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 in 2019
In 2019 the Coho Festival takes place from 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday, September 8, which is also Grandparents’ Day, which makes it an especially great destination to take the multi-generational family.
It’s a nice festival honoring the Coho salmon as they make their way back from the ocean to spawn in the Capilano River.
The Coho Festival is an especially good time to visit Ambleside as the place is full of people, live music, community organization displays and hundreds of people lining up for barbecued salmon for lunch.
What’s more – there is 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, which, even on a regular day, is one of the Lower Mainland’s most beautiful beaches.
At the Coho Festival there is live music at the beach. In 2016 the headliner band was Chilliwack – the popular Lower Mainland group that produced numerous Canadian and international hits in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2018 the headliner group was a local Beatles tribute band.
In 2018 highlights of the Coho Festival performance schedule included the following:
- 11:00 am – Coho Runners Breakfast & Medal Presentations
- 12:00 pm – The Hot Mammas (a trio singing Motown and 1960’s Vibe)
- 1:00 pm – Welcoming Speech by Squamish Nation leader and the traditional “Blessing of the Salmon” Ceremony.
- 2:00 pm – Al Foreman & the Soulmates (a Blues band)
- 3:00 pm – Stonebolt (a Rock and Roll band)
- 4:15 pm – Mike Battie (a street performer and comedian)
- 4:40 pm – The Fab Fourever (a Beatles tribute band)
- 6:00 pm – Closing Remarks
A bit part of the Coho Festival is the salmon barbecue. It runs from 11:15 am until 5:30 pm and proceeds from sales benefit wild salmon habitats on the North Shore.
Last year a BBQ Salmon Plate cost $15 and includes 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. 2019 prices will be similar.
The Coho Walk
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Coho Walk part of the Coho Salmon Festival did not take place in 2018. Two years ago was the final year for the Coho Walk.
In past years, another key part of the festival has been the Coho Walk which used to start over in North Vancouver at the Cleveland Dam in Capilano River Regional Park. There were two walks actually – an easy 4 km one down to the salmon hatchery and back up in a loop, which was great for young families, and a much longer walk that went all the way down to the ocean for people wanting a fairly serious, although mostly downhill hike.
Unfortunately, the last year there was a Coho Walk was in 2016. There was no Coho Walk last year (for the first time in many years), and there isn’t one in 2018 either.
The Coho Run
Another element of the Coho Festival is the annual Coho Run. It does still take place.
The Coho Run is a 14-km running 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.
For more information on the race, check out the Coho Run‘s official web page.
The Coho Festival is a “near zero waste event,” where most materials used are recyclable, reusable or compostable, and participants are encouraged 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.
For more information, check out the Coho Festival Society website.
For more information about the venue, click Ambleside Park or West Vancouver.