Aug 28, 2023
MV Deerleap. Image courtesy of David Ellis.
The Maritime Museum of BC, with support from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, Mill Bay Marine Group, the BC Fairs, Festivals, an Events Recovery Fund grant from the Province of British Columbia, and a Festival Investment Grant from the City of Victoria, will be hosting the 44th Annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival this Labour Day Weekend, from September 1-3, 2023. We are also delighted to announce a Museum Dock of significant vessels from the Wooden Boat Society, and the Ladysmith Maritime Society!
The Honourary Commodore for 2023 is Captain Richard “Slim” Gardner aboard MV Deerleap.
Our thanks to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, the City of Victoria, the Province of British Columbia, and Mill Bay Marine Group for your generous support.
Schedule of Events
Docks are open to the public by donation (suggested $5):
Friday, September 1: 9 AM – 8 PM
Saturday, September 2: 9 AM – 8 PM
Sunday, September 3: 9 AM – 6 PM
Watch the Festival Kick-Off in the Inner Harbour at noon on Friday, and take in the sounds of the Hounds of Cuchulain playing on the deck of Deerleap at the docks on Friday at 1:30 PM.
See Saravan from Ladysmith Maritime Society, and Zachary Musge from the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society on the docks this weekend! There will be interpretation from the boats throughout the weekend.
See all the gorgeous classic boats in the annual Sail Past—a cannon salute starts the sail past at 11 AM. Best view is from Ogden Point Breakwater and Clover Point!
2022 Festival. Image courtesy of James Holkko.
About the Victoria Classic Boat Festival
The Victoria Classic Boat Festival is a spectacular annual gathering of vessels of a Classic design, both new and old, power and sail. Vessels attend from all over the Pacific Northwest, with the occasional visiting vessel from distant oceans. Each year during the Labour Day Weekend, approximately 10,000 visitors tour the docks and the boats on display. The public is invited to view the boats while they are moored at the Inner Harbour docks. Many owners generously offer tours of their boats.
William Noon, Festival Chair, noted that “the Pacific Northwest is blessed with an enormous number of traditional boats – from sail boats, to workboats, to cruisers. The Festival began in 1977 with the idea that our maritime heritage must not only be preserved, but also celebrated. The Festival’s open docks, events, and activities serve to engage our community and visitors on our maritime history, culture, and its ongoing story.”
As in previous years, these classic boats will participate in a “sail past” and race on Sunday, September 4. The modern day “sail past” tradition began at the first yacht club that was formed in England nearly 200 years ago. It was first introduced as a continuation of the naval habit of having Admirals and Royalty review the fleet on special occasions. The Festival’s tradition is similar, however, the Honourary Commodore instead of the Admiral receives the salute. Spectators can head out to watch the parade of ships and races from Victoria Waterfront on Sunday afternoon.