An annual Victoria tradition, the Santa Light Parade features decorated trucks, illuminated floats and Santa Claus a month before Christmas.
For the event’s official website visit gvfs.ca.
Peninsula Co-op Santa Light Parade in Victoria
Organized by the Greater Victoria Festival Society and sponsored by Peninsula Co-op, the Santa Light Parade takes place in late November each year. The 2022 edition was the 40th anniversary for the event and it happened on Saturday, November 26th. It’s a fabulous event and attracts thousands of people, even in year when it rains.
The parade begins in the late afternoon and includes plenty of brightly lit displays. Individuals and private groups wanting to take part in the procession in 2022 could do so for $100. The cost for non-profits was $60 and the cost for businesses was $150. To be in the parade groups have to register in advance.
For those who just want to watch and enjoy the fun from the side of the road, the event is totally free! You can head downtown to take in the sights from the sidewalk and support local organizations with donations as well.
Location and Route
The Santa Light Parade used to go down Government Street and continue as far as Pembroke Street. New for 2022, most of the route this year was on Douglas Street instead.
In 2022 the parade started at the corner of Government and Belleville Street near the Legislative Buildings. It then went past the Empress Hotel, turned right at Humbolt Street, and then left at Douglas. From there it continued along Douglas for about ten or so blocks, until Fisgard (which isn’t far from Chinatown).
In 2022 the parade began at 5:00 pm. The event as a whole usually runs from around 5:00 until 8:00 pm. The parade itself runs for about an hour from start to finish. As mentioned above, it’s entirely free.
In addition to the parade, there’s the Hudson Holiday Plaza which features a few vendors and photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus. It takes place after the parade by the Public Market in the old Hudson’s Bay building which is located at 1701 Douglas Street.
The Hudson Holiday Plaza set up behind the Public Market in 2022, so not on Douglas Street itself, but instead at the back of the building. There was a tented shelter outside where Santa and Mrs. Claus sat in a sleigh and posed for photos. Indoors, nearby, there was a small market featuring a dozen or so artisan vendors.
For the event’s official website visit gvfs.ca.
What to Expect
In 2022 the parade featured over five dozen entries, or about 15% more than the year before.
The parade happens rain or shine, so don’t expect any sort of cancellations due to the weather. In fact, the 2021 parade happened on a night of pouring rain, an atmospheric river in fact. It rained again in 2022, but not nearly as much, and not enough to stop thousands of people from attending. Even in the rain, it’s a fun, family-friendly event.
In the lead-up to the start of parade, there are usually food trucks stationed near the corner of Government and Belleville Street a couple hours before the parade starts. In years past there has also been a designated Christmas Square where people can gather ahead of the parade. This may or may not have been the case in 2022. We’re not sure.
The starting area is also usually a place for a donation drive, with different local organizations accepting donations of various kinds. Charitable organizations at the event include the Mustard Seed church and food bank and the Helmet Head Toy Run. Cash, non-perishable food and donations of new toys are all greatly appreciated.
At the parade itself expect to see decorated vehicles, marching bands and different types of floats. There are also usually people on foot who are part of the parade, performing in some way whether that’s through music, dance or another type of decorated procession, The parade is very pretty to watch with everything lit up and looking Christmassy.
For those who can’t make it to the event in person you can usually watch the parade live on the Chek TV YouTube channel.
Light Up the City
Last year the Santa Light Parade coincided with the beginning of Light Up the City which is also run by the Greater Victoria Festival Society. This year Light Up the City starts on November 15th, so a week and a half before.
Light Up the City runs from mid-November until the end of December. It includes a decoration competition for both private residences and businesses throughout the Greater Victoria area. There is also a donation drive component. The event was founded as a way to bring some holiday cheer back to the island during the pandemic.
For more information about the parade check out the Greater Victoria Festival Society’s website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Light Up the City
- Lights of Wonder at Christmas
- Butchart Gardens at Christmas
- Victoria Festivals and Events Calendar
Just a few of the other events hosted by the Greater Victoria Festival Society at other times of the year include the following: