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Splish, splash, speed! Get set for the fast-paced, action-packed International World Championship Bathtub Race in Nanaimo, B.C.  There’s good reason why this event has been happening for 51 years. It’s also attracted "tubbers” from around the world who bring their “bathtubs” – racing vessels of every stripe - to race to the finish line. The action stars in Nanaimo Harbour and ends in Departure Bay beach.

The race is just one of many fun events happening around town during the four-day festival. Enjoy island arts and crafts, good times in the beer garden, local food vendors, live music and entertainment for adults and kids alike. Get a preview of the championship from FestivalSeekers writer Rebecca Bollwitt.

Featured Events

Farmer’s Market

Pioneer Plaza on Friday.

Annual “Sail Past on Wheels Fun Parade”

Saturday at 10:30 a.m. starting at Selby Street, proceeding down Fitzwilliam Street through the Old City Quarter to the Bastion, then along Front Street to Cliff Street.

“Quality Foods” Festival of Lights & Music

Saturday night, Vancouver Island’s premier fireworks display, the spectacular “QUALITY FOODS” Festival of Lights & Music takes place in Nanaimo harbour at 10:00 p.m.

World Championship Bathtub Race 

Nanaimo harbour was the scene of a bathtub race extravaganza at the first race in 1967, which was Canada’s 100th Birthday. As the City of Nanaimo’s “Centennial Event” more than 200 tubbers in every type of watercraft imaginable entered the fun competition and amazingly, 47 completed the 36 mile course to Vancouver’s Fisherman’s Cove across the Straits of Georgia. Now the “Great RACE” finishes at Departure Bay beach in Nanaimo covering a very gruelling course that starts in Nanaimo Harbor, goes around Entrance Island, north west to Winchelsea Islands, around a naval ship, past Schooner Cove and then back to Departure Bay beach in Nanaimo.

In the early days it was indeed a challenge to just get past the starting line in the choppy confusion caused by an extra 785 small and large observation and escort boats in Nanaimo harbor. From the confusion of a first time bathtub race in 1967, the Nanaimo to Nanaimo “Great” INTERNATIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BATHTUB RACE & 4 day Marine Festival has evolved. Where once a select band of tubbers were the highlight they now share the spotlight with many other land and water events, which are interesting and often spectacular to watch.

11:00 a.m. sharp on the Sunday in Nanaimo harbour for the approximate 1 ½ hour challenge in the Straits of Georgia to the “PEPSI FINISH LINE” at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Check out these places to stay while visiting. Ready to dive into a bathtub and get on the ocean? Share this page with your adrenaline loving friends. 



If You Go

Grab a snack while checking out the Bathtub Races! Did you know Nanaimo is home to the Nanaimo Bar Trail? If you have room, take a tasty self-guided adventure through the city and sample some treats. 

Heading to Nanaimo to catch some wild Bathtub races? Check out these places to stay while visiting.

Get a preview of the championship from FestivalSeekers writer Rebecca Bollwitt aka Miss604.