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Explore: One day, three levees; hang out with bell ringers; run for shoe charity

Choose from three invitations to meet the Queen’s representative or elected representatives of local governments as they open their doors for New Year’s levees, Jan. 1 at various locations.
Guests are encouraged to arrive early to avoid a long lineup to meet the lieutenant governor at the annual New Year's levee at Government House, featuring entertainment from the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums. The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

Choose from three invitations to meet the Queen’s representative or elected representatives of local governments as they open their doors for New Year’s levees, Jan. 1 at various locations.

The word levee is derived from “lever” — “to rise” in French.

The annual event has its origins in the early Canadian practice of paying respects to the government representative and receiving news on the first day of the year.

The first recorded levee in Canada was held in 1646 and the tradition has continued with successive governors general and lieutenant-governors, representing the Queen.

• Meet the Honourable Janet Austin, the 30th lieutenant governor of British Columbia, at the annual New Year’s Day levee at Government House on Wednesday. Visitors can stop by to socialize, enjoy light refreshments and be entertained by the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to avoid a long lineup to meet the lieutenant governor.

The levee is free to attend, but donations are being accepted for the Cridge Centre for the Family.

Cash is preferable, but you can also bring hygiene items for residents staying at the Transition House for Women, as well as new pyjamas (for both women and children) and baby items, such as diapers and bottles.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon at Government House, 1401 Rockland Ave. For more information, go to

• Mayor Lisa Helps and members of council are hosting the City of Victoria’s New Year’s Day Levee.

The theme of this year’s levee is climate action. Special guests talking about the city’s new Climate Champions Program include the founders of the Nulla Project, a new and innovative reusable-cup service in Victoria.

Enjoy complimentary refreshments by Chef David Roger of Songhees Events and Catering, and musical entertainment by Hal Fraser on piano.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon in Council Chambers at Victoria City Hall, 1 Centennial Square.

• Families can get a healthy start to 2020 with free admission to the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre on New Year’s Day.

Get an energizing workout at the Fitness on the First class from noon to 1 p.m., or join the Everyone Welcome Swim from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The facility will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

Parking will be free downtown on New Year’s Day at City of Victoria parkades and at on-street meters.

For more information, go to

• Meet the mayor and council at the Township of Esquimalt’s New Year’s Day Levee 2020, a time-honoured tradition that dates back to 1947. Light refreshments will be served.

The event runs 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre, 527 Fraser St.

Start the new year off with free swimming 1 to 3 p.m. at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre and free skating 1 to 2:50 p.m. at the Archie Browning Sports Centre on New Year’s Day. For more information, go to

Run or walk off the Christmas cake at UVic

Lace up your runners for Run Through Time, a New Year’s Eve tradition for the past 31 years, Tuesday at the University of Victoria.

Hosted by Runners of Compassion, the event is a fundraiser for Shoes for Youth, a program that provides footwear for the underprivileged.

Choose a five-kilometre run, a three-kilometre walk or a one-kilometre children’s run around the University of Victoria’s Ring Road.

The event concludes with light refreshments, snacks and New Year’s celebrations.

There is an opportunity to purchase a souvenir toque for $15, with proceeds going to Shoes for Youth.

Organizers will also be on hand to receive donations of lightly used fitness gear for walkers and runners in need of support.

Registration is $30 for adults, $15 for children and $60 for families of four or more.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 from the McKinnon Building at the University of Victoria. Register online, at all three Frontrunners locations — 1200 Vancouver St., 3659 Shelbourne St., and 755 Goldstream Ave. or between 5 and 5:45 p.m. on the day of the race in the McKinnon Gym lobby. For more information, go to

Ring in the new year — literally

Reach new heights or just sit back to listen to the music at two events taking place at Christ Church Cathedral, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

If you don’t mind a bit of exercise late on New Year’s Eve, you can climb 71 winding stairs to ascend to the bell ringers’ loft to watch them perform their annual ritual.

Those less inclined to climb can watch the procedure on a large monitor inside the front door.

The event runs 11:15 p.m. Tuesday to 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

If you would rather sleep in, you can go to the cathedral later in the day for Old Music for the New Year, performed by La Modestine, a group of four musicians who play baroque music (music from before 1750) written for one or two violins, viola da gamba and basso continuo.

The performance will be led by Baroque violinist Marc Destrubé.

The program includes Masses and Salve Regina settings by Leonardo Leo, Francesco Durante and Nicola Porpora, and features vocalists Rachel Allen, Cassidy Stahr, Adam Dyjach and Kyron Basu, all current or former Christ Church Cathedral choral scholars.

Admission is by donation. The concert runs 2:30 to 4 p.m. Jan. 1.

Both events take place at Christ Church Cathedral, 930 Burdett Ave.

For more details, go to

Dance a jig at folk society’s seasonal gig

Bring your dancing shoes, some finger food and a whole lot of (non-alcoholic) seasonal cheer to the Victoria Folk Music Society’s Seasonal Party, Sunday at Norway House.

The headliner of the club’s annual year-end party is Rig-A-Jig, which will provide music, guest callers will provide the dancing instructions and Morris Dancers will offer their unique dances.

Known for their upbeat Celtic music, Rig-A-Jig consists of Molly Raher Newman on percussion, mandolin and lap dulcimer, Dick Pollard on fiddle; Ian Johnston on guitar, Karen Gillmore on flutes and banjo; Patty Castle on bass, and all the band members performing vocals.

Admission is $7. The party runs 7:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday at Norway House, 1110 Hillside Ave.

For more information, go to

Catch Mayan exhibit before it closes

This is your last opportunity to see Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises before the exhibition leaves the Royal B.C. Museum on Dec. 31.

The exhibition highlights the mystery, legacy and resilience of the Maya of Central America, one of the world’s great civilizations.

The Maya rose in the tropical rainforests of Guatemala thousands of years ago. The exhibit shows how science and belief shaped their identity from ancient times to present day.

The exhibition boasts the world’s largest display of Mayan objects, with more than 300 precious jade, ceramic, gold, stone and textile artifacts that reflect classic and contemporary culture.

Regular admission applies. The museum, at 675 Belleville St., is closed Christmas Day, but open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 26 to 30, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. For more information, go to