In previous years, the historic waterfront village hosted its July 1 Canada Day festivities alongside the beloved Steveston Salmon Festival that had been running since the 1940s. This year both events have been smoothly joined together under the Steveston Salmon Festival banner, creating a day-long party that starts with a community breakfast and concludes with a spectacular fireworks finale over the harbour.
But what do you need to know before digging out your red pants, grabbing some hand-held mini flags, and painting your face with maple leaves? Read on for our insider’s guide to planning the perfect Canada Day visit to Steveston.
Check out performances on 9 stages on Canada Day. | Photo courtesy of the City of Richmond
When should I arrive?
It depends on what you want to see and do! If you want to make a really full day of it, get here for the Pancake Breakfast. It’s served from 6:30am and costs $8 (cash only). After that, there’s a full menu of events and activities, finishing with a grand fireworks display at 10:15pm. The day’s must-see highlight, though, is the Canada Day Parade. It starts at 10:00am from Garry Point Park, down Third Avenue, and along Moncton Street. Arrive early for the perfect viewing spot!
Tell me more about the parade?
Metro Vancouver’s biggest Canada Day street parade is a smile-triggering cavalcade of dozens of decorated floats, marching bands, vintage vehicles, and—of course—a hotly-anticipated appearance from the Festival’s Sammy the Salmon mascot. If you’re here early enough, look out for the 9:30am Children’s Bike Parade, which preempts the main parade with its host of grinning local kids proudly riding past on their bicycles.
The Spirit of Steveston float is always a highlight of the parade. | Photo: Steveston Salmon Festival
What else can I see?
There’s a huge array of accompanying, free-entry events and activities to explore throughout the day. Look out for the Car Show, Horticultural Show, and the Japanese Cultural Show. And if you’re in the mood for some shopping, there are market stalls and artisan stands plus a Trade Show with vendors offering everything from food tastings to home improvement ideas. Sports fan? Don’t miss the ever-popular Steveston Cup street hockey tournament. Wander the village and discover these shows and events for yourself or plan ahead before you arrive.
Is there anything specific for kids to do?
Steveston’s Canada Day event is very family-friendly and there are lots of attractions and activities for children of all ages. Younger kids will love Sammy’s Fun Zone, complete with games, entertainers, face-painting, and balloon artists. Older kids are also kept busy in the Youth Zone, where music, free-play basketball, and retro video games are joined by a free, youth-only barbecue.
There are lots of family-friendly activities happening on Canada Day. | Photo: Steveston Salmon Festival
What about live music?
There’s a huge, diverse, and entirely free live music component to Steveston’s Canada Day party with nine stages set up around the village. Among the dozens of acts performing this year are 54-40, Bend Sinister, Urban Myth, and Line 49. You can also expect a host of toe-tapping acts on smaller stages, including Uke Party and Chatham Roots.
But the day’s live performers aren’t all musicians. Appearing on stages and on foot around the village, you’ll likely spot jugglers, dancers and locally-based young yo-yo master Terrance Wang. You can view the full line up of performers here.
Will there be anything to eat?
You’ll find it hard not to eat here! The day’s culinary highlight is the giant Salmon Barbecue, a cherished annual tradition. Operating until supplies are exhausted, it typically serves-up more than 1,200 pounds of barbecued wild salmon along with salad, a bun, and a beverage ($16 per plate; cash, credit, or debit accepted); arrive early to avoid the crush! The popular Chow Mein Tent will also be back this year and there will be dozens of food vendors dotted around the village. Many of Steveston’s excellent restaurants and cafes will also be open to serve hungry visitors.
The salmon barbecue is an annual tradition. | Photo courtesy of the City of Richmond
Will there be anywhere to get out of the sun—or take a breather from the crowds?
The free-entry Steveston Museum, Interurban Tram, and Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site will all be open on the big day, as will the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, where admission fees are being waived as part of the July 1 celebrations. And if you need a breather, head to Garry Point Park and find a relaxing spot on the grass.
What about the fireworks?
Don’t miss the Canada Day fireworks display, a pyrotechnic show that will launch over the Fraser River shoreline at 10:15pm. It’s the perfect way to end your day and raise a few final rousing cheers for Canada’s big day.
How do I get there?
Try to avoid driving. The roads around Steveston will be full and some will be closed on the day. Parking will also be extremely limited. It’s far better to make alternative arrangements.
Free shuttle buses will run throughout the day from Richmond City Hall to Britannia Shipyards in Steveston and from Lord Byng Elementary School to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. TransLink Canada Line services can also whiz you to Richmond-Brighouse Station, where you can board one of several transit bus services that run straight to Steveston. Plan your transit trip here.
There are also some great cycling routes if you need to earn some calorie space for your salmon feast—there will be two secure bike valet areas at the event (operated just like a coat check). For further transportation information, click here.
Steveston Salmon Festival
Dates: July 1, 2019 (Canada Day)
Time: 8:30am (though the pancake breakfast starts as early as 6:30am) - 10:30pm (when the fireworks finale ends)
Location: Steveston Village
Click here for the festival map.