Victoria, B.C. is the perfect place to enjoy what we like to call "Christmassive joyification" because it's a festive experience so joyful and triumphant that we had to invent words to describe it! Skate on a beautiful outdoor skating rink, tuck in to a festive Afternoon Tea or join the crowds for one of the city's colourful Christmas parades; however you choose to celebrate in Victoria there's a festive experience to warm even the Grinchiest of hearts.

We spoke with a number of locals who are responsible for creating some of the Christmas magic in the city and asked them how their events contribute to the spirit of Christmassive joyification around town and what they love doing in Victoria for the festive season with family and friends. Check out their responses and discover Christmas in Victoria from a local's perspective!


Ferris Wheel at Centennial Square 

Ken Kelly, General Manager, Downtown Victoria Business Association

Ken Kelly
How does the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) showcase Christmas in Victoria?

There is no better place to celebrate the Christmas season in the Capital Region than in Downtown Victoria! The Santa Claus Parade and Centennial Square Light-Up, the Truck Parade, the Lighted Ship Parade , the festive streets, and warm, welcoming businesses. Over the past ten years, the DVBA has created some fun traditions for residents and visitors to enjoy, such as the free horse-drawn trolley rides which in the four weeks leading up to Christmas attract approximately 8,000 riders or the ferris wheel that last year attracted 7,200 riders. Throughout the downtown, the DVBA, City of Victoria, and individual businesses have bedecked buildings and public places with more than 150,000 lights and along the streets DVBA carollers clad in period costumes treat shoppers to the sounds of favourite carols. Come on downtown and enjoy a wonderful time of the year!


What is your own favourite way to celebrate Christmas in Victoria?

Every year, I cannot wait to take my wife and family on the ferris wheel. The first year we ran the ferris wheel, our eldest daughter and I were the ticket attendants and had a great time with all whom came to have a thrill!


The Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens 

Bruce Watson, Director of Arts and Entertainment, Butchart Gardens

Bruce Watson


How does The Buchart Gardens showcase Christmas in Victoria?

Christmas at The Butchart Gardens has been a long-standing tradition for many local families. The Arts & Entertainment department starts setting up our Magic of Christmas display on October 1, which takes us nine weeks to install. In October we start outlining our building rooftops with Christmas lights, decorating trees and interiors "backstage", prepping greenery, and installing lights in unobtrusive garden locations. We shift into high gear in November, installing our 12 days of Christmas display, our ice rink, flowerbed lighting, and festooning our pathways with garland and bows, as well as finishing off thousands of little details. On December 1, we have a Light Up event and then we are open!


Tell us a bit about the Magic of Christmas and why it is a must-see Christmas experience.

Year after year families come out for Christmas to see the lights and displays, and sing the 12 days of Christmas as they walk through the gardens with a coffee or hot chocolate. First arriving here two years ago, I was amused at the group I heard singing the 12 days of Christmas every time they reached a new display - until I realized that this happens all the time! People love our outdoor skating rink, which will be outfitted with new lighting this season, and the opportunity to get some exercise with their families in the crisp winter air. Listening to the Festive Brass quartet and the Traditional Christmas Carollers just adds to the experience of being here.


What is your own favourite way to celebrate Christmas in Victoria?

I am fairly new to Victoria so I am just starting my own holiday traditions. Many of my friends insist I bring them to see the Christmas Display at the Gardens, but I also love to go downtown and see what other people are creating. My first year here I saw the most elaborate holiday set up at a local home. It was packed with all sorts of lights and displays and was deliciously over the top - obviously someone's own long-standing tradition. Last year I went to see the Truck light convoy, the boat parade and the impressive Gingerbread Houses at the Laurel Point Inn. I'll be looking for new activities to add this year!


Snowmen play in the snow outside a gingerbread house 

Avril Matthews, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Inn at Laurel Point

Avril Matthews


How does the Inn at Laurel Point showcase Christmas in Victoria?

Inn at Laurel Point is overflowing with celebration and community give back at this time of year. Our culinary team and kitchen are busting with events like Santa Claus Brunches, Gingerbread Tea, and holiday parties. We have a special overnight gingerbread packages and of course the National Gingerbread Showcase.


Tell us a little about the history of the National Gingerbread Showcase and what makes it special.

This is the seventh year for Canada's National Gingerbread Showcase in it's home at the Inn. Two things make this showcase special. One, the look on the children's faces when they walk through the gingerbread façade as they enter the exhibit. Two, the opportunity to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity Victoria. Since this event's inception we have raised over $87,000 for hard working families right here in our community. Nothing can beat that and it really embraces the true meaning of Christmas because everyone deserves a warm, safe place to live. Now all that aside, the incredible creations from Gingerbread makers who have worked for months on their piece is nothing short of amazing and for sure a favourite part of the Christmas experience in Victoria.


What is your own favourite way to celebrate Christmas in Victoria?

Yes, my family and I always do the Harbour Holiday Stroll and especially on a night when the Santa Ballet is taking place with the Harbour Ferries. After a little holiday shopping along Government Street, we grab a hot chocolate (extra whip, of course) and stroll along the inner harbour to visit the Festival of Trees at The Bay CentreBear Wear Exhibit at Hotel Grand and then along to see the Gingerbreads at my hotel. It such a nice, relaxing evening filled with true holiday spirit.


Christmas lights at the gatsby mansion, one of Victoria's historical buildings. 

John Adams, Owner and Guide for Ghostly Walks and Discover the Past

john adamsJohn Adams, Victoria historian and founder of Discover the Past, is celebrating the 15th year of their "Christmas in Old Victoria" tour, featuring warm-hearted and amusing stories about the people and places in Old Town during the festive season, including artist Emily Carr as a little girl. And though they are best known for their Ghostly Walks year round, John and his team of guides couldn't resist creating a special version of ghostly tales for December. "Ghosts of Christmas Past" highlights seasonal hauntings, including the legend of Christmas Hill, the ghosts of Helmcken Alley, Victoria's first documented ghost sighting - Adelaide Griffin at Christmas in 1861, and the Christmas Eve assassination on the steps of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1890.


What is your favourite part of celebrating the Christmas season in Victoria?

December is a busy and popular month for our walking tours and other programs of Discover the Past. It is also a favourite season for my family, something we have inherited from my wife's family who celebrated Christmas with gusto. We have continued her family traditions. Our house is decorated inside top to bottom. No fewer than three trees are squeezed into the hall and other rooms. The result is amazing and we enjoy it ourselves and with friends and family.