❄️? Victoria’s coolest & most lit winter ticket is ? Butchart Gardens after dark

What can I say, this is ITTTTT.

I can’t recommend something more highly than this.

It’s worth every penny of $35.

We got in for free because the newspaper did a free ticket advent calendar promo.  (If they do it next year the same, you have to get 10 days of discarded papers in a row in the later weeks of November and paste the matching “ornaments” to the initial legend/key page. My elderly mother did this for me and my girlfriend because I wasn’t going to.)

To provide some context, I’d never been.  I managed to grow up in the vicinity of this world famous tourism hotspot without ever perceiving it as more than an overhyped nuisance (the bus between Sidney and downtown routes through their parking lot, they use public transit as a shuttle service which overwhelms the rural routes).  I lived with someone who worked there and I still didn’t get it; if they’re paying fastfood wages and they have white glove standards, they’re a predatory employer in my book.  But I get it now.  There’s nonmonetary perks.  It’s like getting paid to hang out on Pandora.  Like oh, word?

I don’t want to laundry list all my peak moment memories but the hours spent on December 1 running around this place can’t be beaten.  My girlfriend formally proposed ?? (possibly relevant; YMMV).


We arrived around 3:45pm in order to beat the rain (which never hit ?) and such.  The tickets printed at the gate are definitely keepsake quality, the parking lot reminds me of the San Diego zoo’s.  It was basically empty when we got there.   I had booked the tickets before checking the weather and without thinking about catching the Day 1 lighting ceremony.  Lucky outcomes on both counts.

We hit the dab pens just inside the decorated walkway forest area between the parking lot and the town square area with the shops.

Went to the infoshop because our tickets said closing at 4:30 upon closer inspection; misprint.  Informed of lighting ceremony countdown “at the carousel” at 5pm.  We decide to get hot drinks and people-watch from the cafe window for a while (the frothed eggnog was worth the $6, best nonalcoholic one I’ve had) to kill time, and then browse the giftshop before b-lining to the carousel via the handmap.  I wish they had cider!

Cookie looks dry but it was soft ? I will remember this snack forever in fact.

So this area has definite Euro village/winter market look and feel, very cobblestones, very hygge.

It could not possibly have prepared for what came next.

(By the way, there are gratis umbrellas around.)

I want to say, this place should have a house strain of cannabis; they should be taking it to competitions by now, the Butchart Greenhouse Craft OG.  The gift shop already sells teas made from their homegrown herbs etc–that’s fantastic and I love it and I got my Mom some (the prices are very reasonable)–but let’s expand on it.

Related to the previous aside, is my note that the gift shop prices in general are very hospitable.  (I got my gf a rainbow candycane because she did big eyes.)  Moreover, the stuff itself is kind of chic!

Oh serve ?

There’s like, stuff I might want to go back for ASAP actually…

I am for SURE coming back with my lady for the paid admission version of the fireworks, even if you can’t have a beer and/or hook up as easily when you’re inside the actual park (don’t try, it’s not that kind of place).

We didn’t really have it together to go into the restaurant at the end of the night, because it seems a little fancy and loud to blithely wander into on impulse while already tired, but, I’m already tempted to go back another night this December and have dinner there too.  I’m also tempted by a springtime afternoon stroll and high tea (yes with the little sandos in tiers; a bougie bucketlist item de rigueur, no doubt, but like, maybe they’re on to something,  I’ve never tested ??).

Without further ado, let’s go on a sitting tour of some of the highlights of this first-time experience.

The lighting:


Quick view of the carousel pavilion:


First sighting of the sunken garden (this is where I hit the DMT vape, lightly; I recommend only doing drugs you can for sure function and blend in on, this would be a bad place to be experimenting):


Got hung up on it:

Looking back
Looking ahead


First view of the swans a-swimming! Apparently there’s a 12-days-of theme every year ✨️?

This is where I ran out of photo storage and had to switch to my sweet treasure’s phone ?

(Obsessed with these trees changing colour.)


Obvious dryad on the right…






Oh wow.  The splendor ??


My mind is fully bent.  This is holy.


This is getting me emotional, it’s so surreal how beautiful and wholesome it all is. The vibe is lowkey hyper yet also reverent.  Everyone is happy; moving happy, sounding happy.

I heard someone say it was their favorite tree
The calling birds.


First glimpse of the matrix green laser-forest ?

Closing in….

Looking back on the sunken garden ?

Ok, time for the forest rave of endor:

Jawdropping experience honestly.  Hard to photo.  Everyone would want to save every forest if they could walk through part and it looked like this…imo.

At the tori gate:

Too bad this part is closed!

Music just here, love Tchaikovsky ?

I got weirdly obsessed with the woodwork of the fence here:


Me: oh cool, I like their weird red 20-point star…so metal

My GF: …..babe, that’s the maple leaf ?


This part is really cool:

Love it. The magic, the whimsy!


Oh wow, hung out here for a while actually.

It was at this point I noticed that the place has its own microclimate; we were caught in a mild pineapple express sort of air, it felt charmed.

The distant maids a-milking


The tree that hears you.

Heading back toward the square there’s some beautiful totem poles:

Gorgeous local work (Charles Elliot, Tsartlip Nation).

That’s just about it, we spent over two hours constantly on the move and my baby’s got aore feets!

Rubbing the nose for luck even though I’m already the luckiest SOB around (gotta re-up!)


The last 12-days gag is that you only see the drummers on the way out:

Blessed be, and many happy returns of the season to you, too, reader.



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