Updated October 25, 2019

Thanksgiving preparations are well underway and Christmas is right around the corner! It’s about time to start untangling your holiday lights and battling the shopping crowds.

With the holiday excitement gearing up, a quick getaway to nearby Victoria offers a welcome respite while providing plenty of festive activities that will leave you feeling giddy as a kid on Christmas. Check out our yuletide guide for 10 things to do in Victoria this December and keep your holiday merrymaking going strong all season long!

1. Butchart Gardens Holiday Lights – December 1 – January 6

There’s something about the glow of vibrant Christmas lights that fills us with glee as we ring in the holidays. Luckily for us (and for you!), you don’t have to look further than The Butchart Gardens Christmas Lights Tour to find stunning displays.

Watch the grounds transform into a magical winter wonderland with a flick of the switch during the annual Light Up ceremony on December 1. Afterward, follow the winding pathways of The Gardens to discover an endless array of sparkling and dancing lights. Be sure to keep an eye out for holiday characters from the 12 Days of Christmas along the way!

2. Celebrate the Holidays at the Empress – December

Celebrate the season like royalty at the Fairmont Empress with a flurry of yuletide traditions. Indulge in a festive afternoon tea complete with famous seasonal sandwiches and decadent desserts such as Christmas fruitcake, peppermint macaroons and more. Pay a visit on December 14 & 15 or 23 & 24 to be serenaded with the sweet sound of classic Christmas songs from local carolers.

Round up the whole family for Kid’s Christmas at the Castle on December 15th for a slew of holiday crafts, stories and holiday goodies in the well-stocked candy buffet for the youngsters, plus champagne and canapés for mom and dad. On the 19th, swing by the Christmas at the Empress – Bengals & Baubles and feast on delicious Indian-inspired fare, then work off your subsequent food coma (and that extra samosa you ate at dinner) when the space transforms into a dance floor later in the evening. Book this hotel with Clipper, learn more.

3. Christmas in Old Town – December

Where can you step back in time to downtown Victoria during the 1900s AND catch up with Father Christmas? Head to the Royal BC Museum to soak in the sights and sounds of the season in the festive Christmas in Old Town exhibit.

Little tykes will light up with glee at the chance to share their secret and holiday wishes with Father Christmas when he sets up shop in the Victoria-style town from December 4-20 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm. While you’re there, it’s also the perfect chance to check out awe-inspiring “Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises” exhibit before it ends on December 31!

4. Christmas in Old Victoria Walking Tour – December 1-31

Learn how the holidays were first celebrated back in this former gold-rush city on a walking tour of Old Victoria. Amble past some of the city’s most iconic and historic buildings all decked out in lights. While walking, your knowledgeable guide shares heartwarming and humorous accounts of a First Nations legend, a Christmas Day brawl at Fort Victoria and an amusing memory from Emily Carr’s childhood. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

5. Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle – December 1-31


For more old-timey holiday fun, pop inside the magnificent Craigdarroch Castle to experience how the Dunsmuir family celebrated Christmas more than 100 years ago. A National Historic Site built during Queen Victoria’s reign, the castle fills all 39 of its rooms chock-full of trimmings, such as decorated mantles, vintage toys and clothing, a dining room setting fit for a royal family feast as well as Christmas trees! Don’t miss holiday music performed by local musicians and plenty of clowning around at three children’s performances.

6. Free Horse-Drawn Trolley Rides – December Weekends

Yes, you read that right. Horse-drawn trolleys will be ambling around downtown Victoria offering free weekend rides throughout December. Give your legs a rest and experience the lights and sights of Victoria in a unique and festive way.

7. 39th Annual Dickens Fair – December 7


Finish off your holiday shopping list at one of Victoria’s oldest and best-loved holiday craft fair at the 39th Annual Dickens Fair hosted by James Bay Market Society. Peruse artisan wares from 60+ vendors while learning first-hand how the local artisans create, make and bake their wares. Shop the assortment of stocking stuffers ranging from clothes to toys while the kiddos create their own one-of-a-kind treasure in the Children’s Creation Zone. (Insider tip: Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult.)

8. Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive – December 7

With its beautiful Breakwater wall and west-facing waterfront, there’s no wrong time of year to visit Ogden Point. However, during the Christmas season, it’s pure magic. Kick-off your holiday festivities as dusk arrives and cheer on an impressive, light-adorned convoy of 80 commercial trucks as they head out on a citywide journey to fill the streets with cheer.

9. Afternoon Tea with Santa at Pendray – December 8

Too eager to wait ‘til December 25th to meet Santa? Follow the big guy’s footprints through the Pendray Tea Gardens’ own mini-wonderland of twinkling lights and Christmas trees to the historic property and tea house.

Once inside, cozy up with a mouth-watering Winter Afternoon Tea featuring festive eats as soul-warming roasted butternut squash soup, freshly baked scones, a spiced pumpkin tart and more. There is even a specially crafted kids’ menu filled with yummy bites perfect for little fingers. Before you leave, duck under the Christmas tree to snap a selfie with Santa! Book this hotel with Clipper, learn more.

10. Lights of Wonder – December 15-30

Want even more lights in your life? Look no further than Centennial Square for one dazzler of a Christmas display. A gigantic, light-driven exhibition, Lights of Wonder, transforms the spot into a glittering, twinkling village brimming with a glowing forest, orca whales and replicas of iconic landmarks such as the Parliament Buildings and the Gate of Harmonious Interest.

Scamper through the massive maze or listen to live tunes from local carolers and performers. When you need to warm up, stop by stands full of hot chocolate, pretzels, bratwurst and more. The best part? Admission to the event is completely free!

Whether your sights are set on holiday shopping or you’re looking to warm up with a cozy cup of tea, Victoria’s December festivities are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Pack up the whole family or embark on a romantic getaway, with festivities around every corner, the city is yours to explore this season!

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