This post by Jane Zatylny was originally published on the Hello BC blog.
Close your eyes, and you can almost feel it. The joy of the holidays is right around the corner. Few places feel as special at Christmas as British Columbia. All of the seasonal elements are here in our landscapes: towering cedars and fir trees, glossy holly hedges, and snow-capped mountains. Whether you’re looking for city fun or something a bit more off the grid, get in the holiday spirit at one of these seven special events.
Salt Spring Island: Craft Fairs
There are craft fairs, and then there are Salt Spring Island craft fairs. Held on the first weekend of December at Beaver Point and Fulford halls, these two fairs offer creations from local makers and artists. Shop for hand-forged knives, pottery, hand-blown glass, soaps and potions, felted scarves, candles, and jewelry; refuel with homemade goodies; and soak in the holiday ambiance at these special community halls. Both are located in the south end, close to the Fulford Harbour ferry terminal.
Victoria: Electric Truck Parade
Santa Claus parades are fun, sure, but there’s just something so delightfully different about Victoria’s Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive. About 80 trucks, from cement trucks and buses to eighteen-wheelers and monster trucks, take part in the event, which is held on the first Saturday of December. Each truck has been heavily festooned with lights, and drivers and passengers wave as the convoy travels through the city. The great cacophony of their horns can be heard for kilometres, like a noisy, joyful Christmas choir. Drivers collect more than 5,000 pounds of food each year to help those less fortunate.
Brentwood Bay: Butchart Gardens Twelve Days of Christmas
Whether it’s blooms or light bulbs, you can always expect perfection at Butchart Gardens. During its Twelve Days of Christmas event, which runs from December 1 through January 6, thousands and thousands of coloured Christmas lights decorate the gardens and buildings. There are so many lights that it takes two months to install all the displays and decorations. Take it all in with a brisk stroll through the gardens, enjoy a Christmas menu at the Dining Room Restaurant, skate under the stars on an outdoor rink, sing along with carolers, or ride the carousel.
Barkerville: Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas
Step back to 1862 — before the invention of the iPhone — and experience an authentic Victorian Christmas in Barkerville Historic Town & Park. The national historic site will offer a special Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas from December 9 through December 11. Have your photo taken with Father Christmas, glide through the town’s snowy streets on a sleigh, taste baked goods in the Wendle House, and enjoy a special reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Vancouver: Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas
Good news for those who would rather sip hot chocolate than schuss down a slope. Grouse Mountain offers a great selection of holiday activities in their Peak of Christmas program, which runs from November 24 to December 24. Take a sleigh ride on a snowy mountaintop, hang with Santa in his workshop and visit with his reindeer, and watch a classic Christmas movie. Or lace up your skates and burn off some seasonal calories on the 8,000-square-foot skating pond (skate rentals available).
Jack Poole Plaza is best known as the home of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic cauldron. But from November 22 through December 24, this scenic gathering place will be transformed into the Vancouver Christmas Market. Meander along alleys lined with more than 75 huts and sample authentic German treats. Take a spin on a carousel, be dazzled by the 30-foot-tall walk-in Christmas tree, decorated with 36,000 lights, and linger for entertainment and family activities at this German-inspired market.
Holiday Getaway: Celebrate Christmas at a BC Ski Resort
Looking for an even more immersive B.C. Christmas experience? Why not spend a few days over the actual holiday at one of the province’s superlative ski resorts. There you can experience your choice of Christmas-themed events along with a little skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or plain old relaxing. Whistler celebrates the season with an exhaustive program of daily activities, crafts, dining events, and more. Dress like Santa in your best red suit then hit the slopes, skate with Santa, then be wowed by Whistler Blackcomb’s signature Fire and Ice show. Big White turns on the holiday charm as well, offering custom packages for Christmas.
Missing your Christmas tree? Not to worry. The resort will set one up for you in your room or cabin, along with all the ornaments your family needs to dress it. Ice skate on Canada’s highest skating rink, climb a giant ice tower, or try dog sledding, and don’t miss the Christmas Eve Parade. Revelstoke Mountain Resort also offers a roster of imaginative Christmas activities, from Christmas Eve fireworks in the village and Ski with Santa to a tasty prime rib dinner followed by a guided torchlight descent.