Holiday Parties: Victoria on a Budget

I know, I’m excited too! I mean, how often can you use the words “Victoria” and “budget” in the same sentence?!

So it’s that time of year again – time to start planning various Holiday events. Office parties, family get-togethers… for this article, I have chosen three local venues that I can personally recommend for such events. Yes, I have paid my dues on the office party planning committee (mostly ’cause it’s the only committee I can halfway stand. Plus, we all must do our part to annoy our co-workers, right?). I know all-too-well the ins and outs of trying to force a mismatched group of people into all liking the food, the ambiance, the price etc. in order to spend a couple of hours of forced quality bonding time. So without further adieu, here are my top three picks for Victoria’s best Holiday party venues that won’t cost you (or your company) your life-savings:


Ferris’ Oyster Bar | 536 Yates St. |

Ferris' Oyster Bar, 536 Yates St., Victoria BC


Capacity: 27 sit-down dinner, 40 casual reception

Price: $1500 – $3500 minimum plus Gratuity and Tax (Mon – Wed are the cheapest nights). Please see the Special Event Menu for details.

Contact: Dave Craggs, 250-382-2344 or

Parking: Yates St. Parkade (free after 6pm), Street

Personal accolades: I have planned a couple of office events through Dave. He is absolutely a pleasure to work with. The food is always excellent, the decor lovely (lots of space, comfy couches/chairs) and the staff is very accommodating if you need to get in a bit early to set up, for example. For stand-up receptions, I would recommend ordering lots of “anything on a stick” – that always seems to be the biggest hit (for my office, anyway).


Union Pacific Coffee | 537 Herald St. |

Union Pacific Coffee, 537 Herald St., Victoria BC


Capacity: 30 – 75 people

Price: $1000 minimum plus Gratuity and Tax.  Orders must be submitted 1 week prior to event.


Parking: Street (meters free after 6pm)

Personal accolades: Union Pacific makes great food, hands down. They may not be able to spell “hors d’oeuvres” on their menu, but they sure know how to make them! Their private event menu suggests ordering about $12/person to ensure you have enough food. Beer, wine and spirits are available for $5.75 – $6.50/glass. Bottles of wine are also available for $24 – $26. The atmosphere is really cool – an old brick interior with exposed pipes/ductwork that just screams “San Francisco, 1866” (yes, I looked it up). I also like that it is located just outside of the downtown core, which helps with the parking/traffic situation.


The Bengal Lounge | The Fairmont Empress – 721 Government St. |


The Bengal Lounge, Fairmont Empress, Victoria BC


*Please note this is a lunch time (11:30am – 2pm) offering only*

Capacity: unlimited (groups of 25 or more may be able to secure a private room).

Price: Buffet lunch $32/person plus Gratuity and Tax.

Contact: 250-389-2727 or

Parking: Parkade or street ($)

Personal accolades: You can’t go wrong with the Bengal Lounge. The buffet lunch is described as “Seasonal Spice” but to the unclassy such as yours truly, it’s Indian food. Amazing Indian food (is there any other kind?)! The buffet lunch includes salads, soup, entrees and desserts. The atmosphere is worth the $200 cocktails (may be exaggerating – slightly), and the only downside is having to return to ‘real life’ afterwards. And perhaps the biggest secret of all (I can’t believe I’m telling anyone else about this): if you join Friends of the Empress, you’ll save 20%. And that’s not all, the Friends of the Empress program extends to room bookings, spa treatments, and discounts at other restaurants/retailers both in the hotel and around downtown Victoria.

The Empress Hotel, Victoria BC



Merry Christmas, indeed!


(If anyone has suggestions for other venues around town, I am always thankful for recommendations! I have a long list of mismatched friends and family members that I like to gather together and force to get along at the most stressful time of year… previous years’ winners have included the Laurel Point Inn, the penthouse at Swans Hotel, the penthouse at the Victoria Regent Hotel, and the Strawberry Vale Community Hall).






From Victoria, British Columbia

Rachel was born and raised in Victoria, BC and graduated from the University of Victoria secure in the knowledge that she didn’t actually want to be a Sociologist, Historian or Accountant (yeah, she was there for a while).

While weaving her way through school, she spent 12 years slaving away in the food/beverage and tourism industries before entering the world of business. For the last 3 years, she has helped small business entrepreneurs in BC get their ideas off the ground.

All of this experience has lead to a couple of inevitable character flaws: she is an “I need coffee immediately” connoisseur, a “let’s do lunch” restaurant expert and an absolute stickler for customer service excellence, no matter what the occasion. She also developed an incurable writing habit in order to document her trials and travels.
When she isn’t mapping out weekly coffee and lunch schedules around Greater Victoria, she can be found driving down the west coast sampling local diners, or driving across North America searching out interesting (and safe) truck stops. A couple of times a year, you can also find her in Florida, celebrating life with family and amazing Southern BBQ you have to taste to believe (and yes, she claims that alligator tastes just like chicken).

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1 Response

  1. Kali says:

    Hi Rachel, have you ever considered a “destination” christmas party at Sea Cider? Maybe I’m a bit bias because I work there… just maybe… but I think we have some pretty great offerings!

    We’ve partnered with Nick Watters at Toque Catering to create 5-course Cidermaker dinners, or cocktail-style receptions for up to 120, starting at $40 per person (includes food, cider, pretty much everything!). And if the 25 minute drive seems a bit daunting, you can add-on round trip bus transport for $10-15 per person.

    Have a look at our menus for yourself and let me know what you think!!seacider/ck3z

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