?Free south-island fireworks every saturday night ?

If you want to see free fireworks on most-any random Saturday in the summer, you need to be on the water in Brentwood Bay at nightfall. The Butchart Gardens is doing weekly fireworks shows again after a dreary covid haitus! (Call Butchart Gardens in advance of heading to Brentwood and double-check that they’re doing a display that weekend.) There are no crowds near the water, it’s very scenic and romantic~♡!  Well secluded.  Find a beach access off the road and climb on down, or go sit on the docks.  I find Pokemon Go functions as a very useful map for finding what are often otherwise visually-obscured local footpaths that also aren’t shown on Google Maps:

[Screenshot of the Pokemon Go worldview map showing the specific strip of Brentwood’s waterfront discussed below, with white arrows noting trails that aren’t visible on Google Maps]

Let me pitch you a great summer-day-on-Brentwood-Bay date scenario: borrowing or renting kayaks or paddleboards for the afternoon and paddling around the bay into Gowlland Tod and back before having dinner and a beer somewhere on the water while the sun sets and you wait for the fireworks; currently the licensed waterfront options for a non-picnic dinner are Blues Bayou Cafe and the pub at the resort, they’ve both got a bare minimum of decent menu items valuewise, but a bare minimum is still something.

The frills of your whole outing are up to you, this is the part where I explain what’s free and how to find/use it.

Suggested beach access options:

The bus will bring you right down to the stop in the two videos above (opening shot of the first one, middle-distance) and picture below, if it’s the 75 heading to Vic.  You have to hike down any of the steep hill-roads that lead from the route of the 75 coming from Vic, to get to these access points.

Below is a view of the bus heading into town as seen from the foot of Sluggett, which, watch out if you’ve hiked down from the village right here, there’s an unofficial sidewalk all along the coastline-parallel road here except at this blind corner, and the bus goes through like a freight train:

Don’t worry; if you can hear, you’ll hear it before you see it.  Traffic here in general really breaks the peace but there are a lot of whisper-quiet electric cars around too so don’t get surprised if one pops out from behind a crest or corner.

You can pick up the 75 back into town practically from the beachfront, the staircase shown below leads to/from direct access and the bus stop:

Below is some video of the free view of a lovely sunset (availability varies based on daily changes in weather, this sunset is strongly mids for the location) including the regular ambiant sounds of music and voices from the bay/marina/resort:

So, this is hours before it’s dark enough for the fireworks.  You’ve got enough time to smoke a few blunts to the face AND have dinner, once the sky looks approximately this.

With the sun is fully down, you’re waiting for something like this:

Free fireworks is a game of patience: there’s a lot going on that is low enough under the trees of the gardens that there are a lot of long pauses for the free viewer across the water.

There will be about three bursts like this, that you’ll be able to see:

(There’ll be some rascally little sequences like this thrown in the middle.)


Then you’ll think it’s over because the second to last salvo seems really final; ie the penultimate rounds seems like the ultimate round, but it ain’t.  So stick around.  After the second time the show for sure seems finished, it is.

The sky over Gowlland Tod after the final sequence:

The bus will still be running for a while after this, so now could be (another) opportunity to pull up to the bar at the resort or rip some dabs etc.  You could even snag some free privacy in the public restroom in the parkette if you don’t want to have a quickie on an admittedly rocky beach with the tide coming in and no locking door between you and an indecency charge–but it smells better on the beach, and you could probably get away with standing up near the bank in the dark regardless of how long you went.

There’s nothing much to do in Brentwood village proper at this time of night; you could go up to Brewsky’s (11pm close) or maybe Sarpino’s (9:30pm close) or uh, Subway (9:30pm close), but virtually everything else is closed up by 8pm.

  • A blanket or two to sit on or warm up in are strongly recommended!
  • Likewise, you might want to consider a portable music option of some kind, it really elevates the vibe especially if there’s no one else playing anything anywhere around the bay and the atmosphere is a little too still.
  • There’s a private bud store and a private liquor store at the top of Verdier that are open until 9pm.  It’s about a 20 minute walk uphill or down from there to the beach, going at a moderate pace.  The uphill has a real hump to get over, fair warning: if you’re coming from town you probably want to plan to grab stuff on the village main strip when you get off the bus instead of coming down for a quick look/dip/etc immediately, unless you love a casual alpine trekking vibe.
  • People in this highly-suburban enclave–around sea-level specifically–will typically (9/10 times) make eye contact and say hello to strangers when crossing paths; a way around this if it causes you anxiety is preemptively changing sides of the street, as hailing distance seems to be anyone on your side of the centerline.  This is a high-traffic area for dogwalkers but they tend to avoid the beach itself.

Well, there’s the all generalities.  It’s a little bit of magic on any budget possible.  Enjoy ?


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