The holidays are in full swing in Seattle, but if you think you've seen it all before, you might be surprised by what you're missing out on. Some of the best activities are just a short seaplane ride or boat cruise away.
Christmas in Victoria, British Columbia, takes holiday cheer to a whole new level with everything from a 55-acre lighted garden to Canada's very own Christmas castle. Here's what you need to know about these and several other unique holiday experiences only Victoria can offer.
The Butchart Garden Christmas lights
Magical at any time of year, The Butchart Gardens are especially dazzling during the holiday season. Their Christmas display includes over 300,000 lights, a fun depiction of the 12 days of Christmas, and musical performances by Festive Brass and Traditional Carollers nightly from 5-9 p.m. in the Piazza. Pro Tip: Clipper has a Butchart Gardens Holiday Lights overnight package!
Located just 14 miles north of Victoria, an easy way to visit this 55-acre masterpiece is to join one of the tours that visit the gardens.
The holiday display runs Dec. 1-Jan. 6.
Canada's National Gingerbread Showcase
Gingerbread house aficionados will not want to miss Victoria's ninth annual Gingerbread Showcase at the Parkside Hotel & Spa. It features the work of bakers from all over Canada, both professional and amateur, whose creations reflect the theme "Celebrating Canada!" Proceeds from the showcase help support the Victoria chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The 2016 showcase raised over $50,000.
Visit the showcase daily from now to Jan. 2, from 9 a.m. -9 p.m.
Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle
Step back into the Christmas of the 1890s with a visit to Canada's castle. Craigdarroch Castle is an easy stroll from downtown Victoria and, during Christmastime, makes for an especially exquisite vacation experience. Join a tour, or wander through many of the castle's 39 rooms yourself, and you will see period toys, antiques and Christmas decorations, and hear music from local musicians. Find out what Christmas was like for the privileged in turn-of-the-century Victoria.
Craigdarroch Castle is open daily from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Royal BC Museum's Christmas Old Town Exhibit
Take a trip through time, back to Christmases of yesteryear in the Royal BC Museum's Christmas Old Town Exhibit, complete with wood-cobbled and garland-lined streets and the sights and sounds of old-time Christmas. Father Christmas visits the Old Town Exhibit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout December, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Get a glimpse of Old Town Christmas through the end of December during the museum's hours, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Just across the street from the Royal BC Museum, you can visit the oldest house in British Columbia, still found at its original site. Decorated and furnished in early 20th-century style, visiting it is like stepping into Christmas past.
Visit Helmcken House daily from 12-4 p.m.
Christmas at Victoria Public Market
Enjoy Christmas activities and shop local artisans for Christmas gifts at the Victoria Public Market in the historic Hudson building. The market is known for the quality of its locally produced cheese and meats, freshly baked breads, handmade pies, oils and vinegars, and live music.
On Saturdays throughout December, visit the market from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. to get pictures with Santa, try some free cookie decorating and stop by the gift-wrapping station.
Festival of Trees
A Christmas trip to Victoria couldn't be complete without a visit to the 26th annual Festival of Trees at the Bay Centre. With more than 80 trees on display, the festival features every variety of Christmas tree you could imagine. Visitors can vote for their favorite tree for a chance at winning a $500 gift card to the Bay Center. Funds raised by the festival will be donated to the Excellence of Child Health Fund, which supports services at BC Children's Hospital.
Visit the festival from now through Jan. 2, 2018.
When you're ready to book your Christmas trip to Victoria, Clipper Vacations and Kenmore Air can help you have a smooth journey and a relaxing time. Or if you're interested in a one-stop-shop for your flight, cruise and hotel - check out the Victoria Sea & Sky package or the Fly + Stay package offering flexible fare options combined with preferred lodging and activities.