The magic of Christmas may bring childhood memories of candlelight and fire, tree and decorations, goodies to taste and, ooh, to unwrap. However, the Magic of Christmas is experienced every year at The Butchart Gardens by thousands of Victoria residents and visitors. My wife and I rarely miss it. It sets us up for our family Christmas.
This annual celebration of winter (a dusting of snow is possible) at the Gardens runs from 1st December until 6th January. Why 6th? The Twelve Days of Christmas is a theme running throughout the gardens and you hear people humming the song as they search for the sequence of the Twelve Days displays. So let’s spend an evening there.
On arrival there’s an immediate sense of anticipation. Even the entrance and parking areas are illuminated by pretty lighting. We first walk into Water Wheel Square which is transformed into an ice rink, but we want to see the lights so skating will have to wait until later. The Gardens has a recommended route so we follow this. Every few yards we see sights pretty, charming, captivating, delightful … . One wonders how many million bulbs (lights, not flowers) have been carefully placed. One year, early on the route, our children were enchanted by a flowing river of lights underneath a crust of snow. Yes, magical.
The initial view of the Sunken Garden always brings oohs and aahs. Oh for a better camera, I think. Do walk on a few yards to the little log cabin overlooking the old quarry; I adore it. Entering the Sunken Garden we are barely aware of being in a garden, it’s a panorama of lighting displays: under shrubs, within trees, even on the lake, culminating at the Ross Fountain with its constantly changing colours and swathes of jetted water. Then we take a break from the illuminated wonderland by entering a different wonderland, one which may take you back to childhood memories: the Rose Carousel.
An avenue of simply but effectively lit trees passes the concert lawn where my favourite Twelve Days display charms us everytime (you’ll have to visit to discover what it is) and then we walk under the arched avenue in the Rose Garden. The formal Star Pond and Italian Gardens draw us towards the piazza where we hear carol singers. The Dining Room and Blue Poppy restaurant are open but we’ve other thoughts: hot chocolate. The debate is always, should we take a spin (I write this metaphorically) or three on the ice rink first? Either way, we seat ourselves by the open fire in the coffee shop, drink in hand. Life’s good!