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Top 8 Holiday-Themed Activities in Victoria, British Columbia

Updated on February 23, 2017

Looking to get festive this holiday season?

Victoria, British Columbia has long been called "Little England" for its quaint shops, endless cafes, and old fashioned storefronts. If you're visiting over the holiday season, you'll find yourself privy to endless holiday events and activities, especially if you like being outside: Victoria stays temperate at even the coolest time of the year, with temperatures rarely dropping below 0°C. Read on for the top 8 activities to do this holiday season!

Downtown Victoria
Downtown Victoria

1. The Magic of Christmas at Butchart Gardens

What better way to spend an evening than with a hot cup of cocoa, winding through the world-famous Butchart Gardens, trying to spot the 12 Days of Christmas displays hidden throughout the property? With incredible holiday lights intertwined around trees and buildings, winter plants and shrubs highlighted by infinite poinsettias, carollers and three-piece bands playing holiday tunes, this activity is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit! The gardens also feature a small skating rink for those of us who crave a true winter experience.

December 1 - January 6

Munro's Books
Munro's Books

2. Holiday Drinks

Fancy a coffee with a touch of Baileys? Rum and eggnog? Hot apple cider? A boozy peppermint hot chocolate? Victoria hosts hundreds of cozy pubs and bars, but some of the best for holiday cheer include The Snug at Oak Bay Beach Hotel, The Bard and Banker, Irish Times Pub, and The Penny Farthing. Many of these bars are listed as heritage buildings, or used to be old banks or offices. The old-fashioned setting is sure to take you back in history. Take your pick!

November – December - January

The Bard and Banker
The Bard and Banker

3. Christmas Markets & Craft Fairs

Unsurprisingly, Victoria hosts a number of Christmas Craft fairs throughout November and December and into January as well. The Victoria Public Market has one of the best, with live music, artisan vendors, gift wrapping, and even cameo appearances by Mr. Santa Claus himself! You'll often find vendors selling beautiful home-made goods in Bastion Square as well, where historic buildings and quaint cafes put you in a cheery, holiday mood. Wherever you choose to shop, Victoria's vendors will leave you with good quality, useful, and beautiful gifts for all your friends and family.

November - December - January

Victoria Public Market
Victoria Public Market

4. Festival of Trees at the Empress Hotel & the Bay Centre

The Festival of Trees at the Empress Hotel & Bay Centre is a must-do for any visitor or local, with almost 100 Christmas trees scattered throughout the two properties. Businesses and vendors from Victoria can decorate a tree, often according to a theme or colour scheme, available for your viewing pleasure. An added bonus to this favourite tradition is the voting process, where you can make a donation to the BC Children's Hospital when you vote for your favourite tree.

November 16 - January 3

The Empress Hotel
The Empress Hotel

5. The BC Parliament Buildings

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, and the Parliament Buildings that the city hosts remind us of this 365 days of the year, with a display of approximately 3400 energy-efficient lightbulbs that light up every evening at dusk. During the holiday season, however, you’ll find many of the lightbulbs switched to red and green, as well as the 150-year old Sequoia tree lit up as British Columbia’s official provincial Christmas tree. The official light-up ceremony occurs on December 8 at 6pm. During the daytime, you can visit the inside of the buildings as well, take a free guided tour, and enjoy holiday decorations.

December 8 - January

The BC Parliament Buildings
The BC Parliament Buildings

6. "A Christmas Carol" at Craigdarroch Castle

Nothing screams Christmas more than a one-man show of Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" at Craigdarroch Castle, a spooky yet beautiful Victorian mansion constructed by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir from 1887-1890. Show dates are December 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, and 23, but you can visit the castle anytime, as it will still be decorated for the holiday season throughout December.

December 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23 (Tickets required in advance)

Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle

7. CapriCCio Choir at Christ Church Cathedral

A Christmas concert at Christ Church Cathedral is a magical experience. The cathedral provides incredible acoustics for one of Victoria’s best vocal choirs, and the awe-inspiring greatness of the cathedral itself, with its 13th century gothic architecture, giant flying buttresses, and towering columns will remind you of the true meaning of Christmas. The concert, "The Night Before the Night Before," begins at 6:30pm, and purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.

December 23

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

8. New Year Celebrations

From club and bar crawls to live music and fireworks in the inner harbor, to classy dance and dinner events at the Grand Pacific Hotel, the Empress, and the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, New Year’s Eve is a big celebration in Victoria. And to nurse your hangover or exhaustion the next day, join the hundreds of daredevils who jump in various lakes and bays around Victoria for the polar bear swim of 2017.

December 31 – January 1

Rogers' Chocolates
Rogers' Chocolates

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    • Melody Yang profile image

      Melody Yang 9 months ago

      I love your photos! But you're missing a few key activities - The Empress skating rink, the ferris wheel in Centennial Square, and basically anything to do in Oak Bay Village :) enjoyed your article xx