This post was originally published August 30, 2016 and updated May 19, 2018.
The Butchart Gardens is a world famous garden located near Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. It’s about a 40 minute drive from downtown Victoria and it’s the most popular thing to do in Victoria, BC.
We saved the world-famous The Butchart Gardens for the last day of our Babymoon in Victoria so we’d end strong. We hopped on the CVS Tour bus located directly in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Our guide was humorous and gave us a lot of background information about The Butchart Gardens and the Butchart family during the 40 minute drive. When we arrived, we felt like we had a solid understanding of the place, which made exploring even more fun!
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The Butchart Gardens History
The history of The Butchart Gardens is quite interesting and full of girl power! In 1904, Robert and Jennie Butchart moved to Vancouver Island from Ontario to found a cement plant. Once they had used up all the limestone deposits on the property, Jennie decided to beautify the space by creating The Sunken Garden.
By 1929, the Jennie expanded her vision to include a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court, and a large Rose Garden. They enjoyed the gardens privately and invited people from all over the world to see the gardens for themselves.
And in 1939, their grandson opened the gardens the public to enjoy by adding concerts, summer lighting events and Christmas festivities.
But it still wasn’t complete. In 1977, their great-grandson launched a choreographed firework show. And in 2009, their great-granddaughter added the Children’s Pavilion and Menagerie Carousel.
The Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site of Canada, now gets more than 1 million visitors each year.
The Sunken Garden in Victoria, BC
When we entered the Gardens, we were transported to another time. Even the courtyard was laid out very nicely. We grabbed a map and they had a general route that we could follow.
After hearing the history of The Butchart Gardens, my husband and I decided to tour the gardens in order of history. We walked toward the Sunken Garden first.
The Children’s Pavilion Menagerie Carousel
So, this wasn’t really in historical order, but it was so adorable that we had to check it out next. We learned on the CVS Tour that each animal on the carousel was from one of the family’s travels. I really loved this concept because it made it more personal. Plus, we’re huge advocates of family travel!
It reminded me of the carousel at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, especially because it’s enclosed in glass, which is perfect for Northwest weather. When we come back with our kids, we’ll be sure to take a ride!
The Rose Garden at The Butchart Gardens
There are 2,500 rose plants, which is the reason The Rose Garden smells simply heavenly! It reminded me a lot of my Grandma, who used to grow stunning roses in her garden.
I was surprised that the roses were still in full bloom since it was a bit late in the season and many other rose bushes I’d seen elsewhere were fading fast. We liked how this garden highlighted the open space so we could see a lot of it as we were walking around.
The Japanese Garden in Victoria, BC
The Japanese Garden was simply serene. It had everything we’d expect from a Japanese Garden: Japanese Maples and a vast flowing stream. But, I really enjoyed the grand Torii gate at the entrance!
We will definitely make The Butchart Gardens a stop on our next trip to Victoria, especially if we have toddler and baby with us.
I’d really like to experience the boat ride and I’m sure my toddler would love a ride on the beautiful carousel. I’d say it’s definitely worth the trek out there!
What YOU Need to Know About The Butchart Gardens
Best Time to Visit The Butchart Gardens
The most popular season to visit The Butchart Gardens is summer. Personally, I’d recommend arriving right when they open in the morning. It can get quite warm in Victoria in the summer, so it’s a good time to beat the heat.
Plus, it will give you time to enjoy lunch (and gelato) before heading out.
While I haven’t experienced it (yet,) I think the Holidays would be an especially magical time to tour The Butchart Gardens. See below for the full seasonal itinerary.
Butchart Gardens Tickets
Tickets to The Butchart Gardens are available at their ticketing booth. Or, you can Purchase The Butchart Gardens tickets online.
In the summer, your ticket even includes access to performances on the Concert Lawn and their renowned Firework Saturdays.
Summer (June 15-September 30) is peak season with 2018 rates being:
Adult (18+): $33.10 CAD
Youth (13-17): $16.55 CAD
Child (5-12): $3.00 CAD
KIDS UNDER AGE 5 ARE FREE.
The rates vary depending on the season. See current rates here.
How to Get to The Butchart Gardens
A really cool way to get to The Butchart Gardens is by boat. That’s what my Aunt and Uncle do when they take their sailboat up from Seattle. The dock at The Butchart Gardens is intended for dinghy docking. All dinghies must depart the dock by closing time.
BUTCHART GARDENS TOUR
The Butchart Gardens recently updated their website with handy itineraries for guests who want to explore Butchart Gardens at their own pace:
- How to visit The Butchart Gardens in 2 hours
- How to visit The Butchart Gardens in 3 hours
- How to visit The Butchart Gardens in 4+ hours
But, if you’d like an organized tour, here are my top suggestions:
- Whale Watching and Butchart Gardens Tour
- Butchart Gardens, Butterflies and Beyond
- Private Tour of Butchart Gardens and Saanich Peninsula
- Private Back Country Drive to Butchart Gardens
- Victoria and Butchart Gardens Day Trip from Vancouver
One of the things my husband and I totally regretted not doing was a boat tour. From May 19-September 15, guests can explore the history and wildlife of Tod Inlet on a 45 minute boat tour. From the boat, you can see charming boats, massive homes, seals, eagles, herons and more.
You cannot purchase tickets ahead of time and they are on a first come first serve basis.
Adult: $19.75 CAD + tax
Youth: $15.25 CAD + tax
Child: $12.00 CAD + tax
BUTCHART GARDENS TEA
Leave time to enjoy afternoon tea at at the original Butchart family home. From your seat, you may be able to see Jennie Butchart’s private garden, the Italian Garden and Tod Inlet.
Their award-winning afternoon tea menu features local ingredients used in their English trifle, signature house scones, traditional savory sandwiches and tasty treats.
BUTCHART GARDENS FIREWORKS
Sine 1977, The Butchart Gardens firework show has delighted guests of all ages. The firework show occurs every Saturday through July and August and it’s included in the price of your admission ticket.
These dates can be crowded, so it’s best to arrive early as their parking lots fill up quickly. If you can’t get there early, plan to take the bus, taxi or limo to avoid being turned away. BC Transit runs a bus to The Gardens from downtown Victoria if you can’t arrive early.
The fireworks are scheduled rain or shine. They recommend wearing warm, waterproof clothing and bringing a blanket for the ground. I recommend a waterproof blanket like this or this. You can also purchase a blanket at The Gardens and borrow one of their umbrellas.
However, if you’d like private seating, you can upgrade to get expedited entry to The Gardens, reserved parking and reserved seating in their private viewing area.
BUTCHART GARDENS AT CHRISTMAS
Christmastime can be a magical time because The Butchart Gardens has many holiday offerings. Here are some of the fun things your family can enjoy during Christmas at The Butchart Gardens:
Christmas Light Display
See The Gardens lit up with colorful light displays. There’s even scenes from The Twelve Days of Christmas! Make it a game to see if you can spot each of the scenes as you sing along.
So, skating on a 5,000-square-foot outdoor rink under strings of twinkling lights may be the most magical Christmas activity in Victoria, BC! It’s available every day of the Christmas season and skate rentals are only $3 CAD + tax.
If you enjoy singing Christmas songs, head to the Piazza and sing along to classic carols with a festival brass band and traditional carolers!
Not only can you enjoy seasonal afternoon tea, but there’s also a special Christmas Day dinner at The Butchart Gardens!
Make Your Own Snowfalke
If you are visiting with kids ages 12 and under, they can bring a homemade snowflake and they’ll get a free cup of hot chocolate. Plus, their creation will adorn the windows at the Coffee Shop all through the Christmas season.
Hotels Near Butchart Gardens
The Villa Eyrie Resort is a remote hideaway tucked high above the wild coast of the Pacific Ocean and the Finlayson Arm inlet.
Located only 30 minutes north of downtown Victoria, you will discover the Villa Eyrie Resort, a relaxing mountainside retreat unlike any other destination found in Canada and quite possibly in the world.
Stay at the newly renovated Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, Victoria and experience resort living in their world-class destination. Golf on one of their award winning golf courses, explore their nature trails by bike or on foot, or pamper yourself at the renowned Sante Spa.
Tourism Victoria provided passes for CVS Tours and Butchart Gardens provided one complimentary admission for review purposes.
Other Victoria, BC Attractions:
Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC
Afternoon Tea at Abkhazi Garden
Exploring Craigdarroch Castle
Downtown Victoria, BC Romantic Weekend Getaway from Seattle
Babymooning at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC