Explore: Get in the Halloween spirit at one of Greater Victoria's bonfires

If the ghosts and goblins of Halloween send a chill down your spine, warm up tonight at one of Greater Victoria’s giant bonfires.

Flames will shoot into the sky as night descends in Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Central Saanich, Fernwood, Colwood, Metchosin, the Highlands and Sooke.

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From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Oak Bay Avenue will become a carnival for little ones, with magicians, live music and eerie entertainment. Hundreds of carved pumpkins will be on display behind the municipal hall at 2167 Oak Bay Ave.

A giant bonfire will pop and crackle to life at 5:30 p.m. in Fireman’s Park, adjacent to the Oak Bay Police Department and firehall. There will be hot dogs, hot chocolate, a Halloween costume contest and a chance to spray fire hoses.

The Esquimalt Lions are planning a big blaze in the rear parking lot of the Archie Browning Sports Centre at 1151 Esquimalt Rd. The fun begins at 6 p.m. with hot chocolate, hot dogs and a costume contest for all ages.

Central Saanich firefighters are hosting a bonfire in Centennial Park at 7:30 p.m., followed by fireworks at 8 p.m.

Sidney is promising free fun for the whole family from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Streets downtown will be closed to traffic and little witches and warlocks, prince and princesses are invited to visit various treat stations.

The theme at West Shore Town Centre is “Come As You Aren’t.” Little ones are invited to dress up and trick-or-treat in a bright and safe environment from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m.

The Colwood Volunteer Firefighters Association is hosting a bonfire at the firehall on Metchosin Road. Free hot dogs, hot chocolate and treats are on the menu, starting at 6 p.m.

Langford’s three fire halls — on Peatt Road, Sooke Lake Road and Happy Valley Road — will have open houses from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The public is invited to enjoy free hot dogs, hot chocolate, candy and entertainment.

Halloween fun is also on the agenda at the View Royal public safety building beginning at 6 p.m.

The Highlands’ celebration begins at 7 p.m. with a bonfire, free hot dogs and refreshments at the Community Hall, 729 Finlayson Arm Rd. People are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the local food bank.

The Victoria Public Market at the Hudson, 1701 Douglas St., will be handing out treats to children from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fernwood is celebrating the spookiest night of the year with a bonfire in Stevenson Park, behind the Fernwood Community Centre, beginning at dusk. Hot apple cider, candy and a bouncy castle will be on offer in the gym from 6 to 9 p.m.

Otter Point firefighters will light up Camp Barnard with a bonfire at 6:30 p.m. There will be hot dogs and hot chocolate for all. The fireworks begin at 7:30.

Salt Spring is also planning some scary stuff. At 4 p.m., people are invited to join in the Maliview Road street party, where neighbours compete to out-decorate each other. After 5 p.m., take a trip through the haunted firehall. At 8 p.m., fireworks put on by Salt Spring Fire Rescue will explode over Ganges Harbour.

In Nanaimo, the Halloween House, a creepy cool cemetery, will be open from noon to 11 p.m. Donations go to the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Tree-planting events help to build wildlife habitat

Trees are in the spotlight in a couple of locations this weekend, beginning with Saanich’s Tree Appreciation Day on Saturday at King Alfred Court, off Hillcrest Avenue.

The public is invited to join Saanich Parks staff, neighbours, Boy Scouts and other volunteers as they beautify the park by planting more than 25 shade trees. They will also be planting 200 native shrubs and trees to provide habitat for bees, butterflies and birds.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon. Treats will be handed out at the end.

Participants can bring their own shovels or borrow one from Saanich Parks.

The parks department said tree-planting events have many benefits, including expanding the urban forest and teaching people how to plant trees on their own properties.

Trees also help in the fight against carbon-dioxide emissions and climate change, the department said.

Sunday is Tree Appreciation in Oak Bay, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Beach Drive field entrance to Cattle Point.

Oak Bay Parks, the Friends of Uplands Park and the Community Association of Oak Bay will teach people how to plant trees and band them against pests.

Participants are invited to take a tree seedling home by donation, and there will be a demonstration of tree-climbing using a harness, with children invited to try.

An Uplands Park walk will take place at 10:30 a.m., followed by a neighbourhood tree walk at 11:30 a.m. Refreshments will be provided.

This weekend’s events follow TD Tree Days last weekend in Esquimalt Gorge Park, where TD Bank employees and dozens of community members planted 450 native plants and trees.

Grand Tour serves up beer and music

For those who have dreamed of beer-soaked travels through countries such as Scotland and Germany, but couldn’t be bothered to get off Vancouver Island, the return of the Grand Tour of Beer has you covered.

Back for a second year, the tour features a musical journey through a variety of beer regions — each with its own traditions of brewing and classical music — with a sampling of styles from each.

On Nov. 8, the tour will be in Nanaimo at the Port Theatre, and on Nov. 15, it makes a stop in Victoria at the Baumann Centre.

Both nights feature a lineup of beer that will go down well with an evening of baroque and classical music played on period instruments by early-music specialists, the Luchkow-Stadlen-Jarvis Trio.

The Victoria tour stop, co-produced by Pacific Opera Victoria, will also feature soprano Ai Horton, adding a special vocal element to the show.

Beer expert Joe Wiebe will host each evening and will introduce audiences to the beers served in each region of Europe visited during the night.

There will be an emphasis on audience participation, with the inclusion of classic drinking songs.

Both events are limited to those ages 19 and older. The $45-ticket price includes five 10-oz. glasses of beer and snacks.

The programs feature music from Germany, Scotland, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the “New World,” and beer from B.C. craft brewers Hoyne Brewing, Luppolo Brewing, Russell Brewing, White Sails Brewing and Category 12 Brewing, as well as international brewer Brouwerij Verhaeghe of Belgium.

The Nov. 8 show in Nanaimo is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St. Tickets are available at tickets.porttheatre.com.

On Nov. 15, the show in Victoria opens at 7:30 p.m. at the Baumann Centre, 925 Balmoral Rd. Tickets are available at pacificopera.ca/event/grand-tour-of-beer.

Accordion and tango festival boasts an international flavour

Most people know tango as a sultry, erotic dance from Argentina, but it may be surprising to learn that the unique sound of its music relies on a cousin of the accordion called a bandoneon.

A bandoneon is smaller than an accordion, but is still operated with bellows and buttons, said Aleksandar Milojevic, organizer of the World Accordion and Tango Festival, which comes to Victoria from Nov. 6 to 11.

Milojevic said it’s natural to marry accordions with tango in a single festival. “We have strong communities here in Victoria, both in tango and accordion,” he said. “Now they are getting to know each other after being separated on either side of the room.”

The festival is justly labelled a “world” event, since it offers an international set of artists.

There’s Domi Emorine and Roman Jbanov of Duo Paris-Moccou, the wife-and-husband accordionists playing the folk music of France and Russia, and Duo Vilda, two Finnish women — one playing accordion and the other singing in the traditional style of the Indigenous Sami people.

Another international highlight will be the multi-piece, multi-media performance of Tango Del Cielo, a California-based ensemble offering a music-and-dance combo that blends tango, Latin jazz and Spanish flamenco.

For ticket prices and a festival schedule, including information on free dance and accordion workshops, go to watf.ca.

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