If you are in Victoria for the May Long Weekend (May 21-23), then you are in luck! The long weekend is celebrating the national holiday of Victoria Day, celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria, our city’s namesake.
Naturally, our city takes Victoria Day pretty seriously. The Island Farms Victoria Day Parade that weaves its way through downtown is our largest parade of the year – it starts at 9am on May 23rd.
Throughout the weekend there are Celtic celebrations happening at Topaz Park. For the 153rd time, visitors and locals alike can attend the Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival! From Saturday, May 21st to Monday, May 23rd, Topaz Park will be bursting with Scottish cultural events including athletic competitions, sessions from The Whiskey Tasting School, an array of Celtic bands, as well as Irish and Highland Dance troops.
Fun Fact: There are more people in Canada that claim Scottish heritage than there are people currently living in Scotland!
Lastly, don’t miss the Victoria International Kite Festival down at Clover Point. This unique, colourful festival kicks off with the magical “Kites with Lights” event on Friday, May 20th from 9-11pm. Because of all the kites and kids, Clover Point is closed to vehicle traffic on Friday night, so ride your bike down to see the show instead! Just make sure you have lights so you’re visible and safe along the way.
Queen Victoria holds special significance for Canada. She was the reigning British monarch during Canadian Confederation in 1867. While being the “Mother of Confederation,” Queen Victoria reigned during one of the most exciting times in British history. She saw the expansion of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution.
Fun Facts about Queen Victoria:
- Growing up, she was isolated from other children and the public (as the heir to the throne, her safety was key). Her mother was very protective, writing down everything Victoria did each day in a journal. Victoria herself later became an avid journal-writer.
- Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert. They fought constantly (they both had a bit of a temper) but ultimately had one of the happiest marriages the monarchy has ever seen. They had nine children together, despite the fact that Victoria absolutely detested pregnancy.
- She was the first known carrier of hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder that later became known as the “Royal disease” due to it spreading through her many offspring. All nine of her children were married into different royal families, producing a total of 42 royal grandchildren across Europe.
- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert embraced the technological era they lived in – they were the first monarchs ever to be photographed. These photos were later sold to members of the public, marking the beginning of photographic celebrity culture.
- Victoria and Albert were also the first monarchs ever to ride in a train, an experience neither of them particularly enjoyed.
- Despite having the second longest reign in British history (only recently surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II) and ruling over what was, at the time, the world’s largest empire, Queen Victoria herself was just under five feet tall.