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Online events, live music and more planned for RiverFest 2021 in New West

Spotlight on: RiverFest
The Lucille Johnstone workboat parade is just one of the events taking place in New West for RiverFest 2021.

What’s happening?

After a one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, RiverFest is returning to New Westminster’s waterfront in 2021. RiverFest 2021 features a weeklong series of events from Sept. 21 to 28.

“We always look forward to RiverFest, which is our biggest event of the year,” said Stephen Bruyneel, Fraser River Discovery Centre’s director of external relations and development. “This year there will be a full week of free events and activities – online and in-person – with a continued focus on meeting COVID-19 health and safety protocols.” 

What is RiverFest?

Now in its 19th year, RiverFest is held to celebrate World Rivers Day and BC Rivers Day, which are on Sunday, Sept. 26. 

RiverFest, which is Metro Vancouver’s biggest celebration of the environmental, economic and socio-cultural importance of the Fraser River, is presented by the Port of Vancouver and supported by a grant from the City of New Westminster and other sponsors. 

“The Fraser River means so much to all of us for so many reasons, but sometimes I think we take it for granted,” Bruyneel said in a news release. “So, we hope people will come down during the week to not only have fun, but also increase their understanding – and help us celebrate – the living, working Fraser River.” 

What events are planned for this year’s festival?

NatureKids BC is having a virtual Explorer Day on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. Bernice Jensen (cultural education coordinator at the Kamloops-Thompson school district and the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society) and her family will share knowledge about traditional Indigenous fishing methods and connections with salmon through drumming, demonstration and stories.

On Saturday, Sept. 25, families can head to Fraser River Discovery Centre for the Family Fun Zone, where they can enjoy a variety of activities, live music featuring Gina Lina and Katari Taiko, and the popular Lucille Johnstone Workboat Parade on the waterfront. The workboat parade will take place around 2 p.m.

Action at the Family Fun Zone inside Fraser River Discovery Centre continues on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Fraser River Discovery Centre is located at 788 Quayside Dr. – next to River Market.

Going to the birds:

Ornithologist, author, filmmaker, and artist Rob Butler is returning to Discovery Centre for an online presentation, Birds of the Fraser River Basin, on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. The Fraser River estuary is home to millions of migratory and resident birds throughout the year – and they’re important for the long-term health of the Fraser watershed.

“Dr. Butler will be focusing on migratory birds arriving in the Fraser estuary for the winter months this fall. By the time of his presentation, many will have already arrived in the watershed,” said a notice about the presentation. “This is a great way to welcome our feathered friends and celebrate the marvellous biodiversity along the Fraser.”

During a 20-minute presentation, Butler will provide some examples of wintering birds in the estuary. Attendees can then participate by showing their own photos of the Fraser’s birdlife and get some information from Butler about what they’ve spotted.

This Zoom presentation is free, but pre-registration is required.

Booked up:

Two other events are taking place as part of RiverFest, but they’re already fully booked – River Basin Explorer Day at Lower Hume on Sunday, Sept. 26 and online Rivers Day school programs from Sept. 21 to 23.

More info, please

To find out more about RiverFest 2021 and to sign up in advance for some of this year’s offerings, go to

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus