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.
From February 16-19, 2024, the Winter Arts Festival will transform downtown Victoria into an open-air gallery and celebration featuring 3D art, light projections, digital and augmented reality, laser animations and more.
A celebration of light, language and art, the Winter Arts Festival is co-presented by the City of Victoria’s Our DWTN initiative and festival producer VMF, a non-profit dedicated to creating experiences that connect people through art, most known for the Vancouver Mural Festival.
Heading into the Family Day weekend, the Winter Arts Festival will kick off on Friday, February 16 with an opening celebration. Free to attend except for select 19+ events, the family-friendly festival will provide warm spaces to gather, creating a rhythm of indoor and outdoor experiences that inspire a sense of rediscovery of familiar streets and city spaces throughout the long weekend.
Attendees can look forward to the Art Walk, guided walking tours, dance parties, live music and performances across Victoria’s downtown and major tourist destinations. The event’s Winter Arts Hub will serve as an indoor focal point where festival attendees can come together to foster connections with both the community and art.
As night descends and the lights come on, a walking route is activated that leads to clusters of pop-up artworks, lighting displays and businesses open late. Attendees explore downtown Victoria by going on the Art Walk to discover new and existing art installations. Centred on downtown Victoria’s historic core, the Art Walk will create a path that participants can explore on their own.
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, co-created with local event producers and performers. The event highlights artists from diverse backgrounds, queer identity and colourful self-expression.
Local artists and businesses are invited to be part of this new festival. Visit winterartsfest.com for more information and how to participate as an artist, arts organization or business.
Open Call for Performering Artists - The Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) has an open call for performers for both Victoria and Vancouver locations this winter. Programming is focused on live performances (i.e., drag, comedy, burlesque, dance, etc.) and live music/DJs. Learn more.
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. 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.
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?