After taking a year off to recuperate, the Pacific Rim Whale Festival is ready to make a triumphant return to the West Coast.
The popular annual celebration was cancelled for the first time in 33 years last year due to a shortage of volunteers, but it’s now ready to make its long awaited 33rd appearance this month and will fill the region with educational jubilation from March 20-28. A schedule of events can be found at pacificrimwhalefestival.com.
The festival is a celebration of the tens of thousands of grey whales swimming past Tofino and Ucluelet as they make their annual 16,000 kilometre migration from their nursing grounds off Mexico to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said she is excited to welcome the celebration back to the Coast.
“I love the way Whale Festival brings together all the West Coast communities to celebrate our coastal culture and continue to learn and marvel at the annual migration of the grey whale,” Osborne told the Westerly News. “My favourite events at Whale Festival—and the ones I missed the most last year—are those ‘traditional’ events we’ve been doing for years and years that bring visitors and local residents out in numbers, like the ArtSplash, Chowder Chowdown and the best little parade in the world, the ‘Parade of Whales and Wonders.’ We owe a ton of gratitude to all the volunteers and businesses working hard to [bring] us the festival.”
Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel commended the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Society for breathing new life into the festival and resurrecting the event.
“I think it’s great. They’re redesigning themselves and recreating it. There seems to be some new blood on the board, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that unfolds,” he said adding the flurry of festivities attracts visitors during what could otherwise be a slow tourism season in March.
He added much of the West Coast’s local economy “relies on attracting tourists” and suggested many adventure seekers on Vancouver Island will be looking for new vacation options closer to home in the wake of the current coronavirus scare.
“Obviously, looking at the international scene right now, one would have to assume that people are probably going to be revisiting their travel plans for their spring, summer, and fall as we speak,” he said. “These kinds of events like the Whale Festival are what people are going to be looking for…Regional or local initiatives that attract people within our radius are beneficial because people are going to be wondering what to do and where to go.”