1. Attend the Aboriginal Cultural Festival
Possibly one of the coolest things happening in Victoria this month is the Aboriginal Cultural Festival. From the 17-19, the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations will be celebrating National Aboriginal Day weekend with music, dance, food and the arts. Bonus: It's totally free.
The festival will take place outdoors, on the grounds of the Royal BC Museum in downtown Victoria.
Image: Thunderbird Park in Victoria, just behind the Royal BC Museum
While the Aboriginal Cultural Festival is a major celebration, it's not the only way to experience Aboriginal culture in Victoria. If you're still looking for another exciting way to learn about our First Nations, try taking the Songhees Islands Cultural Tour with Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours. You'll learn first-hand from Coast Salish elders about indigenous plants and local areas of interest while sightseeing and wildlife watching!
If you're looking for an authentic Aboriginal memento to take home with you, make sure to stop by Cowichan Trading on Government Street. They specialize in hand-crafted native arts, crafts, jewellery and moccasins.
Image: Aboriginal Cultural Festival 2015
2. See a real life baby mammoth
We're not kidding. The Royal BC Museum has recently taken posession of Lyuba, a 40,000 year-old baby wooly mammoth. Discovered in Siberia in 2007, Lyuba is the world's most complete preserved mammoth.
The Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age exhibition also features a rich collection of fossils, casts, preserved flesh and immersive media that you'll be able to explore on your visit to the museum. Fun fact: You'll also have the opportunity to touch mammoth tusks and mastodon teeth.
Image: The Royal BC Museum CEO and show curator take a look at Lyuba upon her delivery at the museum.
3. See Victoria from the water
It already feels like summer in Victoria, so there's no reason not to get out on the water and enjoy a little sunshine and fresh air!
Hop aboard a Victoria Harbour Ferry - try the Pickle Pub Crawl if you're interested in visiting local breweries - or opt for a 3-Hour Sail, which is a super fun, chartered 3-hour sailing experience. Tip: You're allowed to bring your own picnic to enjoy on your sailing adventure. Did someone say charcuterie?
Image: Victoria Harbour Ferry, taken by leslickellow on Instagram
If you're feeling like getting active, you can also try your hand at kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. You'll feel like a real Victoria local and get a chance to see starfish, anemones, jellyfish and other interesting marine life up close.
Don't worry if you've never tried paddling before, you'll find several local outlets who rent equipment and offer daily lessons for first-timers. Try SUP Rebel or SUP Victoria (both at the Inner Harbour) or Kelp Reef Adventures (located at Fisherman's Wharf). If you'd like to embark on a full-day or even an overnight paddling adventure, check out Ocean River Kayak Adventures. They offer lessons and tours in the Inner Harbour, as well as to Discovery Island and the Gulf Islands.
Image: Sunset paddle out from Willows Beach
4. Check out the beautiful hanging baskets around town
Yes... they're up! Victoria's iconic hanging baskets were hung at the beginning of June and are now beautifully displayed along the Inner Harbour boardwalk and throughout downtown.
The best way to experience the hanging baskets is to grab your camera, throw on some walking shoes and go see them in person. When you're done, stop in at local camera shop Lens & Shutter to have your colour or B&W photos developed or printed. Tip: they've also got lots of photography gear for sale, if you're in the market for a cool film or digital camera.
Image: Victoria Inner Harbour
5. Explore local boutique shops and galleries
Pay a visit to the historic Market Square, a calm oasis in the middle of downtown where you can escape and chill out for a while before continuing your exploration of the city. There are often buskers and live musical performances taking place at the Square, plus several local boutiques like the Global Village Store who specialize in fair trade, handcrafted gifts from all over the world.
Image: The Bay Centre
6. Hit up the summer markets
Summer is market season in Victoria! With over twenty different markets in the region to choose from, you'll be able to shop local, handmade artisan products and produce. If you're downtown, visit the Breakwater Market for food and live music with an amazing view, or hit up the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson for fresh produce, meats, kitchen equipment and locally-made preserves. Tip: The Victoria Public Market is a great place to stop for lunch, and is super kid friendly!
If you'd like to get away from the hustle and bustle, take the 20-minute stroll from the Inner Harbour to the Moss Street Market in Fairfield (a local favourite) where you'll find lots of locally-made artwork, or head over the blue bridge from downtown to visit the nearby Esquimalt Farmers Market.
Try to carve out some time to spend a day (or a couple of days) on the Southern Gulf Islands, so that you can visit the Salt Spring Island Saturday Market. Because nobody ever regretted taking a weekend off to hang out on an island in the Pacific.
These are just a few of the great markets that happen in Victoria, so take a look at the full 2016 Summer Market Guide to see everything that's on. The guide is organized by proximity to downtown, so you'll be able to plan according to your travel schedule.
There you have it, six fun activities to enjoy on your next trip to Victoria. You can always check out more great recommendations for things to do in Victoria, as well as lots of advice on how to get the best rates and deals on everything. Happy trip planning!