Mark Victoria, B.C.’s 150th with theatrical bike ride

Queen Elizabeth II may have just celebrated her 60th year on the throne, but Victoria — the city, not the queen — has 150 candles to blow out.

The British Columbia capital on the southeast corner of Vancouver Island is marking its sesquicentennial with several official events as well as some less conventional activities.

Bike Ride 2012, a project of Victoria’s Theatre SKAM, is two weekends of outdoor theater spread out along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

This year’s annual mobile menu of live performance is called “Bike Ride 150th Anniversary Edition.”

Theatre SKAM organized several independent and local live theater groups along the trail. Audiences ride their bikes from show to show.

“I’m a cyclist and was out on the Galloping Goose Trail and looked at these great natural performance spaces,” said Matthew Payne, the group’s artistic producer. He helped to organize the first theater-filled bike ride four years ago.

People 13 and older pay a $15 fee, which includes free help decorating a bike and access to the shows. It takes about 45 minutes to see three performances, Payne said. There also will be local food and surprise bursts of entertainment.

This year, new work commissioned by Theatre SKAM will tell some of the stories of the city, the trail and the waterfront. One piece is about shipyards, another about a streetcar tragedy.

The 34-mile Galloping Goose Trail follows an abandoned railway track and trestle that ran from Victoria to Sooke. The name comes from a 1920s rail car.

Victoria is rated the cycling capital of Canada, meaning more people per capita commute by bicycle than any other Canadian city, according to government officials. For visitors, the trail is a great way to explore the area. There are plenty of bike rentals in Victoria if you can’t bring yours along.

Bike Ride 2012 is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. June 16 and 17, and June 23 and 24.

And what would be a more fitting celebration in Victoria than tea? One of the great joys of visiting the city is taking part in a high-tea ceremony, that most British of culinary-cultural occasions.

People drink fine tea while snacking on finger sandwiches, scones and fresh fruit at the Empress Hotel, or at one of the several smaller tea shops scattered about the downtown core.

Silk Road Aromatherapy and Tea Company doesn’t offer high tea, but it has created a limited edition tea for the city’s 150th birthday.

The Victoria: Tribute Blend tea is Silk Road’s salute to the city. The blend follows the ancient Chinese tradition of creating “tribute” teas to pay homage to the emperor and the Imperial Court, while using tea grown in Victoria.

Inspired by Victoria’s heritage, beautiful gardens and natural spaces, Silk Road’s blend is a black tea with honey, fruit and floral notes. The tea sells in a mini tin for $4.99 (Canadian) or a 40-cup size for $15.

The whole city will celebrate the anniversary with a week of events at the beginning of August.

Many Victoria hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are offering special 150th anniversary packages through the end of the year.

Get to Victoria by high-speed ferry aboard the Victoria Clipper from Seattle, or by ferry either from Port Angeles, Anacortes or Tsawwassen.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

Resources

• Bike Ride 2012: www.skam.ca/bike-ride

• Silk Road Tea: www.silkroadtea.com

• City of Victoria: www.victoria.ca

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