Feasting! And shopping! And caroling! And celebrating! Whew.

Before you know it, you’ll be counting down to the new year and gazing up at a firework-filled sky as the clock strikes 12. There’s no time to waste, so trade in that PSL for an eggnog latte and embrace Victoria’s diverse spectrum of holiday festivities. Not sure where to start? Here’s a small sampling of activities to put on your holiday to-do list so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

Butchart Gardens Holiday Lights

The Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens

Listen to carolers among the trees at The Butchart Gardens. Photo: The Butchart Gardens
Listen to carolers among the trees at The Butchart Gardens. Photo: The Butchart Gardens

Spring and summer fill The Butchart Gardens with fields of vibrant flowers, but come the holiday season, they are also bursting – with cheer!  Practically its own season, Christmas at Butchart is one of the most fun and festive times of year. Explore the stunning holiday lights and search for the Twelve Days of Christmas displays scattered throughout The Gardens. Skate on the outdoor ice rink and listen as classic Christmas carols fill the air. Cap off your day with a festive feast at the Blue Poppy Restaurant or cozy up by the fire at the Coffee Shop with a hot chocolate and a house-made gingerbread or shortbread cookie.

Takes place: Dec. 1–Jan. 6, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Festival of Trees

Give and receive at the annual Festival of Trees. Photo: Doug Clement, courtesy of BC Children's Hospital Festival of Trees - Victoria
Give and receive at the annual Festival of Trees. Photo: Doug Clement, courtesy of BC Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees – Victoria

Wander through a festive forest full of pines and goodwill at the annual Victoria Festival of Trees. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the festival raises much-needed funds for BC Children’s Hospital. As you make way through the rows upon rows of evergreens filling the halls of The Bay Centre and The Fairmont Empress, you’ll oohh and ahhh over trees decked-out in everything from cuddly stuffed animals to iridescent tinsel and ribbons. Just be sure to take note of your favorite, so you can donate and vote for the most breathtaking tree.

Takes place: Nov. 16–Jan 5, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Lighted truck convoy & lighted ship parade

Wave to Santa at the annual Santa's Light Parade. Photo: Greater Victoria Festival Society
Wave to Santa at the annual Santa’s Light Parade. Photo: Greater Victoria Festival Society

Soak in Victoria’s fabulous season of lights as big rigs and other heavy equipment covered in a kaleidoscope of glittering colors roll through the downtown city streets during the unique Island Equipment Owners Truck Light Convey. Afterward, cozy up with a mug of mulled wine or spiced cider on the shore of the Inner Harbour and watch as more than 25 creatively decorated ships glide through the smooth waters. Santa will be there too, so bring the kids along for a chance to share their Christmas wishes with the jolly old elf.

Takes place: December 3, 5:00 p.m.

The Dickens Fair

The Dickens Fair will fulfill all your cozy, crafty gift desires. Photo: Kate King, courtesy of The Dickens Fair
The Dickens Fair will fulfill all your cozy, crafty gift desires. Photo: Kate King, courtesy of The Dickens Fair

Peruse tasty bites of food, handmade crafts and beautiful art prints at one of the oldest festivals in Victoria at the 36th annual Dickens Fair. A community tradition since the 1970s, the Vancouver Island Christmas market showcases more than 70 quality artisan vendors at James Bay Community School Center. There’s even fun for the kiddos with the Children’s Activity Room, ensuring you’re set to spend the entire afternoon exploring with the whole family.

Takes place: Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Christmas at The Craigdarroch Castle

Experience the lives of the Dunsmuirs at The Craigdarroch Castle. Photo: Craigdarroch Castle
Experience the lives of the Dunsmuirs at The Craigdarroch Castle. Photo: Craigdarroch Castle

Step inside the stately Craigarroch Castle and experience how Christmas was celebrated by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, his wife and their 10 children, who called the grounds home more than a 100 years ago. A National Historic Site built during Queen Victoria’s reign, the castle brings out all the trimmings for Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle each December.

Check out furniture, dishes, clothing, decorations and more as the halls ring with festive tunes. Musicians including jazz artists, classic cellists and Celtic bands perform December 10, 11, 17 and 24 at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and December 27 to 30 at 11:00 a.m. and p.m. If you want to get even more into the festive spirit, catch the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” or the hilarious “Radio, Mistletoe and My Man Godfrey,” which are both performed inside the castle’s walls.

Takes place: Dec 10–30, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Victoria during the holidays is pure magic. With bright lights, fantastic seasonal sips and eats and an array of holiday festivities, you won’t need to look far to indulge in seasonal goodness. No matter your style of merrymaking, you have the ingredients of a epic holiday experience that is not to be missed.

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Clipper Recommends: 

  • To catch more holiday lights, celebrate the annual cross-country Christmas light-up on the Parliament’s front lawn on December 8th or hop on the colorful, Centennial Square Ferris Wheel and soar 65 feet in the air above the city.
  • After a day of exploring, end your evening on a cozy note and curl up with blankets and festive drinks or hot chocolate on the Empress’ Veranda (Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 &14) or stop by the Lobby Lounge for a nightcap by fireplace on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings throughout December.

 

Feature Photo: Aaron Burden