Flowers in a kaleidoscope of colors. Stunning Night Illumination displays. Live outdoor entertainment plus 10 planned magical Fireworks Saturdays….whew. Summer at The Butchart Gardens is breathtaking drama from dawn till dusk!

Though there’s really no wrong time to visit this stunning floral oasis (we highly recommend returning throughout the year to witness how The Gardens change with the seasons), it’s safe to say that some exploration is better saved for the sun-soaked months of summer. However, with so many things to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you plan, check out our guide to exploring The Butchart Gardens this summer for the perfect escape from Seattle.

In This Guide:

How to Get to The Butchart Gardens from Seattle

Book Now: Seattle to Victoria, BC Victoria Clipper Ferry with The Butchart Gardens Overnight Package

For Seattleites, the trip to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens is super easy. Whisk yourself away with a fun water trip across the Salish Sea from downtown Seattle’s Pier 69 on the Victoria Clipper ferry. After a swift and scenic 2-hour and 45-minute cruise, you’ll dock at the Clipper terminal in Victoria, BC’s Inner Harbour. Twenty minutes later, you’re off the boat, through customs and ready to explore.

Hop aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry for a quick and easy cruise from Seattle to Victoria, BC.
Hop aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry for a quick and easy cruise from Seattle to Victoria, BC.

There are several options for getting to The Butchart Gardens, but for the most seamless and cost-effective experience, the 45-minute ride on Clipper’s double-decker motor coach is hard to beat. The best part? If you book the Butchart Gardens overnight package, we’ll deliver your luggage directly to your hotel or you can store your bags at our terminal. You don’t have to worry about a thing!

Want to give the kiddos a summer vacation experience they won’t forget? Combine your visit to The Butchart Gardens with a trip to Victoria Butterfly Gardens & Insectarium. Stroll through a tropical paradise and get up close and personal with more than 70 different species of butterflies. Make friends with the gardens’ resident Eclectus parrot, Little E, and blue macaw, Shadow. Or play “spot the insect” as you check out everything from mantises to beetles to scorpions inside the Insectarium. This may be the highlight of their whole trip!

What’s in Bloom

This time of year, The Gardens explode with a riot of color. Witness the hard work of The Butchart Gardens’ talented staff come to life in a variety expressions as thousands of flower bulbs, shrubs and trees burst forth from the ground.

Rose Garden

Follow your nose to the beloved Rose Garden, where you’ll be greeted with the flower’s sweet perfume and glorious blossoms. Honored with the prestigious “World Rose Garden of the Year” award in 2018 by the World Federation of Rose Societies, the garden features approximately 2,500 plants and 280 varieties backed by a sea of brilliant blue delphinium.

It is absolutely stunning. Catch the roses when they are at their peak from mid-June to late August. The first wave of blooms is famous for being the most impressive, so be sure to come early!

This tunnel of roses is a must-visit spot. The Butchart Gardens
This tunnel of roses is a must-visit spot. The Butchart Gardens

Japanese Garden

Slow down and stroll through layers of green in the tranquil Japanese Garden. Chock-full of plants in a variety of interesting shapes and textures, the garden provides a refreshing respite from the sun. Keep an eye out for the unique and rare Tibetan blue poppy, which Jennie Butchart imported in the mid-1920s.

With trickling streams and moss covered grounds, the Japanese Garden is a quiet haven within The Butchart Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
With trickling streams and moss covered grounds, the Japanese Garden is a quiet haven within The Butchart Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

Sunken Garden

The crown jewel of The Butchart Gardens, the 5-acre Sunken Garden boasts the highest density of flowers and number of display borders than any other spot in The Gardens. Check out the 151 garden beds packed with striking flowers, such as lilies, marigolds and Spanish broom. Or kick back under a willow tree by the Sunken Garden Lake as the low “splissshhh” of the Ross Fountain rumbles in the distance.

Wander past borders packed with marigolds in the Sunken Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Wander past borders packed with marigolds in the Sunken Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

What to Do

Make the most of our cherished time of year and revel in these warm weather activities!

Boat Tours

Need to give your feet a rest after wandering through The Gardens for a few hours? Head down the secluded path that wraps behind the Japanese Gardens to the secluded Butchart Cove for a boat tour.

With departures every 15 minutes from 11:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. from May 18 – September 15, these electric boats are an excellent way to discover the history and wildlife of the nearby Tod Inlet and Brentwood Bay. (Insider tip: All of the ships are named after members of the Butchart family, including Jennie herself!)

Don’t miss the chance to grab a peek-a-boo photo of Butchart Cove from between the trees along the way. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Don’t miss the chance to grab a peek-a-boo photo of Butchart Cove from between the trees along the way. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

The 45-minute cruise takes you along the rugged coastline and dense forest backing The Gardens’ incredible floral display. If the stunning scenery, charming waterfront homes and the colony of decorated birdhouses perched along the shore don’t catch your eye, the local wildlife will! Seals, otters and herons are often seen playing and hunting along the shoreline.

Summer Concerts

Soak up those precious rays of late afternoon Victoria sun in front of the outdoor stage on the lush, green Concert Lawn. Tucked amid a dense stand of trees, the stage is the heart of The Gardens from June 29 to August 31.

Kick back and relax with an array of captivating on-stage performances. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Kick back and relax with an array of captivating on-stage performances. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

At 8:00 p.m. on any given night (except Saturdays), you can enjoy free performances ranging from the smooth notes of acoustic jazz to the folkie beats of indie pop. Find a pristine patch of grass and tune into acts from local and internationally acclaimed artists. Even the kiddos will enjoy getting in on the action as they bop along to the music.

Butchart Gardens Fireworks Saturdays

It wouldn’t be summer without fireworks! Linger on the lawn to catch one of The Gardens’ 10 world-class fireworks shows on Saturdays from June 29th to August 31st. Included with your admission to The Gardens, the fireworks are the perfect excuse to stay late into the evening and enjoy the grounds with fewer crowds. Pack a blanket or a lawn chair and settle in for a dazzling, 30-minute pyrotechnic spectacle. (Insider tip: We highly recommend swinging by the restored 1904 Popcorn Cart located outside the Rose Carousel to grab a bag of freshly popped corn to snack on while watching the show).

Vibrant fireworks displays soar high above The Gardens, lighting up the grounds. Credit: the Butchart Gardens
Vibrant fireworks displays soar high above The Gardens, lighting up the grounds. Credit: the Butchart Gardens

Spinning flowers and swirling pinwheels whiz above the ground and are sure to elicit more than a couple “ooohs” and “ahhs.” And that’s just the opening act. Aerial rocket displays light up the night sky in an explosion of pinks, greens, reds and oranges in time to the music. (Insider tip: Pay a visit to the Organ Pavilion after each Saturday Fireworks show to catch sight of the organ player in the upper windows).

Night Illuminations

Book Now: Seattle to Victoria Overnight with Butchart Gardens Night Illuminations Tour

While The Gardens’ colorful floral displays are the star of the show during the day, come nightfall, another side of the Gardens emerges. Three thousand glittering lights transform the sprawling grounds into an enchanting fairyland during The Gardens’ Night Illumination installation. Open every night until 11:00 p.m., this dramatic display subtly plays light and shadow on The Gardens’ plants and flowers, highlighting their beauty. Paired with the starlit sky overhead, there are few spots more peaceful and romantic.

Glowing lights interspersed between the flowers dramatically illuminate The Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Glowing lights interspersed between the flowers dramatically illuminate The Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

What to Eat

Craving a quick energy boost? Grab a bite at a few of the special summer dining options scattered around the grounds.

Afternoon Tea in the Dining Room Restaurant

Book Now: Seattle to Victoria Overnight with Tea at The Butchart Gardens

Acres of vibrant plants paired with fresh, house-made treats make Afternoon Tea at The Butchart Gardens an essential part of any visit.

Start with dessert first and dig into a gorgeous layered trifle (a tradition of Jennie Butchart’s), before feasting on a smattering of sweet and savory eats. Just be sure to save room for the pièce de résistance, The Butchart Gardens’ signature ginger scones. Sourced from an original family recipe, the scones are consistently the most popular item on the tea menu. Served warm from the oven and topped with preserves and Devon-style cream, they are impossible to resist.

Feast on three-tiers of tasty eats while being surrounded by a variety of gorgeous blooms. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Feast on three-tiers of tasty eats while being surrounded by a variety of gorgeous blooms. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

Picnics on the Lawn

Nothing screams summer like dining al fresco under the sun! If you visit on a Saturday from June 29 – August 31, stop by the Italian Garden and pick up a gourmet picnic basket and eat out on The Gardens’ manicured lawn surrounded by thousands of blooms! Feast on a lineup of locally-sourced eats, including Cowichan Valley chicken skewers, basil pesto pasta salad, candied wild BC salmon, Vancouver Island cheese, bread, dips and a selection of pastries for dessert. Tucked inside a wicker basket with a checkered blanket and napkins, it is a little dose of summertime nostalgia.

Soak up the sun with picnic lunch on the Dining Room lawn. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Soak up the sun with picnic lunch on the Dining Room lawn. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

Gelato at Gelateria Benvenuto

Cap your day with a visit to the Gelateria Benvenuto in the Italian Garden and slurp down at least one of the 12 locally-inspired flavors refreshing gelato. Each one is unique and made in-house by The Gardens’ talented culinary team. Want something extra decadent? Try the gelato cookie sandwich, which is a large scoop of gelato smothered between two giant cookies! (Insider tip: On fireworks Saturdays, you can also snag a scoop of gelato from the cart near the entrance of the viewing lawn before the show).

Beat the heat with a scoop of delicious sorbeto or gelato. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Beat the heat with a scoop of delicious sorbeto or gelato. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

From kid-friendly concerts to magical night illuminations and fireworks, The Butchart Gardens offer up a host of summertime fun right in your own backyard. Start a new tradition and whisk yourselves away to The Butchart Gardens for the ultimate summer getaway!

Additional Trip Planning Information

What is the best way to get to The Butchart Gardens from Seattle?

With daily departures from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle, the Victoria Clipper high-speed catamaran provides a quick and scenic ride to the heart of downtown Victoria, BC in just 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Clipper Vacations offers a Victoria Clipper with The Butchart Gardens overnight package including a hotel stay plus a city tour and transportation to and from The Gardens (BONUS: Clipper delivers your luggage directly to your hotel upon arrival in Victoria if you book this package). Alternatively, Clipper Vacations also offers a Victoria Clipper with The Butchart Gardens day trip option. Either trip can also be upgraded to include a stop at the Butterfly Gardens on your way out to The Butchart Gardens.

How much is admission to The Butchart Gardens?

Admission to The Butchart Gardens changes depending on the season, with prices ranging from $16 -$40 USD per person for adults and $2 – $3 USD per person for children.

Clipper Vacations also offers motor coach tours to The Butchart Gardens, including admission to The Gardens plus a city tour and complimentary luggage drop off. Prices range from $60 – $64 USD per person for adults and $21 USD per person for children. If you want to combine your trip to The Butchart Gardens with a 30-minute stop at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, tour prices range from $68 – $74 USD per person for adults and $26 USD per person for children.

What are the hours at The Butchart Gardens?

Summer hours for The Butchart Gardens are 8:45 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., but The Gardens remain open for an hour after the admissions gate closes.

What time are the fireworks at The Butchart Gardens?

Start times for Saturday night fireworks range from 8:45 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. based on when sunset is each week. Access to the fireworks, summer concerts and night illuminations are all included as part of your general admission to The Gardens.

When are the Night Illuminations?

The Butchart Gardens’ Night Illuminations run from June 15 – September 15, transforming the grounds into a glittering fairyland.

 

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Feature photo: The Butchart Gardens