Locals and visitors will be flocking to Steveston this month for the much-anticipated return of Metro Vancouver’s favourite nautical celebration. Anchored in and around the shoreline heritage buildings of Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, the family-friendly Richmond Maritime Festival promises a treasure chest of fun-loving activities and performances.
Running from 11:00am to 6:00pm on both August 26 and August 27, the 2023 event marks the free-entry festival’s 20th year. Growing since those early days like a well-fed pirate’s parrot, several features have been added over the past two decades––including the chance this year to set sail on a scenic Fraser River boat tour.
If you’re a festival first-timer or you haven’t been for a while, read on for our exclusive insider’s guide. Then, start planning your perfect voyage to this brilliantly ship-shape event––sea legs not required.
What is there to see?
The entire Britannia Shipyards site––complete with wooden boardwalks and evocative historic buildings––will be open throughout the weekend. And volunteer interpreters will be wandering the festival area, bringing to life B.C.’s yesteryear maritime heritage. You’ll also find fascinating exhibits and displays (woodcarving and model boats included) plus artist workshops and installations. The best way to drink it all in? Slow down and explore every corner.
Are there any hands-on activities?
As in previous years, the festival offers plenty of free activities for you and your family to enjoy. Participants can colour in a giant seascape panel, try crafting some origami or even make a fascinating cyanotype photography print. There will also be a cool-down zone for families where you can learn to tie knots with the Richmond Sea Scouts and make and float a cool cork boat.
Can I bring my kids along?
The festival is very family-friendly, with lots of activities and performers to keep kids fully engaged. Returning favourite Rikki the Rat and his crew will be back to keep the crowds smiling, while Seagal the Seagull will be making his festival debut in 2023. And along with arts and crafts and lots of hands-on learning opportunities, junior visitors can join in the fun by singing and dancing with some of the festival performers.
Will there be any boats?
Yes, you’ll have the chance for some up-close views of heritage vessels. In fact, the dock will be like a walk-through museum of beautiful boats throughout the weekend. Highlights include the 1955-built Viking Mariner; Hai Long, a 1968-built Chinese junk boat; the century-old SS Master tug boat; and the 1903-built racing yacht SV Ziska. Experiencing the vessels up-close is very popular so you are advised to make this a priority when you arrive.
What about taking a trip on one of the boats?
The charming 1954-built MV Gikumi is offering two-hour boat tours along the Fraser River on both days of the festival. These tours are an utterly delightful and superbly tranquil excursion along the region’s most storied waterway.
You’ll gain a new perspective on the area and also enjoy the unique chance to sail on a beautifully restored historic vessel. There are only two tours per day during the festival, though, and space is limited. Book your spot in advance here.
Will there be any live music or other performers?
The festival is offering a boatload of live performances, staring at noon on each day. There will be a huge variety of acts here, so keep your eyes and ears open during your visit. We’re especially looking forward to old-time banjo player Paul Silveria; foot-stomping four-piece the Seabillys; the high-energy Go Taiko drummers; and Celtic-inspired Clanna Morna. You’ll also spot roving performers such as Yuki the Juggler and Inner City Circus wowing festivalgoers as they wander the site.
Will there be anything to eat?
There will be a full menu of food trucks here. The tasty options will include Japanese dishes from Takenaka, Middle Eastern fusion cuisine from Namaste and traditional Polish comfort food from Baba’s House plus several others. You’ll also find cool treats from Angel’s Gelato and luscious scoops from Crema Ice Cream. Alternatively, why not bring a picnic and find a spot on the grass at Britannia Shipyards? In addition, Steveston has lots of great restaurants to check out.
What else is there to see at Britannia Shipyards?
Built as a cannery in the 1800s but transformed into a boat-building complex a century ago, this fascinating National Historic Site has a rich and authentic story to tell. Explore the preserved living quarters and tool-lined boat sheds and you’ll discover just what it was like here back in the day.
The attraction is free to enter at any time, so planning a return trip outside the festival weekend should definitely be on your agenda.
How do I get to the festival?
The Richmond Maritime Festival is at Britannia Shipyards, located at 5180 Westwater Drive, a shoreline stroll from the heart of Steveston Village. If you’re planning to drive, there will be by-donation parking at nearby Homma Elementary School. The free Richmond Discovery Shuttle will also be running; the nearest stop is Homma Elementary. Alternatively, ride your bike to the site or hop on transit (use TransLink’s online trip-planner to plot your route).
Richmond Maritime Festival
Date: August 26-27, 2023
Location: 5180 Westwater Drive, Richmond, BC
Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Tourism Richmond