Nanaimo is an active community. From the arts to festivals to sports, this is a community that is out and about doing things. Below are a list of regularly occurring events in Nanaimo. However for a complete and comprehensive listing of all major local events have a look at Tourism Nanamo's authoritative Nanaimo Events calendar.
DOWNTOWN NANAIMO FARMERS MARKET We make it, bake it and grow it! Every Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, rain or shine, on the top level of Pioneer Plaza with great views of Nanaimo Harbour. Everything from music, veggies, massages, crafts and hand crafted treasures. From mid-April to October.
EMPIRE DAYS Grew out of homesick miners in Nanaimo spontaneously taking a day off work to Celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday on the 24th.of May. In modern times the Empire Days Society has endeavoured to maintain the historical aspects of the event as well as relate the holiday to modern times in our school program. Victoria Day weekend. Crowning May Queen, May Pole Dancing done by students from several area schools, and a midway is usually set up. Held annually, for over 138 years, on the May Long Weekend.
VANISLE 360 The Cadillac Van Isle 360 is a 580 nm. point to point race, starting from and ending in Nanaimo, circumnavigating wild and rugged Vancouver Island. Sailed in ten legs the course provides inshore, offshore and overnight legs through some of the worlds most challenging and beautiful waters. Held each odd numbered year in June. Next race June 2007.
CANADA DAY CELEBRATIONS Full day of celebrations to mark our nation's birthday. Held on July 1st at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon and the Bastion. Wave the flag!
CONCERTS IN THE PARK Free concerts held each Sunday night in Maffeo-Sutton Park at the Lions band shell. Held every Sunday night during July and August.
PADDLEFEST Dragonboating has become the most popular summer activity in Nanaimo. This festival, which started in 2003, is now the busiest weekend of the summer. Maffeo Sutton Park is transformed into a sea of pink as a multitude of women, tents, vendors and dragonboats overtake the downtown. A very festive, competitive environment greets all paddlers and enthusiasts!
CEMETERY STROLLS Every Thursday night take a guided tour through our local cemetery and hear great stories from local residents. Held every Thursday night during July and August. Contact the Nanaimo Museum for more information, 753-1821.
SILLY BOAT RACE The sails, paddles, duct tape and other paraphernalia are being gathered as teams get ready for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre's Annual Silly Boat Regatta held each July for over 20 years at the Swy-A-Lana Lagoon. The race in 2005 featured a record 50 team entries that resulted in over $60,000 in pledges raised. All proceeds go to the Nanaimo Child Development Centre to assist with programs and equipment for children with special needs and their families. This family-oriented event also features children's entertainers, games for the children and plenty of food.
BATHTUB CHAMPIONSHIP AND MARINE FESTIVAL Nanaimo harbor was the scene of a bathtub race extravaganza in 1967. As the City of Nanaimo's "Centennial Event" that year, close to 200 tubbers (in every type of craft imaginable) entered the fun competition and amazingly, 47 completed the 36 mile course to Vancouver's Fisherman's Cove across the Strait of Georgia. Now the "Great RACE" finishes at Departure Bay in Nanaimo covering a very grueling course that leaves Nanaimo harbor circles Entrance Island and then up to and around Winchelsea Island and then back to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. In the early days it was indeed a challenge to just get past the starting line in the choppy confusion caused by an extra 785 small and large observation and escort boat in Nanaimo harbor. From the confusion of a first time bathtub race 39 years ago, the Nanaimo to Nanaimo "Great" INTERNATIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BATHTUB RACE & 4 day Nanaimo Marine Festival has evolved. Where once a select band of tubers were the highlight they now share the spotlight with many other land and water events which are interesting and often spectacular to watch. Held annually in the third week of July.
During World Championship Race the race starts downtown in the Harbour but the finish line is at Departure Bay. There is a free bus service between the two points but you need to pick up your free bus coupon at Thrifty Foods in Nanaimo prior to boarding the bus. Or bring a good pair of walking shoes as it is about 5 kilometers away. The area around Departure Bay is cordoned off and vehicle access is severely restricted.
This is a very popular local event. Usually over 5000 people attend. You'll need to bring your own blanket or lawn chair as it is festival seating on the grassy area in front of the Lions Bandshell. Make a night of it and bring a picnic dinner. Rotary Club members circulate throughout the area to collect donations on behalf of the Symphony so please bring a few twoonies!
VANCOUVER ISLAND EXHIBITION The Fair started over 100 years ago and continues now as an annual event to advance the education of agriculture and showcase local farmers and 4-H clubs, bringing agricultural awareness to our community. As farming changes and land becomes more urban, we need to keep our farms alive, to provide top quality products and to encourage the education of the past, present, and future of all areas of agriculture. Although some professionals show at Fairs, it is the children that most impress the fairgoers. Bright eyed children and animals are a winning combination. We take a step back to celebrate the simple, but important things in life. Held in the third week of August.
NANAIMO CLIPPERS Nanaimo's championship Junior hockey team. Their regularly schedule extends from September until March each year although our community has become accustomed to the 'Shipmen' playing long after during the playoffs. Check their schedule for their next home game.
MAPLE SUGAR FESTIVAL Annual weekend festival celebrating French Canadian customs including the 'sugar shack' party. Lots of food and music. Held annually at the end of February at Beban Park. Call 729-2776 for more information.
NANAIMO BEER FESTIVAL Annual beer festival held in April. Local micro brews and international brands. Call Beban Park, 756-5200 for more information.
PORT THEATRE Nanaimo's full service theatre has a plethora of events throughout the year. Ranging from orchestras to jugglers and everything between. Located on the waterfront across from the Boat Basin on Front Street. Check their up to date schedule for the next event to come to the Port!
THEATREONE Regional professional theatre company based in Nanaimo. Check their website for up to date listing of performances.
CRIMSON COAST DANCE Contemporary and modern dance performances in Nanaimo.
The Harbour City is a busy place. For those that crave the art and culture of a larger city, we have it. Or if you want a peaceful walk on the beach, we've got that too. There is always something interesting to do in beautiful, vibrant Nanaimo.