Victoria in December: Discover the Spectacular Things to See and Do During Your Visit

Updated for 2021

If you are planning a trip to Victoria in December, then you’ve probably got questions like:

  • what’s the weather going to be like
  • what to pack and what to wear while you are here
  • what’s happening in Victoria in December
  • what are some things to do
  • and most importantly, what food is in season

If you’re coming to the city in December, you are going to experience a city bursting with seasonal festivities, arts and crafts shows and sales, a unique night parade, and the possibility of some "typical" Canadian winter weather. Even with the harvest season behind us, we still enjoy a good variety of fresh, local foods.

December 24 is recognized as Christmas Eve with most shops and activities closing down early for the day - some as early as noon but generally between 2 and 5 pm. Last minute shoppers abandon the malls and make their way home to celebrate the season with friends and family. 

December 25 is Christmas Day and almost everything is closed. Even stores that are open every other day of the year, generally pause for this one day. 

December 26 is Boxing Day - banks and most offices will be closed but many shopping centres open - some super early in the morning. Those that are open usually have their best sales of the year on this day, and may extend the sales to the whole week. 

December 31st is New Year's Eve and similar to December 24th, many shops and offices will close early even though it is not an official holiday. Everybody rings in the new year in their own way but dinner and drinks is the most popular. Victoria has hosted celebrations downtown in the past but none are planned for 2021. It is definitely not celebrated like New York or London!

There are no cruise ships in port in Victoria in December but we are usually still hosting conference attendees and other guests who are in town enjoying what is typically the most mild climate anywhere in Canada. What that means for you is you likely don't need a reservation in order to enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride or the finest dining locations (except New Year's Eve). With the ongoing pandemic, Victoria in December of 2021 will be even quieter than normal.

Weather in December

The weather in Victoria in December is cooler and drier than November. The average high during the day is 7 C and cooling right down to a chilly 1 degree at night. The average precipitation is 142 mm - almost all of which will come down in the form of rain, however we are occasionally surprised with a bit of snow. Because of our overall mild climate, even when it does snow it rarely sticks around very long because it usually warms right up. 

Unfortunately though, every few years the conditions are ideal for heavy snowfalls and as a city, things can deteriorate quickly. The main reason for this is the lack of equipment to deal with the snow (due mainly to the fact that we rarely need it). So, if it snows, it's either going to melt quite quickly or essentially shut the city down!

Dressing for the Weather

Winter officially arrives on December 21, 2021 and here in the Pacific Northwest we are usually in our full winter gear of wool socks, toques, sweaters, gloves and scarves. It is ideal to dress in warm layers and a 3-in-1 waterproof jacket is perfect along with waterproof footwear.  

Not sure what a 3-in-1 jacket is?

  1. A waterproof outer layer (honestly don't even bother if the jacket is not waterproof) that can be worn on its own as a light to medium-weight jacket. Depending on your personal comfort and activity level, you may want a heavier-weight outer layer for the winter months.
  2. A warm, insulated inner layer - sometimes down (or a synthetic insulating material) or polar fleece that can be worn on its own for warmth.
  3. A warm, waterproof coat when you attach the inner layer to the outer layer - usually via a zipper or snaps.

I personally wear a 3-in-1 by Columbia although if I could find one to fit, I’d likely wear an Arc’teryx jacket. They are stylish, functional jackets designed and tested here in British Columbia. 

What's in Season

Several of our local restaurants reinvent their menus seasonally to take advantage of local seafood, meats, cheeses, breads, beers, wines and produce. The end of season fruits and vegetables are generally still available along with a good selection of seafood:

Fruits & Veggies

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage (savoy and red)
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions (red/yellow)
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Squash (winter)
  • Turnips
  • Kiwi
  • Pears

Seafood & Herbs

  • Clams
  • Cod: Pacific
  • Crab
  • Crab: Dungeness
  • Flounder/Sole: Pacific
  • Mussels
  • Oysters: Pacific
  • Prawns: Jumbo
  • Sablefish (Black Cod)
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp: Side Stripe
  • Shrimp: West Coast
  • Bay Leaves
  • Chervil
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Thyme

Things to Do in Victoria in December

On the evening of December 4th, around 80 festively decorated trucks - from all sorts of local businesses - will participate in the annual Truck Light Convoy.  Thousands line the streets to wave at the drivers and their passengers of the lit up dump trucks and big rigs. Over the course of about 3 hours, the trucks will weave their way throughout the city, collecting food bank donations as they go. This unique parade is one of the favourite things for locals to do in Victoria in December and we're so glad to see its return in 2021.

For the ultimate West Coast experience, head to Goldstream Provincial Park for the magnificent old growth trees - some estimated to be approximately 800 years old and the annual salmon run/eagle extravaganza.

Depending on when in December you visit, you will either catch the end of season when approximately 30,000 salmon have returned to the river to spawn and die or the beginning of eagle season. This is when hundreds of eagles return to the park to feast on the salmon (along with many other types of scavengers).

Some of the big, old trees at Goldstream Provincial Park

It is an incredible natural phenomena and if you're lucky enough to be in Victoria in December, I encourage you to bring your camera and get out to Goldstream Provincial Park

If you love Mother Nature, then a trip to Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park should be on your list. It is about a 4-5 hour road trip from Victoria (although you could fly in a fraction of the time with Tofino Air) but the extraordinary scenery alone is well worth it. And, you'll be just in time for storm watching season!

From the beginning of November to the end of February, Tofino welcomes visitors from all over the planet to come and watch the dramatic skies and crashing waves of a raging Pacific Ocean. A favourite destination to stay is the oceanfront Wickaninnish Inn although there are several other options in the region. Check with Tourism Tofino for recommendations. 

Another favourite activity among locals and guests alike in Victoria in December is the Magic of Christmas display at Butchart Gardens. Here you can enjoy colourfully lit gardens, the Twelve days of Christmas display, traditional carollers, ice skating and of course hot chocolate and gingerbread by the fire. 

We visited in early November just as the decorating of the gardens began. We look forward to returning in mid December to see all the displays lit up. Note due to the ongoing pandemic, Butchart Gardens is requesting visitors attending the Magic of Christmas display to book a time slot.

A behind-the-scenes look at decorating of Butchart Gardens for the Magic of Christmas display.

Annual Festivals and Events in Victoria in December include:

  • 18-Nov-21 – 4-Jan-22 - Festival of Trees, the Bay Centre, 1150 Douglas Street
  • 20-Nov-21 to 2 Jan-22 - Gingerbread Showcase, The Parkside Hotel & Spa, The Chateau Victoria, The Marriott Inner Harbour and The Doubletree 
  • 26-Nov-21 to 6-Jan-22 Magic of Christmas, Butchart Gardens
  • 30-Nov-21 - 2-Jan-22 - The Winspear Festival of Trees, Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Avenue, Sidney
  • Early December to mid-January - Eagle Extravaganza at Goldstream Provincial Park
  • 1-Dec-21 - 4-Jan-22 - Christmas Tree Village, Recreation Centre Atrium and Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt
  • 3-Dec-21 - Sea of Lights Boat Parade, starting from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club at 6:45 pm and passing by Cattle Point at 7 pm, Willows Beach at 7:15 pm and Gyro Park at 7:45 pm. All times approximate.
  • 4-Dec-21 - Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive
  • 4-Dec-21 - The Dickens Fair, James Bay Community Center, 140 Oswego Street from 10 am to 4:30 pm
  • 5-Dec-21 - Celebration of Lights, Esquimalt - parade starts at 5 pm along Esquimalt Road, beginning at Canteen Road and ending at the arena where there will be Santa, hotdogs and carolling
  • 10-Dec-21 to 23-Dec-21 - Bright Lights by Night, Galey Farms, Blenkinsop Road
  • 24-Dec-21 - Christmas Eve
  • 25-Dec-21 - Christmas Day
  • 26-Dec-21 - Boxing Day
  • 31-Dec-21 - New Year's Eve
  • Postponed until 2022 - Craft Cartel Indie Arts Market, Leonardo Da Vinci Italian Centre
  • Postponed until 2022 - The Nerdy Days of Christmas Craft Fair, Market Square
  • Postponed until 2022 - Christmas Market, Metchosin
  • Postponed until 2022 - Nomad Holiday Market, E&N Round House
  • Postponed until 2022 - Skate with the Victoria Royals, The Butchart Gardens

I truly hope you enjoy your visit to Victoria in December.

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