Aaaah, the holidays. It’s the time of year that conjures up Rockwellian images of large family gatherings, magical snowmen, copious amounts of hot chocolate, decadent food, the big guy in red and white and endless strings of Christmas lights that twinkle through the long wintry nights. This year, in Victoria, British Columbia, the Christmas season kicks off with some exceptional light festivals and displays around the capital city. So, bundle up, grab a cocoa to go, and hop in the car, if you traveled by air, grab a rental car and check out how Victoria is lighting up the magic of the holidays.
The Butchart Gardens
December 1st – January 6th
The Butchart Gardens is the undisputed master of Christmas light displays on Vancouver Island. Whether you’re staying in Victoria or one of the beautiful EMR properties in Saanich this little slice of holiday paradise is worth seeing! The Magic of Christmas is the annual Christmas light festival where visitors can wander through the gardens completely aglow, see the Twelve Days of Christmas display, enjoy some live entertainment, and do some traditional ice skating on the outdoor ice rink and stop by the coffee shop for a hot cocoa and gingerbread!
The Festival of Trees
November 17th – January 3rd, The Bay Center
Whether you’re staying right in downtown Victoria or if you’re enjoying the peace and quiet of winter at a stunning Cowichan Valley property, you’ll want to do a little bit of Christmas shopping at The Bay Center in downtown Victoria. Not only does The Bay Center offer a myriad of stores from national and global chains to local boutiques and fun kiosks but during this time of year, the mall is filled with holiday magic. The high ceilings drip with twinkling lights, bannisters are decked with garlands and ribbons and the mall is filled with Christmas trees! Each tree is sponsored and decorated by a local business or organization and put on display in the mall. Shoppers vote for their favourite tree and make a small donation to help raise money for the BC Children’s Hospital!
Lights of Wonder
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from December 15th – 31st, Centennial Square
If you’re looking for a way to get into the Christmas spirit just a walk away from one of the cozy condos in downtown Victoria, this is it! From December 15th to the 30th, Centennial Square will be a veritable winter wonderland with themed holiday lights, including four light tunnels, a 40ft Christmas tree, food vendors and live entertainment!
The Inner Harbour
During the holidays there is no better, more Christmassy place to go than the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria. Whether you’re staying in a rental right in the heart of downtown or if you’re making the trip into town from Sooke, the Cowichan Valley or Sidney a walk through the Inner Harbour to see the Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Empress and up Government Street all lit up with thousands of twinkle lights is a must!
Santa Claus Parade
November 26th at 5:00 starting at Belleville and Government St. and ending at 251 Esquimalt Rd
The beloved Santa Claus Parade is back! This year, IEOA truck convoy and Esquimalt Light Parade are working together to light up the city with a long line of cars and trucks all decked out with holiday lights, Christmas music and the big guy himself, this parade is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season! The parade route has been extended by a few blocks for 2022 to allow more space between spectators and masks are recommended but not mandatory. Bring a non-perishable food item with you for the food back and meet up at the end of the route to see the holiday plaza, get pictures with Santa, enjoy live entertainment, great food, and warm drinks!
One of the easiest ways to get into the holiday spirit is to take yourself on a Christmas lights tour, checking out all the amazing neighbourhood Christmas displays! These homes go to great lengths to set up their elaborate light displays and they’re a must see during the holiday season. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of homes that have put on incredible displays every year plus the Times Colonist publishes an interactive Christmas lights map each year to show you exactly where to go to see the incredible displays of lights around Greater Victoria!
610 Vanalman Ave
629 Vanalman Ave
Gordon Head and UVIC area
4360 Torquay Drive
1827 Dunnett Crescent
3943 Emerald Close
1311 Hillside Ave
2820 Grosvenor Rd
1888 Townley St
Fairfield/Oak Bay area
615 Linden Ave
1888 Townley St