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

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

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If you’re coming to town 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 2024. 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). Victoria in December is starting to look and feel a bit more "normal" as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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, 2022 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 currently wear a 3-in-1 by Columbia (similar to this one) although when it's time to purchase a new one, I’d likely buy 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. To experience the food scene here in Victoria, many travellers take advantage of one of many food tours. You get to learn a bit about Victoria and sample a variety of cuisine. Find food tours here

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 Saturday December 3rd, around 80 festively decorated trucks - from all sorts of local businesses - will participate in the Annual IEOA 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 it continue in 2024.

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 salmon run 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).

Ancient trees at Goldstream Provincial Park
Ancient trees at Goldstream Provincial Park
Ancient trees at Goldstream Provincial Park

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 2021 just as the decorating of the gardens began. Then we enjoyed 2 more visits - once in mid-December and again as a family outing on Christmas Eve. Many people had the same idea and the park was fairly congested in spots. Once again in 2022, Butchart Gardens is requesting visitors attending the Magic of Christmas display to book a time slot.

Sign at Butchart Gardens
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Christmas preparations at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC

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-Jun-22 to 28-Feb-23 - Heart & Home Exhibit, Robert Bateman Gallery, Inner Harbour
  • 17-Nov-22 – 03-Jan-23 - Festival of Trees, the Bay Centre, Victoria
  • 26-Nov-22 to 02 Jan-23 - Gingerbread Showcase, The Parkside Hotel & Spa
  • Early December to mid-January - Eagle Extravaganza at Goldstream Provincial Park
  • 01-Dec-22 to 06-Jan-23 - Magic of Christmas, Butchart Gardens
  • 01-Dec-22 to 04-Jan-23 - Christmas Tree Village, Archie Browning Arena, Esquimalt
  • 02-Dec-22 to 04-Dec-22 - Yuletide Market Series at Bilston Creek Farm, Metchosin 
  • 03-Dec-22 - Annual IEOA Truck Light Convoy, throughout Greater Victoria
  • 03-Dec-22 to 04-Dec-22 - The Nerdy Days of Christmas Craft Fair, Market Square/online
  • 03-Dec-22 - The Dickens Fair, James Bay Community Center
  • 03-Dec-22 to 04-Dec-22 - Winter Celebration Art Show/Sale, 281 Durrance Road
  • 03-Dec-22 - Annual Christmas Craft & Bake Sale, Central Saanich Lawn Bowling Club
  • 04-Dec-22 - 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 caroling
  • 04-Dec-22 - Metchosin Farmer's Market Annual Christmas Market, 4450 Happy Valley Road, Metchosin
  • 09-Dec-22 to 11-Dec-22 - Last Chance Christmas Craft Sale, Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney
  • 10-Dec-22 - Holiday Craft Fair, Campus View Elementary School
  • 10-Dec-22 - Oddfellows Winter Market, 1315 Douglas Street
  • 11-Dec-22 - Pancakes & Pajamas - Hotel Grand Pacific
  • 24-Dec-21 - Christmas Eve
  • 25-Dec-21 - Christmas Day
  • 26-Dec-21 - Boxing Day
  • 31-Dec-21 - New Year's Eve
  • date to be confirmed - 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.

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

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