Victoria has everything you need for the perfect holiday getaway; whether it's visiting The Butchart Gardens’ Christmas lights display, doing some last-minute shopping, indulging in a traditional winter tea, or attending a festive event.
Read our insider’s scoop on top activities and events to do while visiting Victoria this Christmas season.
PLUS, save on Butchart Gardens Christmas Magic packages to Victoria from $169 USD pp/do. Packages include ferry, a hotel stay in Victoria and admission to The Butchart Gardens with shuttle.
Christmas Magic at The Butchart Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens.
1. Christmas Magic at The Butchart Gardens
Every Christmas, The Gardens are decorated with over one million twinkling lights in splendid displays throughout the 55-acre property. Grab a warm beverage from their Coffee Shop, and walk through the Twelve Days of Christmas display. Keep your eyes alert, you will not want to miss all the secrets The Gardens has to offer!
Please Note: The Butchart Gardens is located about 35 minutes from downtown Victoria. If you are traveling as a walk-on passenger, you can use one of the following modes of transportation to get to The Butchart Gardens:
1. The Butchart Gardens round-trip shuttle transportation: Hop on a motor coach bus in downtown Victoria, and enjoy a 35-minute narrated ride to The Gardens. The shuttle departs from the Fairmont Empress Hotel at 6:00pm daily, and 4:00pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
2. BC Transit: Although a bit longer of a route (with many pick up and drop offs along the way), BC Transit is a cost effective public transportation option. Visit BC Transit for route options.
3. Taxi: There are several taxi companies in Victoria that can pick you up directly in front of our Victoria ferry terminal.
Christmas lights on Government Street.
2. Go Christmas Shopping in Downtown Victoria
Take a stroll down one of Victoria's main streets — Government Street. Here you'll find a variety of iconic shops, such as Rogers' Chocolates, Murchie's Tea & Coffee, and many other souvenir shops. Also be sure to check out Low Jo (Lower Johnson Street, off of Government Street); home to many local boutique shops including Rook and Rose (flower and lifestyle), Little Gold (jewelry), and ANIAN (durable, earth-friendly clothing). Market Square, located off of Johnson Street, also has tons of small shops to explore.
Winter Tea at the Pendray Tea House. Credit: Pendray Tea House.
3. Experience a Traditional Winter Tea
'Tis the season to experience an Afternoon Tea as light and delicate as Victoria's first snowfall. Treat yourself to a uniquely crafted menu complete with options inspired by the beautiful holiday festivities around downtown Victoria. Enjoy a classic winter tea experience in the Pendray Tea House at the Huntingdon Manor, located across the street from our Victoria terminal this holiday season. Choose from a selection of fine teas, as well as elegant tea plates filled with assorted breads, sweets and pastries.
A horse-drawn carriage tour passing The Parliament Buildings. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria.
4. Enjoy an Intimate Tour of Victoria From a Horse-Drawn Carriage
Enjoy historical tales on Victoria's past, present and future on a guided tour of downtown Victoria. Book a private carriage tour and take a unique journey through downtown Victoria and the surrounding areas. Since 1978, Victoria Carriage Tours has been dedicated to providing quality horse-drawn tours.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours
By The Park: Relax and enjoy the pace of elegance through the historical streets of James Bay on this 45-minute tour. Meet the outskirts of Beacon Hill Park, the city’s oldest and largest park, known for its vast ecosystem including Garry Oak meadows and fields of Camas Lilies. Be delighted by the endearing character of the homes throughout the historical neighborhood.
Beacon Hill Park Tour: Delight in escaping the city by traveling to the crown jewel of Victoria, Beacon Hill Park on this 60-minute tour. Catch a glimpse of local wildlife while enjoying the serenity Beacon Hill Park has to offer. Travel along the coastline of Dallas Road where the Salish Sea meets the Olympic Mountains. Return through the Victorian historical district of James Bay where you will feel as though time has stood still.
Macarons from Bon Macaron. Credit: Off The Eaten Track Food Tours.
5. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry on the Cozy Christmas Food Tour
Get in the Christmas spirit with a festive guided culinary walking tour that celebrates indulgent holiday-themed samples from classic Victoria foodie businesses. The tour visits four food destinations in addition to four local shops for a chance to pick up a thoughtful gift.
Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria, One Lion Photography.
6. Festival of Trees
Grab a festive drink, do some Christmas shopping, and enjoy the beautiful display of decorated Christmas trees sponsored by local businesses and organizations to support BC Children’s Hospital. Be sure to vote by donation for your favorite! The Festival of Trees takes place in the Bay Centre from November 16th, 2023 to January 3, 2024.
Santa Claus Parade in downtown Victoria.
7. Santa Claus Parade
Join the parade that has been a staple for locals and visitors of Victoria for the past 40 years. Enjoy a spectacular display of lights and other entertainment as the parade works its way through Victoria’s downtown core. The parade takes place at the end of November each year.
Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle. Credit: Craigdarroch Castle.
8. Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle
Experience the holiday season at Craigdarroch Castle and enjoy a self-guided tour with a unique Christmas twist! For the month of December, Craigdarroch Castle will be fully decorated and will host special evening music events featuring Celtic and holiday favorites.
Please Note: Craigdarroch Castle is currently open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. You can purchase regular admission only through Black Ball. If you'd like to book the evening events, please visit Craigdarroch Castle's website.
WinterFest at the Royal BC Museum. Credit: Visitor in Victoria.
9. Get Festive at the Royal BC Museum's WinterFest!
WinterFest at the Royal BC Museum is a delightful seasonal celebration that transforms the museum into a winter wonderland. Visitors can immerse themselves in the festive spirit with enchanting displays, interactive exhibits, and special holiday-themed activities, making it a perfect festivity for families and individuals looking to embrace the magic of the winter season while exploring British Columbia's rich history. This event is FREE and will be taking place on December 2 and 3.
Light of Wonder at Centennial Square. Credit: The Centennial Lights of Wonder.
10. Centennial Lights of Wonder
It's back! Be amazed with the dazzling display of lights at Centennial Square in downtown Victoria. Don't miss this magical holiday moment that the whole family will love. Visit the Lights of Wonder website for more details.
Handmade gingerbread creation. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria, One Lion Photography.
11. Admire Gingerbread Creations at the 14th Annual Gingerbread Showcase
This annual Gingerbread Showcase takes place at the Hotel Grand Pacific in downtown Victoria (right across the street from our Victoria terminal!). Marvel at the handmade gingerbread creations (that are 100% edible!) and vote by donation for your favorite. All proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity Victoria This year's showcase will be takin place from November 25th - January 4th. Visit their website for more information.
Bastion Square, near the tour start point.
12. Hear the Tales of Christmases Past
Enjoy the warm-hearted and sometimes humorous stories of how Christmas was celebrated in Victoria during the Victorian era — A First Nations legend, Christmas Day brawls at Fort Victoria, a touching Gold Rush tale, Christmas store decorations and an amusing memory from Emily Carr's childhood are featured.
Please Note: This tour only runs on Saturdays.
The Nutcracker Production.
13. Watch The Nutcracker at the Royal Theatre
The Ukrainian Shunka Dancers and Victoria Symphony present a classic Christmas tradition — The Nutcracker. Perfect for the entire family, this performance will take place on December 1, 2 and 3 with afternoon and evening shows. You can purchase your tickets on the Royal Theatre's website.
Oak Bay Beach Hotel exterior. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria.
14. Breakfast with Santa
Enjoy a family-styled brunch at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel with house-made cookie decorating AND a visit from the man himself, Mr. Claus! Seatings are available December 3, 10 and 23. Reserve your spot on the Oak Bay Beach Hotel's website.
Roasting Marshmallows at The Empress. Credit: Fairmont Empress.
15. Make S'mores on the Veranda of the Fairmont Empress
Take in the dazzling views of the Inner Harbour as you sit by the fire on the Fairmont Empress’s veranda to toast marshmallows, savor seasonal hot drinks, and relish in the finest cheese or chocolate fondue. They also provide outdoor heaters and blankets for added coziness.
Interior of Sen Zushi. Credit: Sen Zushi.
16. Visit one of Victoria’s Most Loved Restaurants
There’s no better way to cozy up in the winter than sharing a meal with someone. Here are a few of our favorite spots to grab a warm meal:
• Brasserie L’Ecole (1715 Government Street): Celebrated brasserie for French fare and wine served in bustling, unpretentious quarters.
• Sen Zushi (940 Fort Street): Contemporary space offering artfully arranged sushi along with hot Japanese entrees and premium sake.
• Cafe Brio (944 Fort Street): Unpretentious choice for salumi, wine & Italian-leaning meals made from local ingredients.
• Bodega (1210 Broad Street): Intimate fixture featuring Spanish tapas, wine & cocktails in a warm atmosphere.
Christmas Light Display in Victoria. Credit: Victoria Buzz.
17. Take A Tour of Victoria's Finest Christmas Light Displays
Get yourself a delicious cup of hot chocolate, and turn on some Christmas classics for a dose of festive cheer as you embark on a tour of the best Christmas lights in Victoria! With an abundance of dazzling light displays throughout the capital region, Victoria Buzz’s Annual Christmas Lights Tour Map makes it easy to figure out what houses to check out. From twinkling displays to the most enchanting holiday decorations, this list will guide you on a tour guaranteed to brighten your spirits.
Please Note: This year's map has not yet been posted.
Handmade beeswax candles made by Ginkgo Craft Studios, a vendor at The Dickens Fair. Credit: The Dickens Fair, Ginkgo Craft Studios.
18. 42nd Annual Dickens Christmas Fair
With over 50 vendors, the Dicken's Christmas Fair is a great place to get into the holiday spirt. This holiday market features local makers of fine art, jewelry, candles, clothing, delicious baked goods, and more! The event takes place at the James Bay Community Center (located about a 10-minute walk from our ferry terminal) on December 2 from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Visit the James Bay Market's website for more information.
Haunted Manor Mini Golf Christmas Display. Credit: Haunted Manor Mini Golf.
19. Haunted Manor Mini Golf
Experience the enchanting and eerie fusion of holiday cheer and ghostly thrills as you navigate through Haunted Manor's 18-hole course. Navigate your way through twinkling lights, festive decorations, and ghostly surprises as you putt your way through a winter wonderland that's both merry and mysteriously haunting.