Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC at Christmas – Tips & Ways to Save!

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Butchart Gardens at Christmas

{Originally published December 2014, so some prices may have changed. Check websites for current pricing}

My husband and I had the opportunity to get away to Victoria, BC for one night before Christmas and no trip to Victoria is complete without a trip to Butchart Gardens, in my opinion! I hadn’t been to Victoria for at least 12 years, but from my previous trips there, even as a kid, I’ve always had very fond memories of Butchart Gardens.

This was my first trip to Butchart Gardens at Christmastime and it definitely did not disappoint! The good news is that the Christmas lights typically are available in the gardens past New Years Day,  if you’re looking for a fun getaway in December, Victoria is great for a spur of the moment trip. Or you can start planning a trip for next year at Christmastime now!

Make sure to check out all of our Victoria posts for information on how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, things to do with kids in Victoria, and much more!

Christmas Lights at Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens at Christmas time is not only fun & magical for the kids, but it is a classy & elegant experience for adults as well to experience the magic of the Christmas season. We’ve been to a number of Christmas lights over the years and I have to say that Butchart Gardens Christmas lights was my personal favorite, just because they did such a good job of combining the amazing display of the Christmas lights with the classic beauty of the gardens. They used colored lights combined with the regular Christmas lights to highlight the different features in the gardens, so you could still get a good feel for the different garden displays all around even though it was dark.  It was all very beautiful & colorful & magical to experience!

12 Days of Christmas at Butchart Gardens

Another fun thing the Magic of Christmas offered, was the theme for the event was the “12 Days of Christmas”. All around the park, they featured different displays for each of the days of the song, so it was fun to try to figure out what each display was from the song.  This was fun for the kids & adults alike & you wanted to make sure to go to all the different areas of the park to find the different displays.

More Activities at Butchart Gardens at Christmas Time:

Butchart Gardens Ice Skating at Christmas

Ice Skating – For December & the beginning of January typically, they offer ice skating at Butchart Gardens. This is an outdoor rink & even though we didn’t get a chance to try this, it looked so fun to do under the magic of all the Christmas lights everywhere. Admission is $5/person and skate rentals are $3/person.

Butchart Gardens Carousel

Carousel The Rose Carousel has 30 hand-painted horses and 2 chariots to sit in for a fun opportunity for kids. The cost for the carousel is $2/person for a ride. This runs year-round.

Music at Butchart Gardens at Christmas

Carolers & Brass Band – One of our favorite parts of the Magic of Christmas event at Butchart Gardens was to listen to the Christmas carolers in traditional, period costumes as well as a small, brass band. This was so festive & they did a great job & had a little outside seating area set up so you could sit & listen to them for awhile.

Dining:

They offer both fine dining in a nice, sit down restaurant called The Dining Room or you could eat at a casual, family-friendly restaurant with cafeteria style food called The Blue Poppy. They also have a coffee shop as well.  We wanted to eat dinner in downtown Victoria, so we got to the gardens at sunset time & just got some soup to tide us over in the Blue Poppy restaurant and then ate dinner later, but they had quite a few options for families for lunch/dinner & snacks.

Admission:

If you’re considering a trip to Victoria, BC, for a quick getaway this week or weekend or already planning a trip for next year (I’ll have a lot more tips for you this week), Butchart Gardens may seem too spendy, but in my opinion, it is well worth the money if you can go and it’s something I would budget for on a trip to Victoria, especially for Christmas & New Years time, as their Christmas lights were just so unique and different from Christmas lights you’d see at Zoolights or other displays & it was the highlight of our trip to Victoria at Christmas.   If you’re planning a trip in the spring or summer, Butchart Gardens is spectacular with all the flowers in bloom, too!

Admission during Christmas Season (these prices were valid in the 2014 season, prices change every year):

Adults – $25.50

Youth (13-17) – $12.75

Kids (5-12) – $3

Groups of 25 or more – $22.95

*All prices are in Canadian.  They do not allow any coupons from third party sites, but I’ve listed further down a few different ways to save. 

Ways to Get There:

Seahawks Colors at Butchart Gardens

Seahawks colors even all the way up in Victoria!

An important thing to know before you head to Victoria is that Butchart Gardens is not right in Victoria, but it’s about 25 minutes out of the city. Don’t let that stop you, though. I’ve listed a few ways you can get there below, but also make sure to check out some of the package options I’ll list below in Ways to Save as well. Just make sure to factor in both the admission & transportation costs when figuring out your budget for your trip.

By Car – If you brought your car to Victoria on the ferry, then this is definitely your best option. Pay for regular admission & drive to Butchart Gardens directly. It will be the fastest & cheapest option. {Note: During the busy Christmas weekends, they may have a wait at the gate- you can follow them on Twitter to see what the current wait is…often just 15 minutes, but something to consider when planning your trip}. Parking is free.

Bus Line – If you did not bring your car to Victoria (which many people do not), then your cheapest option is to take the BC Transit bus line, which is what my husband and I did. There are many bus stops right in Victoria and it was only $2.50 each way for us to take the bus ($5/total roundtrip). We even got to ride a double decker bus on the way home – so cool!

Now, the issue with the bus is that it will take about an hour to get there and they have limited bus routes, at least in the winter. There was only 1 bus out to Butchart Gardens an hour that we found (Bus #75), so we had to do more planning around the schedule. The bus was very crowded both going & coming from Butchart on a Saturday night when we went. We also took a later bus leaving Butchart & ended up everyone had to transfer buses & stand outside for about 10 minutes; not a big deal, but not the easiest with kids (this is probably not an issue in the summertime, but something to think about during off-season). If you do take the bus, make sure to get on at one of the earliest stops (near the Empress or close to downtown) to make sure you get a seat for the 1 hr bus ride.

Rent a Car – If we go again, we will look into renting a car to head out to Butchart Gardens, as I think that would be the easiest option with kids if we don’t bring a car (other than Butchart, there really is no reason you’d need a car in Victoria, as everything is in walking distance). I found rates on Kayak.com as low as $27/night to rent a car for 24 hrs.

Taxi – We looked into a taxi from our hotel in downtown Victoria to Butchart and it was going to be around $60 one way so that was not a good option for us.  If you had a number of people sharing a cab, then it might be a possibility, but I think a rental car would be a better bet.

Inclusive Packages – Here are some different inclusive packages to consider to see which one fits your situation the best & will give you the most savings:

  • Coho Ferry Package – If you take the Coho Ferry from Port Angeles, they have packages as low as $85/person, which includes ferry admission (with no car) & admission/transportation to Butchart Gardens. Since the ferry is about $35 & then it’s $25.50 for admission to the Gardens, that works out to around $25 for the transportation.
  • Clipper Vacations – I’ll talk about this more when I share about the Victoria Clipper soon, but if you’re planning on taking the Victoria Clipper, they have several Butchart Gardens packages to choose from. One to consider is packages starting at $184/person for travel to/from Victoria on the Clipper, a 1 night hotel stay & transportation to/from Butchart Gardens & admission to the  Gardens Christmas Lights. There are several different options depending on which hotel you’re interested in.
  • Gray Line Bus Tours – They have tours starting as low as $52 which includes transportation and admission to the gardens, which makes the transportation around $25 as well
  • CVS Tours – These tours start at $58 which include transportation & admission to Butchart Gardens

Ways to Save:

Christmas Time at Butchart Gardens

Next Day Re-Admission:

If you headed to Butchart Gardens but felt you didn’t get to see as much as you wanted in one day, they have a Re-Admission pass you can get. Make sure to get your hand stamped at the Information Center before you leave for the day and they will use your original admission ticket & give you a new admission ticket for $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for youth & $1 for kids. This is only permitted one time (you can’t do this on multiple days, just one day) & not on Fireworks Saturdays or Special Event days (I’m not sure if the Christmas lights are considered special event days).

12 Month Package:

If you think you might be going to Victoria several times over the course of the year, you might want to consider a 12 month pass.

You can purchase a Regular yearly Pass (this will be good for one calendar year from when it’s purchased). You can purchase online if you think you will be using this pass during the year – 3 or more days/visits will make it worth it for you!  This will give you unlimited visits and you can attend evening entertainment at no extra charge as well. (It does exclude Firework Saturdays & Special Event days).

 

Consider Package Deals:

If you do not have a vehicle while you’re in Victoria and need transportation to the Gardens, then a package deal might work out to be the best deal for you. Just make sure to separate out all the costs & see how much the transportation will end up costing you to figure out the best option.

For Kids:

Hot Chocolate & Snowflakes – Kids 12 and under can bring in a handmade snowflake & exchange it for a FREE hot cocoa at the Coffee Shop.  Snowflake must be handcrafted at home & a limit of 1 free hot cocoa per day. They will then put the snowflake in their Coffee Shop Window.

Magic of Christmas Walk for Kids – Kids will be given a list of the 12 Days of Christmas displays at the Admission Gate & if they find all of them & turn it in at the Visitor’s Center, they will be given a treat.

For more information and to follow what’s going on at Butchart Gardens and find out about special events, discounts, and more, follow Butchart Gardens here:

Disclosure: I was provided a ticket to Butchart Gardens to help facilitate my review. All of the pictures as well as my thoughts & opinions are my own. See our disclosure policy  for more details.

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