The various festivals and special events held in Vancouver and Victoria every year draw tens of thousands of visitors and reflect an extraordinary diversity of cultures. Things may seem a little quiet in the winter and early spring, but that's because most residents simply head for the ski slopes. Resorts in Whistler Blackcomb (tel. 800/944-7853; www.whistler.com) have events happening nearly every weekend. If no contact number or location is given for any of the events listed below, Tourism Vancouver (tel. 604/683-2000; www.tourismvancouver.com) can provide further details.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Annual Bald Eagle Count, Goldstream Provincial Park, Vancouver Island. Hundreds of bald eagles take up residence to feed on the salmon, which begin to run in October. The eagle count usually takes place in mid- to late January, when the numbers peak. Throughout December and January, the park offers educational programs, displays, and guest speakers. Call tel. 250/478-9414 or visit www.goldstreampark.com for dates.
Chinese New Year, Chinatown. Late January or early February.
Trumpeter Swan Festival, Comox Valley. A weeklong festival celebrates these magnificent white birds as they gather in the Comox Valley. Check dates with the Vancouver Island tourist office (tel. 250/754-3500).
Pacific Rim Whale Festival, Tofino, Ucluelet, and Pacific Rim National Park. Every spring, more than 20,000 gray whales migrate past this coastline, attracting visitors to Vancouver Island's west coast beaches. The event features live crab races, storytelling, parades, art shows, guided whale-spotting hikes, and whale-watching boat excursions. Call tel. 250/726-4641 or visit www.pacificrimwhalefestival.com for more information. Mid-March to early April.
Swiftsure International Yacht Race. International sailing races make for spectacular scenery on the waters around Victoria. For information, call tel. 250/953-2033 or visit www.tourismvictoria.com. Third or fourth weekend in May.
JazzFest International. Jazz, swing, bebop, fusion, and improv artists from across the globe perform at various venues around Victoria during this 10-day festival (tel. 250/388-4423; www.jazzvictoria.ca). Late June/early July.
Canada Day. Victoria, the provincial capital, celebrates this national holiday with events centered on the Inner Harbour, including music, food, and fireworks. July 1.
Organic Island Festival & Sustainability Expo. Little wonder that this young, annual event is gaining traction in the mainstream. More than 150 exhibits and displays share all sorts of "green" and intriguing ideas for energy savings, food cultivations, and more at Victoria's Glendale Gardens. Call tel. 250/658-8148 for information or visit www.organicislands.ca.
Victoria Pride Celebration. Victoria's gay and lesbian community celebrates with a week of activities that culminates in a downtown parade and festival at Fisherman's Wharf Park. For more info, visit www.victoriapridesociety.org. First week in July.
First Peoples Festival. This free event highlights the heritage of the Pacific Northwest First Nations with performances, carving demonstrations, and cultural displays at the Royal BC Museum (tel. 250/384-3211). Second week in August.
Fringe Festival. Anything goes at this annual alternative-theater festival. The festival is a 12-day celebration of some of the most innovative theater offered anywhere in the country. For more information, call tel. 250/383-2663 or visit www.intrepidtheatre.com. Late August/early September.
Victoria Dragon Boat Fest. Although a smaller version to Vancouver's races, the races are just as exciting. More than 90 teams help to transform the entire Inner Harbour into action central with food vendors, street performers, and pageantry. Check out www.victoriadragonboat.com for details.
Classic Boat Festival. Boaters from around the world converge in Victoria's Inner Harbour for this annual Labour Day–weekend celebration, which includes races, a parade of steam vessels, a cruise up the Gorge Waterway, and vessels open for tours. For more information, call tel. 250/383-8306 or visit www.classicboatfestival.ca. First weekend in September.
The Great Canadian Beer Festival. Featuring samples from the province's best microbreweries, this event is held at the Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas St. For more information, call tel. 250/383-2332. Early September.
Royal Victoria Marathon. This annual race attracts runners from around the world (there's a half-marathon course available, too). Call tel. 250/658-4520 or go to www.royalvictoriamarathon.com for more info. Early October (Canadian Thanksgiving weekend).
Remembrance Day. November 11.
First Night. The Inner Harbour becomes the venue for street performers, music, food vendors, and a fireworks show. Very family friendly. Drinking is prohibited. Call Tourism Victoria at tel. 250/953-2033 for more details. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.