I love Christmas time. It’s one of my very favourite times of the year. I love the way our living rooms and city streets are transformed with magical lights. I love the holiday songs that we sing along to in the car. I love the time with family and friends, and the traditions that we have built over the years (family seafood dinner on Christmas Eve, Santa photo with my best friend’s family, and family dinners and board game nights). And I love all of the holiday events around town. This is even more fun now that we have a little one to share things with. Everything is that much more exciting when seen through the eyes of a child that is experiencing things for the first time!
Here is a round up of some of the events taking place in and around Victoria over the holiday season. A lot of them are favourites in our family, and a few I’m hoping to check out for the first time this year.
Victoria Festival of Trees
When: November 16th – January 5th
Where: The Bay Centre and The Fairmont Empress
What: This year is the 25th Anniversary, and the event is returning to The Empress (as well as The Bay Centre). This is a tradition for our family, and the Empress is a magical location. Explore the beautiful trees and vote for your favourite while donating to BC Children’s Hospital.
Canada’s National Gingerbread Showcase
When: November 19th – January 2nd, 9am-9pm
Where: Inn at Laurel Point
What: Professional and amateur bakers create incredible gingerbread houses in this event benefiting Habitat for Humanity Victoria. Check out the entries in this year’s theme of “Around the World”, and vote for your favourite.
Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade
When: Saturday November 26th, 5:45pm
Where: See the parade route
What: Victoria’s Santa parade, complete with floats, bands, entertainment and more. Head to Centennial Square after the parade for refreshments, and to see Santa announce the start of Christmas in Victoria.
Oak Bay Christmas Light Up and Festival
When: Sunday November 27th, starting at 2pm
Where: Oak Bay Village
What: This event includes street games, crafts, a bouncy castle, and on-stage entertainment beginning at 3pm. Last year, the announcers led the crowd in Christmas carols until Santa arrived!
Ride the Ferris Wheel at Centennial Square
When: Sundays, November 27th – December 18th, 12-5pm
Where: Centennial Square
What: Our little one is young, so we didn’t check out the Ferris wheel last year – but it sounded like fun! Ride the Ferris wheel, grab a bite to eat, meet Santa, and enjoy some holiday entertainment.
Free Horse-Drawn Trolley Rides in Victoria
When: Saturdays & Sundays, November 27th – December 24th, 11am-3pm
Where: Downtown Victoria
What: I’d love to try these horse-drawn trolley rides; a unique way to see Victoria all lit up for Christmas! Trolley rides are free, and can be found at one of the 4 pick-up locations.
Christmas at Butchart Gardens
When: December 1st – January 2nd
Where: Butchart Gardens
What: Butchart Gardens is magical at Christmas time! Beautiful carolers, ice skating on an outdoor rink, Twelve Days of Christmas decorations hidden throughout the gardens, and incredible Christmas lights. Children 12 and under can even bring a homemade paper snowflake to the coffee shop and receive a free hot chocolate!
Father Christmas in Old Town
When: Friday/Saturday/ Sunday, December 2nd – 18th, 11am-3pm
Where: Royal BC Museum
What: A Christmas favorite in our family! Old Town in the museum is decorated with lights and Christmas trees, and you can have your photo taken with an old-fashioned, magical Father Christmas.
Music in Market Square
When: Saturday December 3rd, 1-3pm
Where: Market Square, 560 Johnson Street
What: Get in the holiday spirit with a free concert by the Greater Victoria Concert Band!
IEOA Truck Light Convoy
When: Saturday December 3rd, 5:45-8:30pm
Where: Ogden Point to Western Speedway (see route)
What: This is one of our family’s favourite Christmas events. The trucks, beautifully lit up, leave Ogden Point at 5:45pm, and finish at Western Speedway at 8:30pm.
Sidney’s Gingerbread House Scavenger hunt
When: December 3rd – 21st
Where: Sidney shops and businesses
What: Explore the stores of Sidney and search for hidden gingerbread houses! Watch for the Sidney Christmas events calendar for the Scavenger Hunt ballot – find 12 houses to enter the contest.
Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade
When: Sunday December 4th, 5:00pm
Where: Beacon Avenue, Sidney
What: The Sidney parade is another fun one! It might be smaller than the Victoria parade, but it’s a magical evening for the family.
Christmas Starlight Cinema
When: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, December 6th – 21st, 6:00-7:30pm
Where: The Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort
What: The beautiful Inner Harbour as backdrop, the stars above, and a holiday classic, all make for a magical Christmas evening! Bring your own lawn chair and a blanket for snuggling, and the hotel will provide heaters.
Driving Tour of Christmas Lights
When: A week or two before Christmas
Where: All around town 🙂
What: It’s so much fun to get in your PJs, maybe even take a little treat with you, and drive around town exploring the best Christmas displays! The Times Colonist usually puts out a map each year listing the best residential and commercial displays.
The holiday season is fast approaching, and I can’t wait to explore as many of these events and activities as we can fit in! If you have any favourite holiday events, we would love to hear from you.
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