Looking for places to eat locally?
Here are some local dining options.
Our balanced audience demographic includes families and retirees who often stay in the area either before or after the festival.
How do you pronounce Youbou, a community down the road from our festival site? The answer is revealed in this video that also shows some places to stay and other amenities and attractions, including local herds of Roosevelt elk, the largest of its species and which are only found in B.C. on Vancouver Island.
Play Local – Things to do in ‘Canada’s Provence’
Legendary Canadian food writer James Barber once referred to the Cowichan Valley as “Canada’s Provence.” Conde Nast calls Vancouver Island “Canada’s hidden paradise.” And the Globe and Mail newspaper lists Vancouver Island as a top destination in North America for 2023. Little wonder, then, why nearly 60% of those attending the festival say they intend to visit the Cowichan Valley region either before or after the festival. If you are one of those many bluegrassers exploring the region, here are some of the amenities you may wish to enjoy.
Tours and Tastings
The Cowichan Valley is home to an extraordinary number of wineries, cideries, lavender farms, cheese makers, bakeries, fishmongers, organic growers and other artisanal producers of food and drink.
Cowichan is also home to several excellent craft breweries and distilleries, one of which is also B.C.’s first estate cidery. The region also caters to teetotalers – just north of Duncan is Canada’s only tea farm. Fine dining restaurants abound, and many of the wineries, cideries and distilleries have their own bistros and tasting rooms. (Tourism Cowichan)
The Historic Kinsol Trestle is open to the public for cyclists, hikers and equestrians to experience the full Cowichan Valley Trail in the Cowichan Region. The Kinsol Trestle is one of eight trestles along the Cowichan Valley Trail route and by far the largest and most spectacular. The Kinsol Trestle is one of the tallest free-standing and most spectacular timber rail trestle structures in the world. At 187 metres in length and standing 44 metres above the salmon bearing Koksilah River, the Kinsol is an incredible structure. About one hour from Lake Cowichan; access through Shawnigan Lake. (Cowichan Valley Regional District)
The Cowichan River is a designated heritage river. A relaxing way to see it a leisurely float on an inner tube that can be rented along with shuttle bus pick up.
Gordon Bay Provincial Park
For a great family camping vacation, head to Gordon Bay Provincial Park, located on the south shore of Lake Cowichan. In the summer the lake is warm and the sandy beach makes for great family swimming. History buffs find plenty to interest them in the park and the surrounding area, which is home to a second-growth Douglas-fir forest. Set in one of Vancouver Island’s sunniest valleys, this area boasts the highest average annual temperature in Canada. (BC Parks)
Pacific Marine Circle Route
From Lake Cowichan you can drive to the Pacific Coast town of Port Renfrew on the paved, two-lane Pacific Marine Road, a distance of 65 km, or just over an hour. It will take you to some of the most wild and beautiful locations on the coast including Botanical Beach Provincial Park; the hike-in Sombrio Beach (on a 1.6 km trail) near Gordon River; Mystic Beach, China Beach and more. From Port Renfrew you can continue 70 km to Sooke and another 40 km to Victoria. Lake Cowichan to Victoria on this route takes about 2-1/2 hours. (BC Parks)
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
Travel west from Lake Cowichan and you can visit the Carmanah Valley, hailed by BC Parks as “without a doubt one of the most remarkable wild places on Vancouver Island.” Home to some of the world’s largest spruce trees, some reaching heights in excess of 95 metres and living for 800 years or more, the park is also home to ancient estimated to be well over 1,000 years old.
Directions (BC Parks): Those accessing the park via Lake Cowichan should follow South Shore Road past Gordon Bay Provincial Park to the Nitinat Main, or follow the North Shore Road through Youbou to the Nitinat Main. Continue along Nitinat Main till it connects with Junction South. Turn left onto South Main and proceed to the Caycuse River Bridge. (BC Parks)
Youbou, a former logging town on the north shore of Cowichan Lake not far from the festival site, is home to a herd of Roosevelt elk, the largest of their species, including two the locals have named Bob and Henry. Vancouver Island is the last remaining stronghold of Roosevelt elk in Canada. Roosevelt elk also frequent the festival site, but not during festival season.
On the west coast of Vancouver Island, visit what major tourism websites continually praise as a must-see place to visit. “One of the coolest and most laid-back surf towns in North America,” says Surfer Today. “Canada’s hidden paradise,” according to Vogue Paris. Driving time from festival: four hours.