17 Must See Summer Festivals on Vancouver Island
At Van Isle Marina, our staff always look forward to festival season – from all the music and marine festivals, to the food, beverage, and sporting festivals, there is always a lot happening on Vancouver Island from May to September. Check out 17 of our favourites, highlighted below.
1. Heritage Boat Festival
May 25, 2019
Ladysmith Community Marina
Check out the annual Heritage Boat Festival to see several heritage vessels from all over the west coast on display. As the event’s tagline goes, these beautiful vessels are shining examples of our “ocean-going history on the west coast.”
Speak with captains of the 20 heritage vessels dockside to learn about these beautiful boats. Kids and adults alike will also enjoy meeting members of the local Coast Guard and taking a ride on one of their newest hovercrafts.
If it’s newer boats or yachts you’re looking for, make your way from Ladysmith to Sidney to stop by and see us at Van Isle Marina.
2. BC Seafood Festival
June 7-16, 2019
Comox Valley, Various Venues
The BC Seafood Festival is the largest seafood festival in western Canada and has been going strong since 2006. Enjoy more than a week’s worth of events designed especially for “sea-foodies” including tastings, pairings, cooking competitions, and celebrity chef cooking demos.
3. Tofino Food and Wine Festival
June 7-9, 2019
Tofino, Various Venues
The Tofino Food and Wine Festival is entering its 17th year. Enjoy a laidback weekend of food and wine events on the west coast, including the festival’s signature event, Grazing in the Gardens, which features more than 75 BC wines and cider, beer, and tonics from 21 breweries and vineyards, as well as bites from 20 chefs.
4. Tofino SUP Festival & Race
June 14-16, 2019
Tofino, Chestermans Beach & Mackenzie Beach
Following the Tofino Food and Wine Festival is the Tofino SUP Festival and Race. There will be short and long distance races, fun races and relays, demos, and a huge BBQ. All ages skill levels are welcome to participate.
5. Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival
June 14-16, 2019
Cowichan Valley, Laketown Ranch
The inaugural all-ages Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival will feature Claire Lynch, The Slocan Ramblers, The Lonely Heartstring Band, The Sweet Lowdown, Clover Point Drifters, Country Squall, Nomad Jones and more. This new festival replaces the former Sooke River Bluegrass Festival, which, after 17 years, outgrew its location and rebranded this year. The new location of Laketown Ranch (same as SunFest) features unlimited camping and a “cozy western town” setting.
6. Victoria Ska Festival
June 19-23, 2019
Victoria, Various Venues
The Victoria Ska Festival, better known simply as SkaFest, is the longest-running ska festival in North America and takes place at various venues around downtown Victoria – from daytime shows on the waterfront to late night performances at pubs and clubs. Dock your boat and join the party with performances from Ky-Mani Marley, Less Than Jake, Macka B, Cherry Poppin Daddies, and dozens more.
7. TD Victoria International JazzFest
June 21-30, 2019
Victoria, Various Venues
The TD Victoria International JazzFest, produced by the Victoria Jazz Society, is a huge music festival featuring jazz, blues, roots, world beat and more styles of music from local, Canadian, and internationally acclaimed musicians. Last year there were 85 concerts on 13 stages around town, and this year promises to be just as big, if not bigger.
8. Canada Day Celebrations on Vancouver Island
July 1, 2019
All Over the Island
Vancouver Islanders are known to go all out for Canada Day. If you’ll be visiting Vancouver Island on July 1st, you won’t be too far from a Canada Day Celebration. Free events and parties will be taking place in:
- Port Renfrew
- Comox Valley
- Campbell River
- & More!
9. Parksville Beach Festival
July 12 to August 18, 2019
Parksville Community Park
A highly anticipated event for many Vancouver Islanders is Parksville Beach Festival and the Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition. During the competition, international artists come from around the world to sculpt sand castles in a specific theme on Parksville’s public beach in the community park.
While the sand castles are kept on display, the festival hosts a series of live music events and more, allowing ample opportunity for more than 100,000 visitors each year to enjoy all the action on the Island’s east coast.
Hint: Don’t let pictures of the sand castles on social media ruin the experience for you – try and get there in person to see all the intricate detail that goes into the amazing artworks.
10. Vancouver Island Music Festival
July 12-14, 2019
Comox Valley Fairgrounds
The eco-minded, volunteer-led Vancouver Island Music Festival is one of the largest festivals held annually on Vancouver Island, drawing attendees from Victoria to Port Hardy and even the mainland! Tom Cochrane with Red Rider will be headlining this year, along with a wide variety of performers on many different stages.
11. Nanaimo Marine Festival
July 19-21, 2019
Nanaimo, Maffeo Sutton Park
You might know the Nanaimo Marine Festival better as Bathtub Weekend – the Harbour City’s most popular tradition that attracts spectators and competitors from all over the world. Race day is Sunday, with concerts in the park, beer gardens, food trucks, a street fair, kids’ zone, vendors, fireworks and much more happening throughout the weekend.
Bathtub Weekend is one of Nanaimo’s biggest and busiest annual events, and very easy to get to by boat, making it one of our favourite events to let our customers know about.
One week ahead of the Nanaimo Marine Festival is the Save on Foods Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival happening July 5-7, 2019, at the same location, and also a highly energetic and entertaining weekend.
August 1-4, 2019
Cowichan Lake, Laketown Ranch
SunFest is an annual country music festival that takes place in the Cowichan Valley over three days. During the festival, thousands of country music fans flock to Cowichan Lake to see their favourite A-List country music artists. Camping is encouraged and adds to the good times. SunFest 2019 features headliners Terri Clark, Kip Moore, Michael Ray, Aaron Goodwin, Andrew Hyatt, Maren Morris and more.
13. Coombs Bluegrass Festival
August 2-4, 2019
A Coombs Hilliers Recreation & Community Organization Production
For a lively weekend of bluegrass tunes, don’t miss the 41st Coombs Bluegrass Festival. There are several bands booked so far for this quaint but energetic showcase: Queens Bluegrass, Rough Cut, Backspin Band, The Weavils, 5 On A String, Old Time Fiddlers, Scout Mountain, and the Sacred Harmony Gospel Band are all making appearances. Camping is available on-site, and during performances, there will be lots of covered seating in the bleachers, or you can bring your lawn chair and sit right up front.
14. Comox Nautical Days
August 3-5, 2019
Comox Marina Park
Comox Nautical Days includes the always anticipated fireworks show, as well as the Bullhead Derby, Build Bail and Sail, Vintage Car Show, and the HMCS Quadra Ceremony of the Flags. Also take some time to enjoy the rides, games and crafts for the kids and the Rotary Splash Park and Playground. Rounding out this popular festival will be more than 100 craft booths and a variety of food trucks.
15. Summer Firework Saturdays
June to August
Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay
If you’ll be on Vancouver Island looking for something spectacular to do on a Saturday night but don’t want to commit to a full festival, check the fireworks at the world-class Butchart Gardens. During Butchart Gardens’ Spectacular Summer Evenings, there will be Night Illumination displays and evening entertainment. Fireworks will happen on 10 select Saturdays beginning on June 29.
16. Salmon Festival & Derby
August 30-September 2, 2019
Port Alberni, Tyee Landing (next to Fisherman’s Wharf
A Labour Day tradition in Port Alberni, the Salmon Festival is heading into its 48th year. The biggest attractions of the Salmon Fest are the Salmon Derby and the fireworks. Live music and other events like a karaoke contest and kids’ activities round out this family-friendly festival in the Salmon Capital of the World. This is the third year in a row the Salmon Festival has taken place at Tyee Landing, so if you’ve been to the derby before but haven’t been in awhile – take note of its new location!
September 12-15, 2019
Victoria, Various Venues
Finally, Rifflandia in Victoria typically marks the end of the Island’s festival season. Still a relatively new music festival, Rifflandia has grown to be one of Vancouver Island’s biggest festivals, drawing many modern acts, big names and Juno Award winners. Expect four days of parties at multiple venues across more than a dozen stages. An artisan market featuring vintage, upcycled, and handmade goods is also part of this festival.
On your next trip to Vancouver Island, we hope you get the chance to experience some of the Island’s world-class events. While you’re here, we also invite you to come and check us out at Van Isle Marina in Sidney BC for a relaxing time checking out our yachts and boats.
Sidney BC is a quaint seaside town with a wide variety of things to check out while you’re mooring with us.
The staff at Van Isle Marina are your Pacific Northwest boating experts and will be happy to show you around our docks!