A holiday that depends on the weather. Boat races that date as far back as the early 1800s. These traditions make Newfoundland’s Regatta Day one of the coolest holidays on the Canadian calendar. Usually celebrated on the first Wednesday in August, Regatta Day, known also as Royal St. John’s Regatta; is closely associated with the British monarchy.
On Regatta Day, festivities and rowing rule the day in the provincial capital of St. John’s — IF the weather cooperates. City officials meet that very morning to decide whether or not the holiday will commence. Too blustery for a rowing competition on the city’s historic Quidi Vidi Lake? No holiday. Sunshine? Take the day off. Oh, Canada.
Regatta Day timeline
While rowing matches on St. John's Harbor date back to the 1700s, this marks the first time an organized race is documented in the region.
Prince Albert Edward attends the races. To this day, Regatta Day is among the races always attended by members of the British monarchy.
Regatta Day temporarily moves from August to July to accommodate the visit of Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II.
Regatta Day is given the Royal designation in 1993 to respect the close relationship between Canada and the British monarchy.
Regatta Day Activities
Go to the races
As many as 50,000 people throng the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake to watch the boat races. In 2017, almost 100 teams from around the world participated in the event.
Race your hamster
If you have a pet hamster, you could win a new cage on Regatta Day. Each year, Critters 'n Things in Mount Pearl, organizes a hamster race at their store. The race is only open to hamsters. Not rats, not frogs — just hamsters.
Invite your friends and family
A lot of people who can't make it to the lake watch the races on television. It's a good excuse to invite your fam, get some beers and even bet on your favorites to win.
5 Ways Newfoundland's Like No Other Place On Earth
Check the time
The province is 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Standard Time and 90 minutes ahead of Eastern Time.
France still rules, sort of
Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland, are self-governing entities that are remnants of the erstwhile New France — and thus, ruled by France.
St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland, can be seen on maps as far as back as the 1500s, making it much older than Williamsburg.
In a fog
In fact, given its geographical location, Argentia, a seaport in Newfoundland, has more than 200 foggy days, on average, every year.
The REAL home of the Vikings
According to historical discoveries of the 1960s, which unearthed a Vikings colony here, Vikings settled in Newfoundland around the year 1000.
Why We Love Regatta Day
Weather or not
Unlike almost all other holidays in Canada (and around the world), Regatta Day is weather-dependent. If the weather is good, the races are on and you get a day off. If the weather forecast looks bleak, you have to wriggle out of bed and go to work. That's life, right?
You get to play Regatta Roulette
Bars in Newfoundland and Labrador invite people to play Regatta Roulette on the night before. Basically, you get sloshed and pray to the weather gods to allow Regatta Day to happen.
Plenty of stores around the city have ongoing discount sales during the Regatta week in order to fetch more customers. If you've been delaying that substantial purchase, Regatta Day is a good time to shop around.