A holiday that depends on the mercy of weather Gods? Check. Boat races that date as far back as the early 1800s? Check. People getting stupid-drunk at night — then taking their chances at work the next day? Check. These are just three reasons that make Regatta Day one of the most unusual holidays on the Canadian calendar. Celebrated on the first Wednesday of August, every year, Regatta Day is closely associated with the British Monarchy, which is why the boat races on this day are also called Royal St. John’s Regatta.
Regatta Day - History
Regatta Day Becomes Royal
Regatta Day is given the Royal designation in 1993 to respect the close ties of the day to the British monarchy.
Date of Regatta Day Changed
In 1978, the event was shifted to July to accommodate the visit of Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II.
A Visit from the Monarchy
Prince Albert Edward attended the races in 1860. The popularity of races among the British monarchy continues to this day.
The First Regatta Day Race
While rowing matches on St. John's Harbor date back to the 1700s, 1816 is the first time an organized race was documented in the region.
Regatta Day Activities
1. Attend the races
This one is the most obvious. 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.
2. Race your hamster
Do you have a pet hamster? You could win a new cage for him 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, though, and not any other rodents.
3. Invite your friends and family over
A lot of people who can't make it to the lake watch the races on television. It is a good excuse to invite your fam, get some beers, and even bet on your favorites.
1. Newfoundland Has Its Own Time Zone
The province is 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Standard Time and 90 minutes ahead of Eastern Time.
2. France Still Controls Part of It
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.
3. The Oldest North American City is Here
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.
4. It Experiences a Lot of Foggy Days
In fact, given its geographical location, Argentia, a seaport in Newfoundland, has more than 200 foggy days, on average, every year.
5. It is the 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
A. 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, isn't it!
B. 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.
C. Discount days
Plenty of stores around the city have ongoing discount sales during the Regatta week in order to fetch more customers. If you have been delaying that substantial purchase, Regatta Day is a good time to shop around.