Christmas lovers rejoice: twinkling lights and holiday spirit have returned to The Butchart Gardens. The Magic of Christmas, now celebrating its 32nd year, is Butchart’s annual celebration of the festive season. The grounds are adorned with lights, wreaths, and every other Christmas staple you could imagine. The celebration runs until January 6, providing over a month of seasonal cheer for those willing to brave the nippy winter air.
Upon setting foot on the 55-acre property, you are immediately immersed in the festivities, with even the entrance gates decked in wreaths and poinsettias. It’s clear that meticulous care has been put into every scene, and the attention to detail is certainly part of the event’s continued success.
On opening night guests were treated to the annual ‘Light Up,’ where one lucky child gets to flip the ‘Christmas Switch’ and watch the garden burst into light behind them. This year’s fortunate participant was a little too short to flip the switch, but was assisted with the help of an employee.
Although visitors are welcome to explore the garden in any order they wish, a clear path has been devised through the clever use of “The 12 Days of Christmas” carol. Each of the 12 gifts are hidden amongst the decorations, with some being much harder to find than others. This adds an extra degree of excitement, and reminds us that no one really has any idea what happens after day five of the carol. Does anyone really need six geese a-laying on top of seven swans a-swimming? No, no they don’t.
Most of the garden’s innumerable decorations are traditional in style, but designers have taken great strides to implement technology into their displays as well, including a tree with interactive lights that respond and change to sound. This led to a group of passers-by standing and clapping around a single tree, which looked strange from afar, but was quite impressive once the reason for their applause became clear.
The gardens have many festive amenities, too. There are two cafes on the grounds which serve to warm up those cold hands — if you can manage the wait, the cafe halfway through the display has plenty to offer and a much less intimidating lineup. There are also two restaurants to visit, the Dining Room and the Blue Poppy, which offer a fancy and a family-focused environment, respectively.
Unfortunately, the entrance fee comes in at a hefty $27.40. This must deter many festive revellers — particularly students — who might be feeling the financial crunch during this expensive time of year. Although the entry fee is steep, it’s in support of what must be Vancouver Island’s most expensive electricity bill.
The Butchart Gardens’ Magic of Christmas is a must-see if seasonal cheer is your thing. So put on some layers, pour some Baileys in your coffee, and go explore one of Victoria’s most beautiful and festive settings.