The OUR DWTN revitalization program is investing in the downtown core with a focus on beautification, programming, cleaning and enhanced safety and the activation of downtown spaces.
Designed to provide safety and enjoyment to all who visit downtown Victoria, the program’s area of focus includes Wharf to Blanshard Streets and Belleville to Discovery Streets.
For its first year, Council has allotted close to $1 million to activate and refresh downtown with a mix of new retail experiences, pop-up culinary options, recreational and cultural programming, and events and placemaking initiatives – all in a clean and safe downtown.
OUR DWTN - Fall and Winter
Check out what's planned for this fall and winter downtown.
OUR DWTN and festival producer VMF (the team behind the Vancouver Mural Festival) are excited to launch Winter Art Festival in Victoria. This celebration of light, art and storytelling features sculptures, projection mapping, augmented reality (AR) and live performances.
Held over the Family Day long weekend from 5-9 p.m., the Winter Arts Festival will kick off on Friday, February 16, 2024 with an opening celebration. Free to attend except for the VMF After Dark 19+ ticketed event on February 17, this four-day, family-friendly festival will provide warm spaces to gather, creating a rhythm of indoor and outdoor experiences that inspire a sense of rediscovery of downtown streets and city spaces.
Attendees can explore downtown Victoria by participating in the Art Walk, featuring clusters of new temporary public artworks and lighting displays. Along the route, select storefronts and businesses will be participating by staying open late and offering warm places to gather and connect, while hosting art installations and pop-up performances, transforming their window displays in line with the festival theme of Light & Language. The Art Walk can be enjoyed on your own or as part of a guided tour.
The Festival’s Winter Arts Hub will serve as an indoor focal point where the community can come together and enjoy local food vendors, artisan booths and scheduled performances as well as artist and curator talks.
Theme: Light and Language
The Winter Arts Festival spotlights the fusion of light, language and technology in captivating light-based public art. In the darkest season, light serves as a vital form of communication, conveying warnings and radiating warmth, while creating spaces for reflection and storytelling.
Amidst the daily urban backdrop of neon signs, street names and plaques, the Winter Arts Festival sharpens its focus on the intersection of communication, technology and illumination, unveiling the stories woven in downtown Victoria’s historic alleyways and streets.
VMF After Dark (Ticketed 19+)
VMF After Dark will be the official after party of the festival for attendees aged 19+. VMF After Dark is a late-night ticketed event on Saturday, February 17 starting at 9:30 p.m., co-created with local event producers and performers. The event highlights artists from diverse backgrounds, queer identity and colourful self-expression. The location is to be announced.
For event details, visit: winterartsfest.com
The City of Victoria invites you to a festive afternoon downtown with family and friends at Sleigh the Day: Sing, Shop, Create on Sunday, December 17 from 1-4 p.m. on Government Street between Humboldt and Courtney Streets.
Enjoy free holiday craft making for all ages, sing timeless classics alongside festive carollers and explore unique handmade treasures and seasonal treats by local artisans for those last-minute holiday gifts.
Stay cozy with a cup of holiday cheer. Spiced apple cider, hot chocolate and seasonal craft beers poured by the Victoria Beer Society will be available for purchase.
Craft making starts at 1 p.m. and will be available while supplies last.
Rain, snow or shine. Please dress for the weather.
Sleigh the Day: Sing, Shop, Create is brought to you by the City of Victoria’s OUR DWTN initiative in partnership with the Victoria Beer Society.
Get festive! The City of Victoria and the Bay Centre are partnering to offer two FREE holiday craft workshops in December. Pre-registration is required.
Holiday Wreath-Making Workshop: Invasives Make Beautiful Boughs
OUR DWTN and the Bay Centre invite you to register for the free Holiday Wreath-Making Workshop: Invasives Make Beautiful Boughs. The two-hour workshop will be offered at the Bay Centre on:
Saturday, December 16 from 10 a.m.- noon
Thursday, December 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
For many, creating a seasonal wreath to hang on their door is a cherished winter holiday tradition. But what plants are we using to create these wreaths and how does that impact our local environment?
This workshop provides participants the opportunity to use ivy to intermix with cedar and fir to create a holiday wreath. Instead of using a disposable metal ring, the entire wreath is biodegradable and helps remove invasive species from our forests. Participants will leave with a sustainable wreath to decorate at home. The event includes complimentary hot apple cider.
The workshop will be led by Rhia Ironside, a restoration ecologist by trade who started using ivy to teach herself basket and wreath-making a few years ago. She loves the win-win of removing invasive species and finding uses for them while engaging community in the process! Rhia is passionate about connecting people to the land they live on and will talk to you for hours about native plants if you let her.
Twenty spots are available per workshop. Pre-registration is required.
Pre-register through Eventbrite. A wait list will be available.
All spots are first-come, first-served. Children under 10 years of age must work alongside a parent/guardian. Please register any children attending so that they have a seat.
Participants are invited to bring a non-perishable food item for donation to the Mustard Seed Food Bank.
This holiday season, downtown Victoria is the place to be to get festive. Enjoy the sparkle of enhanced LED tree lighting, festive winter hanging baskets and new OUR DWTN winter banners.
City crews have installed 250 winter hanging baskets around downtown – double the number from last year. Each winter basket is filled with a delightful mix of evergreens, including Red cedar, Douglas, Noble and Silver fir, White pine and Mountain hemlock, adorned with a beautiful white bow.
Victoria’s downtown is shining more brightly with more trees decorated with twinkling LED lights. Downtown is also aglow with 150 blue and white-lit festive tree fixtures, perched on top of Victoria’s iconic cluster lampposts.
From the Inner Harbour to Centennial Square, the City will be illuminated for the holiday season to compliment the many other holiday offerings such as the Downtown Victoria Business Association's Lights of Wonder, the 41st Peninsula Co-op Santa Claus Parade, free winter craft workshops and more.
The historic Crystal Garden, operated by the Victoria Conference Centre, will host two indoor pickleball courts in a temporary installation from January 9 to February 18, 2024 as part of the OUR DWTN revitalization program. The pickleball courts will be available for a mix of drop-in times, court reservations and registered programs. Program information will be available online through Programs & Registration on December 12. Registration will open on December 14 at noon.
We are exploring new opportunities for art activations and refreshing some artworks within the downtown core.
Recently the Poet Tree at the corner of Broughton and Government Streets was cleaned and repainted. Created by Glenn Closson as a legacy artwork for Victoria's inaugural Poet Laureate Carla Funk, the sculpture includes lines from her poem “Hide & Seek." The next time you’re downtown, check out the refreshed colours and design details of the artwork’s 300 forged leaves and its dragonflies.
The Commercial Alley Outdoor Art Gallery now features a new four-panel art installation by Ella Chay. Learn more.
Four hundred colourful banners will soon adorn downtown lampposts to beautify and enhance Victoria’s downtown.
The banners feature the OUR DWTN branding, which celebrates Victoria's dynamic, welcoming downtown community and encourages residents and visitors to come, stay and enjoy downtown as their own. The playfulness between the bold typeface, vibrant colours and dynamic graphics are used to elicit a sense of pride, inviting the viewer to explore their downtown.
OUR DWTN Summer Snapshot Photo Gallery
What We've Done So Far
On June 27, 2023, the City of Victoria and the Downtown Victoria Business Association invited businesses within the current program boundaries to participate in the first annual OUR DWTN Scrub-Up. This event was a wonderful opportunity for businesses, staff and office workers to join City staff, council and the Downtown Victoria Business Association to refresh the face of their block and downtown, boosting the daily work of the City's Public Works cleaning crews.
The Feet on the Street program provides a visible presence in the core, with bylaw officers making regular downtown patrols where they engage with the business community and proactively enforce bylaws relating to nuisance activities. This program runs until the end of December. Learn more [PDF/196KB].
Under the OUR DWTN program, the City now has a dedicated OUR DWTN service person, who monitors and coordinates downtown cleaning and maintenance. This service person conducts regular downtown inspections and works with a larger cleaning crew to target areas of high need.
Visitors and residents alike experienced the charm of the Inner Harbour all summer long with food and entertainment provided by OUR DWTN’s Summer at Ship Point series. From mid-July to September, food trucks and live music brought life to Ship Point every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursdays, the Victoria Beer Society ran a weekly pop-up outdoor backyard gathering, hosted by DJ Benji & Friends, complete with local food trucks, craft beer and classic outdoor games.
OUR DWTN and the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) partnered to provide financial support to improve the look and feel of downtown blocks and business properties. This grant supports improvements such as landscaping, bird deterrent features, cleaning and upgraded exteriors, awnings and lighting. Learn more at downtownvictoria.ca.
The new Tam Kung Temple mural by artist Carolyn Wong is a celebration of art, history and culture. Located on Government Street near Fisgard Street on the south exterior of the Yen Wo Society building, this dynamic, storytelling mural includes elements of augmented reality by artist Mark Illing. Created as part of the OUR DWTN revitalization program with sponsorship from the Downtown Victoria Business Association and Sunbelt Rentals, the Tam Kung Temple Mural reflects the cultural heritage of Chinatown and the Tam Kung Temple, the oldest Chinese temple in Canada.
With OUR DWTN funding, several downtown spaces were upgraded with seating, planters, synthetic turf and in Centennial Square, recreational activities such as chess tables and a ping pong set.
Summer activities included downtown block parties, summer markets, events and festivals, as well as walking tours and more food trucks around downtown.
CityVibe, the City’s summer events guide was available online showcasing over 40 festivals and outdoor events and 150 free outdoor music concerts and activities around town.
Seasonal décor included the City’s annual orca horticultural display and iconic hanging baskets, along with more street furniture, new colourful summer banners and new public art installations in the Commercial Alley and Douglas Street kiosks.
OUR DWTN Around Town
We've branded our downtown revitalization initiative OUR DWTN. Perhaps you've seen it around town?