Monday, February 28, 2011

Make a rainy day shine at the Victoria Bug Zoo!

One of our favourite places to visit on a rainy day is the The Victoria Bug Zoo! Here you'll find all manner of magical insects - giant walking sticks, hissing cockroaches, praying mantids, scorpions, tarantulas, and many more. You'll discover lots of fun facts (like who's the most industrious of all insects and what bug inspired Darth Vader's mask), overcome a few phobias, and learn how to appreciate these amazing creatures a bit more.

You may even get to try on a new piece of jewellery, like Lisa did - with this wild African Millipede bracelet!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Willie's Bakery in Victoria

Winter has found Victoria, if only for a few days! Many of us are ill-prepared and shivering, looking for a cozy escape from the freezing cold, maybe even a hot drink and a sweet treat to soothe us before we venture outside again. Willie's Bakery at 537 Johnson Street is the perfect place to find just that!

Willie's has a welcoming atmosphere and is usually bustling. It's one of the most popular cafes in the downtown core. Founded in 1887, it's British Columbia's oldest bakery! Once upon a time, it baked over 32 different varieties of bread and produced over 500 loaves every day. Today, you can find the original granite slabs used for baking just outside the Bakery.

There's still a wonderful wide variety of fresh-baked goods to choose from, a delicious breakfast & lunch menu, and some of the best coffee in town! We're grateful to drop in for a little respite from the wind chill. The cinnamon buns are highly recommended, but the oversized muffins are pretty darned good, too...

It's hard to decide. Maybe we'll have both!

Stop by Willie's when you're in town. You'll leave a little warmer, a little fatter, and a heck of a lot happier than when you arrived!

(P.S. Willie's also has a cafe at the Royal BC Museum!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saxe Point Snowman Drinks Hot Chocolate to Stay Warm!

With a record-breaking snowstorm yesterday, and a sub-zero wind chill today, we Victorians are bundling up and doing our best to stay warm!

We met this friendly Snowman on a walk through an otherwise deserted Saxe Point in Esquimalt. Someone had bought him a Tim Horton's Hot Chocolate. He had even rolled up the rim - but he didn't win :(

Better luck next time, Mr. Snowman!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snow in Victoria!

Victorians woke up to a surprise snowfall today - a ton of the fluffy white stuff (or maybe just several centimetres) fell in the wee hours before sunrise! Many of us stayed home and shovelled out our driveways, while a few brave souls brushed the snow off their cars and went to work. The adventurous ones headed for the hills to go sledding and snowboarding!

Meanwhile, our fellow Canadians are scoffing - this is nothing new for them! It had appeared that we were going to get an early spring this year, and the cherry blossoms were already on their way - but they are now sadly buried.

Here's the view from our window!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vancouver Island Travel and Tourism on Facebook!

Just wanted to let you all know that we have been spring cleaning and now have a brand new Facebook Page - Vancouver Island Travel and Tourism.  We'll be posting the latest events info, local contests, pictures, links, and news updates - so please be sure to visit us often!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Belfry joins the 20th Century and starts online ticket sales

Photo courtesy of the Belfry Theatre
Victoria, BC...Today the Belfry Theatre joined the 20th century and began offering online ticket sales. With a new web sales expansion to our website,, patrons will now be able to purchase tickets to any Belfry production from the convenience of their home computer, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Apparently, the system also works with those newfangled whiz-bang gadgets like an iPad or tablet pc - whatever those are.

Running the same Theatre Manager software used by other theatres, including Chemainus Theatre, Tarragon, and the UVic Centre Auditorium, and stylishly designed to integrate with the Belfry’s existing website, our online ticket sales feature provides a secure, proven ticketing system with an elegant, user-friendly interface.

Additionally, as part of our commitment to the best possible patron experience, the Belfry has chosen to forego the typical online user fees and service charges associated with this technology. Whether buying tickets over the internet, by phone, or in person, our patrons will not be charged extra for choosing the purchasing method most convenient for them.

Tickets for The Cryptogram, the upcoming SPARK Festival, and the award-winning 2 Pianos 4 Hands are all available now at

Mount Washington - The Story of Snow and a Season Extension

Close to 200 centimetres fell on Mount Washington over the last few days, prompting the resort to extend its season into late April.
Photo Credit: Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Mount Washington is experiencing déjà vu. Thinking back to December almost seems like a dream. Four metres of snow in less than a week, close to ten metres of snow in a month. Powder days seemed more like a right than a privilege. La Nina was in fine form.

Was it real or wasn't it? Apart from the news reports, pictures and video evidence proving the reality of the snow events over a month ago, you would probably assume it didn't actually happen. Why? Because January happened.

“January was a no-show in the weather department,” states resort spokesperson Brent Curtain. “Everybody was waiting for another blast from La Nina but the weather patterns went on hold.”

January was calm and nondescript, especially following blustery and unbelievable December. It snowed a bit, it was warm and sometimes cold, there were inversions, there were clouds, there was fog, and there was sunshine. This cycle of weather blah lasted for the best part of five weeks.

Apart from some great mountain events and periodic sunshine, skiers and boarders were beginning to wonder...where did La Nina go? Was she asleep? Would she come back? Then, out of nowhere, came February 12.

The snow report read 28 centimetres of new snow in 24 hours. Most people in the lift line that morning were thanking patrol for under-reporting. Mid-mountain, the snow piled deep, up to 75 centimetres on some slopes. Then for five days straight it snowed like it was December. La Nina awoke from her January slumber and delivered close to two metres of snow by February 16th. Island riders were stoked.

With a mid-mountain base rapidly climbing past the 5 metre range, Mount Washington announced an extension to their winter season at the end of last week. Originally slated to stay open until April 10, the mountain will now open daily to April 10 and then reopen for extended long weekends from April 15-17 and again from April 22-25.

“The snow is piling up again, just like it did in December,” Curtain explains. “So we're happy to be able to extend the winter season just like we did last season.”

The 2009-10 season at Mount Washington was the second deepest on record and enabled the resort to extend operating hours and dates in April 2010. With a current snowbase that just passed the five metre mark, the resort expects to have more than enough snow to make April another memorable one for spring skiing.

“We are planning a full slate of events, promotions, and activities to keep people sliding on snow until the end of April,” states Director of Business Operations Don Sharpe.

With the long range forecasts calling for periodic snowfall and colder than normal temperatures, Mount Washington is primed and ready for an unbelievable second half of the season. Bring it on La Nina!

For more information on winter activities and to see the complete event schedule for Mount Washington, visit

Mount Washington Alpine Resort has one of the world's deepest snowbases at over 500cms! The resort is located 30 minutes above The Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. WestJet, Central Mountain Air, Pacific Coastal Airlines, and Island Express service the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ). To find out about accommodation and package information, call Mount Washington Alpine Resort at 1-888-231-1499 toll free or locally at 250-338-1386. Surf to for additional information including our live snow cam.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Victoria Guest Services Network meeting at the Brentwood Inn

Top photo courtesy of the Brentwood Inn.

The Victoria Guest Services Meeting was held at the beautiful Brentwood Inn in Brentwood Bay just north of Victoria. These meetings are held to familiarize people working in the hospitality and tourism business with accommodations and services around greater Victoria. Two presentations highlighted the Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney and EcoCruising Tours and Charters. Discover the Salish Sea the the Ocean Discovery Centre then take a tour with EcoCruising Tours and Charters. A great way to enjoy the Saanich Peninsula while you enjoy your stay at the Brentwood Inn. The have great food, superb accommodations, a wonderful rejuvinating spa, a pool, a marina and some of the best sunsets on the West Coast. To view photos from the meeting and of the Brentwood Inn, click here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tea Festival this Weekend - Victoria Mayor Proclaims

The City of Victoria Mayor and Council declared this Saturday, February 12th as Victoria Tea Festival Day in celebration of the festival’s fifth anniversary.
"I am proud to proclaim Saturday, February 12th as Victoria Tea Festival Day in honour of North America's largest public tea exhibition," said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin. "I encourage Victorians to take part in the festivities at Crystal Garden, and to celebrate Victoria's multi-cultural tea heritage and on-going vibrant tea culture."

After passing the Victoria Tea Festival Day proclamation at Thursday night’s Council meeting, Mayor Dean Fortin raised a cup of tea to toast the Festival with fellow Council members. Mayor and Council were joined in the toast by the Victoria Tea Festival Organizing Committee and Sponsors of the festival in the Council Chamber’s public gallery.

“We’re thrilled to be here on the eve of the fifth Annual Victoria Tea Festival,” noted Organizing Committee Chair, Lisa Stekelenburg. “We have grown from a one day event with a few hundred attendees to a weekend exhibition with over 40 exhibitors that attracts thousands of Victorians and visitors from throughout North America. This is a wonderful success story for our community.”

Weekend passes for this year’s exhibition are available in advance (until closing on February 11) for $20 and at the door for $25. Ticket locations and detailed event information is available at

The Victoria Tea Festival is organized entirely by 250 volunteers and the event’s proceeds are donated to Camosun College Child Care Services annually.

The Festival’s major sponsors are: Silk Road, Murchie’s Tea & Coffee, The Fairmont Empress, Serious Coffee, Times Colonist, CHEK News, Ocean 98.5.

For more information visit:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spring has Sprung in Victoria - predictions are right

This tree is not laden with blossoms but they are starting to come out. The snow-drops are coming out of the ground as are the tulips. Buds are starting open. I must admit that I have seen blossoms in late December and often in the middle of January, so these are not really that early, even though they have been out for about ten days. I hesitate to post our weather conditions because I have seen what it has been like across Canada and in the USA. We again feel really lucky to live here. We did get snow for a short while. It was however short lived. The second snowfall, I did not even bother to shovel. I let the liquid sunshine take it away. This does not mean that we could not have another downturn in the weather, but all forecasts are for an early spring, so we hope these early signs will bring it on! Spring is in the air!