The Christmas season has arrived with bells on, and Victoria, B.C., is the ideal place to enjoy a festive holiday experience. While there are over 100 Christmas events taking place in Victoria this month, here are ten spirited ideas to get you started.
1. Take in a Holiday Show
Follow Ebenezer Scrooge in the holiday favourite, A Christmas Carol, at Craigdarroch Castle. This spectacular Dickensian tale will be brought to life amongst the Victorian opulence of the castle's lavishly decorated dining rooms and parlours.
If you're looking for a kitsch and cheeky Christmas performance, check out Homo for the Holidays at Metro Studio on December 9. This one-night only event is packed with camp, drag, musical theatre tributes and plenty of holiday treats for the naughty and nice.
Image: Craigdarroch Castle
2. Feast (Your Eyes) on Tempting Gingerbread Treats
Check out the annual Gingerbread Showcase at the Inn at Laurel Point, where everything is made from 100 percent edible materials and you can vote for your favourite gingerbread creation.
Stop at AURA Waterfront Restaurant afterwards for their 4G Gingerbread cocktail featuring Ginger of the Indies, spiced rum, club soda, gingerbread syrup and a ginger cookie rim.
For a hands-on gingerbread experience, take the kids to the Candy Wonderland at the Fairmont Empress to explore their life-size gingerbread house and get in the Christmas spirit by decorating your own gingerbread treat.
Image: Gingerbread creation in the Annual Gingerbread Showcase
3. Join in the Festive Light Ups and Parades
There's no better way to get in to the spirit than watching a festive parade! Kick off the holiday season with the magical Island Farms Santa's Light Parade on November 26.
On December 3, don't miss the IEOA Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive where you'll see a procession of trucks and heavy equipment looking pretty with hundreds of glittering lights and Christmas ornaments.
The procession will begin at the Odgen Point Light Up and Christmas Market which will also feature a Santa's workshop, local food trucks, kids' crafts and live holiday music.
Image: Santa's Light Parade
4. Enjoy Stress-free Boutique Christmas Shopping
Christmas shopping doesn't need to be a chore! Take a leisurely stroll through Victoria's boutiques to pick up one-of-a-kind finds for everyone. Create a custom printed pair of Converse sneakers or Vans at Baggins Shoes, home to the largest collection of Converse shoes in the world.
Image: Holiday shopping in downtown Victoria
5. Frolick on a Ferris Wheel
After a long day's shopping, hop aboard the Christmas Ferris Wheel at Centennial Square (behind City Hall) for a well-earned rest with the best views in town. Thanks to the Downtown Victoria Business Association who put on this event each year, you'll also be able to enjoy festive entertainment and delicious local fare.
Tip: Try the audio-reactive tree, meet Santa, snap a picture with a polar bear, savour food from Victoria's local food trucks and wash it down with a local craft beer or cider.
Image: Ferris Wheel at Centennial Square, photo by Doug Clement
6. Take a Yuletide Walking Tour
Learn about ghosts of Christmases past and how the festive season was celebrated in the mid-1800s Victoria on a walking tour with Ghostly Walks.
Bundle up for a spooky walk along Victoria's historic streets on the popular 90-minute Ghosts of Christmas Past tour. You'll hear about a Songhees legend, a Christmas Eve murder and the "White Lady" of Bastion Square who is said to have made her first appearance at Christmas in 1861.
Tip: If getting scared isn't your thing and you would rather enjoy a spook-free walking tour, opt instead for the Christmas in Old Town walking tour.
Image: You'll see lots of pretty sparkling lights as you stroll through Old Town
7. Lace Up Your Skates
All throughout December, the Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens features fabulous illuminations, live holiday music, ice skating and festive dining.
You can also opt to take in stunning mountain views from The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa. Glide across the pristine skating rink surrounded by thousands of lights and breathtaking panoramic views, then relax by the fire with a cocktail after your skate.
Tip: Ice skating is a great choice for a romantic winter date!
Image: Ice skating at The Butchart Gardens
8. Sip a Festive Libation
If your idea of a craft show is more craft beer than handmade soap, Victoria is the place for you. This year welcomes the Christmas Craft Beer Show on December 2 and 3, raising a mug of holiday cheer to all the craft breweries in the region.
If you're looking for a distinctive gift for a spirit connoisseur, try Sheringham Distillery's "Akvavit." It's a Nordic spirit created using B.C. organic white wheat, malted barley and local botanicals including hand-harvested winged kelp from Vancouver Island.
Image: Sheringham Distillery's Akvavit coastal spirits
9. Indulge in Seasonal Treats
Indulge in the Fairmont Empress' famous festive themed Tea at The Empress. This decadent festive tea features sumptuous seasonal favourites such as mini Christmas fruit cake with marzipan butter frosting, candy cane macarons and zesty almond Florentines.
A visit to Snowdon House in North Saanich is certain to get you into the holiday spirit. Situated on a former Christmas tree farm in Saanich, owner Laura Waters developed a line of vinegars and brie toppers featuring essences from the fragrant fir needles.
Tip: Try the Douglas Firessence, a sparkling non-alcoholic drink made from locally grown Douglas fir trees.
Image: Holiday treats
10. Enjoy Festive Family Time in Sidney
Discover Christmas in Sidney on the Saanich Peninsula. This pretty town is transformed at Christmas: shop windows are dressed with intricate seasonal displays, carol singers stroll the streets singing holiday favourites and horse drawn carriages take guests on festive rides.
Don't miss the Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade on December 4 with colourful floats and live music followed by a procession of illuminated boats gliding through the harbour.
For kids and kids at heart, there will also be a Gingerbread House Scavenger Hunt, an adorable Teddy Bear Exhibit, unbelievable life-sized Lego displays and a Christmas Ornament Making class at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea.
Image: Window shopping in Sidney