July 20th-22nd

It all started in 1967 when former mayor of Nanaimo, Frank Ney, famously donned a pirate costume, raised his sword, and launched Nanaimo’s first annual Bathtub Race. “Tubbers” and visitors from around the world have been coming to Nanaimo for more than 40 years to take part in this now world famous festival and race.
This year’s Bathtub Festival — a part of the larger, month-long Marine Festival — takes place at Maffeo Sutton Park & Sway-a-Lana Lagoon on the weekend of July 20th to 22nd.

The Scoop, Or “Bail Bucket” if You Prefer

With a mix of cost-free, family-friendly events, a ticketed concert, and 19+ beer gardens, this exciting weekend has something for everyone.

Maffeo Sutton Park & Sway-a-Lana Lagoon

At the core of the bathtub festivities, Maffeo Sutton Park & Sway-a-Lana Lagoon will play host to vendors, arts & crafts, and a Kiddies Karnival.

Live Music

Free live music will be playing at a central stage in Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday, July 21st.

Friday, July 20th will feature a special, more exclusive performance by Australian-Canadian Country singer, Gord Bamford – passes available online at Ticket Zone.

Beer Gardens

For those of you looking for a sip of some foamy brew, this year’s events include Molson’s Beer Gardens in Maffeo Sutton Park, open all 3 days at various times. Check the schedule of events below.

Sway-a-Lana Zip Line

Fly across Sway-a-Lana lagoon with WildPlay Adventure Parks on their new downtown Zipline, open all summer long.

The Downtown Street Fair

The Bathtub Street Fair at Victoria Crescent will be in full swing on Friday, July 20th with vendors, food trucks, music, dance, and more.

The Parade

On July 21st at 10:30 am, the Bathtub Parade will roll up Commercial Street. Come early to claim a prime viewing spot.


The night before the race, come on down to the harbourfront to witness Vancouver Island’s largest fireworks display. Starting at 10 pm, Saturday evening, watch as this pyrotechnic show lights up the skies above Nanaimo.

Race Day

The Bathtub Race itself will take place on Sunday, July 22nd; the start time is 11 am. The start and end point is in the Nanaimo Harbour. Over 100 tubs will embark from this location to race the full 58 km around the south end of Protection Island, all the way up the coast to Lantzville and Nanoose Bay, back down and around Entrance Island and towards the finish line at the downtown Nanaimo waterfront.

*For a full schedule of events, check out the Bathtub Festival Calendar*

The Top 5 Places to Watch The Race

Gallows Point, Protection Island

How to get there:

Take the Ferry from the Nanaimo Inner Harbour over to Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island. Walk (25 minutes) or bike (7 minutes), sticking to the right at every turn and fork in the road, except for Spyglass Lookout road (do not turn on this street). Once you reach the terminus of Colvilleton Trail, you have reached your destination.

Pipers Lagoon Park, Nanaimo

How to get there:

Drive along Hammond Bay Rd. on the north side of town. Turn onto Lagoon Road (there should be a sign that reads “Pipers Lagoon Park”) and take the immediate right onto Place Rd. The Pipers Lagoon parking lot is at the end of this street.

Neck Point Park, Nanaimo

How to get there:

Just north of beautiful Pipers Lagoon Park is Neck Point Park. Easy to find, drive along Hammond Bay Road until you reach Morningside Drive. Turn down this street; the parking lot is at the end.

Sebastian Beach, Lantzville

How to get there:

If you are coming from Nanaimo, drive along the Nanaimo Parkway (which then becomes The Island Highway N.) and turn onto Ware Road, a short ways past Woodgrove Shopping Centre. At the end, turn left onto Lantzville Road. Sebastian Road will be the 7th street on the right. Follow this road till the end.
Side Note: Street parking is limited.

Orlebar Point, Gabriola

How to get there:

Hop on board the Gabriola Island ferry, across from the Port Place shopping centre and just south of the Nanaimo waterfront walkway.

On the other side, head straight up the hill and take the first left onto Taylor Bay Rd. Follow this road for about 10 km. Taylor Bay Rd. will turn into Berry Point Rd. This road will change names one more time to Norwich Rd. Take a left onto Berry Point Rd. before this happens. This part might get a bit confusing, so we recommend you look at a map beforehand. Orlebar Point is at the second major curve in the road at 1km past your last turn.

Need an Escape from the Bathtub Hustle & Bustle?

Check out the following things to do within walking distance of Maffeo Sutton Park:
  • Wander over to White Sails Brew Pub, just across the street from Maffeo Sutton Park.
  • Chill out at Cold Front Gelato, on Commercial Street
  • Find some peace and serenity with a trip over to Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)
    • Side note: due to the race, there may be limited sailings on July 22nd, 2018.
  • Take a stroll through Bowen Park, a 5-minute walk up the hill from Maffeo Sutton Park, and appreciate the resting totem poles, carved by various Snuneymuxw First Nations artists.
    • Side note: please remember to be respectful and do not touch or climb over these pieces.
  • Unwind at Kiyo Salon & Day Spa, a 2-minute walk from Maffeo Sutton Park

— Written by Curtis Havekotte