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Christmas – and New Year’s – in the Capital: Celebrating the season on the South Island

The Butchart Gardens celebrates the holiday season through Jan. 6. Jen Blyth photo

Is the unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow on southern Vancouver Island causing you to ask ‘Where are you, Christmas?’

With just days to go before the holidays officially kick off for many of us, if you’re still struggling to get into the festive spirit it might be time to send out a Holiday SOS. Thankfully, opportunities to embrace the season are abundant throughout the South Island! Here are five ways to help your heart grow three sizes by Dec. 25 or sooner. Even better? Most continue into the New Year!

  1. Butchart Gardens’ Magic of Christmas: The Butchart Gardens Christmas light display is a family tradition for many on the Island and while weekend tickets are hard to come by there’s still space during the week, and even Christmas Eve! Running short on time before the big day? Butchart’s Magic of Christmas runs right through Jan. 6.
  2. Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle: Stop by historic Craigdarroch Castle and take in the beautifully bedecked rooms featuring authentic Victorian toys, decorations and traditions in a self-guided tour. It’s also not too late to catch Jason Stevens ‘A Christmas Carol at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 21, 22, and 23.
  3. Merridale Cidery Holiday Lights: Bundle up the kids and head out of city to Merridale Cidery. Watch their courtyard sparkle with thousands of festive lights and take in the various holiday displays. This free family event is a thank you to the community from owners Janet and Rick with optional mulled craft cider and treats available onsite.
  4. Malahat Skywalk festive fun: Hang with Santa in the Skynet or catch up with family by the fire and find the perfect last-minute gifts while you’re at it. Malahat Skywalk is all decked out in festive style and we promise the views are just as pretty in the winter!
  5. Christmas at the Fairmont Empress: Looking to elevate your holiday experience? The Fairmont Empress still has space available for a few of their elegant holiday celebrations, including their Festive Afternoon Tea, which features Christmas Carollers and their iconic afternoon tea service. Find their full holiday lineup here.
  6. Ballet Victoria’s The Gift of the Nutcracker: The holiday continues post-Christmas, with Ballet Victoria’s annual performance of The Gift of the Nutcracker Dec. 28 to 30.

Have you found your inner ‘Who’ but still need ideas for kicking of 2024 in style? Don’t miss these New Year celebrations taking place around Greater Victoria:

  1. New Year’s Eve Gala at the Da Vinci Centre: This year’s theme is black, gold and silver with a delicious buffet dinner at 7 p.m., late-evening snack available before the official countdown and of course party favours and champaign when the clock strikes midnight. Find event details and tickets here.
  2. New Year’s …Family-style: Many South Island recreation centres are hosting New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day events and activities, including Oak Bay Parks and Recreation and Esquimalt Parks and Recreation.
  3. Victoria Symphony’s New Year’s Day Celebration: Kick off 2024 the right way by joining the Victoria Symphony, Ballet Victoria dancers and the Pacific Opera Victoria chorus for an unforgettable New Year’s Day celebration! Find details and tickets online here.