(Photo by Terrance Lam)

One of Victoria’s largest and most awaited celebrations is only 5 days away, and the downtown core is about to be packed with over 100,000 revellers of all ages.

That’s right – the annual Island Farms Victoria Day Parade is coming back for its 120th year, and we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the big day!

From memorable performances to fighter jet fly by’s and more, this is one family-friendly event you won’t want to miss.

So without further ado, here are 12 things you need to know about the 120th Island Farms Victoria Day Parade, hosted by the Greater Victoria Festival Society:

1. What is Victoria Day? 

Contrary to popular belief, Victoria Day is not a celebration of how amazing the city of Victoria is (although we personally think there should be a day dedicated to that). In fact, Victoria Day is a statutory holiday to commemorate Queen Victoria’s birthday, and is celebrated on the Monday before May 25th in order to give us all a May long weekend.

No complaints there!

2. Before the big day

If you’re as excited about the parade as we are, you’re in luck! The weekend of the parade will feature a plethora of concerts and performances at the Parliament Building from 10 AM to 7 PM on both days. Plus, don’t miss out on the Parade of Bands and 4th annual Drum Battle on Sunday, May 20th, 2 PM to 5 PM.

We couldn’t have asked for a better sneak peek of the main event!

3. When and where will the parade be? 

The party begins at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 21st! The parade will start at Douglas and Finlayson, by Mayfair Mall, and continue down Douglas Street, finishing at Humboldt.

4. Road closures 

You’ll want to get downtown bright and early because city authorities will start closing streets off to traffic at 7 a.m.. Here’s the full road closure schedule:

7 AM:  Douglas at Tolmie, Blanshard at Finlayson, Burnside Road East at Finlayson, Burnside Road at Douglas.

7:45 – 8 AM: Douglas from Burnside to Humboldt.

Parade organizers recommend that you either look for alternative transportation, or park your vehicle by Beacon Hill Park or Dallas Road and walk to downtown to enjoy the festivities to the fullest. All roads will be reopened about 20 minutes after the end of the parade.

Mini donuts from Donut Delights #foodtrucksVIC

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5. Breakfast at Centennial Square

All that waking up early and rushing to get out the door usually means forgoing the most important meal of the day – and we simply can’t have that!

Breakfast will be served starting 8 AM at Centennial Square by the Esquimalt Lions Club, with all proceeds going to the BC Children’s Cancer Fund.

Plus, several food trucks will also be setting up for breakfast before the parade starts, and will remain at Centennial Square during and after the procession ends.

6. Kicking off with a bang 

Literally! This year’s parade starts with 443 Squadron Sea King Helicopter flown by Captain Daniel Schade and Capt. Nick Villa, with Cpl. Andrew Ginting, the Airborne Sensor Operator (AESOP) in the back seat at 8:55 AM.

But you’ll need your earplugs for the F18 Hornets that fly by next! Major Phil Meikle is the lead pilot with Capt Brian Kilroy as his wingman.

The fighter jets are a part of this year’s parade as a symbol to honour all athletes, coaches and parents around the world in support of #HumboldtStrong, after 16 people from the Humboldt Broncos hockey team died in a tragic bus crash in April.

#Victoria #victoriaday #victoriadayparade

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7. This year’s theme

Last year, it was Canada 150, and this year it’s something else that we can all take part in!

Get ready for a ‘Blast from the Past’ as this year’s Victoria Day parade celebrates the 1950/60/70/80’s, and dress up in your favourite retro outfit to match!

This year’s Island Farms float will be decked up in retro-chic psychedelic neon daisies plucked straight out of cottage cheese containers from yesteryear – and it’ll be the first official float to lead the way!

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8. Floats, bands, and more!

Get ready to see the best and brightest of Victoria shine like the stars that they are for the whole world to see!

From school marching bands to firetrucks, farm and fresh foods workers to the transportation industry, robots to dinosaurs (that’s right, a velociraptor will be parading down Douglas Street), and much more, there will be something for everyone.

Victoria Day 21 gun salute Photo by Jackie Cowan

Posted by Victoria Buzz on Monday, May 22, 2017

9. There will be a 21 gun salute

Earplugs back on at noon!

The 5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery will fire off a 21 gun salute to mark the Queen Victoria’s birthday – she would’ve been 199 years old this year.

It’ll take place on Belleville Street at 12 PM.

10. The fun continues at Celebration Square 

Music, face painting, a climbing wall, bouncy castles, dancing, food trucks and more!

From 10:30 AM – 3:30 PM, Centennial Square will be transformed into Celebration Square to keep the party going for the whole family.

11. How to prepare for the day 

Once you get downtown on Monday, you won’t want to leave.

Luckily, the weather is forecasted to be sunny and gorgeous, with a high of 18°C. But you never know – forecasts can change!

In order to make the most of your day with no interruptions to the fun, remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and rain gear, just in case. For maximum comfort during the parade, you should also plan to bring chairs and blankets for yourself and the family. And while there will be plenty of food and drink at Celebration Square, it’s always a good idea to bring water and a light snack with you.

Look who's back to host the 120th Island Farms Victoria Day parade on Victoria Buzz!

Look who's back to host the 120th Island Farms Victoria Day parade on Victoria Buzz! 🎉

Posted by Victoria Buzz on Monday, May 7, 2018

12. In case you can’t make it down to the parade…

…remember to tune in to our Facebook page because Victoria Buzz will livestream the 2018 Island Farms Victoria Day Parade, with the help of our partners at Roll.Focus. Productions!

Join local media icons Gordie Tupper, Dana Hutchings, Nicole Evans Bentham, and Chris Loran as they take you through the revelry of big day.

Our broadcast will utilize multiple high definition cameras to bring you a crystal clear view of the downtown core as it buzzes with excitement. We’ll begin streaming once the parade reaches our broadcast location at Douglas and Cormorant, so you won’t miss a thing!

And if watching the broadcast on your computer just won’t cut it, log in to Facebook on your Smart TV to watch it on a bigger screen.

If you’re posting photos from the Victoria Day Parade, remember to use the hashtags #VictoriaDayParade and #yyjparade. For more information, check out the Greater Victoria Festival Society’s new website here.

Now let’s get this show on the road!

The 120th Annual Island Farms Victoria Day Parade

  • When: Monday, May 21st, 9 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Where: Along Douglas Street, from Finlayson to Humboldt

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