A public holiday when banks and many businesses close, Victoria Day occurs on the Monday on or before May 24. The holiday Monday creates a long weekend for many Canadians. And it falls at a favorite time of year -- a weekend when many Canadians broach the outdoors after a long winter indoors. Canadians often head to the cottage or out camping for the three-day weekend.
What and When is Victoria Day
Victoria Day is always on the Monday on or before May 24. It is the weekend before the U.S. Memorial Day weekend. With the regular Saturday-Sunday weekend, many Canadians who work Monday-Friday have a three-day weekend for Victoria Day.
The upcoming dates for Victoria Day are:
- May 19, 2014
- May 18, 2015
- May 23, 2016
Victoria Day in Vancouver
For Canadians and Vancouverites alike, the long Victoria Day weekend marks the start of summer and the final end to a long winter. As Vancouver has a milder climate than most of Canada, it's possible to go camping for the long weekend. Many people also head to cottages, outdoor music festivals, and even the beach. These activities continue throughout the summer.
What to Do on a Long Weekend
Long weekends are three-day weekends, when a public holiday falls before or after the usual weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Besides Victoria Day weekend, some other long weekends include Easter (April), Canada Day (July 1), BC Day (first weekend in August), Labour Day (first weekend in September), and Thanksgiving (second weekend in October).
When in Vancouver, spend the weekend like the locals and enjoy the fun, outdoors-focused activities. While camping and the beach are great to enjoy any warm-weather weekend, they become all the sweeter on a long weekend.
- Camping: To snag a camp site at a provincial park, you may need to book weeks in advance. Parks like E.C. Manning Provincial Park, Cultus Lake Provincial Park, Porteau Cove Provincial Park, and Skihist Provincial Park are all within a 3-hour drive from Vancouver. A little further afield, campgrounds around Shuswap are stunning and more arid.
- Provincial parks: Besides camping, provincial parks are also great for hiking and wildlife watching. Even if you're not equipped for a long weekend of camping, consider venturing out for a day trip.
- Beaches: If you stay in the city for the Victoria Day weekend, Vancouver beaches are the place to be if the weather is sunny and warm. This is the weekend that lifeguards start supervising Vancouver beaches. Kitsilano, English Bay, and Third beaches are bound to be hot spots.
- Road trips: Follow the Sea-to-Sky Highway for a superbly scenic road trip and spend the Victoria Day weekend in Whistler. As May falls between winter ski and summer seasons, plan to bike, relax in a hot tub, or dine at some excellent restaurants in the village. Other options for a road trip include driving through the Okanagan, or crossing the 49th parallel to visit Washington State. Ferry routes to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are another long-weekend favorite. But like provincial park campgrounds, the most popular ferry routes and times book up well in advance. Be prepared for a wait if crossing any borders or taking a ferry.
- Outdoor markets: Many farmers' markets and night markets start in mid-May. Explore the fun and eclectic shopping at markets in Richmond and Chinatown -- they are a great place to chat with vendors and shop for unusual items.
- Biking: Vancouver is a bike-friendly city. For the long-weekend, take a day to cycle along the Stanley Park or False Creek seawalls.