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Five out-of-the-ordinary things to do in Greater Victoria for the holidays

Get out this holiday season and enjoy the fun
Christmas light tours Victoria. (Tim Collins)

There are all sorts of touristy things to do in Victoria and anyone who has lived here for a while has probably taken in many, if not all of them.

After all, anyone who lives here and has not enjoyed the spectacular Butchart Gardens at Christmas runs the risk of having their status as a Victorian revoked.

But for those folks who are looking for something a little different this Christmas, we’ve put together a few suggestions that don’t tend to be listed in the tourist guides.

1. Get the family out for a little croquet:

The Oak Bay Lawn Bowling Club has rediscovered a game with roots back in mid-19th century Ireland and, believe it or not, it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s fun for the whole family and we’ve got a ton of croquet mallets and welcome the general public to come out and give it a try,” said David Anderson, one of the club’s organizers. “It’s a chance for the family to get outside and play a game that will leave you smiling.”

2. UVic basketball:

Our beloved Vikes will be playing at the CARSA performance gym over the holidays with a couple of exhibition games against UNBC (men’s) and Fraser Valley Cascades (women’s) on Dec. 29 and 30, and the action is sure to be fast and furious.

Let’s face it, as much as watching televised professional sport is fine, nothing beats getting the family out to cheer for the home team, live and in person.

3. Check out some food tours:

It goes without saying that a good part of the holiday season revolves around food and this Christmas is the perfect time to check out one of Victoria’s food tours.

Off the Eaten Track Food Tours offers the Cozy Christmas Food Tour, which highlights a selection of venues and tasty treats at the Inner Harbour, the Victoria Market Collective, the Bay Centre’s Festival of Trees and more. It ends with drinking chocolate and truffles… so what could be better?

Or tour Canada’s oldest Chinatown, Old Town and the Inner Harbour through a food experience with A Taste of Victoria Food Tours. Discover hidden alleys, tunnels and Victoria’s history along six tasting stops featuring some of the best food to be found in the city.

4. Historical, funky and just sort of neat:

It’s possible to live in a city for years and never take in some of its … well… odder attractions.

Start out with the Empress Hotel. The site has been the focus of more than a few ghost stories and is the home of a host of photos and decorations that will take you back in time to the days of the British Empire.

Just around the block on Humboldt, Miniature World offers some truly amazing displays.

For art lovers, there’s the Moss Lady at Beacon Hill Park. Constructed in 2015, the 35-foot-long sleeping lady is a surreal installation that shouldn’t be missed.

While we’re checking out artwork, take a drive to Esquimalt Lagoon and check out the driftwood sculptures. There are pelicans, monsters, whales and all manner of creative driftwood forms scattered along the beach.

Esquimalt Lagoon driftwood sculpture. (Tim Collins)
Esquimalt Lagoon driftwood sculpture. (Tim Collins)

5. Get some hot chocolate and check out the lights

Victoria is home to some of the country’s most enthusiastic homeowners when it comes to celebrating the season with lights.

Go online and download one of several lists of the best decorative displays in the city. Then get a thermos of hot chocolate and go for a drive for a truly magical holiday experience.

Many of the homes offer the opportunity to leave your vehicle and take a walk through an amazing and creative collection of lights, figures and musical wonder.

So, there you have it. Of course, that’s not to say that any of the other staples of Christmas celebration should be missed. Let’s just hope that you have time for it all.