Featuring a weekend of French Canadian music, food and festivities in Coquitlam, the Festival du Bois is Metro Vancouver’s premier Francophone festival.
It has been occurring in late February or early March since 1989, and in 2017 it happened on the weekend of March 3-5.
In 2018 the festival is later than usual and runs from March 23rd until the 25th.
Coquitlam Francophone Festival
The Festival du Bois takes place in Mackin Park at 1046 Brunette Avenue in Coquitlam, about a 24-km drive from downtown Vancouver. It’s not a huge event, but still a fair size and British Columbia’s largest francophone festival.
The Festival du Bois is held in Mackin Park, just a few blocks from the Coquitlam IKEA store (where some festival attendees find it convenient to park, even though they probably aren’t supposed to). Even closer is Coquitlam’s Canadian Tire store, but you probably aren’t supposed to park there either.
At the Festival du Bois you’ll find crafts and other activities for the kids, French Canadian foods for sale, information tables from various organizations, and a variety of great musical performances throughout the weekend.
Plan to wait in line if you want any of the popular foods, like the poutine and traditional snow-hardened maple syrup candy. The odds are though, it’ll be worth the wait!
If you like French Canadian folk music (which can be lots of fun and is the festival’s main draw), or want a chance to practice your French (but it’s not compulsory), then the festival can be interesting, especially if you’re from French Canadian heritage.
Festival du Bois Admission
At about $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $7 for children ages 5 to 12, and $37 for a family of 4, ticket prices aren’t unreasonable. It’s primarily the live music that you’re paying for.
If you’re with kids and they don’t like listening to music, then don’t plan to stay for much more than an hour, plus a bit if you plan to eat. If you like music, however, then stay all day. The festival ticket usually offers in-and-out privileges, so you can come and go as you like.
2018 Hours of Operation
In 2018 the Festival du Bois is open at the following times:
- Wednesday, March 21 – at 6:30 pm for the Dîner en Plaid event which features a night of French-Canadian food, craft beer and live music at the John B. Pub.
- Friday, March 23 – the Opening Night Contra Dance party runs from 7:00 until 10:00 pm at Mackin Park.
- Saturday, March 24 – 11:00 am to 8:30 pm
- Sunday, March 25 – 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
2018 Admission Prices
Here are the admission costs for 2018 if you pay at the gate:
- Friday Night (March 2nd): $10
- Saturday (March 3) & Sunday (March 4):
- Adults (18+): $18 (or $30 for a 2-day pass)
- Students & Seniors: $12 per day
- Children (ages 5-12): $7 per day
- 1-Day Family Pass: $37 (2 adults & 2 children under 12 years of age).
- 2-Day Family Pass: $70
- Sunday Pancake Breakfast: $7 for adults and $3 for children (in addition to regular admission).
- Little Folk (under 5 years of age): free.
Festival tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at the Festival du Bois website.
TIP: If you purchase your tickets online you’ll save a couple of dollars.
Festival Du Bois Activities
At the Festival du Bois there are food vendors, community organization information stalls, and games and other activities for children. There is also a pre-festival Dîner en Plaid event mid-week, the Opening Night Contra Dance party on the Friday night and live entertainment all weekend.
Dîner en Plaid
The Dîner en Plaid event takes place in 2018 on Wednesday, March 21, starting at 6:30 pm at Coquitlam’s John B. Pub at 1000 Austin Avenue.
Admission to the adult-only event costs $30 per person and includes French-Canadian food, local Lumberjack craft beer, and entertainment including arm wrestling and 2-person saw competitions. Live music for the night is with the band Bon Débarras and attendees are expected to wear plaid.
For more information click Dîner en Plaid.
Opening Night Contra Dance
In 2018 the Opening Night Contra Dance takes place from 7:00 until 10:00 pm on Friday, March 23rd, at the festival’s Mackin Park venue at 1046 Brunette Avenue. Admission is $10 at the gate or $8 in advance.
The Contra Dance event is a family-friendly event that involves a style of folk dancing in lines of couples. Back to provide the live music for the event’s second year is the Sybaritic String Band which specializes in contra dancing.
For more information click Opening Night Contra Dance.
In 2018 the Festival du Bois opens on the Friday night with a Soirée Contra Dance in the Grand Chapiteau with live music by The Sybaritic String Band.
On the Saturday and Sunday, the festival features a wide range of musicians from as far away as Cape Breton and beyond. Top 2018 performers include the following:
- Le Vent du Nord
- Bon Débarras
- Les Chauffeurs à pieds
- Mazacote – a local Vancouver band that plays World and Latin music with members originating from Colombia, Nicaragua and Mozambique.
- Gabriel Dubreuil
- Jacky Essombe
- Podorythmie – a multi-national quintet offering fiddle, accordion, and dance music with lots of energy.
Click Festival Program for times and the full performer schedule.
Mackin House Museum
If you’re at the Festival du Bois anyway, walk across the street and visit the Mackin House Museum while you’re there.
Built in the early 1900’s, the heritage building was the home of the General Manager of Fraser Mills, at one time the largest sawmill in the British Empire. Admission is by donation. Expect to stay for only a few minutes.
The Mackin House Museum is open Tuesdays to Fridays (11-5 pm) and Saturdays (12-4 pm).
For more information on the festival, including their schedule of performances, check out the Festival du Bois website.
For other Lower Mainland festivals throughout the year, check out the Vancouver’s Best Places’ Festivals and Events Calendar.
And for other things to do in March, check out the March Events Calendar.