We arrive at Victoria’s inner harbour early in the afternoon, and already the crowds are growing. We search out our friends, who arrived at dawn in order to secure the best seats, a section overlooking the water and directly in front of the floating stage. They’ve put out camp chairs for us too. We’re here for one of my favourite summer events: Symphony Splash.
Every year over the BC Day long weekend, the Victoria Symphony performs an outdoor concert on a barge in the inner harbour. It’s an event that’s been running for 26 years now, and one that draws thousands of people, young and old, local and from out of town.
Throughout the afternoon, we watch the crowds along the causeway grow, as every seating area, every spot of grass is claimed. One of our friends, a talented horn player, is performing in the opening act with “The Midnights,” a high-spirited and popular local R and B band. In some years, David has played with the symphony, but it’s more fun to watch him dance and groove (and actually play!) with this band.
The Midnights signal the beginning of the concert, and the boaters begin arriving, mostly people in kayaks and canoes, but a few small power boats and a few very brave paddle boarders! (Our favourite paddled in wearing a suit and tie!) By the time the symphony begins, the area in front of the stage will be filled with boats, rafted up together, side by side.
The mood at Symphony Splash is much livelier than at a concert hall, and we watch in delight as people get up to dance to a waltz by Strauss. Throughout the evening we are encouraged to dance and to clap and to fully enjoy the evening.
We are treated to an evening of wonderful music , including an amazing performance by a young accordion player, who plays two pieces with a gorgeous, old-world, European feel. Pure loveliness!
The finale, as it is every year, is Tchaicovsky’s 1812 Overture, accompanied by canons, operated by the sea Cadets, and by a spectacular fireworks display. And in the hush that follows, a haunting version of Amazing Grace, with bagpipes, a performance that always leaves me in tears.
What better way to celebrate mid-summer?
What are your favourite summer events in your community?