Aaaah, the holidays. It’s the time of year that conjures up Rockwellian images of large family gatherings, magical snowmen, copious amounts of hot cocoa, decadent food, the big guy in red and white and a superfluity of Christmas lights that twinkle through the long wintry nights. This year, the holidays might look a little different, but there are still lots of ways to get that same feeling, starting with some exceptional light festivals around Victoria. So bundle up, grab a cocoa to go, hop in the car and check out how South Vancouver Island is lighting up the magic of the holidays.
This year, we all have to be a little extra aware of how we celebrate the season and that prompted the ingenious organizers at the Greater Victoria Festival Society (GVFS) to announce a collaboration between GVFS, Victoria and municipalities called Light Up the City. Light Up the City will include both the annual Christmas Lighting Contest and a series of charity events in core municipalities. Participants of the Christmas Lighting Contest will do their very best display of seasonal lights and compete to win some epic prizes for each category: businesses, homes, apartments, community buildings and First Nations. Light Up the City will also assemble elaborate drive-through light displays at different locations across the city every Saturday during the holidays. You can wave to Santa and Mrs. Claus, see decorated convoy trucks, listen to Christmas music and more from the comfort and warmth of your car. This multi-donation drive-through event will be supporting the Food Bank, the Salvation Army and the annual Toy Drive from November 28, 2020 to January 3, 2020. For those lucky enough to celebrate the holidays downtown Victoria at either Wave 9 or Beacon Hill View Condo, a Victorian Christmas will only be a short drive away! So grab your donations, come support our local charities and spread some Christmas cheer! Find all the information you need here.
In the heart of Victoria, a walk away from both Ironworks Living Executive Condo and Harbourview Executive Condo at the Reef, you can find lots of excellent shopping but one of the places everyone must visit, especially during the holidays is the Bay Center, downtown Victoria. While you’re admiring the high ceilings dripping with twinkling lights and the excellent retail shopping for those last gifts on your list, make sure you participate in a holiday tradition that has been running for almost three decades: The Festival of Trees. This unique annual event supports the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation with over fifty one-of-a-kind trees on each level of the mall. From abstract to traditional, there is a tree that’ll stand out for everyone so make sure to donate and vote for your favourite! If you’re more inclined to stay in but still want to support the local community and get a good dose of the holiday spirit, you can log on to the Esquimalt Parks and Recreation website or visit their Facebook page to browse through the Virtual Christmas Tree Village.
Butchart Gardens is one of the undisputed gems of Vancouver Island and if you’re staying at either the Patricia Bay Beach House or Heron’s Landing, then you’re in luck because this little slice of holiday paradise is right around the corner. With over 55 acres of gardens to wander through, Butchart Gardens is truly awe inspiring and Christmas is no exception. The Magic of Christmas is the annual Christmas light festival hosted by the renowned attraction where visitors can experience the different themed gardens completely aglow. Wander through the Twelve Days of Christmas display, enjoy some festive dining or just stop by the coffee shop for a hot cocoa and gingerbread. This year, the Magic of Christmas will be a little different so be sure to plan your visit around the local guidelines here.
A forty minute trip just north of Victoria and just a short drive from the comfortable luxury of Malahat Mountain House, is the highly anticipated Merridale’s Christmas at Farm. This quaint little farm is also a cidery and distillery and is ready for the Christmas visitors! This holiday season, the owners have decided to spread a little extra cheer and open the orchard walk to the public for free. So come and take a walk through the orchard during a crisp, sunny, winter day or stop by at night and walk through the twinkling lights set up all over the trees. While you’re there, make sure you stop by the Tasting Bar and discover new flavours and sample the award winning ciders and spirits. Make an afternoon or evening of your visit by reserving a table in their Eatery to enjoy their incredible farm-to-table menu then head to the Farm Store and finish up your Christmas list. No matter when you choose to visit Merridale Cidery & Distillery, it will be an experience you won’t want to miss!
The holidays may look a little different this year but there is one thing for sure, a trip to south Vancouver Island is sure to bring some cheer and help you have a very merry holiday season.