Exploring Victoria & Sidney during the holidays

Christmas is one of my husband and I’s favorite times of the year. The decorations, beautiful trees, incredible meals, time with family and friends … I’d actually say it’s my very favorite time of year! Summer time is a close second!

One of our favorite things about Christmas is all of the activities around town. This is even more fun now that we have a little one to share things with. Everything is that much more exciting when seen through the eyes of a child that is experiencing things for the first time!

Both Sidney and Victoria have tons of activities for families during the holiday season. Here are some of our favorites, and a few new ones that we hope to try out this year:

Island Farms Santa Light Parade
Saturday November 28th, 2015
We have actually never been to the Victoria Santa parade before – usually sticking closer to home with the Sidney parade! But I’ve heard the Victoria one is good as well. The parade is about an hour long, and starts at 5:45pm at Government and Belleville.
More info at the Victoria’s Events site.

Oak Bay Light Up
Sunday November 29th, 2015
Every year I look up the date for this event … and every year we miss it for one reason or another. I always hear how much fun it is, and this year we are determined to go! Oak Bay Avenue is one of the most beautiful places during the holidays – and the light up is where it all begins! There are festivities throughout the afternoon (street hockey, crafts, games, street food, bouncy castle…) all culminating in the lighting at 5:00pm! I can’t wait to see it this year!
More info on the District of Oak Bay website.

IEOA Truck Light Convoy
Saturday December 5th, 2015
The lighted truck parade is one of our favorite holiday events. My husband and I used to watch this parade even before we had a child, all bundled up with our hot coffee/tea! Baby E loves this parade as well, although it can be a bit loud with all of the trucks honking as they pass by. It’s quite beautiful though, with all of the lights! The trucks leave Ogden Point at 5:45pm, and travel through Oak Bay, downtown Victoria, then to Goldstream and Veterans Memorial Parkway, and finally to Western Speedway.
More info and the convoy route at IEOA.

Sidney Sparkles Parade
Sunday December 6th, 2015

This is the Sidney Santa parade, and it is really well done. Lots of fun, entertaining floats, lights, and music. This year the parade is being held on Sunday December 6th at 5:00pm. You can watch the parade from Beacon Avenue or 2nd Street. And if you’re still looking for more Christmas fun after the parade, the lighted boat parade is immediately following the Santa parade, down on the waterfront.
More info from the Peninsula Celebrations Society.

Father Christmas Comes to the Royal BC Museum
December 6th – 22nd, 2015

We went to this event with my best friend and her family two years ago, and it was truly magical. Seeing Old Town in the museum all decorated for Christmas was beautiful. Father Christmas is there Friday-Sunday until December 22nd (I believe from 11am to 4:30pm). Photos are by donation and emailed to you after the event. When we were there, the photo was taken on an iPad, so wasn’t the high quality you might get from Santa at the shopping mall … but much more magical!
More info on the Royal BC Museum website

Butchart Gardens
This can be a rather expensive activity, but it’s such a memorable experience. Seeing the gardens all lit up with Christmas lights, complete with the 12 Days of Christmas depicted throughout, carolers, an outdoor skating rink … it’s worth it in my opinion! Butcharts even has the carousel – this may be the first year that Baby E will experience this! According to their website, “During the Magic of Christmas season, if you are 12 years old or younger, bring a paper snowflake you’ve made and exchange it for a cup of hot chocolate in the coffee shop”.
More info at Butchart Gardens Christmas celebration.

Christmas in the Village at Heritage Acres
We went to this event for the first time last year, and absolutely loved it! Heritage Acres is located on the way to Sidney, and hosts Christmas in the Village over two weekends (Fri/Sat/Sun evenings) in December. When we took Baby E last year, it was a huge hit. She loved the model trains, the visit and photo with Santa … and especially the train ride through the forest, decorated in Christmas lights and figures! I even loved the train ride as an adult – magical! We will definitely be going back to this event again this year.
More info available soon at the Heritage Acres website.

Canada’s National Gingerbread Showcase at the Inn at Laurel Point
This is another fun activity to do as a family in Victoria. According to the website, these gingerbread houses are “more than just houses, they are detailed sculptures and unique works of art created by professional and amateur chefs”. It’s true – they are amazing! Take a tour around the entries, and vote for your favorite. This year’s theme is family. :)
More info at the Inn at Laurel Point website.

Victoria Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees is an incredible display of trees decorated by businesses, organizations, and individuals to raise funds for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. These trees are truly gorgeous, and strolling through a forest of Christmas trees is a great way to get into the festive, holiday spirit! In previous years, this has been held at the Fairmont Empress, a perfect backdrop for this magical event. This year, due to upcoming renovations at the Empress, the event will be held at the Bay Center. The Empress was truly the perfect location for the Festival of Trees, but we will definitely still check it out at the new location this year.
More info at the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation website.

Driving Tour of Christmas Lights
Every year, the Times Colonist publishes a map of some of the best Christmas Lights around the area. Last year, we got Baby E in her PJs after dinner, and headed out to tour these amazing displays. Some of them are truly incredible!
It doesn’t look like the 2015 map has been published yet, but here’s the 2014 Tour link.

Sidney’s Gingerbread House Scavenger Hunt
We were just in a coffee shop in Sidney, and I picked up a copy of “Sidney’s Christmas Wish Book & Passport”. I had never heard of this booklet before, but apparently you can collect 12 stamps while shopping in Sidney, and fill up the passport on the back page. This can then be entered in the draw for three grand prizes. As well, 40 gingerbread houses have been hidden in stores around Sidney. Find 12 of them, fill out the form in the wish book, and enter the draw. I thought this sounded like a really fun idea, and I hope we have the chance to explore Sidney with Baby E one afternoon and search for these hidden gingerbread houses!
More info about the Gingerbread House Scavenger Hunt.

Christmas Activities at Home
Now that Baby E is a little older, I’m also really excited about all of the holiday activities that we can do together at home this year: baking festive sugar cookies; making paper snowflakes; painting wooden ornaments (Baby E’s favorite new activity!); decorating our house and Christmas tree; watching a holiday movie in our PJs … and getting Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf, back out! I did Elf on the Shelf a couple of years ago for my husband, and it was a blast. I even blogged about some of Elfie’s adventures! I love the idea of Baby E searching for Elfie each morning to see what adventures she had the night before!

Touch of Saltspring Craft Fair
December 4th-6th, 2015

Ok … so this one isn’t for the kids, or even the family … this one’s for Mom! One of my favorite Christmas traditions is exploring this craft fair, held at Panorama Recreation. This craft fair is my favorite of them all, with over 230 vendors/artisans. A little Christmas guilty pleasure of mine!

If you have other holiday activities that you love to take part in around Sidney and Victoria, please share! I know this might sound a bit cheesy … but I can’t wait for the next month of holiday fun!

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