Whether you live in Victoria or are planning to spend Christmas in Victoria there are plenty of holiday events and things to do at Christmas. From parades, to gingerbread competitions, there are so many fun-filled festive things to do in the city.
When it comes to booking hotels for Victoria at Christmas, this is definitely something that you will want to plan ahead for. Visiting Victoria is popular all year round and Christmas is a popular time for visitors to enjoy the thousands of Christmas lights and embrace the Christmas spirit in the city.
By the end of this post, you will have quite a few ideas for Christmas in Victoria as well as December events in the capital region. I will also include information on where to stay in Victoria at Christmas, the weather in Victoria in December and overall winter information if you have never visited the city before.
The Best Things to Do in Victoria at Christmas
There are quite a few events in December in Victoria to get locals and visitors into the holiday spirit. From light displays to holiday shopping, there is a range of activities for all ages.
1. The Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens
One of the most popular Christmas events in Victoria, The Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens is back for another holiday season. Take in The Gardens’ spectacular display of lights while indulging in copious amounts of hot chocolate. Wander the twelve days of Christmas display, festive greenery and spirit of Christmas vibes.
Tickets: You can buy tickets on arrival or hop on a Butchart Gardens shuttle
Dates: Dec 1/2023 – Jan 6th/2024
Location: 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay,
How to Get Here without a car: 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. More info here
You can also take BC Transit as a cost effective public transportation option. Visit BC Transit for route options.
There are several taxi companies in Victoria (there is no Uber in Victoria currently).
2. Beacon Hill Park Carriage Tours
Horse Drawn Tours in Victoria are one of the most popular things to do at any time of year and even more magical during the Christmas season. Discover the beauty of downtown Victoria on this 45-minute Beacon Hill Park carriage tour. Travel in style along the winding roadways around Beacon Hill Park, discover St Anne’s Academy, the Empress Hotel, and the Church Of Our Lord, and listen as your driver shares tales and folklore from Victoria’s past.
Tours are by carriage and fit between 1 and 6 people.
3. Santa Claus Parade
2023 is the 41st Peninsula Co-op Santa Claus Parade. It occurs November 25, 2023 and starts at Belleville and Government. The parade starts at 5:20pm.
The route will move north along Government, east on Humboldt and North on Douglas where it will disperse at the Victoria Public Market. Road closures will begin downtown at 3pm for marshalling.
CHEK News will be broadcasting live if you want to catch yourself on TV when you attend! More info on the event can be found here.
Location: Starts at Belleville & Government. Moves along Government, east on Humboldt and North on Douglas. Finishes at Victoria Public Market.
Date: November 25th, 2023 starting at 5:20pm
Cost: Free (donations welcome)
4. Festival of Trees
Back at the Bay Centre is the Festival of Trees in Victoria for Christmas. It is the official host of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation holiday campaign. The Bay Centre is a great place if you are in Victoria with teens who like shopping! It is one of the best places to find something for the whole family during the holidays.
Location: Bay Centre 1150 Douglas St
Dates: November 16, 2023 to January 3, 2024
5. 15th Annual Gingerbread Showcase
Check out the work of professional and amateur bakers showing off their creative abilities at the annual Gingerbread Showcase, featuring 100% edible works for art! This annual fundraiser supports Habitat for Humanity Victoria which aims to provide affordable homeownership for families in need. Your donation lets you vote for your favourite gingerbread display!
Location: Hotel Grand Pacific at 463 Belleville Street
Dates: November 25th 2023 – Jan 4th 2024
Cost: Free (voting by donation)
6. See The Parliament Buildings
Whether you are here for a week, or planning on a 3-day visit in Victoria, a walk or drive-by is a must during the holidays! Great for visitors and locals is the BC Legislature Parliament Building across from the harbour.
Date: Daily in December
Location: BC Legislature Building, 501 Belleville Street
7. Christmas in Victoria at Craigdarroch Castle
Providing a unique glimpse into authentic Victorian traditions, each year Curator Bruce Davies and the museum’s staff at Craigdarroch Castle assist long-time decorator Sherry Kerr to meticulously evoke Christmases’ past in the Castle’s period rooms. You’ll spot vintage toys tucked under the tree, festively decorated mantles throughout the home, and a Christmas feast setting fit for Canada’s own royal family, the Dunsmuirs.
This site is not wheelchair accessible or stroller friendly facility.
Location: 1050 Joan Cres
Dates: Dec 1-31st 2023 (Closed Dec 25th and 26th) 10:00 – 4:30
8. Go Shopping In Downtown Victoria
Get into the holiday spirit by shopping in Oak Bay Village in Victoria this December. The decorative lights and holiday feel will get you in the mood. Next, stroll down Government Street and you will find iconic shops, such as Rogers’ Chocolates, Murchie’s Tea & Coffee, and many places to shop for souvenirs or Christmas cards. Next, check out Market Square, located off of Johnson Street for local shops.
9. Festive Tea at the Empress
The iconic Empress opened its doors 110 years ago. Today, Fairmont Empress is the most well-known place to have high tea in Victoria. It proudly serves freshly prepared scones and tea pastries to over 80,000 guests per year. The Empress’s signature afternoon tea tier is reimagined for the holiday season to include holiday sweets and treats. It is also something you can enjoy in Victoria on Christmas Day. Enjoy local carolers singing traditional Christmas carol songs beginning late November. (If you are looking for somewhere to have Christmas dinner in Victoria, you can also make reservations here).
Location: Empress Hotel 721 Government Street
Price: $95, children $52
10. Breakfast with Santa at Oak Bay Beach Hotel
He’s making a list and coming to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel this festive season! This family-style brunch service will include cookie decorating at each table, and a visit from Mr. Claus himself. You can get more info on Santa breakfasts in Victoria during the holiday season. Price inclusive of Four Frames Photo Print & Digital images
PRICES: Adult $99.00, Child (3 to 12 years old) $59.00, 2 and under FREE
RESERVATIONS: 2 to 6 guests per table, reservations required, pre-paid and booked online.
DATES FOR 2023: Dec 3rd, 10th, 23rd
LOCATION: 1175 Beach Drive, Victoria, BC
11. Holiday Light Tour with LA Limousines
Looking for something special to do within your bubble this holiday season? What about a holiday light tour! Sit back and relax as we take you through beautifully lit Victoria neighbourhoods and downtown. This is a fun outing for kids and adults alike.
Contact: LA Limo
Planning to also visit Vancouver? This post on Vancouver at Christmas has things to do on the mainland.
12. A Taste of Victoria Food Tour
Why not take a small group tour around Victoria and enjoy a food tour. The taste of Victoria tour. This 2 hour walking tour begins at the Victoria Public Market and includes various stops including the Gates of Harminous Interest, Fan Tan Alley, Market Square, Bastion Square, Tournce Alley, Government Stree and the Inner Harbour Causeway. There are 6 to 8 tastings.
How to Book? Click here for online booking
If you are a foodie, check out these Victoria waterfront restaurants, and their holiday menus.
13. Esquimalt Celebration of Lights
The Esquimalt Celebration of Lights is a family event featuring a light parade and music that gathers at the Esquimalt Archie Browning Sports Centre Plaza.
Esquimalt’s Celebration of Lights is a magical event for the whole family. Lights, Music, Food, Father Christmas and it is FREE to the whole community. It starts at the intersection of Esquimalt Road and Canteen Road, and then heads along Esquimalt Road to the McDonald’s entrance. You’ll get a great view of the parade anywhere along Esquimalt Road. Keep your eyes open for Santa!
Hope to see you all there for the start of the parade at 5 pm on December 3rd, 2023 for the parade and at the Arena right after for a visit with Santa, a hot dog from the Lions and carol singing.
Date: December 3rd, 2023 5 pm
Location: Esquimalt Road
14. Lights of Wonder Downtown Victoria
Enjoy greater Victoria’s largest FREE outdoor lighting display December 1-31 2023. Enjoy live music and entertainement, themed light exhibits, interactive light tunnels and a 40ft festive tree!
Dates: December 1-31, 2023
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 4pm-9pm, Friday – Saturday 4pm-10pm
Location: Centennial Square, Downtown Victoria.
15. Truck Parade
The 24th annual IEOA Truck Parade & Food Drive is on Saturday December 2, 2023. See commerical trucks rolling through the streets of Greater Victoria decorated in lights!
The truck parade starts at the Breakwater District and Ogden Point at 5:30pm. The route takes us to Oak Bay, back into Victoria, through Saanich and out to the West Shore communities. It ends in Colwood at 8:30pm
Date: December 2nd 2023
Cost: FREE (donations accepted)
How Cold Does it Get in Victoria at Christmas?
Located in a sub-Mediterranean zone, Victoria enjoys the mildest climate in Canada. However, Victoria’s weather in December is cool and wet and there is often frost in the winter months. Victoria is a popular city in BC and there are so many things to do any time of the year. Ensure you dress appropriately to ensure your visit is comfortable.
There is an average of 18 days of rain, so pack a rain jacket just in case. The average high is 8C and low is 4C (thats 46F to 40F)
Where to Stay in Victoria at Christmas
More Resources for Visiting Victoria Canada
If you are just starting the planning, you can also have a read of other British Columbia destinations for Christmas. Check out my guide to Whistler at Christmas for some other holiday ideas!
How to Get to Victoria from Vancouver
Victoria lies on Vancouver Island and can be accessed by air or by ferry. There are flights from YVR Vancouver Airport to YJJ Victoria Airport and also Harbour Seaplanes that fly from Downtown Vancouver to Downtown Victoria. Helicopter service also exists with Helijet.
Ferry is the other option to get to Victoria from Vancouver. Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal is about 30 mins from downtown Vancouver and has several ferries per day (every hour at peak season). If you have a car you can drive on the ferry, you can take a bus from Vancouver that will continue into Victoria, or you can walk on and take public transit into the city.
Ferry reservations are currently recommended for vehicles. Otherwise, waits of up to a few hours are common.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
Rental Cars are very popular in British Columbia. There is just so much to see and there is not a train or bus network outside of Metro Vancouver or Victoria. If you plan on leaving Vancouver and want to see even the local ski hills, I suggest a rental car. You can get a rental car before you arrive.
5 Things to Bring with You to Victoria
Featured Image Photo Credit: Tourism Greater Victoria / Brett Ryan
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!