Looking for some holiday events in Victoria that make your spirits bright while keeping your wallet happy? Saving money might be really important right now, especially if you’ve been busy buying gifts for your loved ones (if that’s the case, see our tips on how to stop buying so many gifts).
The Christmas season can be an exciting time for both kids and adults, but the pressure to make it “perfect” can be a major stressor. Since much of what happens during the holidays is costly, here are some local holiday events to enjoy that cost little or no money.
Thursday, November 15, 2018 to Monday, January 7, 2019, mall hours
See the Bay Centre transformed into a lush forest of hand-decorated trees at this free event. Share in the spirit by voting for your favourite, with all proceeds supporting the most urgent health care needs of kids in BC.
Saturday, November 17, 2018 to Sunday, January 6, 2019 from 9 am to 9 pm
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, this event at Parkside Hotel and Spa brings together professional and amateur bakers from Vancouver Island and highlights their creativity, while supporting the work of Habitat Victoria. This year’s theme is “There’s no place like home!”. Admission is by donation.
Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 23, 2018, all day
The elves have been busy in Sidney this Christmas! 40 different gingerbread houses are hidden in the shops throughout town! Find 12 and enter to win 1 of 3 great prizes. Entrance forms can be found in the December Events Calendar which can be picked up at the Sidney Info Centre at 2281 Beacon Avenue (also located in various businesses across Sidney). If you’re hunting on a Saturday or Sunday, you might run into the Linden Singers strolling the streets of Sidney and sharing heart-warming renditions of seasonal favourites (Saturdays and Sundays, December 1 to 23, 1 to 4 pm).
Friday, November 30, December 7, 14 and 21, 2018 from 4 to 8 pm
Each Friday over the holiday season the Victoria Market will be open until 8 pm for adults to enjoy dinner, shopping, live music, and maybe even take in one of the Christmas-themed workshops. All of the permanent vendors will be open, as well as lots of local artisans to shop from. There will be mulled wine available to purchase and drink while you browse around. This is a 19+ event, no minors permitted.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm
Head to the Oaklands Community Centre to enjoy a winter market, with entrance by donation (suggested donation $3 per person). There will be live music, concession stand selling warm drinks and goodies, food trucks, artisans, farmers, kid vendors and more. The market helps raise funds for the Oaklands Sunset Market.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 10 am to 4:30 pm
The Dickens Fair is one of Victoria’s oldest and best-loved holiday craft fairs. The juried local artisans offer a great variety of quality and affordable products that will appeal to everyone. Hosted at the James Bay Community Centre, it will feature two large rooms with over 70 local artisans, a café and a children’s play area. In addition to visiting the artisans’ stalls, visitors will have the opportunity to relax in the café and enjoy delicious prepared food and beverages. Admission is $2 and children under 12 are free.
Saturday, December 1 to Monday, December 31, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
The Toys ’n’ Teddy Bears of Christmas Past Exhibit returns to the Sidney Museum this year by popular demand. With a focus on toys from the 1970s to 1990s, including favourites like Transformers, Polly Pockets, board games, Dinky Toys and Barbie Dolls, the exhibit will be a walk down memory lane for adults and a time machine for children to enter their parents’ world of toys. Admission is by donation.
Saturday, December 1, 8 and 15, 2018 from 12 to 3 pm
Bring your kids down to the Victoria Public Market to decorate a gingerbread man. Cookies, icing and candies will all be provided for free, and the cookie station will be set up in front of the Community Kitchen. They’ll also be accepting donations to CFAX Santas Anonymous. You can also take some free photos with Santa on the upper level of the Market in front of the Bumble and Hive Play Centre, so remember to bring your camera!
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm
Join Threshold Housing Society for a free Winter Carnival in Bastion Square. There will be live music, hot chocolate, Santa Claus, a tree lighting and Christmas-themed activities for your family to enjoy! All in support of helping vulnerable youth in the community.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 5:45 to 8:30 pm
Watch a convoy of bright and colourful trucks drive through Victoria. Organized by the Island Equipment Owners Association, the convoy starts at Ogden Point at 5:45 and ends at Western Speedway at 8:30 pm, with several stops along the way collecting food donations. Admission to Western Speedway is by cash or non-perishable food donation. There you can enjoy the lights from the grandstands as the convoy arrives and parks. Hot chocolate and hot dogs will be available by donation.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 6 to 9 pm
The City of Langford hosts this free, family-friendly event at Veterans Memorial Park. Enjoy music, shopping and crafts for the kids, along with free hot dogs, coffee and hot chocolate. This year’s entertainment includes the Westshore Community Concert Band, Kydo the Clown, the Ablaze Singers Choir and Clarks Martial Arts. Santa arrives at 6:15 pm, the official light up happens at 7:30 pm and the Island Equipment Owners Association Truck Light Convey and Food Drive passes by around 8 pm. Remember to bring a non-perishable food donation.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 2 to 2:30 pm
Bring your family and friends to hear a classic Christmas tale read by none other than Santa himself, followed by a community sing-along at Bay Centre. Can’t make it in person? Watch the livestream of Victoria Buzz’s Facebook page and ask Santa some questions in the interactive comments section of the video. Don’t miss this first-of-its-kind winter event in Victoria in partnership with Victoria Buzz and BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 3 to 4:20 pm
What better way to start bringing in the holiday cheer than to skate with Santa at City Centre Park in Langford. This is a free community event featuring both the outdoor and indoor ice rink, which are connected by the magical ice river for convenient through skating. Once you’ve had your fill of skating, get toasty beside one of the fire pits with a nice warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee or mocha.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 4 pm
Join this opening celebration of Chanukah featuring a Menorah lighting in front of the Legislature. This free event will feature a performance by the Yiddish Colubmia State Orchestra, along with fresh doughnuts, hot cocoa, dridels and chocolate gelt. Each participating will receive a free pair of holographic glasses that turn ever point of light into a Star of David!
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 5 to 6 pm
Bundle up and come watch the free annual Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade along Beacon Avenue in Downtown Sidney. The parade route begins along Resthaven Drive and turns onto Beacon Avenue and ends at Ocean Avenue. From there, you will be able to see the Lighted Boat Parade, which starts at least 15 minute after the main parade ends. No matter where you stand along the route, you’ll be able to see the parade in all its glory!
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 5 to 7 pm
Start the season off with a light parade and Christmas carol sing that fun for all ages (and free!). Maureen Washington and her band will be performing original and traditional Christmas music, plus there will be some other special guests. Enjoy free hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee and snacks. The parade begins at 5 pm at Canteen Road, proceeds along Esquimalt Road to the Arena where the Celebration of Lights family fun continues.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 9 to 11:30 am
Head to Burnside Gorge Community Centre for a delicious pancake breakfast, craft activities and musical entertainment for the entire family, plus an opportunity to have your photo taken with Santa. The cost is $5 per person or $10 per family (up to 4 immediate family members and $5 for each additional extended family member). Tickets can be purchased the day of the event at the door.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 9 or 10 am
Share a breakfast with family, friends, neighbours and Santa this holiday season. Browse crafts with the folks at Highpoint Church and sing traditional Christmas songs with the Salvation Army brass band. Breakfast at either 9 or 10 am includes pancakes, sausages, fruit, juice, tea, and coffee for $5 per person. Call to register before December 6.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 10 am to 2 pm
This quaint holiday event at the Quadra Village Community Centre features a variety of vendors selling everything from baked goods to jewellery, not to mention free hot chocolate, apple cider and popcorn. There will also be door prizes and holiday atmosphere and music to enjoy. Admission is $2 per person or a donation of a non-perishable food item.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 1 to 3 pm
There’s nothing quite like hearing a huge group of low brass musicians playing Christmas carols! Join us for the 40th annual Tuba Christmas at Market Square – one of Victoria’s favourite holiday traditions. Donations will be accepted for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 6 to 9 pm
Seniors are invited to join friends and neighbours at Oaklands Community Centre for an evening of good food and great company at this annual Christmas event. Enjoy a traditional Christmas meal with all of the fixings, complete with festive Christmas crackers, door prizes, and holiday cheer! Tickets are $10 per person. Seats are limited, so be sure to register early.
Sunday, December 9 from 3 to 5 pm
Head to Langford Lanes for some Chanukah bowling! Bowl to Jewish music hits, watch the bowling pin Menorah lighting, eat delicious kosher bagel sandwiches and hot latkes. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Tickets are available until December 6 – reserve online as tickets will not be sold at the door.
Sunday, December 9, 2018 from 4:30 to 5:15 pm
Gather under the Centennial Carillon with your fellow singers, family, friends and pooch for this free celebration. Provincial Carillonneur Rosemary Laing will accompany the Newcombe Choir below in a one-of-a-kind caroling party. Hot chocolate and cookies help to make the season bright and at the end of the 45-minute set, the Carillon is lit up for the holidays.
Friday, December 14, 2018 from 5 to 7 pm
Bring your holiday spirit to Government House for an evening of caroling! Join the Lieutenant Governor in singing seasonal favourites and Christmas classics in the beautiful ballroom. There will be refreshments and a chance to have a look around Government House, decked out in festive splendour. Bring your singing voices. This event is free; donations for The Mustard Seed are gratefully accepted. Free parking onsite and Government House is wheelchair accessible.
Saturday, December 15, 2018 from 9:30 am to 5 pm
Support local Victoria artisans as they showcase their goods for a holiday market at Tillicum Centre.
Monday, December 17, 2018 from 12 to 4 pm
Step through the doors of the oldest house in British Columbia still on its original site and experience what Christmas would have been like in Victoria over 100 years ago. Decorations, music and first-hand accounts will take you back to Christmas past. Admission by donation.
Wednesday, December 19 to Sunday, December 23, 2018, hours vary
The Juan de Fuca Arena hosts the popular Winter Wonderland Skate with regular admission prices in effect.
Friday, December 21 to Sunday, December 23, 2018 from 6:15 to 7:15 pm
The City of Langford hosts the Christmas Light Up Trolley Tour every December. Admission is by donation of a non-perishable food item or cash, with all proceeds going to the Food Bank. There are two tours nightly and each is approximately 45 minutes long. The meeting place is in front of the outdoor arena between Westhills Arena and the Bowling Alley on Langford Parkway.
Friday, December 21 to Sunday, December 23, 2018 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Come experience a cast and crew of 100+ people, including live animals, townspeople, King Herod, shepherds and soldiers, telling the story of the birth of Jesus Christ at Topaz Park. Presented by local members of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the event if free with performances at 6:30, 7, 7:30 and 8 pm nightly. Dress warmly and come rain or shine. Uncovered bleachers and chairs are provided for seating. Public washrooms are available.
In the Vancouver area? Check our list of free and cheap holiday events in Metro Vancouver.