Everything You Need To Know About Bathtub Weekend In Nanaimo

The Great International World Championship Bathtub Race has been the epicentre of summer tradition in Nanaimo for more than half a century! Back for its 54th year, this unique event runs July 24-26, 2020, and draws competitors and visitors from around the world.

More than 200 “tubbers” in every type of watercraft compete, racing along the 58-kilometre ocean route, looking to take the top spot and break personal records from years past. The weekend is chock-full of events, and most of them are being held at Maffeo Sutton Park & Sway-a- Lana Lagoon. Put July 24-26 in your calendar and start planning your trip today!

Here’s what you have to look forward to this year…


At the core of the bathtub festivities, Maffeo Sutton Park & Sway-A-Lana Lagoon Park are open all weekend for family fun! Some events you can expect: an Arts & Crafts Fair, Kiddies Karnival, Food Vendors, and a children’s craft tent. The schedule: Friday, July 24: 4pm-11pm Saturday, July 25: 9am-11pm Sunday, July 26: 10am-5pm


Taking place in Maffeo Sutton Park, the line-up of artists and times is TBA. Keep an eye on their events page for more details as they become available. The schedule: Friday, July 24: TBA Saturday, July 25: TBA


Soar across Sway-a-Lana Lagoon in the heart of downtown Nanaimo with WildPlay. The zipline’s incredible view of the park and ocean make it a must-do experience for anyone seven and older. Purchase your ride on the spot at the park. This scenic adventure runs all summer long!


Don’t miss downtown Nanaimo’s street fair, taking place Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26. There will be vendors, food trucks, street performers and live music – plenty of entertainment for everyone!


The beer gardens take place all weekend in Maffeo Sutton Park. This 19+ event is sponsored by Vancouver Island Brewing, Hey Y’all! Hard Iced Tea, and The Queen’s Nanaimo. The Beer Gardens schedule: Friday July 24: 4-10pm Saturday, July 25: 12pm-7pm Sunday, July 26: 12pm-4pm


The Sails Past On Wheels Parade will make its way through our historic downtown on Saturday, July 25, beginning at 10:30 am. This is a great opportunity to see many of the world championship bathtub race teams who are participating in the race on Sunday. The parade will start at Albert Street and Victoria Crescent and ends at Maffeo Sutton Park. The route has changed for this year; please refer to the map and directions available on the website. Plan to arrive early so you can secure a prime viewing spot.


The Quality Foods Festival of Lights Fireworks display takes place over Nanaimo harbour on Saturday, July 25, at 10 pm. The fireworks are set off from the fishing pier and can be seen from both land and the water. Plan to arrive early, pack a blanket and find a spot to cozy up in Maffeo Sutton Park or Sway-a-Lana Lagoon for a front-row view. For an extra contribution to the experience, turn on 102.3FM The Wave – there will be a live musical simulcast. This is Vancouver Island’s largest fireworks show – you don’t want to miss it!


Sunday, July 26, at 11 am is when racers begin their 58-km journey on the ocean, departing from the Nanaimo harbour. Hundreds of “tubbers” will embark on this 1.5-hour race, taking them around the south end of Protection Island, up the coast to Lantzville and Nanoose Bay, then back down and around Entrance Island and towards the finish line at the Frank Ney statue at Maffeo Sutton Park. Onlookers can watch from beaches and boats. Most of the race happens out in the Salish Sea (the Strait of Georgia), however, some checkpoints bring the boats and their support vessels close enough for a good look. The 5 recommended places to watch from:

1) Gallows Point, Protection Island
2) Pipers Lagoon Park
3) Neck Point Park
4) Sebastian Beach, Lantzville
5) Orlebar Point, Gabriola Island

Don’t forget to purchase some commemorative merchandise! For many decades, the Bathtub Society has minted its own collector’s coins; they are sold individually or as a set. The coins, along with clothing, are available to purchase online or throughout the weekend.

Visit the Bathtub Festival’s website for a full schedule of events.

Wondering where to stay? Book early to secure your accommodation.

If you’d like some more suggestions on things to do during your stay, browse our What To Do page.