How to Spend Your First Holidays in Victoria

Whether it’s your first year at UVic or just the first time you’ve decided to spend the holidays in Victoria, this city has an overwhelming amount of events and attractions during the holiday season. At least it’s good to have options, right? 

However, it can be hard to know where to begin. So as someone who’s spent half my life celebrating Christmas in Victoria, here is what I would do if it were my first holiday season here: 

Spend an evening at Butchart Gardens

Everyone and their dog has been to Butchart Gardens, and somehow it’s still one of the busiest places to be around the holidays. It’s well known as one of Victoria’s biggest tourist attractions, but in my opinion, everyone has to experience Butchart’s Twelve Days of Christmas at least once. It’s open December 1st to January 6th and definitely go on the carousel —it’s worth it!

2 women riding carousel

See the Parliament Buildings lit up at night

Now this is one of my favourites because it’s free, on a central bus route, and you don’t have to be crammed in with hundreds of other people to enjoy it. However, if you want to splurge, consider going for dinner at Vista 18 (widely known as the best view in Victoria) to see the lights from above.

Parliament buildings with Christmas lights

Get an ice cream at Chocolat Favoris

It might seem like ice cream and winter don’t go together, but it never gets that cold in Victoria, and trust me — this ice cream is worth it.

Located at 1010 Government Street, Chocolat Favoris’s dipped cones are a perfect addition to your first holiday in Victoria.

If you’re in the mood for something warmer, they also have hot chocolate and chocolate poutine!

See the Lights of Wonder at Centennial Square

You’re already going to be Downtown, so you might as well walk through the Lights of Wonder in Centennial Square.

It’s a great place to go with friends and family for festive photos, and it’s free!

The attraction is open December 15th-31st, and you can check out their schedule for a list of what entertainment and charities will be involved each night.

Tour the Festival of Trees at the Bay Centre

Fun fact — this was the first thing I did during my first holiday season in Victoria, way back in 2010. Open November 17th-January 3rd, organizations in Victoria decorate Christmas trees in unique ways to support the BC Children’s Hospital. Now that the trees are in the Bay Centre Mall (it used to be in the Fairmont Empress hotel, way-back when) you can even do your holiday shopping at the same time!

I hope these suggestions are helpful and whatever you choose to do this holiday season—whether it’s in Victoria or not!—I hope you have a very happy holiday.

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