Last updated on December 18th, 2019 at 05:24 pm
Looking for a magical Christmas vacation spot? Find out all the best things to do during Christmas in Victoria BC with kids during the holidays. Scroll for all the best events and activities!
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My family lives in Washington State and we love doing all the fun Christmas events in Seattle. From epic light shows and Santa breakfasts to the infamous Teddy Bear Suite, Seattle knows how to celebrate the holidays.
In the past, we’ve also done Christmas activities in Vancouver, BC. They have a fabulous Christmas Market, a little train through Stanley Park and unbelievable lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
However, there has been one place on my Christmas bucket list for awhile: Victoria, BC.
Located on the tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria feels like a tiny European city on the water with gorgeous architecture, stunning gardens, and adorable boats.
But, it’s also one of the best Canadian cities to experience Christmas festivities!
Scroll down to find out some of the top Christmas events in Victoria, BC and find out exactly how to plan a winter weekend getaway.
Christmas in Victoria BC
THE BUTCHART GARDENS
One of the main reasons we wanted to go to Victoria, BC in December was to experience The Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens.
The theme is the 12 Days of Christmas and each year they add more and more lights for a truly spectacular experience.
As soon as we arrived, we headed straight for the cafe to get hot drinks and gingerbread cookies. We also picked up a scavenger hunt form so we could check off everything we experienced.
Our first stop was checking out the beautiful train window. We were surprised to spot Spider-Man, minions, the Incredibles, and other characters sprinkled through the display!
Then, we headed into the gardens to wander through the lights and discover each day of Christmas. Our favorites included the two calling birds (who were on their cell phones) and the 10 lords a leaping (which were frogs jumping up and down behind a hedge.)
I was completely impressed that they have tons of buckets of clear umbrellas set up all over the gardens in case it rains and families can use them as long as they want and then put them back when they are done.
We also took a few moments to ride on their indoor historic carousel. It’s absolutely beautiful and the kids could have ridden it all night long!
They also have a skating rink set up where you can bring your own skates or rent them there.
At the end of the night, we turned in our completed scavenger hunt forms and the kids received candy canes.
Get your discounted tickets and transportation for The Butchart Gardens
SANTA BRUNCH AT THE INN AT LAUREL POINT
Meeting Santa is always at the top of our list when we travel in December. The Inn at Laurel Point hosts a fantastic Santa Brunch on Sundays and on Christmas Day.
We went to the 11am seating and I was impressed with the amount of top notch food available, including a massive dessert table with some of the most beautiful holiday treats.
There’s even a separate room for kids to grab their own breakfast items, decorate Christmas cookies, and watch holiday movies.
But, the main event is meeting Santa!
After your family is done eating, kids are invited to gather and shout for Santa to arrive. That’s when he makes his grand entrance and spends time chatting and hugging kids before making his way to his chair for photos.
What I really appreciated about the Santa photos is that you just add your name to the list and then you can come back to take the photos. We were lucky enough to be second in line!
Learn more about the Santa Brunch at the Inn at Laurel Point.
There’s something so magical about riding around town in a horse drawn carriage. We did a carriage ride in Stanley Park in Vancouver a few years ago that was pretty cool, but this one takes the cake!
First of all, the carriage is outfitted to look like a real sleigh! And the seats are plush and super comfy. They even have thick, waterproof blankets to keep passengers toasty warm.
Our tour guide was fantastic! She told my boys all about her horse Apollo and answered their questions.
Then, she toured us around Beacon Hill Park (where we saw tons of peacocks!) and showed us the house where Emily Carr (famous Canadian painter) lived.
She also told the boys about how Emily Carr used to make paint out of monkey poo, which ended up being my 5-year-old’s favorite part of the entire trip!
We went on the 4pm tour, which I highly recommend. It’s right at dusk so you’ll be able to see the sites for the first half of the tour and then you’ll be wowed by the Christmas lights at the legislative building and on the boats for the last part of the tour.
Find out how to reserve horse drawn carriage rides in Victoria, BC.
Check out our full Christmas in Victoria video!
Something that is pretty unique to Victoria is their annual Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive. Basically, it’s a bunch of trucks that are all decorated and lit up and they drive around Victoria for a few hours collecting food for local food banks.
It’s so popular that even the Customs guy at the Clipper told us all about it as soon as we docked in Victoria!
We saw a bunch of the trucks driving to the starting point as we were walking back to our hotel from our sleigh ride. If my 3-year-old wasn’t falling asleep, we would have found a spot to sit and watch the full parade.
Read more about the IEOA Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive.
MEET FATHER CHRISTMAS AT THE ROYAL BC MUSEUM
My family loves meeting Santa multiple times each holiday season. We visit him at Christmas events, at department stores, and wave to him in parades.
But, this was our first time meeting Father Christmas!
On select dates/times, the Royal BC Museum hosts Father Christmas in their Old Town exhibit area (which is all decorated for Christmas.) Staff members will take free photos and email them to you.
You’ll want to set aside some time to explore the rest of the museum, too. I was actually surprised how much my young kids enjoyed exploring the museum.
Their favorite areas were panning for gold, touching the hands-on displays in the Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises exhibit, and walking through the big ship.
They also have an awesome IMAX theatre there. If we had more time, we would have stayed and watched one of their films.
Get your discounted Royal BC Museum tickets.
GINGERBREAD HOUSES AT PARKSIDE HOTEL & SPA
If you enjoy looking at innovative gingerbread creations while supporting Habitat for Humanity, you’ll want to head to the Parkside Hotel & Spa.
It’s an easy walk, just a few blocks up from the Fairmont Empress hotel.
They have an entire lobby area set up with rows of gingerbread houses created by local businesses and community members.
As soon as you enter, you’ll be given a ballot where you can vote for your favorite gingerbread houses, as well as an envelope for your donation to Habitat for Humanity.
The theme changes every year. For 2019, the theme is Building a Diverse Community and we saw some of the coolest creations representing different cultures and places around Victoria.
Parents will want to keep a close eye on their kids because there is an awesome koi pond you’ll have to cross to get to the other side of the gingerbread houses and your kids will want to stop. However, it’s a tiny walkway that needs to stay clear, so you’ll need to keep moving.
FESTIVAL OF TREES AT THE BAY CENTRE
While I wouldn’t normally recommend visiting a shopping center in December, The Bay is definitely worth a stop.
It’s completely decked out in Christmas decorations and they host an annual Festival of Trees, which supports BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Each tree has a different theme and is decorated by a local business. Shoppers can vote for their favorite trees by donating money.
They also have some pretty photo ops set up.
Sadly, we ran out of time to experience this first-hand, but I’ve been drooling over the photos on Instagram.
Christmas Photos in Victoria, BC
Because Victoria is such a beautiful city, you might consider taking your Christmas card photos here. There are tons of outdoor decorations on buildings and many businesses have festive window displays.
We hired Stephanie from Flytographer to do a 60 minute photo shoot around the Fairmont Empress and downtown Victoria. She is AWESOME!
I admit, I felt like a hot mess mom when I arrived with my two boys. She put me at ease right away (even handing me a cloth to clean my glasses) and helped keep an eye on the kids as we walked all over downtown Victoria, stopping quickly to snap a few pics.
She knew exactly where to go and how to get the boys to crack a smile.
Flytographer is headquartered in Victoria, BC but they have locations all over the world. We’ve used them in Paris, Maui, and New York City. It’s easy to select your photographer, route, and your photo package on their website.
Save $25 on your Flytographer photo shoot
How to Get to Victoria, BC
CLIPPER VACATIONS FROM SEATTLE
The most popular way to get to Victoria from Seattle is by taking the Clipper. It’s a passenger-only boat that is docked by the cruise ship terminals. Guests can park in a nearby garage for a discounted rate.
In December, they only offer one sailing per day. You’ll depart Seattle at 8am and arrive in Victoria at 10:45am. Coming back, you’ll leave Victoria at 5pm and arrive in Seattle at 7:45pm. You’ll go through customs right at the ferry terminal.
On Clipper Vacations, you’ll choose from several sailing classes:
- $120 advanced booking for adults ages 12+ ($160 standard)
- $60 advanced booking for kids ages 1-11 ($80 standard)
- Kids under 1 year old are free but don’t get a seat
For an additional $10 per way, you can upgrade to Vista class and enjoy spacious leather seating, extra legroom for window seats, locally sourced food and beverage items for purchase and table/group seating for families.
- $140 advanced booking for adults ages 12+ ($180 standard)
- $80 advanced booking for kids ages 1-11 ($100 standard)
- Kids under 1 year old are free but don’t get a seat
For an additional $25 per way, you can upgrade to Comfort class and enjoy priority boarding, leather seating, complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, and locally sourced food and beverage items for purchase.
- $170 advanced booking for adults ages 12+ ($210 standard)
- $110 advanced booking for kids ages 1-11 ($130 standard)
- Kids under 1 year old are free but don’t get a seat
My family sat at a 4 top table in Vista class on the upper deck and it was quite comfortable.
It’s a 2 hour and 45 minute ride from Downtown Seattle to Victoria Harbour and sometimes you can see orcas from the boat!
They have a few places to charge electronics on the Clipper and they also have a decent menu of food and beverages. They even have baked goods from Macrina Bakery in Seattle!
On the boat ride home, they offered in-seat service where staff took your food/drink order and delivered it to your seat. This was immensely helpful when traveling alone with small children.
It’s free to carry on bags (they even have luggage racks on the lower level) or you pay $15 each way to check your bag.
Find out how to book your ride on Clipper Vacations.
The fastest way to get to Victoria from Seattle is by seaplane. It’s just a 45 minute scenic flight to Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Kenmore Air offers a few flights per day. The airfare changes, but I saw some for about $320 roundtrip. You are also limited to 25lbs of luggage per person.
Find out more about Kenmore Air Seaplanes
COHO FERRY FROM PORT ANGELES
When my husband and I visited Victoria, BC a few years ago, we opted to drive up to Port Angeles, WA and take the ferry to Victoria.
This is a great option if you are already on the Olympic Peninsula or surrounding area. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to catch a ferry to get to Port Angeles, which can add a lot of time during peak hours.
With the ferry, you can drive your car over to Victoria or you can park your car in Port Angeles and walk on as a passenger.
On winter weekends, the ferry leaves Port Angeles in early morning and in early afternoon and leaves Victoria late morning and late afternoon. The ride is 90 minutes long and is fairly smooth.
- 1 Vehicle (18 feet or under) + driver = $133
- 1 Additional adult passengers (ages 12+) = $38
- 1 Child passengers (ages 5-11) – $19
- 1 Child passengers (ages 0-4) = Free
You’ll definitely need to make your ferry reservation ahead of time.
Find out more about the Coho Ferry.
BC FERRY FROM VANCOUVER
If you are already in Vancouver, BC, your best option is to take BC Ferries. They have multiple sailings throughout the day and it’s a 1 hour and 35 minute ride.
Find out more about BC Ferries.
Where to Stay During Christmas in Victoria BC with Kids
INN AT LAUREL POINT
We were lucky to be hosted at the Inn at Laurel Point, just minutes from the Clipper terminal.
The Inn at Laurel Point is an independent, boutique hotel run by a board of directors. Because they aren’t a chain hotel, they have a lot of freedom to improve their hotel when they see fit. They are just finishing up some incredible renovations to their lobby, grounds, and around the hotel and it’s looking fantastic.
They are the province’s first carbon-neutral hotel and a social enterprise committed to reducing waste as much as possible.
We stayed in their newly renovated tower and the kids loved our spacious hotel room so much we decided to lounge around (in their adorable kid-sized robes) one morning. Our room faced the water and we could see the boats coming in and out as well as lots of beautiful buildings on the other side of the bay.
Their restaurant Aura also was renovated and the food is outstanding. We enjoyed breakfast there one morning and I’m still thinking about that granola and coconut yogurt parfait. And they had the flakiest croissants!
On our last night, we ended up ordering room service and ate dinner in bed looking out on Victoria Harbour. We were living the good life!
The Inn at Laurel Point staff really go above and beyond to make sure guests feel taken care of. And it wasn’t just because we were being hosted. I lingered in the lobby a bit and heard them greet several guests by name and gave them the same amazing level of service we received.
When you are traveling with kids (especially solo), staying somewhere with excellent service is a priority. They helped me with my bags, called me taxis, held my coat and luggage, and consistently checked in to see if we needed anything.
During the holidays, it’s also home to the Santa Brunch. And they have decorated Christmas trees on every floor. It’s quite festive!
My husband and I stayed at the Fairmont Empress on our babymoon a few years ago and it was lovely. This hotel had a $60 million renovattion a few years ago and is one the most famous hotels in Victoria.
They have an indoor heated pool, kids activities, kid-size robes, and lots of other family amenities.
During December, guests enjoy the elaborate Christmas decorations inside as well as sparkly lights on the outside of the building.
They also host several Christmas events, including a holiday twist on their popular Afternoon Tea.
If you are traveling to Victoria as a big family or you are planning on cooking a lot of meals, it might make the most sense to rent an Airbnb. It’s a great way to experience Victoria, BC on a budget.
This Victoria condo sleeps up to 6 people and is conveniently located right in the heart of Downtown Victoria.
And this new Victoria apartment is a steal at $38/night!
If you’ve never used Airbnb, get $40 off with my link!
Where to Eat During Christmas in Victoria BC with Kids
We had the BEST time at Floyd’s Diner. I cannot stress enough how friendly the staff is and how tasty our food was.
It’s a bright pink building with cool exterior paintings of people like Charlie Chaplin. Inside, you’ll see lots of kitschy memorabilia.
They offer an array of classic American dishes and they have an extensive drink menu (their London Fog was delish!)
But, the real draw is their kid-friendly menu (which is absolutely hilarious to read!) My kids ordered chicken fingers and grilled cheese and loved it so much they asked for a to go box (which never happens!) And they proceeded to finish eating their leftovers an hour later!
The kids have already asked when we can head back to Floyd’s Diner, so I think it’s going to be one of our family traditions when we visit Victoria, BC!
For some super fresh fruit juice and smoothies, head to Rebar. It’s a vegetarian restaurant with some of the best beverage selection in Victoria.
They kids couldn’t get enough of their little smoothie and my Maui Honeymoon juice gave me a much-needed vitamin boost during cold and flu season.
The restaurant is also super adorable. They have brightly colored table cloths and their corner location provides a great spot for people watching.
If you are looking for an awesome bakery with yummy treats, plan a stop at The Dutch Bakery. It’s an old-school bakery that started in 1956 and it feels very nostalgic inside.
We stopped here to grab gingerbread cookies to eat on our sleigh ride, but ended up ordering some fancy macarons, speckaloos cookies, and more treats to eat back at our hotel.
What Else to do in Victoria, BC with Kids in the Winter
If you have extra time in Victoria, you might want to do a Hop On Hop Off tour on one of the red double decker buses. They have indoor seating on the main level, or you can bundle up and go on the open-air top deck. It’s a great way to see the city with small kids.
There’s also the Victoria Butterfly Garden, the oldest Chinatown in Canada, Miniature World, and the Victoria Bug Zoo.
And one of the most iconic things to do in Victoria is High Tea. They offer it at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Hotel Grand Pacific (including a special kids versions,) Abkhazi Garden, and several other spots around town.
Tourism Victoria, Clipper Vacations, Inn at Laurel Point, The Butchart Gardens, Floyd’s Diner, and Re-Bar hosted my family on this press trip. All opinions are my own.