaret style theater.  Their productions are innovative, edgy, and fun, and tickets are very affordable as well. The Belfry Theatre offers highly acclaimed and polished productions.  Try to be sure to get a ticket in advance, as their shows can sell out quickly. The Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre was established in 2008 but has quickly risen to prominence and received much critical acclaim. If Dance Victoria happens to have a show on while you are in town, don't hesitate to get tickets - you will be glad that you did.  They offer an exciting mix of contemporary and classic dance productions that invariably take my breath away. The suggestions that I have made are just a small sampling of the increasingly dynamic presence of arts and culture in Victoria.  Whenever possible, I recommend trying to book tickets in advance of your trip, so that you don't miss out on some amazing experiences.  And when you arrive, be prepared to meet the new Victoria - a perfect balance of cooked and raw!