Explore: Christmas shows and more to get you in tune with the season

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, as choirs, bands and groups, large and small, get in tune with the holidays with performances of popular seasonal music at a number of events and venues.

Tuba Christmas — Listen to more than 70 musicians with tubas and euphoniums produce the mellow (and unique) tone of massed, low-brass instruments at Tuba Christmas.

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This is the 39th year of the event, where an all-brass ensemble band will puff out familiar tunes on their highly-polished instruments.

Performers include musicians from across British Columbia and beyond, current and retired music teachers, as well as past and present members of the Naden Band.

The tuba, with its deep, umpah sound is often not immediately apparent in an orchestra. But without it, the music lacks body.

Although watching the performance is free, donations will be accepted for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. The concert runs from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday in the courtyard of Market Square, 560 Johnson St. For more information, go to finearts.uvic.ca/music/calendar/events or Facebook.

Winter Harp — Enjoy an audio and sensory experience at a concert filled with music, song, festive carols and enchanting stories performed by a world-class ensemble of harps.

Listen to haunting arrangements on rare medieval instruments, hand drums, bells, chimes, flutes and vocals with performers wearing medieval attire.

Celtic carols will be sung with a backdrop of candles, cathedrals and snow.

Tickets are $36. The concert starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, 2687 James St., Duncan. For more information, go to cowichanpac.ca/event/winter-harp-0.

Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular — Now in its 11th year, this extravaganza of music, dance and lights has become a family tradition on Vancouver Island.

This year’s program includes musical tributes to the Beatles, Nina Simone, Rod Stewart and Lady Gaga. There will be Broadway showstoppers, hit tunes, a country medley of Shania Twain and Garth Brooks tunes as well as classical hits and Christmas favourites.

Tickets are $49 adults, $41 students in Victoria and $40 adults, $33 students in Nanaimo. Showtimes 7 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square, Victoria and 3 p.m. Dec. 15 to 17 and 7 p.m. Dec. 12 to 16 at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., Nanaimo.

For more information, go to yellowpointchristmasspectacular.ca.

Now is Yule Comen — The Banquo Folk Ensemble is a multi-instrumental early music group that has been taking people back in time since 1998, playing the gap between early music and folk.

Their seasonal concert consists of early songs and tunes spanning eight centuries and three continents. They sing in English, Latin, French, Breton French and Gaelic. Their varied repertoire means the use of more than 20 instruments, including recorders, cittern, hurdy gurdies, shawm, vielle, several types of European smallpipes, crumhorn, mandolin, surpeti, dumbek, assorted percussion and more.

General admission is $20. The concert starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at Oak Bay United Church, 1355 Mitchell St. For more information, go to banquo.ca.

Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy Christmas Concert — The Naden band, made up of 35 professional musicians, is once again taking to the stage to entertain and get you into the holiday spirit — and raise funds for the Salvation Army Toy Drive.

Musical guest this year include vocalist Kristina Helene and pianist Thomas Kinzel, as well as a performance by members of the O’Brien School of Irish Dancing.

The festive musical program will include original works and holiday favourites for the entire family.

This is the 39th year of the seasonal event, which has grown from a simple evening recital for sailors’ families to three usually sold-out concerts at the Royal Theatre.

Members of the audience are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy on the night of the performance — but some have been known to bring bags filled with toys.

Every year, more than 800 local families in need make a trip to the Salvation Army Toy Shop at the Stan Hagen Centre for Families on Quadra Street to choose toys for their children.

Tickets are $10, plus an unwrapped toy on the night of the performance. The concert runs 7:30 to 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St. For more information, go to esquimaltmfrc.com/event/naden-band-christmas-concert/2017-12-11.

Kids, beginners wanted for birding event

If you think the holiday season is for the birds, you might enjoy one of two events hosted by the Rocky Point Bird Observatory on Sunday.

The second Sunday of every month is always time for the group’s monthly bird walk at Outerbridge Park in Saanich. The walk starts at 9 a.m. from the 3.8-hectare park, adjacent to 1181 Royal Oak Dr., with a parking area off Royal Oak Drive.

The group is also hosting its first Christmas Bird Count for Kids on Sunday.

Bring your family for a kid-friendly, beginner-friendly birding event. Explore a migratory bird sanctuary under an experienced bird walk leader. Contribute to citizen science by sharing bird sightings with Bird Studies Canada and upload the results to eBird.

The event is free to join. It runs from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Esquimalt Lagoon. For more information, go to rpbo.org.

Christmas fave back at Imax

See the 3D Polar Express, a perennial Christmas favourite starring Tom Hanks, as it rolls back into town for a limited engagement on the gigantic screen at Imax Victoria, in the Royal B.C. Museum, from Saturday until Dec. 31.

This is the 12th year the film has made a return engagement. The movie has been remastered to take full advantage of the enhanced colours possible using 4K laser projection. The laser version proved so popular last year (the first year it was seen in that medium) that the theatre has added another 10 shows this year.

Polar Express is an inspiring adventure based on a classic children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. A doubting young boy embarks on a train ride to the North Pole — a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

Admission $15.20 adults, $14 students, $13 seniors and youth, and $8.65 child for non-members. Discounted rates with museum membership. For showtimes and more information, go to imaxvictoria.com/showtimes.

Get creative with nature

Discover the CRD Regional Parks naturalists’ version of the spirit of the season at Forest Festivities, a drop-in event at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park on Saturday.

Join naturalists in making recycled cards, crafts and a small green swag with broom. They will supply material and instructions — all you have to do is supply the creativity.

This all-ages, family-friendly event is suitable for those with mobility issues.

The event is free. People can drop-in anytime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Beaver Lake Nature Centre off the main parking lot at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park in Saanich. The park is served by B.C. Transit #70 or #75. Please leave pets at home. For more information, go to crd.bc.ca/parks.

Free trolley tours downtown

Take in all of the sights and sounds of the holidays, with a horse-drawn trolley ride in downtown Victoria. Every weekend, two trolleys will circulate through downtown, taking locals and visitors alike on a pre-set route with four stops: Store Street at Chatham Street (in front of Capital Iron), Johnson Street near Wharf Street (in front of Willie’s Bakery), Langley Street at Bastion Square (across from Re-Bar) and Government Street at Fisgard Street (CRD Plaza).

The trolleys are free, compliments of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. The rides run from noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, go to downtownvictoria.ca.

Villa tour puts focus on local history

Take a step back in time at a historic house tour at the Ross Bay Villa Historic House Museum on Saturday afternoon.

The house, built in 1865, has been restored by volunteers, and features authentic period rooms, furnishings and a beautiful garden. Operated by the Ross Bay Villa Society, the house serves to educate the public about Canada’s social, cultural and architectural heritage.

The weekly guided tour gives visitors a taste of the life of early Victorian settlers. Admission and tour is by a suggested $5 donation. The tour starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at the house, 1490 Fairfield Rd. For more information, go to rossbayvilla.org.

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