Summer is in full swing and there is tons to do in Victoria this month! From music festivals to boutique ice cream shops, we've got the local's guide to making the most of July in Victoria.
1. Shop Local at the Summer Markets
Victoria has over 20 local markets that take place in the region each summer. From farmers markets to artisan fairs, you can take your pick! Visit the Esquimalt Farmers' Market (just across the blue bridge from downtown) for a fantastic lineup of vendors, food trucks and musicians or explore the Moss Street Market for a wide range of unique arts and crafts.
Take a look at the 2016 Victoria Summer Market Guide for all the details on each market.
2. Check Out the Buskers Festival
Take in the spectacle that is the Victoria International Buskers' Festival. From July 15 to July 24, 2016 Victoria will come alive with street performers from across Canada as well as Europe, Sweden, Australia, South America and the US. The event is family oriented, free to attend and presented on mostly outdoor stages.
Image: 2014 Victoria Busker's Festival
3. Attend the 2016 Pride Festival
From July 1 to 10, 2016, Victoria celebrates its LGBTQ community during the Victoria Pride Festival. The festival aims to encourage a spirit of acceptance and pride for our diverse community through ten days of activities and events. It all builds up to the annual Pride Parade on July 10, which is Victoria's largest LGBTQ celebration and our second-largest parade.
Check out our recent blog post for all the info on Victoria Pride Festival events that you can take part in.
Image: 2015 Pride Parade, courtesy of the Victoria Pride Society
4. Soak Up Some Rays
It's July, and that means it's patio season. Cool down with a cold drink on the patio at Steamship Grill & Bar or Milestone's Restaurant where you can drink in amazing views over the Inner Harbour, or head to the Breakwater Bistro for an unobstructed view over the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic Mountain range. LURE Restaurant & Bar and Irish Times Pub also have fantastic patios and are both located downtown.
Image: Red Fish Blue Fish
If you'd rather kick back and indulge in a little R&R, head to one of Victoria's beaches. Willows Beach in Oak Bay is great for families, as is Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay. Tip: Both beaches have great sandcastle-making sand! If you're looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy island life in peace, check out this list of Victoria's best secluded beaches for some inspiration.
Image: Cadboro Bay Beach
5. Attend a Local Music Festival
Local production company Atomique Produtions brings several large summer music festivals to Victoria each year, as well as many concerts throughout the year at venues throughout the city.
This coming weekend (July 8-10), you can participate in the Phillips Backyard Weekender, which is one of Victoria's coolest music festivals. What started several years ago as a Rifflandia Festival night venue, the back loading dock at Phillips Brewing and Malting Co has become a staple music venue in the city, and how hosts its own weekend-long festival each summer.
Image: The Phillips Backyard Weekender, courtesy of Atomique Productions.
On the heels of the Phillips Backyard Weekender, Rock the Shores music festival will take place from July 22-24 on the lower fields of the Juan De Fuca Rec Centre in Colwood.
At Rock the Shores, you will enjoy a spacious outdoor concert experience with lots of room to spread out, dance and hang out with friends. There will also be several local vendors on-site with unique items like clothing and band merch, plus a whole line of food trucks serving everything from pizza to pierogies.
Image: Rock the Shores music festival
Grab a cold brew coffee or lavender lemonade from Habit Coffee, or head to the Phillips truck to enjoy a local craft beer or cider. Check out the full festival lineup to see who's playing this year.
6. Visit The Butchart Gardens
Located on the Saanich Peninsula, just north of Victoria, lies the breathtaking beauty of The Butchart Gardens. Even if you have visited the Gardens before, a long, easy stroll through the rose garden in the height of summer is a fantastic way to spend a sunny afternoon or evening.
Every Saturday night, the Gardens will present Evening Illuminations, a fireworks display choreographed to music and featuring incredible groundwork and pyrotechnics. Bonus: It also happens to be included in the price of general Gardens admission on Saturdays, so you won't pay extra to see the show.
Image: first fireworks of the 2016 season at The Butchart Gardens.
7. Get On Your Bike
Victoria is becoming increasingly bike-friendly, from the paved, car-free bike trails that meander through the city to the flowy cross-country trails that wind through Victoria's surrounding wilderness. Take a city tour with Bike Tours Victoria, or Pedego Victoria who rent e-bikes.
There is also a lift-accessed bike park located just three hours north of Victoria at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, which offers downhill riding for beginners (lessons, guides and rental bikes are available), intermediates and experts.
If road biking is your thing, or you are interested in giving it a try, check out North 48 Bicycles in Market Square. They are a new road biking tour company who offer guided, half-day tours for cyclists of all ability levels. Every tour includes a Colnago bike rental, helmet, pre-ride coffee and snacks.
8. Explore the Wild, Beautiful Coast: Sooke to Port Renfrew
You know those incredible photos you keep seeing on Instagram of rugged coastline, epic rainforests and mountaintop vistas? Many were likely taken somewhere between Sooke and Port Renfrew.
If you head west from Victoria, you will find yourself in the town of Sooke. A cool, ocean breeze and a winding, forested road will lead you along Vancouver Island's western coast as you head out toward Port Renfrew.
Image: Sunset surf session at Sombrio Beach, photo by Nik Dunn
Make time to stop along the way to check out the surfers at Jordan River, grab an ice cream at Shirley Delicious, or take the short hike down to China Beach and Mystic Beach to ride the famous rope swing over the ocean. Check out our recent blog post on Wild Port Renfrew for more info on the best places to eat, stay and explore along the way.
Visit our online event calendar for a full list of events happening around Victoria this month.