Tucked away on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is scenic and growing community with a vibrant culture and an extensive collection of activities for you to enjoy.
Officially known as the “Harbor City”, Nanaimo is one of the gems of Vancouver Island. Once serving as the gateway to Vancouver Island from the mainland, the city has grown into one of the top destinations for tourists in the region. The stunning natural surroundings, combined with the unique culture of the city, make this a one-of-a-kind destination. When looking for things to do here, look no further than the water. From observing the beautiful shoreline on a boat tour to snorkeling with harbor seals, you’ll find almost any aquatic activity in Nanaimo. The parks and public areas in and around the city are perfect for any outdoor enthusiast. You’ll love parks like Colliery Dam Park, Westwood Lake Park, The Morrell Nature Sanctuary and Neck Point Park, each unique and presenting different scenery to enjoy. A great way to get the full Nanaimo experience is during one of the fun local festivals like Longwoodstock.
After a successful first year bringing the best in Vancouver Island’s food and drink to patrons, Longwoodstock has set and met the goal of doubling the scope of their event. This unique gathering embodies a fusion between beer and music festivals. To add to the fun, the festival will have a series of fun games such as lawn pong and giant jenga. All the beer and games will surely work up your appetite, so it’s a good thing Longwoodstock will have a variety of vendors including restaurants and food trucks on hand. Take your next Vancouver Island adventure to another level of enjoyment and join in all the fun that is Longwoodstock! We got the chance to interview Dave St. Jene, representative for Longwoodstock, to talk about this great beer-themed experience.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
DSJ: This is Longwoodstock's second year. We drew 300 people last year with a one-day event at the Longwood Brewery. This year we have a bigger lineup, more venues, and by expanding the length to over two days, we're hoping to go north of 500 people in attendance.
RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?
DSJ: Because a large part of the event is craft beer-focused, the shows (at the brewery and at licensed nightclubs) are all 19+. We had a solid range of people between the ages of 19-50 last year.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
DSJ: We want to combine the atmospheres of craft beer festivals and music festivals to show off the quality craft beer, cider, and bands from central Vancouver Island. For beer fans, what's better than partying right at the source of the beer? We also want to promote Nanaimo as a hotspot for music, building on the legacy of other Vancouver Island music festivals which bring so many people to the Island.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
DSJ: Getting into the backyard of the brewery feels like entering a private party. Get a fresh Longwood beer from the tap and get dancing!
In addition to the music, we'll have a few outdoor games set up like lawn pong and giant jenga. At its heart this is a very social event, as with any occasion where craft beer is a focus. Prepare to compare your favorite beers and ciders, make new friends, and leave with a CD or t-shirt from your favorite band of the day.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
DSJ: Our music headliners are Daniel Wesley, Northcote, and Wil. Our artist lineup is a spicy summer mix of folk rock, funk, hip-hop, pop, ska, and reggae.
RAL: What will attendees find for dining options?
DSJ: The Longwood Brewpub is a good option and it's the brewery's older sister. They will be serving gourmet burgers alongside a selection of food trucks. Local favorites like Mambo Pizza will also be there, which tends to set off a lot of celebrations in Nanaimo.
RAL: What is the overall environment of the event like?
DSJ: While many craft beer and cider events tend to reach a fevered pitch of giddiness for obvious reasons, the music adds just as much to the fun. The event tends to be more social than rowdy. It's a celebration of like-minded people under the summer sun who enjoy the best of music, food, and craft beer.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
DSJ: The cozy Buccaneer Inn is a favorite, as it looks over the Nanaimo Harbor and is only a 10-minute walk from the Departure Bay BC Ferries Terminal. The Grand Hotel is known for it's extensive whisky bar with more than 140 different whiskeys! While guests at The Inn on Long Lake have only a short walk to the beach on the other side of the lake (and may see float planes taking off). Downtown's Dorchester Hotel & Coast Bastion Hotel put guests in the middle of creative downtown eateries and artisan shops with only steps to the harborfront walkway, Maffeo-Sutton Park, crab docks, and the passenger ferry to the floating Dinghy Dock Pub.
For those seeking to be a bit closer to the outdoors or don't mind a bit of a drive, the Living Forest Campground & RV Park in south Nanaimo offers award-winning camping, while nearby Parksville (30 minute drive north) boasts huge sandy beaches at Rathtrevor Provincial Park beside a selection of high-end beach resorts including Tigh-Na-Mara Resort & Spa.
RAL: What does the event mean to the community?
DSJ: Despite having a growing population, Nanaimo has lagged behind other areas on the Island--Victoria, Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley--in terms of producing music festivals, so we believe the citizens are hungry for more music to hang their dancing hats on.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
DSJ: Obviously, the Longwood Brewery, Merridale Cidery, and the musicians benefit directly from sales and exposure, but we're definitely happy to help create more business for local accommodation providers, restaurants, and other tourism attractions in Nanaimo during the beautiful summer season.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
DSJ: We will be donating all profits to the Serauxmen Service Club, an organization that has helped a wide range of organizations and causes in Nanaimo since 1967.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
DSJ: I love travelers who want to live like locals and learn about what makes a particular region tick. Longwoodstock is a perfect opportunity to enjoy all of central Vancouver Island's best bands, beers, and ciders in one go at one of British Columbia's legendary breweries. Since we're only in our second year, it's not so big and loud that it's daunting, rather, it's an entertaining, friendly, affordable, and sociable way to slip into the lifestyle of an Islander for a night. Come see how we live and play!
For more information about Longwoodstock, please visit their website.
Photo Credit - Adam Lee @ Victoria Music Scene