Celebrate December in Victoria – it’s crammed full of so many special opportunities to celebrate the season. Isn’t rather handy that so many religions and ethnic groups have major festivals at this time to cheer our winters? Then there are the special events tagged on to these by the attractions in Victoria to give us so much to enjoy. Let’s take a tour of some highlights. You can tour these too by walking from one to another in downtown Victoria or taking a simple drive on the Saanich Peninsula.
Downtown Victoria in December
Firstly, take a birds’ eye view of the colourful scene from the 65 feet high ferris wheel erected in Centennial Square near the northern end of the downtown core. Then wander down cheerily lit Government Street, passing strolling carollers, and poke into the side streets for interesting stores decked out for the holidays. There are plenty of coffee shops for a hot chocolate. Pop into the Tourism Victoria Info Centre at the Inner Harbour to check for other events which may interest you. Moored boats are colourfully lit and the red, green and white lights of the Parliament Buildings and the sequoia tree reflect dancing across the waves.
Cross to the Empress Hotel to step into a wonderland of Christmas trees. Over 70 are decorated by local enterprises with your donations supporting local childrens charities. Walk past the Parliament Buildings and the Robert Bateman Centre, where there’s a display of seasonal wreaths, to the Inn at Laurel Point to savour gingerbread (savour with your eyes, not mouths) – Victoria’s Gingerbread Showcase has creative creations way beyond gingerbread houses, all in support of Habitat for Humanity.
Not too far to the east stands baronial Craigdarroch Castle, the place that epitomies a Victorian Christmas. There are musical events, readings of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and tours through rooms of Christmases past.
Special Events in December
Santa pays us a special visit on 7th December, part of the Christmas Truck Light Parade. See him on a boat in the Inner Harbour as the brightly lits trucks honk their way past.
Music is an essential part of Christmas in Victoria – not Rudolph and his pals but some classy acts bringing us nostalgic memories. Bellow out the words of the Hallelujah Chorus (words provided) at the Sing-Along Messiah on 18th December or enjoy A Sentimental Christmas from 13th to 15th December. This features the Victoria Symphony Orchestra who also will be presenting The Nutcracker with the Alberta Ballet from 6th to 9th December. Your B&B innkeepers can help you track down other musical celebrations, point you to the fine Victoria craft fairs or great places to shop.
The Magic of Christmas
The Butchart Gardens deserve a special mention. My wife and I never miss a visit on a December evening for their Magic of Christmas to set us in the right frame of mind. The gardens are no longer a floral delight, they are an illuminated wonderland. Follow the Twelve Days of Christmas displays around the themed gardens. You WILL be enthralled. Then rent skates and take to the ice rink, or watch others, before toasting your toes by the fireside as you sip a hot chocolate.
There’s an annual event which has taken place since who-knows-when: the Salmon Run at Goldstream Park. You’ll need a car but it’s only a few minutes west of Victoria. The Park is a lovely place to enjoy nature and in November and December you’ll see the unique death-to-life transformation as salmon swim upstream to spawn.
Lastly, an annual event a little later is the crazy Polar Bear Swim in Elk Lake on New Year’s Day. Rather you than me!
Come for a magical visit to celebrate December in Victoria. There’s a warm welcome awaiting you.