Pacific Rim Whale Festival Tofino – Ucluelet


A fluke of timing (yes, I intended the fluke pun) allowed my family to partake in the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, an annual event that March 19-27, 2011 was the 25th anniversary. Significant restructuring of all the closets in our home led us to flee and we chose Tofino as our destination.

As we reached the crossroads between Tofino and Ucluelet we say the big banner for the Whale Festival and we said to ourselves, “What whale festival?  Annual?  We live in Vancouver, not Bolton Ontario or some place … How clueless are we?”  Into the tourist office we went because we had few specific plans and we knew nothing about this festival.

It turns out that it is around this part of March that the grey whales return from warmer waters.  It turns out, we learned on our whale watching tour, that the grey whales head to Mexico and California to breed but don’t eat.  By the time they return to northern waters, they are skinny and very hungry.

In another point of irony, my wife and I had been complaining that despite heading on the road during March Break there seemed not to be many things for children.  Well at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, there were:  story readings by children’s authors, a sand castle contest, all you can eat dessert, a kids’ movie night, decorate your own cookies and more.  In preparation for the festival, the local school children had a contest to draw the artwork for official buttons for the year.  I met one of the Moms whose daughter was a proud winner.

The number of talks I wanted to attend ranging from historical characters to information about frogs and salamanders were more than the children could bear, so we had to pick and choose.  Naturally with the young ones we could not enjoy “Martini Migration”, a 6th annual Cocktail Competition.

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival is an excellent example of cross-community coordination.  Ucluelet, Tofino and the National Park Reserve come together to do the festival and virtually every business in the area pitches in with resources and locations to hold events.

This is certainly one festival I want to try to plan into the family itinerary for next year.  I just checked the site below and they’ve decided on the dates:  March 17-25, 2012.  See you there?

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