Summer Guide: is this the year to be adventurous?

Free you mind: Monday’s look at the top 10 free things to do in Victoria this summer

The fabulous Derek Ford delivers this cool, retro Summer Guide cover, featuring a scene that I'm sure a lot of parents can relate to :)

Free you mind: Monday’s look at the top 10 free things to do in Victoria this summer

It’s finally summer, with good weather to prove it, but we know there’s still the chill of recession and words like stay-cation make you feel claustrophobic. So what’s a broke sun-lover to do? Luckily, there are plenty of options in this city for people with plenty of go without the dough. Check out our Top 10 free ways to have fun before the sun is on the run. Check out the full-length summer guide to see more excellent events this season.

10. Free-B Movies in the Park

Even though summer isn’t the most obvious time to drain your brain with movies, the Free-B Film Festival blows traditional theatres out of the park — literally — as Victoria’s favourite free film festival held under the stars. While a few new drive in theatres have cropped up in the last while (one at Mayfair Mall), the Beacon Hill Park event gives all movie lovers a chance to see awesome classics from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure to Teen Wolf, Short Circuit and more. Check out the website for this year’s lineup to be announced. Screenings start in August, every Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. by the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park or Centennial Square by City Hall. Freebfilmfest.com.

9. See the sights

Just because you may have seen them before, doesn’t mean a bike ride along the length of Dallas Road or a foot tour downtown — even amongst the tourists — is any less exciting. You can even make a game out of it with Guess Where People Are From Bingo, then get your courage up to find out if you are right. Chances are, a friendly conversation with a local who made the first move will make any visitor’s trip more memorable — you could even throw on your own fake accent for entertaining kicks.

8. Watch a game

If your style is more standby, nothing beats packing a picnic (or grabbing a pop and hotdog if you can splurge) and leaning back on a park bench or bleacher to cheer on your favourite team. Luckily, from the Beacon Hill ball fields to Royal Athletic Park, to UVic’s Centennial Stadium and nearly every green space in between, you’re guaranteed to see some great games this summer without even having to play catch. For a little amateur fun, you could even gawk at the tennis courts, putting range or cricket field in Beacon Hill Park nearly every evening. To learn more about this year’s line up at Royal Athletic Park, call 250-361-0373. To see what UVic’s Vikes are up to, call 250-721-8406.

7. Get off your bum and play

As much as we know you want to relax, you’ll be thankful for the adrenaline rush and team spirit you generate from just tossing a Frisbee around with friends. While miniature golf and some organized team sports can thin down your wallet, Victoria offers many a free outlet and park space for your favourite activity of choice. Of special free interest is the Vic West Skate Park, Oak Bay High track, Beacon Hill Park mini-putting range, tennis court, lawn bowling field and basketball court, and, of course, Royal Athletic Park for a good game of touch football.

6. Go for a swim

If you’re gutsy enough to try the ocean, you need only go as far as Dallas Road to hop into your own cooling station. However, spots like Willows Beach, Elk Lake and Thetis Lake are easier on the body, as you won’t suffer the same cold shock. For only a twoonie (yes, we know that’s not free) Crystal Pool does offer you unlimited and perfectly acclimatized swimming every Monday 7 to 11 p.m., and Tuesday to Thursday 9 to 11 p.m.

5. Attend author readings

There’s no better way to enjoy some fine discussion, insight and maybe even a little free cheese and wine than by checking out the authors coming to Victoria this summer. Yes, it costs to snag a book and signature, but it’s worth it. Bolen Books welcomes new authors Claire Tacon, Jamella Hagen and Anakana Schofeld on May 28 at 7 p.m., and Peter Clarke speaks at Fairfield United Church via Munro’s Books on June 5 at 7:30 p.m. And keep an eye out for our Editor-in-Chief Grant McKenzie’s new mystery-thriller, Angel With A Bullet, on Sept. 8.

4. Go to FreeSkool

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading, but that doesn’t mean it has to be light. Check out the Victoria anarchist reading circle ever Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Camas Books and Infoshop (2590 Quadra). The circle is free and guaranteed to enlighten your lists. While you’re there, ask about their summer “FreeSkool,” a community-based learning program that offers a range of subjects from home gardening and overcoming racism to building bows and arrows.

3. Hit up an open mic

Music is music, and if you can’t afford all the gate admissions visit your local open mic to see some of Victoria’s up-and-coming talent. From poetry at The Well (821 Fort) every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m., to music at James Bay Bookstore Fridays at 7 to 9 p.m., you’ll be sure to get your aural satisfaction, and maybe even join in the raucous fun.

2. Use the library

You think we mean for reading, but the Greater Victoria Public Library offers so much more than books. Did you know you can check out free passes for a family of four to the Royal BC Museum and to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria? Sign up, and take some time to learn about all the special surprises our library can grant you: gvpl.ca.

1. Play at the beach

Little surprise that our No. 1 top thing to do for free in Victoria this summer involves the beach. See our listings on Page 15 for a full set of luscious sandy and rocky options to choose from, then roll out your mat and bikini, or beach balls and sand castle-making equipment for a delightful day in the sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen, but if you’re brave enough to try out Victoria’s nude beach at Prior Lake (see Page 14), you don’t have to carry along your clothes. M

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