Home Vancouver Events Calendar Festivals and Events in Vancouver in 2024 West Vancouver Coho Festival

West Vancouver Coho Festival

Ambleside Coho Festival

The Coho Festival in West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park is one of the North Shore‘s main festivals, taking place every fall on the second Sunday in September.

The Coho Festival took place virtually in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was online again in 2021. In 2022 the festival returned to its normal format on September 11th. Sadly, the event is cancelled in 2023.

In its place, those who want to take part in a Coho Society activity can explore one or more of their Salmon Conservation Interpretive Walks. These are self-guided tours in different parts of the Lower Mainland that follow maps posted on the Coho Society website.


The Coho Festival

The Coho Festival is usually a one-day event in September. In the last few years (with the exception of 2021) the event took place on Grandparents’ Day in September. This has made it an especially great destination to take the multi-generational family.

It’s a nice festival honouring the Coho salmon as they make their way back from the ocean to spawn in the Capilano River. Sadly, despite the Coho Festival returning in its regular format in 2022, the event is cancelled in 2023.

The main part of this popular community event takes place at beautiful Ambleside Park in West Vancouver.

The Coho Festival is an especially good time to visit Ambleside as the place is typically full of people, live music, community organization displays and hundreds of people lining up for barbecued salmon for lunch.

What’s more – there is usually a beer garden on the sand at the beach, which makes this one of the few days of the year that you can drink alcohol legally at Ambleside. Even on a regular day, Ambleside is one of the Lower Mainland’s most beautiful beaches.


Coho Festival Main Stage
The Coho Festival’s Concert Stage


Entertainment Schedule

When the event is able to take place in person, there is live music in the park at the Coho Festival. A few years ago the headliner band was Chilliwack – the popular Lower Mainland group that produced numerous Canadian and international hits in the 1970s and 1980s.

For an idea of what to expect in 2024, highlights of the Coho Festival performance schedule from the last time the event took place pre-COVID included the following:

  • 11:00 am – Coho Running Race Breakfast & Award Ceremony
  • 12:00 pm – Music with Cannery Row (New Orleans-style Blues)
  • 1:00 pm – Welcoming Speech by a Squamish Nation leader and the traditional “Blessing of the Salmon” Ceremony
  • 2:00 pm – Music with Mostly Marley (a local Reggae band)
  • 3:10 pm – Music with Adam Woodall 
  • 4:30 pm – Music with Doug and The Slugs (a Canadian band with 1980’s hits that included “Too Bad”, “Making It Work” and “Tomcat Prowl”
  • 6:00 pm – Closing Remarks


Doug and the Slugs
Doug & the Slugs


Coho Festival Salmon BBQ

A big part of the Coho Festival is the salmon barbecue. It usually runs from 11:15 am until 5:30 pm and proceeds from sales benefit wild salmon habitats on the North Shore.

In 2018 a BBQ salmon plate cost $15 and included a wild Coho salmon fillet, salad and corn on the cob. There were also grilled salmon sandwiches for $10 as well as hot dogs ($5), corn on the cob ($3), side salads ($3) and non-alcoholic beverages ($2). Beer and wine were also available for $7 each.


Free Vancouver Summer Concerts


The Coho Run

Another element of the Coho Festival is the annual Coho Run. It is a 14-km race starting at 9 am on the same Sunday after Labour Day as the festival. The run starts at Kitsilano in Vancouver and ends at the beach at Ambleside on the North Shore.

The route goes along the False Creek waterfront and over the Burrard Street Bridge from Kitsilano Beach. Participants run along the seawall through Stanley Park and across the Lions Gate Bridge before finishing at Ambleside Beach.

In 2022 the run began at 9:00 am on September 11th. Registration cost between $50 and $70 depending on when you register. The fee includes a souvenir t-shirt, breakfast, prizes and more.

For further information on the race, check out the Coho Run‘s official web page.


The Coho Swim

An additional component of the festival is the Coho Swim. The swim follows either a 1.5 or 3 km route along Ambleside Beach.

In 2022 registration for the swim costs between $60 and $80 and includes a t-shirt, swim cap, breakfast and other perks. (Note: Swimmers must wear wetsuits.)

Check out the Coho Swim‘s official page for more information.


Free Events in September


Environmental Stewardship

The Coho Festival is a “near zero-waste event” where most materials used are recyclable, reusable or compostable. The festival also encourages attendees to walk, cycle or use public transit as much as possible (although many people still drive).

Funds raised from the Coho Festival every year go to the Coho Society to support salmon habitat rejuvenation projects in the area.


Ambleside During Coho Festival
Festival activities on the lawns at Ambleside Park


Other information

For more information, check out the Coho Festival Society website.

Click Ambleside Park or West Vancouver for more information about the venue.

For a list of other events in the same month, see our September Calendar or click Festivals & Events.