Experience downtown Victoria this winter, where a symphony of twinkling lights, free holiday craft making, live performances and a new Winter Arts Festival await you.
As part of the City of Victoria’s OUR DWTN revitalization program, which began in June, downtown is undergoing a transformation focused on beautification, cleanliness, safety and vibrant arts and culture programming.
“Through the City’s OUR DWTN program, we’re making downtown a welcoming place for all, with more festive lighting, music, public art and outdoor events. Victoria can have some dark and wet winter months, but these activities will lighten our spirits with exciting experiences for everyone,” said Mayor Marianne Alto.
To kick off the holiday season, OUR DWTN and the Bay Centre partnered to offer free holiday craft workshops over two weekends in November. Over 500 people registered within two days to participate in 14 holiday card printing making and wreath-making workshops.
Due to popular demand, two free holiday wreath-making workshops are scheduled on Saturday, December 16 and Thursday, December 21, with complimentary hot apple cider. For details and registration, visit victoria.ca/OurDWTN.
This past fall, 400 new winter banners were installed on downtown lampposts to beautify and enhance downtown. The banners feature the OUR DWTN branding, which celebrates Victoria’s dynamic, welcoming downtown community and encourages residents and visitors to come, stay and enjoy downtown.
City crews have recently installed 250 winter hanging baskets around downtown – double the number from last year. Each winter basket is filled with a delightful mix of evergreens, including Red cedar, Douglas, Noble and Silver fir, White pine and Mountain hemlock, adorned with a beautiful white bow.
Victoria’s downtown is shining more brightly with more trees decorated with twinkling LED lights. Downtown is also aglow with 150 blue and white-lit festive tree fixtures, perched on top of Victoria’s iconic cluster lampposts.
Mark your calendar to bring friends and family downtown to Sleigh the Day: Sing, Shop, Create on Sunday, December 17 from 1-4 p.m. on Government Street, between Humboldt and Courtney Streets.
OUR DWTN and the Victoria Beer Society invite you to participate in free holiday craft making for all ages, sing timeless classics alongside festive carollers and explore unique handmade treasures and seasonal treats by local artisans for those last-minute holiday gifts. Stay cozy outdoors with a cup of holiday cheer. Spiced apple cider, hot chocolate and seasonal craft beers will be available for purchase. Rain, snow or shine, it promises to be a fun-filled experience for everyone.
During December, consider making some magical memories at Lights of Wonder, an enchanting holiday light display in Centennial Square presented by the Downtown Victoria Business Association.
As the dark winter nights extend into February, OUR DWTN and festival producer VMF (the team behind the Vancouver Mural Festival), are excited to launch Winter Art Festival in Victoria. This celebration of light, art and storytelling features sculptures, projection mapping, augmented reality (AR) and live performances.
Held over the Family Day long weekend from 5-9 p.m., the Winter Arts Festival will kick off on Friday, February 16, 2024 with an opening celebration. Free to attend except for the VMF After Dark 19+ ticketed event, this four-day, family-friendly festival will provide warm spaces to gather, creating a rhythm of indoor and outdoor experiences that inspire a sense of rediscovery of downtown streets and city spaces.
Attendees can explore downtown Victoria by participating in the Art Walk, featuring clusters of new temporary public artworks and lighting displays. Along the route, select storefronts and businesses will be participating by staying open late and offering warm places to gather and connect, while hosting art installations and pop-up performances, transforming their window displays in line with the festival theme of Light & Language. The Art Walk can be enjoyed on your own or as part of a guided tour.
The Festival’s Winter Arts Hub will serve as an indoor focal point where the community can come together and enjoy local food vendors, artisan booths and scheduled performances as well as artist and curator talks. For details, visit: winterartsfest.com.
Whether it’s festive cheer, light-based public art or pop-up performances, OUR DWTN has something to offer every resident and visitor this winter.
Downtown awaits. See you there!