When my kids were growing up, Christmas was very exciting – we’d excitedly leave out cookies, milk and carrots for Santa and his reindeer and hang stockings wearing our cozy new Christmas jammies. Once the kids were asleep, I’d set up “Santa traps” on Christmas Eve by placing flour on the floor so when my kids woke up they would see Santa’s footprints through the living room. Now, it’s that time of the year where the magic of Christmas is just around the corner again! In Victoria, British Columbia, the Christmas season is a magical time of year where the capital city is alight with twinkle lights and the entire city is bursting with holiday magic. Whether you’re in a rental right near all the Christmas magic in the heart of Victoria, or if you’re staying in a beautiful EMR rental in Sooke, Saanich, or the Cowichan Valley, you’ll want to take a trip or two to the capital city to experience all the holiday activities! Want to know what to do and where to go to soak up all the magic of the season? We’ve got some travel tips of all the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit in Victoria!
See the Lights!
One of the best ways to enjoy the magic of a Victoria Christmas is to go and see some Christmas lights and this year, there are some must-see light festivals and displays in Greater Victoria!
The Butchart Gardens
800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay | December 1st – January 6th
The Butchart Gardens has one of the best Christmas light displays on the Southern Vancouver Island with thousands of twinkle lights through the 55 acres of gardens, a full display of the Twelve Days of Christmas display, Christmas carols and holiday favourites playing throughout the gardens and a vintage outdoor rink to ice skate on! Take a few breaks to sip hot chocolate, enjoy a baked good from the cafe or enjoy dinner in the Dining Room or the Blue Poppy Restaurant!
Lights of Wonder
Centennial Square | Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from December 15th – 31st
Right downtown Victoria near Chinatown – and conveniently right around the corner from The Corazon – is one of the best Christmas activities in Victoria! For the last two weeks of December, Centennial Square will be a veritable winter wonderland with themed light displays, including four light tunnels, a 40ft Christmas tree, food vendors and live entertainment!
The Inner Harbour
When you’re staying downtown Victoria, one of the best ways to see twinkling lights is to walk around the Inner Harbour! During the holidays, the Parliament Buildings and the Fairmont Empress are all lit up with Christmas lights plus, you’ll find many of the boats moored in the harbour covered in twinkle lights and all the trees lining Government Street are lit up as well! Walk up Government Street, enjoy the lights, grab some hot cocoa and do some Christmas shopping!
The Festival of Trees
The Bay Centre | November 17th – January 3rd
For three decades during the holiday season, The Bay Centre has been the venue in Victoria for the Festival of Trees – the charitable event that raises money for the BC Children’s Hospital! Throughout the mall, shoppers can walk by hundreds of Christmas trees, each sponsored and decorated by a local business or organization and put on display. Check out these incredible, unique trees, vote for your favourite and support a great cause!
Shop at Christmas Markets
There are lots of incredible boutiques and malls around Victoria, but one of the most magical ways to do some holiday shopping is to go to a Christmas market!
Victoria Edelweiss Club’s German Christmas Market
108 Niagara St, Victoria | November 26th 10:00am to 2:00pm
This amazing market features numerous vendors and traditional German deli items, Christmas Stollen, and baked goods! Come get a traditional German wreath and get into the holiday spirit!
Cook Street Village Holiday Market
Cook Street Village Activity Centre, 380 Cook St, Victoria | November 26th 9am to 2pm
With over 30 holiday market vendors, an auction with something for everyone and a 50/50 draw, this lively market is a great way to kick off your holiday shopping!
41st Annual Dickens Fair
James Bay Community Center 140 Oswego Street, Victoria | December 3rd 2022 10am to 4:30pm
One of Victoria’s oldest and beloved Christmas craft markets and fairs, you’ll find two large rooms in the community centre filled with handmade local treasures from baked goods, wood work, jewellery, fine arts, candles, clothing and so much more!
Go to a Show!
Victoria Chamber Christmas Concert
First Metropolitan Church | November 25 | 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Tickets: adults $25, students & seniors $15, music students free
Directed by Maestro Yariv Aloni, the Victoria Chamber Orchestra presents their Baroque Christmas Concert. Enjoy an evening of rousing music by Buxtehude, Corelli, Handel, Locatelli, Manfredini and Torelli in the beautiful and heritage First Metropolitan Church, downtown Victoria.
Victoria Royal Theatre | December 2 – December 4 | 1:00pm – 7:00pm
Tickets: $49.50 – $129
Follow Clara’s adventures into a world of unexpected wonders, magic, and humour and marvel at the colourful costumes, and beautiful dancing. Come and create enchanting memories with friends and family at Victoria’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s beloved, holiday classic.
Holiday Movie Nights
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel | November 29 – December 21 | 5:00pm, 5:15pm, 5:30pm, 5:45pm & 6:00pm
Tickets: $89.00 per person + tax
This fun Christmas event is back for another year! Enjoy dinner in FARO Pizza, followed by a favourite holiday film in our David Foster Foundation Theatre and freshly popped popcorn. With multiple dining reservation times available to book for each screening and a concession available for beverage service during the film, you’re sure to have a fantastic evening celebrating the season!
Nov 29: Elf
Dec 6 & 20: Love Actually
Dec 7: It’s A Wonderful Life
Dec 13: A White Christmas
Dec 14: Home Alone
Dec 21: The Holiday
The Christmas season is a magical time at the Castle! Whether you’re going on a self-guided tour to see some Victorian Christmas toys and traditions or enjoying one of the shows, a visit to the Castle is a must during the Christmas season!
Check the December calendar for tour days and times and purchase your ticket at the Castle’s Visitor Centre when you arrive!
On December 10th, Cookeilidh will be performing everything from nostalgic, traditional carols, to whimsical, modern day tunes of the season in the magical setting of Craigdarroch Castle! With a 12 string guitar, a fiddle, Irish flute, electric bass, bodhran and vocals, this performance will leave you filled with the holiday spirit!
Starting on December 14th, Jason Stevens channels the Dickensian spirit with staged readings from the holiday classic tale within the historic walls of Craigdarroch Castle.
Enjoy Christmas Dinner
Christmas Day Dinner in the Snug Pub
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel | December 25 | 5:00pm & 7:00pm
$99 per person, plus tax (19+ event)
In the gorgeous Snug Pub at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, you’ll find the perfect setting to enjoy a three course menu featuring Christmas turkey with all the classic fixings! What better way to really experience the magic of the day?
Christmas Day Brunch at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel | December 25 | 10:00am, 10:30am, 12:00pm & 12:30pm
Adult – $129.00 per guest, Child (3 to 12 years) – $59.00 per guest, 2 and under – complimentary
Enjoy and celebrate the season in the Dining Room of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel on Christmas Day with an iconic breakfast experience! Created by Executive Chef Kreg Graham, this lavish brunch event includes an omelette station and a carving station with the works!
Christmas Day Dinner at Q at the Empress Restaurant
The Fairmont Empress | December 25 | 4:00pm – 9:30pm
$209, 50% off for children. Five-course set menu. Featured offers on select wines.
Q at the Empress is one of the best places to find Pacific Northwest Coast inspired cuisine in a chic, modern dining room and this holiday, Q is offering a five-course set menu befitting an elegant Christmas Day. This event is ideal for small groups and intimate, family dinner parties.
Christmas on the Veranda
Fairmont Empress | November 4 – December 31 | Fridays & Saturdays
Walk-in seating only
On the beautiful patio at the front of The Empress Hotel, is The Veranda – a cozy seating area with fire pits, comfortable seating and blankets. Enjoy the best view in Victoria, sip on a hot beverage and indulge in delicious Christmas snacks, including s’mores!