Fresh St. Market's Annual Halibut Festival

Man tasting halibut at the Fresh St. Market West Vancouver festival.

Fresh St. Market West Vancouver

May is a great month to be a seafood lover in Vancouver. Not only is it the start of B.C. Spot Prawn season, celebrated with the free B.C. Spot Prawn Festival as well as special spot prawn dishes at Vancouver's best seafood restaurants, it's also the month Fresh St. Market holds its annual Halibut Festival.

Vancouverites love their halibut. It's ubiquitous at almost every fine-dining restaurant in the city. While you can get fresh, local halibut throughout the year at the Best Places to Shop for Local Seafood in Vancouver, the Fresh St. Market B.C. Halibut Festival is a must-visit for its extraordinary haul: 10 tonnes (more than 20,000 lbs.) of fresh-caught, Ocean Wise halibut from B.C.’s Haida Gwaii region. Plus the festival has lots of fun activities for all ages, too.

2016 Festival

Fresh St. Market, a food market that specializes in locally-sourced food and products, has two locations in Metro Vancouver: West Vancouver (at 1650 Marine Drive) and Surrey (at 15930 Fraser Highway). Both locations host the Halibut Festival over the same weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The B.C. Halibut Festival at Fresh St. Market in West Vancouver (1650 Marine Drive) is on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The Halibut Festival at Fresh St. Market in Surrey (15930 Fraser Highway) is on Sunday, May 15, 2016. The Festival runs from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. both days.

The incredible haul of 10,000+ lbs. of fresh-caught, Ocean Wise halibut is split between the two locations, and you can purchase the fish straight off the boat. 

Both festival locations have free events for the whole family, too, including food demonstrations from local vendors and kids’ activities. You can even sample the halibut with an on-site grilled halibut burger. 

What You Need to Know

If you're new to Vancouver or just visiting the city, you may not recognize some of the buzzwords used to describe the fresh halibut at the B.C. Halibut Festival. So here's what you need to know:

  • The halibut is certified as sustainable by Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise is a non-profit organization started by the Vancouver Aquarium to promote sustainable seafood; its circular seal appears on fish products and seafood restaurant menus to let you know which foods meet its criteria and are sustainably sourced. 
  • The halibut was caught in B.C.'s Haida Gwaii region. ​Haida Gwaii is a series of islands on the northwestern coast of British Columbia. It's home to the Haida people, one of the First Nations of B.C. You can see fabulous examples of Haida artworks at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, including the Raven and The First Men sculpture by Haida artist Bill Reid, which also appears on the back of every Canadian $20 bill! (Vancouver is also home to the ​Bill Reid Gallery.)
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