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Recent Articles

How to Spend Your Christmas Getaway in Victoria, BC

Looking for some festive ways to spend your weekend in Victoria, BC? We've got you covered from festive events and activities to local hot spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take the MV COHO over from Port Angeles, WA (about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle) and arrive in the Inner Harbour of downtown Victoria. During this time of year, we have an 8:20am sailing or a 2:00pm sailing from Port Angeles. Save BIG when you book your Christmas Magic holiday through us. Packages are from $152 USD pp/do and include your ferry, a hotel stay in Victoria, and The Butchart Gardens admission with round trip shuttle transportation from downtown Victoria.  BOOK YOUR CHRISTMAS PACKAGE NOW   Christmas Magic in the Inner Harbour of downtown Victoria. Day One - Arrive in Victoria for an Overnight Stay 8:20am Depart from Port Angeles. We recommend taking the 8:20am sailing to maximize your time in Victoria!If you are traveling in a vehicle, you must be at the terminal 60 minutes prior to your departure, or 30 minutes prior for walk-on passengers. 9:50am Arrive in Victoria, go through Canada Customs, and check into your Victoria hotel. If you are unable to check-in early, the hotel can store your bags complimentary until your room is ready. The Butchart Gardens Christmas lights are in the evening, so we recommend experiencing some festive activities in downtown during the day. 12:00pm Go for lunch in downtown Victoria. Victoria has many local restaurants to choose from... All within walking distance of our terminal and hotel partners! We recommend one of the following:- Tacofino (760 Pandora Avenue): A popular spot for creative tacos & burritos.- Burger Crush (787 Fort Street): Burgers, shakes & hand-cut fries with vegan options.- Chimac Korean Pub & Fried Chicken (512 Wharf Street): Fried chicken, soups & other traditional Korean dishes in a casual atmosphere.- 10 Acres Bistro (611 Courtney Street): Farm-to-fork meals paired with delicious cocktails in a romantic setting. - Gozen Sushi Bar Izakaya (1005 Langley Street): Japanese small plates with an extensive sushi menu. Christmas in Victoria's Chinatown. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria, Brandon McGeachie. 1:00pm Do some local Christmas shopping. Government Street is home to a variety of iconic shops, such as Rogers' Chocolates, Murchie's Tea & Coffee, and Merchant Quarters General Store (clothing, shoes and home). 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).  Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre. 3:00pm Continue your shopping journey at the Bay Centre, and check out the Festival of Trees at the same time! Wander through all levels of the mall and vote by donation for your favorite. All proceeds go to BC Children’s Hospital. The Festival of Trees is on for the entire month of December. 4:00pm Enjoy an early dinner before heading to Christmas Magic at The Butchart Gardens. We recommend one of the following: - Il Terrazzo (555 Johnson Street): An intimate Italian spot with brick fireplaces, patio seating and an extensive wine list.- Nobu Kitchen + Bar (490 Pandora Avenue): A fusion of Japanese favorites and Canadian dishes. - Bodega (1210 Broad Street): Intimate setting featuring Spanish tapas, wine and cocktails.- Fishhook (805 Fort Street): Local seafood with Indonesian and French flair. Christmas Magic at The Butchart Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens. 6:00pm Depart from the Fairmont Empress Hotel to The Butchart Gardens. Make sure to check in at the kiosk with the red umbrella outside of the Fairmont about 15 minutes prior to your scheduled departure.  Please Note: The shuttle departs from the Fairmont Empress Hotel at 6:00pm daily and 4:00pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If you reserve the 4:00pm shuttle, you must return on the 7:00pm shuttle from The Butchart Gardens. If you reserve the 6:00pm shuttle, you must return on the 9:00pm shuttle.  6:35pm/6:40pm Arrive at The Butchart Gardens. Grab a warm beverage from their Coffee Shop, and walk through the Twelve Days of Christmas display. You will have just over two hours to leisurely explore The Butchart Gardens. 9:00pm Depart The Butchart Gardens back to downtown Victoria.  9:35pm/9:40pm Arrive at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. If you are interested in exploring the nightlife of downtown Victoria, there are some great local pubs and cocktail lounges. We recommend one (or more!) of the following:- Cenote Restaurant and Lounge (768 Yates Street): Inventive cocktails and casual eats, such as nachos, burgers and sausages.- Whistle Buoy Brewing Company (Market Square, Lower Courtyard, 560 Johnson Street): One of Victoria's newest micro-breweries located in Market Square featuring a large dog friendly patio and a cozy taproom.- Garrick's Head Pub (1140 Government Street): Serving pub food with many local beers on top.- Bard and Banker (1022 Government Street): Scottish-style pub with whiskey, beer and live music. Brunch at Heron Rock Bistro. Day Two - Explore Downtown Victoria Before Going Back to Port Angeles 9:00am Eat breakfast at one of Victoria's top brunch spots. We recommend one of the following:- Heron Rock Bistro (435 Simcoe Street): A Canadian bistro with occasional live music, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.- Jam Cafe (542 Herald Street): All-day breakfast, including eggs Benedict and pancakes.- The Ruby on Johnson (642A Johnson Street): A funky spot for creative brunch eats.- Nourish Kitchen & Cafe (225 Quebec Street): Farm-fresh mains and snacks in a Victorian house. Want something a little lighter? Try one of these coffee shops/bakeries instead:- Discovery Coffee (281 Menzies Street): Locally owned coffee shop with craft doughnuts.- Crust Bakery (730 Fort Street): A local hot spot offering an array of baked goods, pastries and coffee.- Fol Epi (732 Yates Street): Artisanal pastries, breads and treats. 11:00am Marvel at the handmade gingerbread creations (that are 100% edible!) and vote by donation for your favorite at the annual Gingerbread Showcase happening November 26 through January 3. All proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity Victoria. Visit their website for more information. Christmas at the Pendray Tea House. 12:00pm Experience winter tea at the Pendray Tea House this holiday season, located across the street from our Victoria terminal. Choose from a selection of fine teas, as well as elegant tea plates filled with assorted breads, sweets and pastries. BUY WINTER TEA TICKETS 2:00pm Enjoy a cozy horse-drawn carriage tour with Victoria Carrige Tours. Book a private carriage tour and take a unique journey through downtown Victoria and the surrounding areas.  Horse-Drawn Carriage ToursBeacon Hill Park Tour (60 minute tour): Delight in escaping the city by traveling to the crown jewel of Victoria, Beacon Hill Park. 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.The Royal Tour (75 minute tour): Experience the melodic hoof beats as your eyes indulge in the natural ecosystem of Beacon Hill Park. The beautiful landscape will capture your imagination as you are told stories of then and now. Featuring an extended experience overlooking the Salish Sea and Olympic Mountains portraying the true beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Engage in local tales of the historical James Bay neighborhood. BUY CARRIAGE TOUR TICKETS 4:00pm Depart from Victoria. If you are traveling in a vehicle, you must be at the terminal 90 minutes prior to your departure, or 30 minutes prior for walk-on passengers. 5:30pm Arrive in Port Angeles and go through US Customs.

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Top Things To Do This Christmas Season in Victoria, BC

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 $152 USD pp/do. Packages include ferry, a hotel stay in Victoria and admission to The Butchart Gardens with shuttle. BOOK NOW 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. BUY CHRISTMAS MAGIC TICKETS 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. BUY WINTER TEA TICKETS 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 ToursBy 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. BUY CARRIAGE TOUR TICKETS Macarons from Bon Macaron. Credit: Off The Eaten Food Track Tours. 5. Eat, Drink and be Merry on a Self-Guided Food Tour Indulge in all the best holiday treats downtown Victoria has to offer from Off The Eaten Food Track’s self guided Christmas Tour. Enjoy stops at seven local businesses — each offering a unique holiday treat! Snacks include: nuts and bolts, decadent chocolates from Rogers' Chocolates, holiday-flavored macarons, and more! Visit Off the Eaten Food Track's website for more information.  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 17, 2022 to January 3, 2023.  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 on November 26 at 5:00pm. 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.  BUY CRAIGDARROCH CASTLE TICKETS Handmade beeswax candles made by Ginkgo Craft Studios, a vendor at The Dickens Fair. Credit: The Dickens Fair, Ginkgo Craft Studios. 9. 41st Annual Dickens Christmas Fair With over 60 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 3 from 10:30am to 4:00pm. Visit the James Bay Market's website for more information.  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 happening December 15 - 31, 2022. 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 Parkside Hotel & Spa in downtown Victoria on November 26 through January 2, 2023. 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. 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. BOOK NOW The Nutcracker Production. 13. Watch The Nutcracker at the Royal Theatre Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Victoria Symphony present a classic Christmas tradition — The Nutcracker. Perfect for the entire family, this performance will take place on December 2, 3, and 4 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 every Saturday and Sunday up until the weekend before Christmas. Reserve your spot on the Oak Bay Beach Hotel's website. 

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