Vancouver Island, B.C.

I made Lazy Mike work pretty hard when he gave me a crash course in playing the harmonica. I met up with him at The Queens, a legendary Vancouver Island venue with a hardwood dance floor and walls, that if they could talk, would sing the blues.

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The pounding of the cedar log drum sets the rhythmic beat for the young dancers as they circle around an open fire. They’re sharing legends about their First Nations culture through traditional native dance.

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Exiting the Island Highway from Nanaimo, I took a few turns and ended up on Dunsmuir Avenue, named after British Columbia’s coal king. There I paused for a work crew painting fresh bike lane lines as a group of cyclists cruised by.  

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Some of this year’s performers include Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, Buddy Guy, Graham Nash and Big Little Lions, a new school folk duo, featuring Paul Otten and Juno Award winner Helen Austin. 

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Alright, ladies. Let’s admit it. We’ve all had that daydream. You know, the one where you’re Kate Bosworth in the movie  Blue Crush , and you’re on your surfboard, living the dream and flawlessly carving a perfect turquoise barrel with the ultimate beach soundtrack playing in your ear?

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Chef Ned Bell cycled more than 8,000 kilometres across Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to rally support among his peers for the health of our oceans. And you can see him at in the Comox Valley this spring.

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Like the idea of summer and jazzy music by the sea? Head to the TD Victoria International JazzFest for a top-notch lineup and ocean adventures. 

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The Clayoquot Oyster Festival will bring you out of your shell with fun evening galas and contests, while giving you a chance to try great fresh seafood and learn about Clayoquot Sound’s thriving oyster industry.

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Nanaimo’s Feastival is a two-day celebration that celebrates both tasty ends of food spectrum - savoury and sweet.

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What do a Purple Pirate, dance, symphony, blues, whisky, craft beer, dogs, and Lion Bear Fox all have in common? They’re all a part of the amazing Festival Nanaimo

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Vancouver Island can be known for it's moody, grey winters, but spring has sprung and the sunshine is out in full force. As summer approaches, dragon boat teams from all over the world start hitting the water to prepare for the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival from July 7 to 9.

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Nanaimo’s history could be summed up with just a few words: “Bathtubs and Black Stones,” which is fittingly the name of a musical review and stage performance coming up this summer.  

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"Sausage on a bun with sauerkraut,” Kris Kringle requested as I sat across from him at Sandy’s Ukrainian Kitchen in Nanaimo. If you’re ever wondering what Santa Claus would order for lunch at a Ukrainian restaurant, there you have it.

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When I think of Vancouver Island my mind wanders back to family road-trip adventures where I first gazed up at the majestic totem poles in Alert Bay. I also remember standing in awe below the massive trees in Cathedral Grove and eating fish and chips next to bobbing fishing boats in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

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Summertime Blues is happening Aug. 24-27, 2017 at Maffeo Sutton Park. Pack your sunscreen, chairs, and blankets, and chill out while you enjoy more than 20 acts on the open-air stage.  

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Sooke River Bluegrass Festival is a foot-stompin’, hand-clappin, hootin and hollerin’ time.

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Come March when it’s pretty much guaranteed bitter temperatures will pummel us in the Prairies, the coast is celebrating spring. It’s a glorious seasonal mash-up that means flowers are blooming but people are still skiing - and surfing in the same weekend.

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“ If you’re not on Island Time, you want to be,” Tracy Morgan says as she hands me a freshly-tapped pint of Longwood’s Island Time Lager. 

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Nanaimo’s Longwood Brewery craft its beers from the bounty of Vancouver Island, sourcing ingredients from places such as Cedar Valley Hops Yards and Castlewood Farms. With some supplies moving less than 15 kilometres, Longwood’s beers take drinking local to a whole new level.  

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Getting out on the water is always a fantastic way to experience a place, especially when its nickname is the Harbour City, and you’re in a 12-person bathtub. Yes, a bathtub that not only fits 12 people, but is also seaworthy.    

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'A party on the coast for the coast' is how the Otalith Festival is described by one local organizer. That’s fitting because everything that happens at this two-day celebration revolves around the ocean and coastal culture. 

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Have you ever wondered what Shakespeare’s works would be like if they were presented like sports commentary? How about if they were packaged as a rap?    

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Sooke is the kind of place where in a single day you can picnic in a quiet cove, hike along a pod of orcas, visit an art gallery and finish the day with a gourmet meal overlooking the harbour.

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Actor John Goodman once said, “Beer is a good friend.” So it’s safe to say that he’d find lots of good friends at Victoria’s upcoming Great Canadian Beer Festival.

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You can call it the Harbour City, a historic coal town, home of the iconic Bastion and Diana Krall, birthplace of the bathtub race, and originator of one of the world’s most popular and beloved, dessert squares.  

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The wild West Coast of Vancouver Island has plenty of traditions that run as deep as the ocean: think a stickered up VW bus, loaded up with surf boards and Jack Johnson tunes going as the surf reports roll in.

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After getting tossed out of a bathtub on the waters off Nanaimo's Departure Bay, all Jamie Garcia could say, with a giant smile splashed across his face, was, “Does that thing ever rip!”

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