The Butchart Gardens celebrates the holiday season. Jen Blyth photo

The Butchart Gardens celebrates the holiday season. Jen Blyth photo

12 days, 12 ways to celebrate Christmas around the Capital

Snow may be a rarity in British Columbia’s capital city, but the holidays are a magical time in Victoria nonetheless, with twinkling lights, magical holiday music and yes, a sleigh-full of seasonal events!

If you’re looking for a few ways to get festive, here are some of our favourites…

  1. In a spectacle that’s a must-see for locals and visitors alike, the Butchart Gardens presents a magical canvas of thousands of twinkling lights shining across their beautiful 55-acre gardens. Don’t miss the 12 Days of Christmas displays throughout the gardens, and for the young – and young-at-heart – a turn around the carousel is a must! Take in the magical displays through Jan. 5.
  2. While strolling the picturesque streets of downtown Victoria, head to the Bay Centre where through Jan. 4 the 30th annual Festival of Trees has the centre all a-twinkle, in support of the BC Children’s Hospital. Also on-site is the Winter Wonderland through Dec. 29, including an interactive light tunnel.

    Bay Centre dazzles with lights, decorations and the Festival of Trees, in support of BC Children’s Hospital. Christmas Jen Blyth photo.

    Bay Centre dazzles with lights, decorations and the Festival of Trees, in support of BC Children’s Hospital. Christmas Jen Blyth photo.

  3. Deliciously decorated delights await at the 13th annual Gingerbread Showcase, a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. Experience this magical family-friendly walking tour in the heart of downtown Victoria, where gingerbread creations are on display at The Parkside Hotel & Spa, The Chateau Victoria, The Marriott Inner Harbour and The Doubletree.
  4. Step back in time at Craigdarroch Castle, dressed for the season in all her Victorian finery. A must-see at the holidays is Jason Stevens’ one-man re-telling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with performances through Christmas Eve.
  5. Hop aboard the Victoria Harbour Ferry for a brand-new Sleigh Boat Ride through the Inner Harbour. With sailings at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. until Dec. 23, each trip will start at Causeway Flats, cruise out to Fisherman’s Wharf, and return, with passengers treated to a unique version of The Night Before Christmas, classic holiday songs and complimentary hot chocolate and churros from Puerto Vallarta Amigos.
  6. Lights of Wonder, Victoria’s largest, free, outdoor light display, returns to Centennial Square Dec. 16 to 31. Share the magic of the season, enjoy seasonal entertainment, sip some hot chocolate, and take a selfie or two under the canopy of lights.

  7. Also downtown, the Royal BC Museum’s Old Town is dressed for the holidays with festive lighting and seasonal decorations, and at the National Geographic IMAX Theatre, located at the museum, climb aboard the Polar Express, showing through Dec. 31.

  8. Head north, about 40 minutes from downtown, to the Malahat SkyWalk, where southern Vancouver Island’s newest attraction is ringing in the holidays. Stop by Santa’s Workshop, where you can create holiday decorations to take home or display in the welcome centre, and the Claus Family Bakery – serving cookies and a special hot chocolate to enjoy around the fire pit, surrounded by the scents and sounds of the forest. And you never know, Father Christmas might even stop by for a visit!
  9. Music is deeply interwoven with the holidays, and Victoria offers an array of musical interludes to enjoy.

    The JUNO Award-winning vocal group The Tenors returns with their Santa’s Wish tour, taking the Royal Theatre stage Dec. 14, while the Civic Orchestra of Victoria brings the Sing-Along Messiah to the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall Dec. 15. Dec. 18 brings Cookeilidh’s festive feast of Celtic and holiday favourites, We Need A Little Christmas, to the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.

  10. Forget Netflix … take a break from shopping and enjoy your favourite holiday movies on the big screen! The Oak Bay Beach Hotel continues its VIP Holiday Movie Nights with Home Alone, Dec. 14 and 15, Love Actually Dec. 21, 22 and 29, and Bridget Jones’ Diary Dec. 28. Downtown, the Vic Theatre brings more holiday hits: A Christmas Story, Dec. 20, The Sound of Music, Dec. 19 and 30, and The Nutcracker, Dec. 23, plus two “anti-Christmas” hits, Die Hard, Dec. 23, and Hot Fuzz, Dec. 16.
  11. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gets a particularly theatrical treatment during A Wonderheads Christmas, Dec. 18 at the McPherson Playhouse, while for fans of Monty Python, Mr. Bean and Dr. Seuss, there’s Christmas with a comic twist when James and Jamesy come to town with O Christmas Tea, A British Comedy, at the Royal Theatre Dec. 19.

    James and Jamesy bring a little humour to the holidays with <em>O Christmas Tea</em>, at the Royal Theatre Dec. 19.

    James and Jamesy bring a little humour to the holidays with O Christmas Tea, at the Royal Theatre Dec. 19.

  12. Ballet Victoria returns to the Royal Theatre stage with The Gift, an imaginative re-telling of The Nutcracker, danced to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score performed by the Victoria Symphony. On stage Dec. 28 to 30, this timeless tale is guaranteed to warm your heart and spread holiday cheer.

Happy holidays!

READ MORE: Vancouver sets the season a-sparkle!

READ MORE: Downtown Duncan sets the scene for holiday magic this Christmas season

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