Butchart Gardens presents the 30th annual Magic of Christmas from Dec 1-Jan 6, 2018 when the Gardens sparkle with tens of thousands of coloured lights and seasonal decorations. Miles of fresh evergreen swags and wreaths, holly, ivy and winter berries adorn the walkways and lamp posts. See the Twelve Days of Christmas displays tucked into the landscape. Get into the Christmas mood with traditional carollers and festive brass music from 5-9pm. Whirl around the outdoor ice skating rink. Skate times run on the hour during admission hours and are 40 minutes. Skate rentals available; children’s helmets on loan. Garden hours from Dec 1-Jan 6, 9am-9pm, except Christmas Day when the hours are 1-9pm. Kids 12 years old and younger are invited to bring a hand-crafted paper snowflake and exchange it for a cup of hot chocolate in the Coffee Shop. (Limit of one per child per day). Also, children under 12 years of age will be given a list at the admission gate to identify each of the Christmas highlights displayed throughout The Gardens. Upon presentation of their list at the Visitor Centre, participants will receive a Christmas treat. Visit butchartgardens.com or phone 250-652-4422.

Father Christmas in Old Town at Royal BC Museum from Dec 1-3, 8-10, 15-17 (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11am-2pm). Visit with Father Christmas in Old Town, have your photo taken, and share your holiday wishes. Photos by donation. Then take in the sights and sounds of Christmas long ago in Old Town. Marvel at the huge Christmas tree, visit the wood-cobbled streets lined with festive garlands, and see the shops decorated with Christmas finery (until January 9, 2018). Visit royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.

Canada’s National Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Showcase is in a new location this year at the Parkside Hotel & Spa’s atrium (810 Humbolt Street). Feast your eyes and nose on creative inspirations constructed out of gingerbread. More than houses, they are sculptures and unique works of art created by professional and amateur chefs. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Canada.” Bakers are encouraged to let their creativity lead the way, whether it is finding inspiration in travel, traditions and cultures, or adventures with friends. Vote for your favourite—if you can choose just one! All funds raised support Habitat for Humanity Victoria, helping make affordable homeownership possible for low-income families living in the Victoria region. Until Jan 2, 2018 from 9am-9pm. Visit habitatvictoria.com/gingerbread-showcase.html.

Celebrate the 26th annual BC Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees in support of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. This year, the Festival will be decking the halls of The Bay Centre, transforming it into an enchanted forest celebrating our local community. As sponsors of this event, local businesses, organizations and individuals decorate the trees—in a sometimes wacky, often irreverent and always beautiful fashion. This season, trees are on display throughout The Bay Centre until Jan 2, 2018. Come browse through a holiday wonderland and cast a ballot for your favourite tree. Admission is free, though a $2 donation is suggested for every vote. Sooke hosts its eighth annual Festival of Trees at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort and SEAPARC Leisure Complex until early January. Visit bcchf.ca/fot.

Celebrate Christmas is Sidney. Hear Carol Singers (Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm until Dec 23), take a Carriage Tour (Saturdays and Sundays, noon-4pm until Dec 23) embark on a Gingerbread House Scavenger Hunt, take in the Festival of Trees Dec1-Jan 2 at Mary Winspear Centre), drop by Teddies & Toys at Sidney Museum Once Upon a Teddy Time—the Toys Came Out to Play (daily from 10am-4pm until Dec 31). This beautiful exhibit is a must for all the family. Over five hundred Teddy Bears have come out to play in Sidney Museum and they have brought along their favourite toys. Open 10 - 4 daily, admission by donation. To download a brochure with details about these and other seasonal activities, visit distinctlysidney.ca.

Enjoy a classic downtown tradition with your family this holiday season. Horse-Drawn Trolley Rides running Saturdays and Sundays (noon-2:30pm) until Dec 23, horse-drawn trolleys will circulate throughout downtown, making it easy to take in all of the sights and sounds of the Christmas celebrations. The trolleys are free of charge, compliments of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. Two trolleys will circulate on a pre-set route throughout the downtown with four stops at: Store St. and Chatham St. (in front of Capital Iron); Johnson St. near Wharf St. (in front of Willie’s Bakery); Langley St. at Bastion Square (across from Re-Bar); and Government St. at Fisgard St. (in front of CRD Plaza). For more information on entertainment in the downtown area, visit downtownvictoria.ca.

Holiday Events at Market Square. Come check out the Nerdy Days of Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday Dec 2 and Sunday Dec 3 from 11am-4pm where you’ll find nerdy treasures in the silent auction and you can visit with Santa. Entry by donation with proceeds going to Victoria’s Hospitals Foundation.Celebrate Tuba Christmas on Saturday Dec 9 from 1-3pm. Tuba players from all over B.C. and the Pacific Northwest come together to play much loved Christmas songs in a big way. Enjoy Music in Market Square on Saturday Dec 16 from 1-4pm. The Greater Victoria Concert Band presents their gift to you; a free admission concert of favourite holiday tunes. For more information, visit marketsquare.ca.

Christmas at Hudson Market (until Dec 24) has everything you need for under the tree, and on the table. You’ll find local artisans selling their goods, plus the delicious food at the permanent vendors. Santa will visit the Market on December 2, 9 and 16 from noon-3pm and there will also be a free Gingerbread decorating station on the same dates. Take advantage of the gift wrapping station, by donation to the SPCA, on December 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 11am-3pm. Come down for a stroll and enjoy the festive decor, delicious food, and Christmas shopping. Visit victoriapublicmarket.com.

The Christmas Express at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, running 13 nights over three weekends, Dec 1-3, Dec 8-10, and Dec 15-23 from 4-9pm (train leaves every 20 minutes from 4:30-8:30pm). Ride behind Samson, the museum’s 1910 steam locomotive, through festive light displays and exhibits in the forest and on the trestle. Visit Santa Claus, dance to live Christmas music, make a Christmas tree craft in the schoolhouse, watch the model train, and warm up with hot chocolate in Train Station Treats. Santa will ride the first train, leaving at 4:30pm and then will be in the main museum for pictures and visits. 2892 Drinkwater Road. Visit bcforestdiscoverycentre.com or call 250-715-1113.

Live Nativity Scene. The First Christmas, an outdoor Nativity pageant, features Wise Men from the east, the Angel Gabriel, shepherds with flocks, an innkeeper, King Harrod with his soldiers, townspeople, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. This outdoor depiction of the Christmas story runs four times nightly on Dec 21, 22 and 23 at 6:30, 7, 7:30 and 8pm at Topaz Park, between Quadra and Blanshard. Parking is available at S.J. Willis school and the park’s lot off Quadra. Free. christmasnativity.ca.

Helmcken House Old-Fashioned Christmas at Royal BC Museum from Dec 17-31 (noon-4pm). Step through the doors of the oldest house in B.C., still on its original site, and experience what Christmas would have been like in Victoria over 100 years ago. Decorations, music, and first-hand accounts will take you back to Christmas past. Free with museum admission or by donation. For information, visit royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.

Milner Christmas Magic at Milner Gardens and Woodland in Qualicum Beach. Stroll through tens of thousands of lights, enjoy local musicians and storytellers, stop by Santa’s shop for a visit, pop into the Teddy Bear Cottage and try to count all of the old bears, and enjoy tea or hot chocolate in the tea room. Dec 1-3, Dec 8-10, and Dec 15-20 from 5-8:30pm (last entry at 8pm). Adults $5, children $2.50. For more information and the entertainment schedule, visit www2.viu.ca/milnergardens or call 250-752-6153.