Celebrating Christmas in Victoria

December 10, 2015 by Martin Vernon

The opportunities for celebrating Christmas in Victoria BC are broader than in most medium-sized North American cities due to the heritage of its cultures and architecture, fanned by the flames of tourism. Here’s a guide to a variety of events offering something for everyone.

The Lighted Ships and Trucks Parades introduces Santa to Victoria sailing by in the Inner Harbour. Celebrating Christmas in Victoria BC

Crafts shows run until mid-December.

The Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens is magical indeed. Even if you are not in the mood for the celebrations this will inspire and delight. My wife and I enjoy this every year.

Our other annual visit in December is to stroll around the Inner Harbour and along Government Street popping into numerous venues for special displays, food and drink.

Musical concerts extend far beyond Christmas carols. They include swing, soul, Bach, celtic, blues, Handel’s Messiah, and even 65 massed tubas.

Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle includes one-man readings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Santa gets around everywhere, often enjoying breakfasts, lunches or dinners; no wonder he’s such a round jovial guy. You’d think his itinerary would keep him slim.

Or you can drive around to admire the Christmas lights and decorations outside homes throughout the Victoria area.

For more specific information, do speak to your Victoria bed and breakfast innkeepers.

Victoria Christmas lights

December 17, 2014 by Martin Vernon

Few things get us in the mood for seasonal celebrations better than viewing Victoria Christmas lights on houses throughout the area. Each year our local newspaper, The Times Colonist, publishes a map of these which we acknowledge with gratitude. It shows homes (red pointers) and businesses (blue pointers) on the Saanich Peninsula with noteworthy lighting displays – click on the dark ones to view them.

Of course, the best way to view these displays is to take a driving tour. Thousands of us do this every year. We can not fail to be impressed by the amount of work involved in their creation. The first house our family lived in here is one of these; the present owner plans his (over-the-top) display months in advance. There’s creativity, beauty and humour to be found.


If you do not have access to a car there are two excellent alternatives to see Victoria Christmas lights in their full glory. One is simply to wander around downtown – my favourite is the sight of the BC Parliament Buildings (below). The other is to take a bus or taxi to The Butchart Gardens for their Magic of Christmas displays.

Victoria Christmas lights - BC Parliament Buildings

Celebrate December in Victoria

November 30, 2013 by Martin Vernon

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 Santa in the Inner HarbourParade. 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 Рnot 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 The Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardensvisit 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.

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