SPEND THE HOLIDAY SEASON IN VICTORIA, BC
Escape the crowds of the big cities and rediscover the holiday spirit in Victoria, British Columbia!
TRAVEL GUIDE: TOP 10 THINGS TO SEE & DO IN VICTORIA, BC THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
During the most wonderful time of the year, Victoria is bursting with fun and festive activities. From beautiful light displays to festive tea and dinner, from shopping for the perfect handmade gift to ice skating at The Butchart Gardens, Victoria is the perfect place to have an extraordinary Christmas.
A unique blend of old-world charm and new world experiences, aka Victoria in British Columbia. Combined with the wild beauty of the Pacific Ocean and old-growth rainforests set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains, Victoria makes for a favorable lifestyle and a desirable destination to both live and visit.
Victoria also boasts the mildest climate in Canada (even this time of the year) and is green year-round!
Thanks to Tourism Victoria and associated partners for sponsoring this post!
We recently got to spend 3 wonderful days and experience first-hand the best of the Holiday Season in Victoria, BC. This was our second time on the island, we first visited Victoria when we were pregnant and to be able to see the same places except now through the curious and bright eyes of our toddler is a joy in itself.
Though it has been 3 years, it still feels like it was just yesterday that I wrote a blog post on the TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN VICTORIA, BC.
Catch our shenanigans in Victoria, BC saved under story highlights on Instagram.
WHAT TO DO IN VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA?
The Magic of Christmas The Butchart Gardens is open until January 6, 2020. It was hands down one of the most breathtaking sights!
During the holiday season, the Butchart Garden is transformed into an incredible sea of light by dusk. Experience the stunning displays of holiday cheer – complete with ice skating under the stars, hot cocoa, carollers, mesmerizing lights and so much more.
The Gardens come to life with a colorful display of lights, including scenes depicting The Twelve Days of Christmas. Bundle up and wander the pathways to discover each scene as you sing along to the classic Christmas carol.
Lace-up your skates and step onto the rink, nestled under strings of twinkling lights, the 5,000-square-foot outdoor rink adds a little romance to a classic Canadian pastime.
Enjoy a ride on the Rose Carousel (this year marks the 10th anniversary of the carousel) where you can ride on one (or many) of the 30 hand-carved wooden animals and chariots, loved by children and adults alike.
In the Piazza, where carolers and a festive brass band await, sing along to the classic Christmas carols and enjoy the sound of the festive brass. There’s plenty of seating here to rest before, during or after your stroll through the 12 Days of Christmas display.
Breathe in the fresh air, and when you’re done on the ice, warm up by the fire in the Coffee Shop. And I highly recommend that you also try their vegetable empanada at the Blue Poppy Restaurant, one of the best we have ever had!
TRANSPORTATION: CVS sightseeing is victoria’s premier tour bus company offering year-round direct service to the Butchart Gardens. Tours depart throughout the day so guests can stay over to enjoy afternoon tea or a dining experience in the 55 acres gardens.
CVS sightseeing offers you the flexibility to tailor your day the way you want, so there is no need to limit your Butchart gardens experience.
TIP: Given how stunning and popular the Butchart Garden is, it is bound to be extremely busy from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm. So be sure to check their website or #ButchartTraffic on Twitter to get an idea of wait times (if any) at the gate. Due to traffic volumes, you can expect a 30-45 minute wait to get into the Gardens.
It is a shopping sanctuary in the heart of Downtown Victoria. During this time of the year, the Bay Center is decked out for the holidays with twinkling lights and over 50 decorated Christmas trees.
A must-see event known as Victoria’s unofficial kick-off to the holiday season for the last 27 years. Bring your family and friends and be immersed in the festive season as you tour a lush forest of one-of-a-kind decorated trees to raise funds for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, and be sure to vote for your favorite tree in support of the Foundation.
11th Annual Habitat for Humanity Victoria, a premier fundraiser is showcasing Gingerbread creations at The Parkside Hotel & Spa. Home chefs, professional bakers, artists, designers and more are showing off their talent, skill, and imagination at this magical family event.
This year’s theme is “Building a Diverse Community.” Plan a visit to view the Gingerbread masterpieces and donate to vote for your favorite! All donations support Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s build program, helping families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership.
It’s a magical time of the year when the castle is adorned with festive cheer! Filled with beautiful antiques and festooned with Victorian-inspired Christmas décor, it is easy to spend a couple of hours browsing through Craigdarroch Castle.
During the month of December, there will be live festive music playing along with special Christmas tours for kids to learn about festive traditions from Christmas trees to toys.
Take an evening stroll along the iconic harbor to see historic landmarks, including the British Columbia Parliament Buildings twinkle and shine. During this time of the year, the mesmerizing holiday lights come back at the BC Parliament Buildings.
Celebrate the lighting of the provincial Christmas tree and Parliament Buildings. Enjoy festive performances outside and then go inside for more music and seasonal treats.
Escape the cold for a couple of hours and celebrate Christmas in Old Town at The Royal BC Museum and get a picture with Father Christmas himself as you explore and take in the sights and sounds of Christmas long ago.
Grab a hot cup of coffee from the café and wander through the Helmcken House for an Old-Fashioned Christmas experience, or the many galleries and exhibits. And stay for an IMAX film if you’re still not ready to brave the cold.
While you are there, also uncover the mysteries of ancient Maya. Closing December 31, this is the last chance to explore this powerful culture that rose in the tropical rainforests of Central America.
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to go to the museum, well, there’s always a next time!
Image Source: Royal BC Museum
Stroll around Victoria’s quaint streets to discover local shops filled with one-of-a-kind offerings.
Check out the boutiques lining Lower Johnson (LoJo), Market Square, Cook Street, contemporary stores and traditional Asian markets in Chinatown (oldest in Canada), narrowest street Fan Tan Alley, the trendy shops along Government Street, or Victoria’s cool commercial spaces like The Bay Centre, Uptown and Mayfair Mall.
Walk around Trounce Alley or Dragon Alley, they say everywhere in Victoria leads you somewhere charming and it’s true! Explore Beacon Hill Park and spend time enjoying the peace and quiet.
New this year, Downtown Victoria is transforming the Centennial Square into a holiday wonderland. This outdoor event features themed light exhibits, four interactive light tunnels, and a 40-foot festive tree. Lights of Wonder offers live entertainment, warm nibbles, and magical light displays.
We were in Victoria the weekend before December 20th and did not get a chance to experience this. Again, there’s always a next time! 😉
Uptown Victoria is also a magical sight with a huge Christmas tree in the square and lights adorning the walkways.
We went on the hop on hop off tour exclusively for our little guy’s love for riding the bus and we were so glad we did it! It was choosing between this or going to the museum as we didn’t have enough time, but given that he is always screaming and running around in excitement, this was a good call. At least all the other museum-goers didn’t have to be subjected to that kind of excitement, hehe.
HOW TO GET TO VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA?
The fastest, easiest, and hassle-free way to travel to Victoria has to be on the Clipper Ferry. And your vacay begins the moment you board the ferry because the 3 hrs relaxed cruise ride offers scenic views of the Puget Sound, the water and the mountains, oh what a fun ride!
After a comfortable and smooth sail on the ferry, as you get closer to Victoria, you will be greeted by stunning views of Downtown Victoria and the harbor, which means that the place is already setting its bar too high and building up your expectations (trust me, it won’t let you down).
Clipper operates daily, year-round between Seattle and Victoria, and did I say that the border crossing is a breeze #browniepoints
WHERE TO STAY IN VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA?
Stay at the new cookie in town, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites and you will absolutely love it!! I mean, when the lobby itself is so fun and festive you are bound to have a great time, amirite or amirite?
DoubleTree is the newest hotel in downtown Victoria and is steps away from the Inner Harbor, shopping, restaurants, whale watching, BC Museum, and many arts & cultural activities. Hence a great stay for all your adventures.
And most importantly, brownie point winner (pun intended) everyone gets a warm welcome aka their world-famous warm cookie upon arrival. A brand that surely knows it’s guests best.
WHERE TO EAT IN VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA?
There is no dearth of tasty and delicious places to eat at while in Victoria.
Choose from a variety of tasty dine-in and take-out restaurants – authentic Belgian waffles, a vegetarian buffet, Neapolitan pizzeria, curries, Mexican, Indonesian, a coffee shop and craft beer eatery.
Situated right on the water (seriously, you can even kayak to it), in the Victoria International Marina, Boom + Batten is Victoria’s newest waterfront eatery. With a warm and modern atmosphere, cozy up to a delightful cafe beverage and indulge in a decadent meal as you watch the weather through the floor to ceiling windows.
Victoria’s first authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria is passionate for the fire-roasted pizzas born in Italy and pays homage to their Italian roots with a commitment to simple, fresh ingredients on traditional wood-fired, thin-crust pizza. Join them in Cook Street Village, upper Fort Street or in the Cowichan Valley for wood-fired pizza, seasonal salads, cocktails, craft beer, local house wine by the glass, house-made gelato or a cafe.
Named one of the best locations to dine IN Victoria on the Food Network’s You Have Gotta Eat Here, The Village has five locations across Greater Victoria. The Village offers all-day breakfast plus delicious twists on classic lunch options. At any time of day, try specialties like eggs benny on a house-made latke potato pancake base, or one of the unique omelets named after Greater Victoria’s iconic landmarks
There you have it, Victoria in the holiday season! So what are you waiting for?
Celebrate this festive season in Victoria and discover what this island has to offer!
From strolling the dazzling inner harbor to shopping along cobblestone streets to sip Christmas cocktails at cozy pubs and lounges to marveling at Christmas lights around this beautiful city, there is something for everyone!
But in case you are unable to make it during the holidays, then do know that with its beautiful architecture, colorful gardens and traditions such as afternoon tea mix with soft adventure such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, cycling, and golf; culinary experiences such as gourmet farm and wine tours, microbreweries, a leading-edge cocktail culture, and world-class dining; and arts and culture, this island destination, Victoria offers visitors an escape from the hurried world and beams with ambiance.
Happening Next: Dine Around & Stay in Town January 17 – February 2, 2020!
Find participating hotels offering special rates to stay in town here.
Source: Tourism Victoria
“You don’t need magic to disappear, all you need is a destination.”