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Make your way to Vancouver Island soon and experience an eclectic brand of fun and entertainment. In late November, you'll want to check out the annual Westshore Wonderland Craft Fair in Langford, just a short drive west of Victoria. Held at the Eagle Ridge Community Centre, the three-day festival celebrates local artisans and their hand-crafted goods.
Late October in Victoria, you'll discover one of the most popular local festivals – Art of the Cocktail. A three-day event celebrating the very best in bar tending skills, the Art of the Cocktail kicks off with the Grand Tasting, a meet-and-greet of sorts allowing you to mingle with other guests and try a variety of drinks from area mixologists.
Events during the Art of the Cocktail are held at the Crystal Garden in downtown Victoria. Make the drive in from nearby Sooke and enjoy the flavors while your designated driver has their fill of ice water.
Directly north of Victoria is Sidney. A warm and accommodating town, Sidney welcomes you with you with the annual Sidney Nativity Exhibit. The week-long festival typically begins December 1st, is free to the public, and features a wide variety of nativity scenes on display at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sidney, not far from Brethour Park. Many families and friends drive in from nearby cities like Chemainus and Duncan for the annual holiday event.
Be sure to explore the Tofino Food & Wine Festival in early June. A popular fund raising event in Tofino, the Tofino Food & Wine Festival is held at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. Since 2003, the Tofino Food & Wine Festival has treated guests to an eclectic menu of finely prepared food and wine from top local chefs.
Head for Courtenay in March for one of the most popular garden related festivals in the region. The Annual Community Seed Swap and Show, commonly known as Comox Valley Seedy Saturday, is held at the Florence Filbert Centre in downtown Courtenay. There are workshops, speakers, and plenty more all in the name of organic and non-GMO growing. The Seedy Saturday is usually the first Saturday in March.
With $10,000 at stake, the Port Alberni Salmon Festival & Derby is a yearly four-day fishing competition held at the Clutesi Haven Marina in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Fishermen of all ages and skill levels battle for daily cash prizes and the bonus awarded to the one who reels in the derby’s largest Clipped Coho Salmon.
Lucky raffle winners receive prizes donated by Canadian Tire, Gone Fishin’, and Tsheshaht Market, and festivities include live music and entertainment all week long. Popular activites also include the Celebrity Dunk Tank and the Beta Sigma Phi Fisherman’s Breakfast, while the Kiwanis World Famous BBQ Salmon is a festival staple.
Held annually in fall, the Sooke Slow Food Cycle is a 33 kilometre bike tour that features workshops designed to increase awareness of sustainable food options. This tour of Sooke offers bicyclists two routes - the aforementioned 33 kilometre Red Route for mid-level and advanced cyclist and the 18 kilometre Green Route for casual cyclists, hikers, and families. Along both routes, riders dismount for mini-workshops and demonstrations on everything from urban gardens to worm composting.
Both routes wind through off-road trails, ocean fronts, and country roads on the spectacular coastline of Vancouver Island. Cyclists are encouraged to pack a lunch and carry water, though some businesses like the Sooke Harbour House extended specials to all tickets holders.