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Originally published November 9, 2014 at 6:30 AM | Page modified November 10, 2014 at 1:08 PM

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Four close-to-home holiday getaways

Plan a weekend of fun around seasonal events in Victoria, Portland, Port Townsend and Vancouver, B.C.

Deddeda Stemler / Tourism Victoria

The Parliament Buildings in Victoria, B.C., all lit up for the Christmas season, help make for a lovely evening stroll along the city’s compact Inner Harbour.

VICTORIA

Holiday event

Victoria, the B.C. capital, goes all out for Christmas, and one of the best ways to sample it is through the “Holiday Harbour Stroll.”

Take your own self-guided, after-dark walk for several blocks along the city’s Inner Harbour to enjoy the buildings lavishly decorated with tens of thousands of lights, from the Parliament Buildings to the stately Fairmont Empress Hotel (where you also can ice-skate on a rink in front of the hotel).

Dip into buildings edging the harbor to see free holiday displays, including Christmas trees in the Empress Hotel lobby; the “Bear Wear” exhibit in the Hotel Grand Pacific, with teddy bears dressed up for the season; and a gingerbread-house competition at the Inn at Laurel Point.

More holiday fun:

• Christmas Ferris wheel: Take a ride on a 65-foot-tall Ferris wheel in downtown’s Centennial Square, a Christmas-decorated plaza with vendors and musical entertainment. Rides are $2. Open weekends from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21. Fridays, 5 to 9 p.m., Saturdays, 1 to 9 p.m., Sundays, 1 to 7 p.m. downtownvictoria.ca (see details on calendar).

• Horse-drawn trolley rides: Clip-clop around downtown on a free ride in an old-fashioned, horse-drawn trolley. Weekends from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21. Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 3 p.m. downtownvictoria.ca (go to calendar).

Where to stay

High end: For romance and that ye olde English feeling, indulge at Abigail’s Hotel, a 23-room Tudor mansion. (Yes, you can get a room with four-poster bed.) abigailshotel.com

Budget-friendly: The Admiral Inn is right by the Inner Harbour, with big rooms and good online-booking discounts. admiralinnhotel.com

Out of the rain

Stay dry and learn about B.C. history and First Nations culture at the excellent exhibits in the Royal B.C. Museum. Traveling with kids? Santa will be in the museum’s Old Town exhibit for photos on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 5-21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Seasonal specials

Find hotel discounts (mostly room upgrades) at tourismvictoria.com/plan/deals

More information

For Christmas festivities (and more) in Victoria, see tourismvictoria.com/Christmas or phone 800-663-3883.

— Kristin Jackson / Seattle Times



Jamie Francis / travelportland.com

The annual Tuba Christmas concert brings scores of horn players and many fans to Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square.

PORTLAND

Holiday event

In Portland, craft brewing isn’t an art, it’s a frenzy. In December they sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reinbeer” and wish each other “Hoppy Holidays.” Tap into the life force and head south for the annual Holiday Ale Festival, Dec. 3-7.

It’s in the heart of downtown under a large, clear-top tent that covers Pioneer Courthouse Square while allowing for views of the city’s 75-foot Douglas fir Christmas tree.

And if the gas heaters don’t keep you warm,take a few chugs of one of the 50-plus potent winter ales specially made for the festival. These are quaffs to give you a rosy nose and sparkles on your cheeks: Double Black Ale with Licorice (10 Barrel Brewing), Imperial Stout with Cranberries (Burnside Brewing), Chocolate Mint Porter (Widmer Bros.) — you get the ho-ho-whole idea. There’s even a Sunday Beer Brunch.

$35 advance general-admission tickets include festival mug, 14 beer tickets and expedited entry. holidayale.com

More holiday fun

• The Festival of Lights at The Grotto, a Catholic shrine on the eastern edge of Portland, features elaborate lighting displays, nightly choral concerts, puppet shows, a petting zoo and more; $5-10, 5-9:30 p.m., Nov. 28-Dec. 30. thegrotto.org/christmas

Tuba Christmas brings big brass to Pioneer Courthouse Square, with more than 250 tubas and euphoniums huffing-and-puffing out carols for adoring fans. 1:30-3 p.m. Dec. 13; free. tubachristmas.com

Where to stay

High end: The Heathman Hotel, the grande dame of boutique hotels in downtown Portland, offers holiday themed afternoon teas in its Tea Court Lounge. portland.heathmanhotel.com

Budget-friendly:Northwest Portland Guesthouse offers lodging in historic homes within walking distance of tony 23rd Avenue shopping (all sales-tax free, by the way). nwportlandguesthouse.com

Out of the rain

Tour the Pittock Mansion, stunning home to an early publisher of The Oregonian, marking its 100th year with elaborate holiday decorations with the theme “Christmas Past, Present and Future.” $6.50-$9.50, Nov. 24-Jan. 2, pittockmansion.org

Seasonal specials

From Nov. 15 through March, visitors may download a mobile coupon pack for gifts and discounts, among them two-for-one admission to several attractions, including Pittock Mansion. Details on the “Deal Wheel” available at area hotels.

More information

Travel Portland, 877-678-5263 or travelportland.com

— Brian J. Cantwell / Seattle Times



Kevin Mason

Yuletide Salon performers Laura Eggerichs and Nathan Barnett lend some cheer in Port Townsend."

PORT TOWNSEND

Holiday event

Every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Washington’s Victorian Seaport, as Port Townsend calls itself, will host a Holiday Open Parlor tour of four historical B&Bs and inns. Docents will be costumed in period garb to match the 19th-century buildings, along with seasonal music and holiday treats. $15. More info: vicfest.org/yule

More holiday fun:

• Join Santa for the tree lighting beside Haller Fountain downtown. With elves, carolers and the Key City Playhouse players. 4:30 p.m. Dec. 6; free.

• Visit with Father Christmas and hear music and carolers in the Yuletide Salon at the Victorian Yuletide Festival in the original 1892 City Hall, now the Jefferson Museum of Art & History, 540 Water St.; 1-4 p.m. Dec. 13, free.

Where to stay

High end: Get the Master Suite, complete with turret sitting room, at the Old Consulate Inn, one of the town’s classic Victorian B&Bs. oldconsulate.com

Budget-friendly: Try one of the lower-priced rooms with shared bath at the historicPalace Hotel, a good value in the heart of downtown shopping and restaurants. Two nights for the price of one, Sunday-Thursday through June 15. palacehotelpt.com

Out of the rain

Port Townsend is all about history — the entire downtown is a National Historic District — and it has attracted many artists. So what more natural out-of-the-weather attraction than the Jefferson Museum of Art & History. Exhibits focus on early settlers and on local women artists. 540 Water St., $1-$4. jchsmuseum.org

More information

Port Townsend visitor info: 360-385-2722 or enjoypt.com

— Brian J. Cantwell / Seattle Times



Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

People walk through the "Bright Lights Stanley Park" display at Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.

VANCOUVER, B.C.

Holiday event

Can’t get to the famous Christmas markets in Germany? Vancouver’s got its own Christmas Market, a square block of booths at downtown’s Queen Elizabeth Plaza offering German-style food, mulled wine and lots of shopping — toys, pottery, clothes and more. Plus a holiday carousel and musical performances. Nov. 22 to Dec. 23, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Dec. 24, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult admission, $7. vancouverchristmasmarket.com

More holiday fun:

• Join the crowd lining downtown streets for the Rogers Santa Claus Parade on Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. with festive floats, bands, choirs and dancers. rogerssantaclausparade.com

• See a million holiday lights in Van Dusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights, vandusengarden.org, and in Stanley Park’s Bright Nights, brightnights.ca.

Where to stay

High-end: The Rosewood Hotel Georgia (formerly The Georgia Hotel) is a luxuriously refurbished 1920s hotel in the heart of downtown. rosewoodhotels.com

Budget-friendly: The YWCA Hotel, near downtown’s trendy Yaletown area, has stylishly spare single- to five-person rooms. ywcavan.org/hotel

Out of the rain

Stroll through the downtown Vancouver Art Gallery, a noted home of photo-based art and the modernist landscape paintings of beloved B.C. artist Emily Carr. The exhibit “Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors” showcases 200 artworks from Beijing; on display until Jan. 11. vanartgallery.bc.ca

More information

Tourism Vancouver: tourismvancouver.com, 604-683-2000

— Kristin Jackson / Seattle Times

RELATED STORY: Leavenworth goes all out for Christmas


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