The 2020 holiday season certainly won’t be a traditional one, but Greater Victoria families can still find ways to enjoy some the joy of the holidays.
While a number of yearly traditions might be cancelled, many organizations have shifted online, or have been modified to comply with safety orders.
Check out this list of Greater Victoria holiday events, ranging from free to pricey and both online or in-person.
A Gingerbread extravaganza
This sugary seasonal event has made some accommodations for COVID-19 restrictions. Habitat for Humanity’s 12th annual Gingerbread Showcase kicked off Nov. 21 and will accept votes and donations until Jan. 3.
More than 30 bakers have taken part this year, crafting edible art under the theme of “coastal living.” Creations are inspired by everything from tidal pools and beach houses to orcas and Star Wars.
The gingerbread masterpieces can be viewed in-person from outside the host locations in Victoria and Sidney, or they can be viewed online, where the public can cast their vote and make a donation to Habitat for Humanity.
To view the gingerbread creations and cast your vote, visit habitatvictoria.com/gingerbread2020.
Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens is open this holiday season with a number of COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
Gates are open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with viewings until 4:30 p.m.
All visitors, except children under 12, must wear a mask or face covering while they visit, and a maximum of six people can walk together. Visitors must keep to the right on all pathways and follow directional arrows.
The Gardens’ Christmas evening viewing is cancelled. Admission can be paid upon arrival. Adult tickets are $21, youth (13 to 17) are $10.50. Tickets for children 12 and under are $2.
Colwood Forest Lights
A Colwood community park has undergone a holiday makeover.
The lights at Herm Williams Park, located on Kelly Road, were inspired by the northern lights. With driftwood birds by artist Paul Lewis appearing between illuminated tree trunks, the park offers a completely free and safe magical outdoor activity.
In-person or at-home Christmas with the Royal BC Museum
With a massive health protocol overhaul, the Royal BC Museum is accepting visitors and providing some festive family fun over the holidays.
Running until Jan. 9, the museum’s Christmas in Old Town display gives visitors a glimpse at Christmas past, as they traverse a display depicting the holiday season in times long gone.
For those who want to take in the museum from home, a virtual escape room to find ‘Father Christmas’ will keep little ones busy.
And, in a particularly 2020 twist, the museum is offering a Zoom session with old Saint Nick on Dec. 16, in place of in-person Santa visits. The Zoom has a 500-spot capacity, but the event will also be streamed on Facebook Live.
Finally, the museum’s feature exhibit, Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing, gives visitors a glimpse into the beloved local artist’s life through the world’s largest collection of her work, along with a series of postcards she sent to family while in France.
For more information on the Royal BC Museum and to find links to virtual events, visit royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.
Christmas at the Fairmont Empress
Even in the face of COVID-19, the Fairmont Empress is not neglecting its role as an icon of Victoria’s Christmas season.
The ‘coastal castle’ is adorned with more than 7,500 ornaments and lights and will offer a number of Christmas-themed items on its drink and dinner menu.
For more information, visit fairmont-empress.com.
Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle
The historic Craigdarroch Castle is primed for the holiday season.
With a Christmas-themed gift shop and a castle-full of Christmas decor, the ‘bonanza castle,’ built in the 1880s, makes for a special, educational holiday activity.
The castle now has reduced hours and requires booking in advance. Tickets are available online at thecastle.ca or by phone at 250-592-5323. Ticket prices range from $8 to 18.
For those who want to check out the castle from home, a free virtual tour is available online at tour.thecastle.ca.
Fortune Gallery Annual Winter Exhibition
Every week from Tuesday to Friday until Dec. 23, the Fortune Gallery’s Annual Winter Exhibition opens to the public, showing off work by local artists.
This year, the show features art from 10 local artists.
Visits to the gallery are free. The Fortune Gallery is located at 537 Fisgard St. For more information visit fortunegallery.ca.
Goh Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Little ones can “nurture their creativity and curiosity” with the Children’s Virtual Nutcracker Workshop.
Dancers aged three to eight are invited to join the Goh Ballet for a series of virtual sessions exploring everything from the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Spanish Chocolates to the Chinese Tea and the Waltz of the Flowers.
Sessions started Dec. 1, with further dates on Dec. 12, Dec. 16 and Dec. 17. Each virtual class can be purchased individually for $35.
For families that simply want to sit back and enjoy the show, the Goh Ballet offers an exclusive film release of The Nutcracker, Beyond the Stage. The film gets a 2020 reboot with a closer look at the Nutcracker Prince, who has been separated from his family during lockdown.
The film is available from Dec. 18 until Jan. 2. Registration is available online at gohnutcracker.com.
Victoria Symphony goes virtual
The Victoria Symphony has gone virtual.
Starting Dec. 10, Tania Miller will be conducting Appalachian Spring, with the show running until Jan. 8.
For those looking for something festive, the Victoria Symphony will present Christmas Pops: Joy to the Brass! A celebration of both the yuletide season and the joyous music of brass instruments. Conducted by Giuseppe Peitraroia, the show will include traditional holiday songs like O Holy Night and Frosty the Snowman.
For ticket information, or to donate to the symphony, visit victoriasymphony.ca.
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