Explore: Naden Band toy drive, holiday concerts, park excursions and more

The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, a symphonic concert band made up of 35 professional musicians, will perform its annual Christmas concerts and toy drive Monday to Wednesday at the Royal Theatre.

This is the 35th year of the benefit concerts, which support the Salvation Army Toy Drive. The toy drive ensures hundreds of local children wake up on Christmas morning with a gift under the tree. In 2012, the toy drive provided more than 2,000 gift hampers for less-fortunate families. Since it began, it is estimated the band has collected more than 70,000 toys for good boys and girls.

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People are sure to get into the holiday spirit once the band performs a potpourri of festive music, with original works and seasonal favourites. Get your tickets early as the concerts sell out every year.

Concertgoers are also asked to bring along a new unwrapped toy, suitable for a child from newborn to age 18, on the night of the performance.

Tickets are $10. The concerts start at 7:30 p.m. Monday to Wednesday at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St. Tickets are available at the Royal and McPherson box office, online at rmts.bc.ca or by calling 250-386-6121. For more information on the band, go to en.nadenband.ca.


Get into the holiday spirit with live music

Here is a selection of holiday concerts in the region:

• Music in Market Square: An outdoor Christmas concert by the senior band of the Greater Victoria Concert Band on Saturday, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Market Square, 560 Johnson St. Donations accepted for Our Place Society. For more information, go to gvcb.ca.

• Arbutus Singers Christmas Benefit Concert: On Sunday, the 65-member choir will perform a benefit Christmas concert for children at risk in Uganda through the Jolly Nyeko Foundation Canada. Refreshments to follow. Admission by donation. Tax receipts given for donations $10 and over. The concert is at 2 p.m. at Cadboro Bay United Church, 2625 Arbutus Rd. For more information, go to arbutussingers.com.

• Harp concert: Enjoy a one-hour festive concert by local harpist Philipp Gawthrop. Free admission. The concert is Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Juan de Fuca branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library, 1759 Island Hwy., West Shore Recreation Centre complex. For more information, go to gvpl.ca.


Escape the crowds with a CRD park excursion

Nature lovers can find peace and tranquility this busy holiday season with two CRD Parks activities this weekend:

• Discover why we sing about holly and ivy every Christmas season at Saturday’s Solstice Stroll. CRD Regional Parks guest naturalist Joe Percival will inform and entertain as he guides visitors among the quiet forest of Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park. The walk is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and is suitable for anyone five and older. Meet at the Witty’s Lagoon Nature Centre off Metchosin Road.

• The Iron Mine Bay Hike is a four-hour guided trek to see a spectacular vista. From Pike Road, hikers will head toward Anderson Cove trail to reach Iron Mine Bay. Participants are advised to wear sturdy footwear, and bring water and a lunch. The hike is recommended for adults only. It runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at East Sooke Regional Park. Meet at the kiosk in the Pike Road parking lot off East Sooke Road. Arrive 10 minutes before the start of either program and please leave pets at home. For more information, go to crd.bc.ca/parks.


Government House to host carol singalong

For the first time in seven years, Government House will host a Christmas open house and carol singalong on Friday.

The public will be able to walk through the main floor of the house to see the Christmas decorations hung by Friends of Government House volunteers.

After the open house, a choir will lead guests in a Christmas carol singalong in the bandshell on the east lawn, rain or shine.

Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon is expected to be in attendance.

The open house is at 5:30 p.m. The carol singalong is at 6:30, 1401 Rockland Ave. For details, go to ltgov.bc.ca.


Wear an ugly sweater to help homeless pets

Join fellow dog lovers at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Dog Walk on Saturday. The event is a fundraiser for the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society to benefit pet owners who are homeless in downtown Victoria.

While humans can just wear their favourite ugly sweater, they are encouraged to have matching Christmas-inspired outfits for their dogs as well.

There will be hot beverages, treats and affordable pet accessories for sale. Dog trainers will be on site to give advice and tips.

The event runs 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Clover Point on Dallas Road. For details, go to safars.org.


A paddler’s perspective

See Christmas lights from a different perspective at Saturday’s Family Kayak Lights Tour. The two-hour tour takes participants into Brentwood Bay in a flotilla of kayaks and canoes.

Tour operator Pacific Paddlesports will give a brief lesson before setting out in the boats, which will be decorated with Christmas lights. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly with a waterproof layer on top. Bring a travel mug for free hot cocoa.

Cost is $25 per person or $75 for a family of four. No experience necessary. The tour runs 4 to 6 p.m. at Port Side Marina, 789 Saunders Lane, Central Saanich. For details, go to pacificpaddle.com.


Museum does a very maritime Christmas

The Maritime Museum of B.C. is showcasing nautically themed Christmas activities this month:

• Hardtack Holiday Ornaments: Hardtack is a biscuit known to last up to 10 years. Early sailors forced to subsist on this staple during long voyages nicknamed them molar breakers and worm castles. Visitors can now turn these biscuits into long-lasting Christmas ornaments between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until Christmas Eve.

• Scavenger Hunt: Find all the items on the list and receive a small holiday trinket at the end of a museum visit. Runs daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Christmas Eve.

• Court is in Session: Take a tour of the restored 19th-century courtroom, where you will learn about the court proceedings of a bygone era. Dec. 14 and 28 at 1 p.m.

• Captain Cook and the Age of Discovery: Step back in time and learn how early seafaring explorers got on without GPS and other gadgets. Find out what life onboard a ship was like, with a chance to touch and feel navigational equipment — such as a sextant and a chronometer — from the museum’s educational collection. The tour also incorporates Captain Cook’s connection to Vancouver Island. Dec. 21 at 1 p.m.

• Pirate School: Pirate school teaches young scalawags how to be the “best of the worst” over the holidays. Children can try their hand at scrimshaw, design a pirate flag and create their own dastardly pirate identity. Complete as many activities as possible to be initiated by the museum’s pirate captain. Drop in between 1 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 23 and 27.

• Ghosts of Museum Past: Join museum staff as they recount their most eerie stories involving paranormal activity at the 124-year old building. The spooky fun starts on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m.

All the above activities are free with regular admission. The museum is at 28 Bastion Square For more information, go to mmbc.bc.ca.

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