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A rainforest species like the western red cedar needs at least 76cm (30 in.) of precipitation a year. Vancouver gets about 116cm (46 in.) a year, a cause for celebration among the local cedar population. Homo sapiens simply learn to adjust.

Most of that precipitation (usually in the form of showers and drizzle, not downpours) arrives in the winter, when (with a 30-min. drive to the mountains) you can trade the rain for snow. Skiing and snowboarding are popular from mid-December until the mountain snowpack melts away in June. Except in Whistler, hotels in the winter are quieter and the restaurants less busy.

Both Vancouver and Victoria enjoy moderately warm, sunny summers and mild, rainy winters; their weather is the mildest in Canada. Victoria gets half as much rain as Vancouver (58cm/23 in.), thanks to the sheltering Olympic Peninsula to the south and its own southeasterly position on huge Vancouver Island. You can find current weather conditions for Vancouver at http://vancouver.weatherpage.ca.

Around mid-February, the winds begin to slacken, the sun shines a bit more, the buds on the cherry trees appear, and early daffodils blossom. By late-March, azaleas, rhododendrons, and most other flowers are in bloom, and the sun is more frequent though this doesn't always hold through April, which can serve up a bit of everything from glorious warmth to sudden arctic chills.

June sees more sun per summer day than farther south (mid-June sees 16 hr. of daylight). Only 10% of the annual rainfall occurs during the summer months, and the sun stays out through summer until the rains close in again in mid-October. These spring/summer/early autumn months are prime visiting time and when most visitors arrive. The first cruise ships start appearing in late April/early May.

Holidays

The official British Columbia public holidays are as follows: New Year's Day (Jan 1); Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday (Apr 9, 2012); Victoria Day (May 21, 2012); Canada Day (July 1); British Columbia Day (first Monday in Aug); Labour Day (Sept 3, 2012); Thanksgiving (Oct 8, 2012); Remembrance Day (Nov 11); Christmas (Dec 25); and Boxing Day (Dec 26).

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.