The Christmas holidays are one of my favourite times of the year and this year, due to a change in plans, I am spending my whole Christmas break in my hometown. Staying home for the vacation season presents me with a great challenge of trying to unplug, relax and reset while also exploring the great holiday traditions my local area has to offer. In celebration of this wonderful time of year I have decided to create a list of my top five holiday adventures (traditions) in Victoria, B.C.
The Gingerbread Showcase
If volunteerism is an important part of your life then the holidays are a great time to continue your commitment to giving back. Although many will be heading to the soup kitchen or the homeless shelter to continue their volunteering during the holidays, don’t feel bad about switching up the ways you choose to give back. If you feel you need to take a break from your regular giving activities why not switch it up and donate to a wonderful local organization. One of my favourite giving events at this time of the year is the Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Showcase. Each gingerbread house is created by a local chef and some of the creations take weeks or even months to make! The theme this year is Celebrating Canada and each house features something a wonderful piece of what makes Canada so unique. If you want to check out this years’ display head on over to The Parkside Hotel & Spa, the showcase is on until January 2nd, 2018.
The 12 Days of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens
Another holiday tradition that I hold close to my heart is visiting The Butchart Gardens with my family to walk through the gorgeous gardens and take in their 12 Days of Christmas. The best time to visit the gardens during the holidays is at night, this way you can see the gardens in their full Christmas glory sparkling with thousands of lights and take a spin on their outdoor skating rink if you so choose. While you walk through the garden paths, taking in all of the 12 Days of Christmas, be sure to grab a cup of the gardens wonderful hot chocolate (one of the best you can find on the island) to keep your hands warm and your stomach full. Also be sure to keep an eye out for the Christmas carollers singing some of your holiday favourites, such as Jingle Bells and Silent Night.
Take in the Christmas lights at The Legislature
Each year the B.C. Legislature is lit up for Christmas. The iconic white lights change to a beautiful red, white and green to celebrate the holidays. The building is always a sight to behold but during the Christmas season it is even more spectacular. Nestled in the heart of downtown Victoria, near the grand old Fairmont Empress the Legislature makes for a great end to a lovely evening walk through our beautiful downtown and harbour front.
Go ice skating
Recently I hit the rink, for the first time in a long time at the Oak Bay Rec Centre, for a free skate to mark National Ice Skating Day. It felt so nice to get back on the ice and celebrate the season with a truly Canadian pastime. At first I was worried I would fall down but after a few minutes on the ice my muscle memory kicked in and I had fun gliding around the ice. If you are looking for a fun outdoors skating experience head to Bear Mountain or The Butchart Gardens and take advantage of their skate rentals and outdoor rinks.
5. Visit the Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre
You are Christmas shopping anyways, so why not have fun while you do it? If you are headed to The Bay Centre for some Christmas shopping or even some Boxing Day shopping be sure to visit levels 2 and 3 to take in the eccentric and sparkling Christmas tree displays. The trees are decorated by local shops and organizations and you can vote, by donation to the BC Children’s Hospital, on your favourite tree. My favourite tree so far this year is designed by Studio Robazzo and is covered with gold high heels! Voting ends January 2nd, 2018.