Weekend Wanderings: A Weekend Getaway in Victoria, BC

5 fun things to do while visiting Victoria this winter.

Victoria, BC is known for being a popular summer destination and it’s positively wonderful and festive during the winter months too. The holiday cheer is abound. We rode the Victoria Clipper, the most luxurious ferry we’ve ever been on with comfy reclining seats, tasty snacks, and alcohol. Upon arriving two hours and 45-minutes later, we experienced a lovely weekend of relaxation and escape from the big city.

Scroll down to the bottom for your chance to win a pair of round trip tickets on the Victoria Clipper. Winner will be announced on Monday, December 28! 

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View from the Victoria Clipper ferry terminal. Photo by Jennifer Liu.


The Butchart Gardens is transformed into a holiday lights celebration with tens of thousands of colored lights, evergreen swags, wreaths of holly, and winter berries in a Twelve Days of Christmas theme. There is also live caroling and music, and ice skating on the outdoor ice rink. When we visited, it was pouring rain and quite windy too. Thank goodness The Butchart Gardens supplied umbrellas or we would have been very soaked and soggy.

Photo by The Butchart Gardens.
Photo by The Butchart Gardens.

Despite the downpour, it was definitely worth the visit. There are holiday light tours in gardens and zoos in Seattle, but The Butchart Gardens is so expansive and a grand and historical adventure.

Pro-tip: Make sure to wear rainproof shoes and bundle up!

Butchart Garden’s afternoon tea: Some say it’s better than at the Empress hotel. You will have to be the judge of that since we didn’t have the change to try the Butchart Garden’s rendition this trip. High Tea is served October 1 – December 22 from 12:00 to 3:00 pm. Call or reserve online here.

More information about the Holiday Lights Tour here.


Amateur and professional teams enter this annual competition and there are 24 creative gingerbread creations to browse. One of our favorites was also this year’s winner, “The Rainbow Connection” with the Muppets cast stuffed into their family car on a road trip. Created by The Victoria Residential Builders Association and Ann-Marie Fortin, the car is realistic and the characters are made with incredible attention to detail.

Photo by Inn at Laurel Point.
“The Rainbow Connection”. Photo by Inn at Laurel Point.

Open daily through January 3rd from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

More information here.


Afternoon Tea at the Empress has been a beloved tradition since 1908. The team at the Empress house-makes all the scones, pastries, chocolates, and savory tea sandwiches with smoked salmon, chicken curry, simple cucumber, and egg salad. Our favorite savory bite was the smoked salmon sandwich followed closely by the cucumber salad.

The Empress Blend Tea is created exclusively for Fairmont Empress by the Metropolitan Tea Company. It is nuanced with Assam (thick malty and full bodied), Kenya (floral-like), South India (fruity), Ceylon (airy), and China (light oaky notes).

Photo by Jennifer Liu.
Afternoon Tea. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

The Empress can accommodate vegan, gluten free, and diabetic dietary preferences and needs. Daily seatings from 12:00 pm with the last seating at 3:45 pm. More information and reservations here.


Situated in the harborside Terrace Ballroom at the Inn at Laurel Point with expansive scenic views, the Santa Claus Brunch Series is sold out as well as Christmas Day Brunch. The series runs every Sunday of December with reservations from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, you need to make your reservation early.

Friday, New Years Day 2016, there is still space available. Snag your reservation here.

Desserts at Santa Brunch. Photo by Jennifer Liu.
Desserts at Santa Brunch. Photo by Jennifer Liu.


Many of the beautiful and historic buildings and hotels are lit up at night and it’s a cheerful city. The Parliament building and Craigdarroch Castle are fun to look at. The shops on Government Street consist of boutique stores and local businesses, including a bookstore, Munro’s Books. It’s also fun to check out the other hotels and their holiday decorations.

Victoria’s Chinatown is just a few blocks from downtown and is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest after San Francisco’s. The Royal BC Museum states that it was “known for its maze of alleyways and courtyards, containing everything from theaters and restaurants to gambling dens”. Fan Tan Alley on Fisgard Street is one of the most narrow in the country and is home to offices and retail shops.

Parliament Building. Photo by Jennifer Liu.
Parliament Building. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

To enter to win round trip tickets on the Victoria Clipper, follow Seattleite and Clipper Vacations on Facebook and Tweet: “We want to visit Victoria, BC via @ and @ More info to win: