Nanaimo’s Must-Visit Festivals and Events

Picture this: A lively, bustling crowd of locals and visitors enjoying the sights, sounds and entertainment of a summer festival in Nanaimo. There’s nothing quite like an event to bring people together and in Nanaimo, we have some iconic events and festivals throughout the year that shouldn’t be missed.

From festivals celebrating achievements on the ocean, to live music to make your heart sing and your toes tap, Nanaimo’s festivals are as diverse as our community. 

Below we’ve listed ten of the most iconic festivals and events in Nanaimo. Of course, this is just a small sample of what’s happening year-round in Nanaimo. Always check our events calendar for the latest ‘what’s on’ information.

Bathtub Races in Nanaimo

Iconic Summer Festivals and Events

Pride Parade and Festival – June

This empowering, accepting and celebratory festival opens with a parade through downtown Nanaimo, ending at Maffeo Sutton Park with a fun, entertaining and welcoming festival for all. 

Old City Quarter Sounds of Summer Concert Series – June to Mid-September

A series of free concerts held around the Old City Quarter every Friday afternoon during summer featuring an eclectic mix of performers. 

Nanaimo Marine Festival and Great International World Championship Bathtub Race – July

The most unique festival in Nanaimo’s calendar.  This weekend festival includes the ‘Sailpast on Wheels’ parade, lots of free family entertainment and of course, the world-famous bathtub race! You might be surprised at just how fast a bathtub can go!

More information: 

Commercial Street Night Market – Mid-June to end of August

Vendors, food trucks and entertainment take over Commercial Street every Thursday until the end of August. Take in the cracking atmosphere at this weekly celebration of local produce, artisans and performers.  

Nanaimo Blues Festival – August

4 days and nights of family-friendly events and concerts in downtown Nanaimo. This festival shares and celebrates the best in Blues music from local, national and international artists.

Nanaimo Fringe Festival – August

This festival brings local, Canadian and global performers to town for 10 days of theatre and comedy performances in various locations.

Not to Miss Events – Year Round

Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre d’Érable – February

This winter festival features 3 days of francophone-inspired food and entertainment. Try maple taffy on snow and enjoy live performances.

Vancouver Island Short Film Festival – March

A showcase for outstanding Canadian and international short films, the VIFF features 20 specially curated films in two categories. Showings take place at the Malaspina Theatre and culminate with the Goldie Awards ceremony. 

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival – September

Nanaimo has an acclaimed connection to jazz music, with the city’s jazz scene producing many successful artists. This award-winning festival is a celebration of Nanaimo’s jazz music roots with three days of performances by local and international artists.

Vancouver Island Exhibition (VIEX) – September

Celebrating the best in agriculture, local food and entertainment. This three-day event is packed full of livestock exhibitions, entertainment, agricultural education and of course – the Midway fair. Fun for all the family.



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