Victoria’s Christmas Festival – Victoria, BC Canada

The 12 Days and Nights of Christmas is the theme of a new seasonal festival incorporating many attractions and venues. From December 1st. to December 31st. 2003, lights, music and special events will fill the streets and venues of Victoria bringing the city to life with the festive spirit.

Some of the event highlights include: ‘Taste of Christmas’ featuring traditional and new Christmas dishes; ‘Festival Ice Statues’ where the Canadian snow sculpture team will turn blocks of ice into works of art; a city-wide caroling competition featuring 35-40 groups of carolers; six entertainment stages located outdoors; heritage walking tours about historical Christmas events; family skate dates at local arenas; and transformation of the Inner Harbour into a Christmas festival of lights.

A visit to Victoria’s world-famous Butchart Gardens over the Christmas holidays is an annual tradition for many. Colourful in any season, the Gardens become a lavish display of lights and magic during the holiday season. The Butchart Gardens prepare all year for Christmas. Hundreds of hours are spent making decorations and in October, the installation of more than one hundred thousand coloured lights begins. 60% of the lights are the kind you can buy in stores; the rest are either custom-made at the Gardens or specially made by the manufacturer. The Butchart Gardens’ feature attraction is the "Twelve Days of Christmas." Every year, another "day" is added and brought to life with lights. This year, don’t miss the newest addition to continue this tradition ‘Ten Lords A-Leaping’. It runs December 1st to January 6th. Visit www.butchartgardens.com or call toll free 1-866-652-4422 for more information.

Other British Columbia Christmas Events

Vancouver harbour will blaze with lights during its 41st annual ‘Carol Ships Parade of Lights‘ festival from November 29th to December 23rd. On peak evenings, this holiday tradition has grown to include more than 80 decorated boats, with an excess of 150,000 lights carrying over 45,000 people during the 23 night festival. Along with many community based shore side celebrations, more than 200,000 people enjoyed the parade in 2001. For more information and the carol ship schedule, call (604) 878-8999 or visit www.carolships.org.

Also in Vancouver: millions of twinkling lights turn VanDusen Garden‘s five acres into a realm of magic. Santa is in his workshop nightly until December 24th. Delight in the effects created along Lake Walk with the ‘Symphony of Lights’. The garden will be lit from December 6-31, closed on December 25. For more information visit www.vandusengarden.org or call (604) 878-9274.

An old fashioned Barkerville Christmas is celebrated in pioneer style during the two weekends before Christmas (December 14/15 and December 21/22) with special displays at the town museums, horse-drawn sleigh rides, shopping at the general store, Christmas choirs and visits to St. Nicholas in the enchanted forest. For more information and the schedule of daily events visit www.barkerville.ca, or call (250) 994-3302 ext. 29.

Throughout the month of December guests are invited to a heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village museum, which is filled with memories of Christmases past, colourful costumed characters and the fabulous CW Parker vintage carousel. Tour a one-room schoolhouse, a Chinese herbalist or a blacksmith’s shop. An optional ‘Mug-Up’ consisting of a cup of hot apple cider or hot chocolate and a cookie is available. Open Nov 23-Dec 13 and Dec 31-Jan 4 (12:00-5:30pm) and Dec 14-30 (12:00 – 8:00pm). Closed Dec 24th and 25th. For more information phone (604) 293.6501, or visit www.cityburnaby.bc.ca

In December experience the beauty of a Canadian winter wonderland in luxury, onboard a two-day train journey through Canada’s west and the Canadian Rockies. The Rocky Mountaineer travels past glacier-capped mountains and snow-filled valleys on an unforgettable trip between Vancouver, British Columbia and the world-class ski resort town of Banff or Calgary, Alberta. While onboard the train, staff and guests embrace the holiday spirit with music, children’s entertainment and a special visit from Santa.

Families gather by the Christmas tree in the lounge car to enjoy games and a jazz band, while onboard attendants serve holiday treats and provide lively, interpretive commentary about the passing landscape. The festive trip is a great way to gather with loved ones over the holidays in ‘The Land of a Million Christmas Trees.’ For departure schedules and package details call Rocky Mountaineer Railtours at (800) 665-7245 or visit www.WinterRailtours.com.

Coming this December, the Kamloops Wildlife Park will explode with brilliant color when over 300,000 Christmas lights come to life. Crafted from energy efficient and bright non-neon, visitors will see a huge variety of wildlife light sculptures including life-sized elephants, giraffes, moose and bison. For a little adventure, navigators young and old will test their skills in the ‘Giant Techno-Maze’ featuring 7,000-sq. ft. of turning and twisting tunnels and spectacular special effects. Throw in hay wagon rides, miniature train trips, outdoor movies and festive music, and you have the makings of a Christmas family event. For more information visit www.kamloopswildlife.org or call (250) 573-3242.

Prince Rupert’s Winterfest takes place December 6th and 7th. The ‘Festival of Lights’ begins on Friday with the official lighting of the trees at the courthouse and Christmas carols. On Saturday, there is a Santa Claus parade in the morning, a gingerbread house contest and the ‘Winter Jam,’ an open mike session for musicians and children’s fun and games. In the evening come and see the 21st annual Christmas carol sailpast with light decorated boats, a bonfire, and fireworks. Call (250) 624-9118 or visit www.tourismprincerupert.com.

Enjoy Fort Steele Heritage Town‘s traditional Christmas sleigh ride special event on Saturday, December 21. Bundle up in blankets and sing Christmas carols, as Fort Steele’s black Clydesdale horses pull antique sleighs down the snowy streets of the turn-of-the-19th-century town. Warm up with mugs of hot chocolate, or toast hot dogs and marshmallows over bonfires. Call (250) 417-6000 or visit www.fortsteele.bc.ca for more information.

Celebrate Christmas Eve with caroling, a bonfire, skating and hot drinks at Trickle Creek Adventure Centre at the Kimberley ski resort. Ski with Santa on Christmas day before enjoying a traditional holiday turkey dinner. Continue the celebrations through ’til New Year’s with a chance to do the torchlight parade, the New Year’s frolic or a New Year’s Eve family night featuring snacks, campfires, games, entertainment, snowsculpting, a hockey game, a snow shoe tour with headlamps and more. For more information call (250) 427-4881 or visit www.skikimberley.com.

Revelstoke Museum & Archives hosts their annual Hogmanay on Sunday, December 29 from 2-5 pm on the second floor of the museum. Hogmanay is a traditional Scots celebration to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new. The Hogmanay celebration is an opportunity for the museum to thank the community for their support throughout the year. Seasonal refreshments will be served and Scottish country dancers will provide entertainment. A draw for a New Year’s party basket will be held during the Hogmanay. Everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy some old-fashioned seasonal fun. Call (250) 837-3067 or visit www.revelstokecc.bc.ca for more information.

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©2002 by Barbara Ballard. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part and reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.

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