World Championship Bathtub Race

The first Great International World Championship Bathtub Race took place in Nanaimo BC in 1967, and this year marks the 51st year of the races. The Great International World Championship Bathtub Race runs every July in Nanaimo BC, and draws competitors from across Canada, the United States and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand, making it truly an international event.

* 2021 dates pending
Community: Nanaimo
Province: British Columbia
Festival Type: Music Sports

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 52 years. It had attracted "tubbers” from around the world who bring their “bathtubs” – racing vessels of every stripe - to race to the finish line.

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. 

Grab a preview of this year's events from FestivalSeekers writer Rebecca Bollwitt.

Featured Events

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 Harbour, 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.

Learn even more about the Bathtub Races on

King Neptune Dance

Get ready to kick things off with a bang during the King Neptune Dance. Enjoy music from incredible bands and dance the night away.

Further details TBA

Annual “Sail Past on Wheels Fun Parade”

On Saturday at 10:30am the annual Sail Past on Wheels Fun Parade starts at Selby Street, proceeding down Fitzwilliam Street through the Old City Quarter, over the bridge into Downtown, to the Bastion, then along Front Street to Cliff Street.

Many (but not all) World Championship Bathtub Race teams participate in the parade and it's a great way to give thanks to each team sponsor and the major sponsors of the Society and the Festival.

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.

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 harbour. From the confusion of a first time bathtub race in 1967, the 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.

If You Go

Check out the bathtub races - then go sooth the soul with a waterfall hike, have a watch for what’s in store.

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. 

Check out these places to stay while visiting. Ready to hop into a bathtub and get on the ocean?

Grab a preview of this year's events from FestivalSeekers writer Rebecca Bollwitt.

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* 2021 dates pending