The Nanaimo events calendar is full of fun and unique activities throughout the year. Experience art, heritage, culture, and the flavours of local cuisine while you’re in town.
From our world-famous bathtub races in July, to tasting your way along the Nanaimo Bar Trail at any-time of year, attending the craft beer and music festival of Longwoodstock in September, or stepping into history at the museum or attending a variety of other exciting festivals – we invite you to discover what makes Nanaimo so unique.
Annual & Ongoing Events
The Nanaimo Museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year that focuses on heritage and culture. From exhibit openings to historical tours and multicultural celebrations, they strive to offer visitors an educational and entertaining experience.
The Historical Bastion is open to visitors throughout the summer season and is managed by the Nanaimo Museum. As the city’s oldest structure and recognized as a heritage site, it is one of the most enduring and iconic symbols of Nanaimo. Throughout the summer, there are daily cannon firings that visitors can watch.
The Nanaimo Art Gallery features local Vancouver Island artists as well as Canadian artists. It’s located downtown Nanaimo on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The gallery has excellent exhibitions by professional contemporary artists and dynamic public programs that explore exhibition themes in the gallery and the community.
The Port Theatre is chock full of amazing shows throughout the year. Located on the waterfront in downtown Nanaimo, the theatre also hosts a rotating art exhibit by talented local professional and student artists to make your entertainment experience a visual treat.
Nanaimo Bar Trail is a self-guided tour through the streets of Nanaimo & Region! Stretching from Lantzville in the north to Cedar in the south and now including a stop on Gabriola Island, The Nanaimo Bar Trail takes you to experience the many deliciously creative interpretations of our famous treat.
Commercial Street Night Market runs every Thursday for 13-weeks from June 4 to August 29, from 5-9 pm. The area is closed off to traffic so visitors can shop the vendor booths and purchase everything from food to crafts. Live entertainment will also be staged at several points downtown, along with bouncy castles and climbing walls for the little ones.
The Great International World Championship Bathtub Race and Nanaimo Marine Festival has been welcoming visitors for more than 40-years, to take part in this now world-famous festival and race. 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, July 24-26.
Red Bull Pump Track Championship Canadian Qualifier hosts this country’s best for a spot in the world qualifiers as Nanaimo hosts the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships. The Stevie Smith Bike Park will host the Canadian Qualifier in August (TBD) for the third year in a row.
Schedule of Special Events
January 18: Waltz & Polka, The Vancouver Island Symphony
January 25: Dungeons and Drag Things
January 25-May 9: Refuge Canada: Feature Exhibition at the Nanaimo Museum
February 1: Party For The Ocean
February 22-24: Maple Sugar Festival
March 6: Nanaimo Whisk(e)y Festival
April 3-5: Vancouver Island Chamber Music Festival
May 17: Nanaimo Heritage Festival
May 30-31: Hammond Bay Studio Tour
June 4-August 29: Commercial Street Night Markets, every Thursday.
June 6: 5km Foam Festival
June 14: Nanaimo Pride Festival
June 19-20: Preliminary Red Bull Pump Track Qualifier
June 21: National Indigenous Persons Day celebrations at Maffeo Sutton Park
July 1-November 23: Grow Nanaimo at the Nanaimo Museum
July 10-12: Dragon Boat Festival
July 19: Silly Boat Regatta
August 7-15: Nanaimo Fringe Festival
August 13-16: Nanaimo Summertime Blues Festival
TBD: Redbull Pump Track Championship Canadian Qualifier
October 10-12: Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour
November 19-22: Kris Kringle Craft Market
December 5-6: Nanaimo Art Walk
TBD: Vancouver Island Market
Many more events are happening throughout the year! Visit our Festivals and Events page to learn more.