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Celebrate Victoria Day 2024: A Guide to Canada's Annual Holiday

Celebrate Victoria Day 2024: A Guide to Canada's Annual Holiday

Monday, 20th of May marks the celebration of Victoria Day across Canada. This annual event, steeped in history and tradition, pays homage to Queen Victoria and serves as a kick-off to the summer season. Let's explore the festivities and events that make Victoria Day a highlight on Canada's calendar.

A Royal Tradition 

Victoria Day holds a special place in the hearts of many Canadians, serving as a poignant reminder of their country's deep-rooted ties to the British monarchy. Originally established in 1845 to commemorate Queen Victoria's 26th birthday, the holiday has since evolved into a cherished national celebration.

Queen Victoria herself had a profound influence on Canada, despite never setting foot on its soil. Her father, the Duke of Kent, spent nearly a decade in Quebec City and Halifax, fostering a connection that would endure for generations. When Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, she became Canada's first sovereign, laying the groundwork for the country's future development and growth.

In the years following Queen Victoria's death in 1901, Victoria Day took on added significance as a day of remembrance and reflection. It was decreed by law to be recognised as a federal holiday, ensuring that future generations would continue to honour her memory.

Today, Victoria Day is celebrated on the first Monday nearest to May the 24th, known colloquially as the "May long weekend" or "May two-four." It marks the unofficial start of the summer season, with Canadians eagerly anticipating warmer weather and outdoor activities.

Victoria Day Events and Traditions

Victoria Day is celebrated with a huge range of events and traditions across the country.

In New Westminster, British Columbia, the festivities kick off with the age-old tradition of anvil firing, a spectacle that has been observed for an impressive 145 years.

Dating back to 1870, this unique tradition was born out of a desire to celebrate with a bang—quite literally—without the use of firearms. Two anvils are placed together with gunpowder in between, and when ignited, the resulting combustion sends the top anvil soaring into the air, mimicking the sound of a cannon.

Meanwhile, in the city of Victoria, the annual parade takes centre stage, featuring over 100 floats with decorations and lively performers. This year promises to be no exception, with the parade serving as the highlight of the city's celebrations. But the festivities don't stop there; throughout the region, a wide range of activities awaits, from free performances in downtown Victoria to family-friendly events in local parks and community centres.

For those who enjoy all things British, Victoria Day offers an array of themed events that transport visitors back to the Victorian era. From traditional High Tea complete with dainty sandwiches and freshly baked scones to imported royal port fit for a queen, the celebrations are a nod to Canada's enduring ties to the British monarchy. Many attendees also wear period dress from the Victorian era, adding an extra touch of authenticity to the festivities.

Fireworks Extravaganzas

No Victoria Day celebration would be complete without the dazzling spectacle of fireworks. From small communities to major cities, Canadians eagerly anticipate these displays, making the most of the holiday's festive spirit.

Whether it's a lakeside park or a waterfront promenade, designated areas become gathering spots for families and friends to enjoy the colourful explosions on this annual holiday.

Plan Your Own Victoria Day Celebration

While Victoria Day is primarily celebrated in Canada, there's no reason why you can't join in the festivities right here in the UK! Whether you're a Canadian expat looking to keep the tradition alive or simply someone who appreciates a good holiday, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Victoria Day from across the pond.

Start by hosting a themed party with friends and family. Deck out your garden or living room with Canadian flags, bunting, and other patriotic decorations to set the scene. Serve up traditional Canadian dishes like poutine, maple-glazed salmon, and butter tarts to tantalise your taste buds and transport you to the Great White North.

For an extra touch of authenticity, why not incorporate some Canadian-themed activities into your celebration? Set up a game of street hockey or organise a maple syrup tasting station for guests to enjoy. You could even hold a trivia contest with questions about Canadian history and culture to test your knowledge.

And what would Victoria Day be without fireworks?

Bring the magic of Canadian fireworks displays to your own back garden by setting off your own pyrotechnics. Whether you opt for a small selection of sparklers and fountains or go all out with a full-blown fireworks show, there's no better way to cap off a day of celebration than with a dazzling display of light and colour.

So gather your friends, fire up the barbecue, and get ready to celebrate Victoria Day in style. Whether you're reminiscing about your Canadian roots or simply looking for an excuse to throw a party, Victoria Day is the perfect opportunity to come together and enjoy the best that Canada has to offer—right here in the UK.


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