The holiday season has arrived in full force at the hotel and it is no mystery why. Victoria is one of Canada’s premier destinations for holiday-goers in the winter. Visitors stream into the city to escape harsher climates and experience the year-round beauty our charming little city offers.
For that reason, there is plenty of Christmas cheer and plenty of things to do in Victoria. If you are unsure of what’s happening in town this month, here are some holiday-themed activities that can be added to any weekend itinerary. Experience Victoria in three fun and different ways:
The Traditional Way
Dive into local history at the Royal BC Museum, where it is Christmas in “Old Town,” a re-construction of shops, homes and businesses from the turn of the century. Visit the wood-cobbled streets lined with festive garlands and see the shops decked in seasonal finery, until January 9th.
When preparing your traditional holiday feast, go local and visit the Victoria Public Market, open every day this month (11AM-6PM). After stocking up on fresh ingredients and artisan stocking-stuffers, stick around for their seasonal events: free cookie decorating, a gift wrapping station, visits from Santa, and more.
If you haven’t warmed up to the Christmas season quite yet, enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and cookies inside the Pendray Inn’s festive drawing room. Learn the history of the Inn and amble through its Christmas-inspired gardens. The historic space is open to the public at 11AM every day, and while you’re there, don’t miss out on an old-world pleasure: a traditional afternoon tea.
And what’s more traditional than a Christmas show at the theatre? Productions that are running in December include A Christmas Carol (until Dec. 17, Royal Theatre), A Rock’n’Roll Christmas (Dec. 13, McPherson Playhouse) and Oh What a Night! (Dec. 16, McPherson Playhouse).
The Outdoorsy Way
Minutes outside of the city lies a vast world of natural beauty. Temporarily escape the holiday bustle and visit the Gardens at HCP, a 103-acre collection of gardens, woodlands and wetlands. Hike through Conservation Park and see endangered Garry Oak habitat, exclusive to the Pacific Northwest. Stroll through breath-taking gardens or take a festive gardening workshop.
Increase your daily step count by finding Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be roaming downtown Victoria with a smile (Dec. 15-17, 19-22). Also on weekends, a group of Christmas carollers will be spreading good cheer downtown on Saturdays and Sundays.
Dust off your old skates for a holiday-themed skate at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena. Bring the family and watch for wintery friends as they join in for some festive fun (Dec. 17). Make sure you are fueled up beforehand, maybe a nourishing breakfast from the Hunter’s Club Restaurant?
The Hipster Way
What rhymes with holiday cheer? Holiday beer, of course! Victoria’s famous craft beer company arranges brewery tours from Tuesday to Saturday every week. The tour fee includes six free samples from the tasting bar and a tasting glass. While you are there it might be wise to buy a couple cases of their seasonal brews, for posterity.
Learn how to make a holiday wreath out of a single piece of rope (before it gets cool) at the Maritime Museum of BC. Reject the green wreaths of generations past and impress your landlubber friends. We are on an island, after all. (Dec. 2, 9, 16). Cap off your hipster holiday with an improv show: “Z-MAS: An Improvised Zombie Movie.” When a zombie outbreak hits, this rag-tag band of improvisers must try to work together to stay alive. A fun and bloody twist to your holiday traditions.
However you spend your time in December, everyone at the Huntingdon Manor and Pendray Inn & Tea House wishes you a very happy holiday season!
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Matthew Gomez is a guest services specialist and writer. His passion for hospitality comes from his love of travel, having lived in Florida, the Dominican Republic and Okanagan before moving to Victoria. His favourite thing about Victoria is the exciting food scene.