Victoria, BC doesn’t skim on Christmas.
From boats decked with decor swaying in the harbor, to festive holiday teas, Christmas markets, gardens covered in string lights and almost every window adorning a wreath (or a bow) Victoria is probably one of the best places to visit for the holidays in Canada.
Keep on reading for all my favorite Christmas things to do in Victoria BC!
12 Festive Things To Do In Victoria, BC For Christmas
Christmas In Victoria BC 2019
Since Robin and I live in San Francisco now, we’re in love with exploring the West Coast, especially during the holidays. San Francisco isn’t the *best* at getting me into the Christmas spirit (it’s always a bit too sunny, warm and green! I grew up in Wisconsin where Christmas meant snow, grey skies and cold.)
Last year, we visited Leavenworth, Washington and totally fell in love with that cute Bavarian-style Christmas village in the Cascade Mountains. It snowed during our trip and combined with all their Christmas lights and events, I got right into the holiday mood.
This year, we’re visiting all the British Columbia Christmas lights (from Vancouver to Victoria) to soak up all the hygge vibes. We traveled from Vancouver to Victoria via the BC Ferries and spent a weekend running around this historic city doing everything CHRISTMAS!
These are the top festive things to do in Victoria, BC for Christmas: the ultimate guide for a fun holiday season in Victoria!
Butchart Gardens Christmas Lights
Of all the Christmas activities, this probably takes the cake. Every December Butchart Gardens transforms into a Christmas wonderland.
They have a theme of 12 Days of Christmas and it’s really fun to start at the Partridge in the Pear Tree and walk clockwise through the gardens discovering the other 11 stops. It’s neat seeing how they get creative with displaying each of the 12 Christmas things!
Holiday Afternoon High Tea at the Fairmont Empress
We adored our stay at the Fairmont Empress. Of all the hotels in Victoria BC this is the best one. I mean, the history alone is super interesting (the hotel is over 110 years old!)
Even if you don’t choose to book your stay at the Fairmont, you MUST come and have holiday afternoon tea.
Robin and I fell in love with Afternoon High Tea during our honeymoon across Europe. We visited Sketch (probably the most famous afternoon tea place in the world) and were thrilled to sip tea and nibble on tiny sandwiches for 3 hours.
Now, we try to do an afternoon high tea at least once every holiday season, so the Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress was a no brainer!
Make sure to set reservations as it’s really popular. I recommend you do a 3pm time slot so you can sort of use the tea as a late lunch AND a dinner (seriously, they fill you up, we weren’t hungry at all for dinner after our 4pm tea time!!)
Splurge for the tea paired with bubbly for a super elevated experience and try to grab a table by the tree for super festive photos. We loved the Rose Tea best, so I also recommend grabbing a pot of Rose tea!
Craigdarroch Castle is fun to visit any time of the year, but the staff dresses it up for Christmas with wreaths, trees, decorations and sometimes even live piano music tapping out Christmas songs.
Craigdarroch Castle was built by a man who made his fortune in the coal industry. It’s not really a castle, rather a super tall house with over 39 rooms and 4 floors. The castle has a great view of the city from the top tower, by the way!
Most of the rooms are stagged to look like this did when the house was lived in over a 100 years ago. We had a fun time wandering from room to room learning about the history of the building and Victoria. Put this on your list of things to do in Victoria BC for Christmas!
Victoria BC Christmas Market
Located at Victoria Public Market, the Chrismas Market is open every Thursday during the holiday season. Get little holiday shopping done here, drink some craft beer, listen to live music and wander the booths!
If you’re looking for Christmas stuff for kids, take them ice skating! There’s an ice rink at Buchart Gardens that only cost a few dollars to skate at. Bundle them up and plan to stay at the gardens a little longer during your trip to the Christmas lights!
Christmas Lights at Parliament
Downtown Victoria gets dressed up for the holidays each year and it’s stunning, but the Parliament and harbor have probably the best Christmas lights Victoria BC.
The huge Parliament building is decked out with red, green and white Christmas lights that turn on around dusk and glow all through the evening. Many of the boats in the harbor in from of Parliament also string up lights, so it’s super romantic and fun to walk around the harbor at night.
There are a lot of Christmas events happening in Victoria this time of year. On the first Saturday of each December, the Dickens Fair comes to town! Dress up and see what a Victorian Christmas used to be like! Tickets are just $2.
(We didn’t’ attend this one as we have a Dickens Fair in San Francisco that we’re going to this year instead!)
Santa Claus Parade Victoria BC
Officially called the Canada Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade, this parade happens usually on the last weekend in November each year to kick off the holiday season. There’s tons of santa and holiday cheer (and is a great thing to watch with kids!)
Christmas Truck Light Convoy
This is a totally free parade that we happened to be able to watch from our room at the Fairmont Empress!
As we were wandering around the harbor looking at lights one evening, we noticed a lot of people lining up on the sidewalk outside. We couldn’t figure out why until about an hour later when we started hearing a lot of honking outside.
Turns out, tons of trucks turn themselves into Christmas light parade floats and drive down Government Street! A lot of them tried to honk out Jingle Bells, which was funny and festive.
After the parade, I recommend you wander over to Whistle Buoy for a pint of local craft beer.
Christmas in Old Town (Royal BC Museum)
The Royal BC Museum is a fun, educational museum with natural exhibits (think giant life-like statues of bears and sea lions) along with a few People Exhibits, like one dedicated to the history of the First Nation’s citizens.
There’s an exhibit called Old Town that made it look like a turn of the century style Victoria and during Christmas, it gets a holiday makeover!
Lights and garland are strung, a Christmas tree is put up in the Grand Hotel Lobby and there was even a Santa Claus available for photos when we visited!
Pet Winston At The Fairmont Empress
Winston is the hotel dog (well, he’s owned by the food and beverages manager but when she’s working, Winston can be found in the hotel lobby!)
We LOVED giving him a pet every time we came in and out of the hotel. During Christmas, they put up a huge tree in the lobby and it’s the perfect time to stop by, snap a pic and give some love to Winston!
Tour the Hatley Castle Grounds
Hatley Castle isn’t open for tours in the winter but their grounds are still always open (and free!) to visit.
We came one afternoon to wander the grounds and the gardens. While there weren’t any flowers, it was still super peaceful and beautiful. We even spotted a Christmas Tree in a window of the castle.
I hope this helps you plan a fun, festive trip to Victoria for Christmas!
There are so many fun holiday activities for Victoria Christmas. If you have a favorite event or activity the didn’t make this list, leave a comment below so everyone can see it and learn about it!
Got any questions about Victoria or BC holidays? DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll help you out!
Looking for more Chrismas events in Victoria? Check out the Tourism Victoria website for more local ideas of things to do.