The Christmas Debate and the Top 5 Festivities in Town
The Christmas debate. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s that awkward moment when you realize the person you’re currently talking to staunchly holds the opposite opinion of Christmas to yours. You begin to panic, hastily shoving your flashing elf hat into your bag as you mutter something diplomatic about Justin Bieber’s latest Christmas hit (as if that’s even possible), and scuttle away.
It’s the classic debate. Some people love it, some people can’t stand it. I fully respect both sides, and although I’m a big fan of Christmas, I’m the first to admit that Christmas has become commercialized, over marketed, stressful, costly and unfortunately can bring up unpleasant memories for some.
However, I think that if we put all that silly commercialization aside and just enjoyed each other, the Christmas debate wouldn’t be quite so raucous. My favourite part of Christmas is the way it brings people together. I love the way complete strangers shout well wishes to one another, and the infectious energy that buzzes through the streets. Kids are hoisted up on shoulders to see Santa as he parades past, hot chocolate is passed through crowds, and Christmas lights chase away the gloomy December weather. If any of this appeals to you, I’ve come up with a list of my favourite Victoria Christmas events for you to go and see this month. So take an hour and go feel the warmth of a crowd of smiles, and have a mug of hot chocolate while you’re at it.
Victoria Festival of Trees
November 16-January 3, during mall hours. Free.
If you fancy a walk through a magical, colourful and sometimes zany forest of Christmas cheer, the Victoria Festival of Trees will be right up your alley. Every year, local businesses, individuals, and community organizations sponsor and decorate a tree for the Victoria Festival of Trees.
The event raises money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation — last year they raised over $129,000! The twinkling forest is being hosted by the Bay Centre this year, and you can visit anytime during mall hours from November 17 until January 13. Don’t forget to bring a thermos of hot chocolate for your stroll — it really adds to the experience.
Annual Lighted Ship Parade
Saturday December 3, 5-9pm. Free.
Forget street parades with marching bands and floats, Victoria has one upped that with an ocean parade!
This Saturday, the Inner Harbour will be aglow with the lights of 25 fully decorated ships as they “parade” through the darkened seas. The reflections on the water are pretty darn magical, not to mention the music, artisan vendors, hot apple cider and food trucks that will keep you cozy on shore. The ships launch from Ship Point at 5pm, and the festivities continue until 9. If you’re more of a traditional parade kind of person, come early to see the lighted truck parade cruise down Wharf Street before the ships hit the stage.
Homo for the Holidays
Friday December 9, 8pm. $20
Need a change of pace from the calm and quiet atmosphere of the library? I’ve got just the thing for you!
A ritzy and racy cabaret Christmas special from Intrepid Theatre, Homo for the Holidays is a one night collaboration and celebration of Victoria’s talented and vibrant theatre and gay communities. A wildly entertaining evening with a (mildly) different take on the holiday season, Homo for the Holidays is a must see, and a much-loved tradition in the community.
Saturday December 10, 1-3pm. Free.
This one is my all-time FAVOURITE Christmas event in Victoria. If you’re imaging a crowd of Victorians with their mouths agape, watching 100 Santa hat-wearing tuba players honking out Christmas carols in a jovial and somewhat alarming display of deep-noted talent, you’ve hit it right on the head. It’s a heart-warming, weird and wonderful event (and a sight to behold, let me tell you)! So bundle up in your Christmas best and head over to the big courtyard in Market Square on Saturday Dec 10, from 1PM-3PM to experience the magic, hilarity and good old Victoria vibes that are so unique to this town.
Canada’s National Gingerbread Showcase
November 19- January 2, 9am-9pm. By donation.
I’d like to think I’m a pretty savvy gingerbread house builder, but compared to the pros who gather at the Inn at Laurel Point each Christmas, I’m like a blindfolded toddler when it comes to cookie houses. These people do NOT mess around! This year’s theme is “Around the World”, and hosts a staggering display of expertly engineered edible structures, created by bakers from all over Canada. It’s definitely worth a trip — you’ll be blown away (and drooling).