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.

swanlakehummingbird

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!

David Foster Treats His Hometown to a Miracle Weekend

Victoria is a city with many reputations. It’s called the ‘city of gardens’, ‘a bit of Old England’ or in general, just plain charming. However, while it may be one of the oldest and most historic areas in the Pacific Northwest, it is also home to hip restaurants, world-renowned tourist attractions, and some of the most famous Canadian talent alive.

Among some of the most recognizable names from or raised in Victoria are Atom Egoyan, Nelly Furtado, Steve Nash, Pamela Anderson (ok, she was born in Ladysmith, but who’s counting) and of course the ever present David Foster.

If you’re not familiar with David Foster, then perhaps a few of his greatest hits may ring a bell for you. He is the producer of such revered songs as:

  • “Man in Motion” (John Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire Soundtrack)
  • Un-break my heart (Toni Braxton)
  • You’ll See (Madonna)
  • Tell Him (Céline Dion and Barbara Streisand)
  • The Power of Love (Céline Dion)
  • A slew of Whitney Houston hits like: I Will Always Love You, I Have Nothing, Run to You, and I Believe in You and Me among countless others.
  • The list goes on and on … and on…

Working with everyone from Michael Jackson to Michael Bublé, he is definitely a talent to be reckoned with. But platinum selling records aside, it’s not just his music that has touched millions of people’s lives, it’s also his generosity and humanity. In what we like to think of as the authentically Canadian spirit, David has spent a large part of his life creating music for charitable causes, including the famed ‘Tears are not Enough’ (produced for the 1984-1985 famine in Ethiopia).

His biggest charitable legacy however, is the David Foster Foundation, a 25-year-old establishment which has helped hundreds of people get the life-saving organ transplants that they so desperately need. Founded in 1986, David decided to create the organization after meeting a young girl who was waiting for a liver transplant. In intensive care, he saw the struggle that she and her family went through every day.

The foundation’s official website details:

“The little girl was in the intensive care unit and David was overwhelmed when he saw her and spoke to her parents. Her one wish was to be able to see her sister who was at home in Victoria. David paid for the flight and the look in the little girl’s eyes when she saw her sister has never left his memory. After speaking with her mother, he realized that while the medical costs were looked after by the provincial health care system, the non-medical expenses were left to the family. It was then that he decided to form the David Foster Foundation, so that the financial stress of non-medical expenses could be reduced.”

A true success, David’s foundation has saved lives, changed lives and created a life-support system for countless individuals in Canada who are waiting for organ transplants. With this year marking the 25th year of its existence, David and the foundation are pulling out all the stops for a celebration concert called the David Foster Foundation Miracle Concert.

Happening from May 25-27 (with the actual concert occurring on the Saturday, May 26), the show will be a star studded affair with performances and appearances from: Josh Groban, Kenny G, Ruben Studdard, Sinbad, The Canadian Tenors, Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, Alan Thicke and Sarah McLachlan.

Considering all the talent in town, it’s expected that the city will be packed with tourists, fans, press and … well the stars themselves. Lucky for them, The David Foster Foundation has liaised with several hotels, our Sandman Hotel Victoria included, in creating special accommodation packages to coincide with the concert. “All of us here at Sandman Hotel Victoria are very excited to have the David Foster Foundation 25th Miracle Concert here in town and know it will be a very successful event for Victoria and the charity,” says Brian Johnson, General Manager of the Sandman Hotel Victoria. “It will be a very busy weekend in Victoria so be sure to book your rooms ahead of time and who knows? Maybe one of us will be lucky enough to meet a few celebrities in support of a good cause.”

If you’re in town or are looking to take in all that glitz and glamour for a good cause, you can book accommodations with Sandman Hotel Victoria here: http://ht.ly/b8tBP .

If you are looking for tickets to the concert check out their website here: http://www.davidfostermiracleconcert.com/.

A true testament to the best that Victoria has to offer, this weekend is one you don’t want to miss.