Canada’s unofficial start to the summer – Victoria Day

Queen_VictoriaFirst things first: if you live in Western Canada, you’ll say May Long, and if you live in Eastern Canada, you’ll say May two-four. Same thing!

The May long weekend is officially called Victoria Day which is a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday – May 24th. She ruled from June 20, 1837 until her death on January 22, 1901 which is the longest reign of any monarch, 63 years and 7 months. After her death, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 (or May 25 if May 24 falls on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day.

Victoria Day is less than a month away, so we thought we’d give you some ideas of how to spend your long weekend. And what better place to celebrate Victoria Day than Victoria, a city that bears the same name.

Butchart GardensSince Victoria Day marks the beginning of summer, or at least that’s what Canadians would like to believe, take a trek to Victoria’s scenic Butchart Gardens. A National Historic Site with 55 acres of beautiful gardens, this is the perfect opportunity to catch the floral sights in full bloom.

Bastion Square, located in the heart of downtown Victoria, looks out on the Inner Harbour and features the city’s best restaurants and cafes. On Saturdays, it’s home to an artisan market with locally made arts and crafts, and on Sundays, features a Farmers’ Market with locally grown produce and fruits, homemade breads and pastries, authentic Mexican food, and much more.

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings exhibit the province’s true history. The Neo-baroque buildings face the Inner Harbour and are kiddie corner to The Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well as a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province’s World War I, World War II, and Korean War efforts. Free guided tours of the buildings are offered year-round.

thetislake_filterIf the outdoors are more your thing, you’re in luck. The Victoria area is full of stunning lakes and forests.

Thetis Lake refers to two freshwater lakes (Upper and Lower Thetis) in Thetis Lake Regional Park and is home to many Garry Oak and Douglas fir trees. The park includes several beaches and forest trails and is extremely popular in the summer.


Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is an excellent place for year-round bird watching. The marsh around Swan Lake provides the perfect habitat for many birds and small animals, including muskrats, river otters, and minks.

When Monday rolls around, make sure to take-in the Victoria Day parade complete with marching bands, colourful floats, clowns, and over 100,000 spectators. The parade lasts about three hours, so bring a blanket, snacks, and don’t forget an extra jacket and umbrella. It is, after all, spring on the West Coast. The parade starts at Mayfair Mall at 9am and proceeds along Douglas Street, finishing at the intersection of Douglas & Humboldt in the downtown core.

There are so many attractions and beaches  to visit. But whether you decide to spend the weekend sightseeing or hiking, make sure to include Sandman Hotel Victoria in your Victoria Day long weekend plans!

Sandman Thinks Pink and Visits Victoria

Another February has leapt away from us, and as always, Sandman finished the month off with a bang… or with a flash of pink.

The staff at Sandman Vancouver City Centre were proud in pink

That’s right, Pink Shirt Day – Canada’s annual anti-bullying effort – landed on February 29 this year, and our staff made sure we wore every shade of pink to show our unwavering support.

This heart-warming tradition has an unbelievable history of compassion, tolerance and kindness attached to it – and if you didn’t know – its foundations are uniquely Canadian.

The story goes:

  • In 2007, a bullying incident occurred in Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge, Nova Scotia, where an unnamed boy was harassed verbally and threatened physically by classmates for wearing a pink polo shirt to school.
  • After hearing about the bullying incident, two Grade 12 students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, decided to take action and stand up for the boy. They bought 50 pink shirts to hand out at school the next day and emailed their classmates to ensure everyone got on board with the anti-bullying display of solidarity.
  • The next day, they were astonished and amazed by the support they received. Hundreds of students showed up to the school wearing pink, and even more donned the shirts that Travis and David were handing out.

    The Sandman staff at head office showed their support

  • Later, the bullied student walked into the school and found support in numbers that he never knew. Better yet, after the “Sea of Pink” campaign, the bullying stopped.
  • The news has since spread like wildfire, rousing students, teachers and activists from around the world (as well as celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres) to celebrate “Pink Shirt Day” every year.

An uplifting story for a good cause, everyone here at Sandman couldn’t be more proud to show their support in the fight to end bullying.

Moseying on from February festivities to March movement, Sandman is excited to begin the month with an in-depth look at one of our favourite cities: Victoria.

Widely known as the “City of Gardens,” Victoria is stunning destination filled with history, culture and endless recreational activities to do. As one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, you can find everything from cute cobblestone streets to gorgeous parliament buildings – all retaining that charming turn-of-the-century style.

Victoria is also surrounded by a beautiful coastal shoreline teaming with cruises, boat tours, whale watching, a fisherman’s wharf and so much more. If you want to experience all the amazing culture, entertainment and arts happening in the official capital of BC, then there is no better time than now.

From now until From March 1-4, it’s Victoria’s annual “Be a Tourist in Your Own Home Town” event and this celebration lets you experience all of the city’s most popular attractions like The Butchart Gardens, Victoria Harbour Ferries, Pacific Undersea Gardens, Ocean River Adventures and more – for one low ticket price of $10. To make the festivities even better, during the celebration Sandman Victoria is also offering our BC Residents an extra 20% off our Best Available Rate. Click here: to see more.

The staff at Sandman Victoria are excited for the annual event because it brings people from all around the world to the best of the city. “With everything from river rafting to historic museum tours, Victoria has so much to do, and much of the time people don’t get a chance to experience all of it,” says Brian Johnson, General Manager of Sandman Victoria. “This is one of Canada’s most exciting places to be right now and we’re proud to help show it off.” And with that, we think we’ve got March off to one heck of a start.