It starts a little earlier every year, but by Canada Day our city is into festivals and special events full swing! It’s become part of our rising brand – a city of special events and entertainment. From our parks and waterfront, to our downtown streets and event venues, there are not many idle nights or weekends until we head back to school in the fall.
What started as a way to raise a little money for our hospital and show support for breast cancer victims and survivors has turned into one of the city’s biggest events – the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival on the weekend after Canada Day. Slightly more than two dozen boats showed up the first year, and now we often see up to 80 teams competing over the weekend. Almost every hotel room in the city is booked for visitors to this event that welcomes international guests as well as locals. Restaurants, bars, and shops fill up and tens of thousands of dollars are raised annually in this celebration with every penny going to the fight against breast cancer at NRGH. The financial impact of this one event on our community is massive.
Just one weekend later and Nanaimo returns to the waterfront at Maffeo-Sutton Park for the annual Silly Boat Regatta. Over $110,000 was raised for Nanaimo’s Child Development Centre last year, a goal sure to be surpassed with participation increasing annually. Businesses and organizations
compete to raise funds and then collaborate to build all forms of wacky craft and race out to a marker buoy and back without sinking. Fortunately, for the fun of the audience, not that many make it. There are all sorts of fundraising events attached to the day and it seems like most of Nanaimo’s population is in the park.
The following week it’s the annual celebration of the spirit of Nanaimo at the Marine Festival and World Championship Bathtub Race which draws throngs of visitors from outside of Nanaimo to figure out what makes us want to race bathtubs on our waterfront – a spectacle created by none other than our famous Mayor “Black Frank” Ney. They might not figure it out but they’ll have a ton of fun trying and leave a lot of money at Nanaimo businesses in the meantime.
Space here prevents me from mentioning much about things like Thursday evening’s Commercial Street Night Market, Concerts in the Park, Infringing Dance Festival, Wheel-o-Rama Festival, VIEX, Fringe Festival, Summertime Blues Festival, the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship Qualifier…
The point is – Nanaimo is turning into a city of festivals and it’s making cash registers ring while we put smiles on people’s faces and emerge as an Island leader in how to celebrate summer.