Every Sunday | 10:45am | May to September
Every Saturday | 10:45am | July and August
Inner Harbour - Steamship Terminal
The Victoria Harbour Ferry is in its 25th year of performing the Harbour Ferry Ballet on the waters of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The ballet that began in 1993 as a 10-minute performance to entertain guests and locals, and to showcase the agility of the harbour ferries, and has become an icon of the harbour.
Every Sunday morning from May to September, and every Saturday morning in July and August, the ferries perform at 10:45am in the Inner Harbour. You’ll never see a ballet like this one anywhere else in the world, as the team of Harbour Ferry Captains entertain everyone who looks on.
When the harbour ferries were originally brought to Victoria in 1990, the Skippers were amazed at their maneuverability, so pulling together the first “ballet” harnessed the fascination of pushing the adorable and functional boats to their limits when there were no passengers on board.
The original manoeuvres of the dancing boats were new and complex and certainly not anything that anyone had ever seen performed on the water. The Harbour Ferry Captains who volunteered to become “ballerinas” in 1993 had no idea just how popular their performance would become. However, what they quickly realized was that they needed practice (and lots of it), and that they needed to start practicing their moves on land.
Back in 1993, people walking by the Westbay Marina parking lot would sometimes see five men, wearing Harbour Ferry uniforms, walking around the parking lot practicing their ballet moves. These brave men were subject to a little teasing from their fellow Captains.
Today the ballet performance, still 10 minutes long, is performed by five harbour ferries. The “dance steps” have become much more complex, as they’re inspired by a combination of military marching, the RCMP Musical Ride, and a touch of creative choreography from both the Ballet Captains and a professional choreographer.
Until 2014, the Water Ballet was always been performed to the music of the Blue Danube Waltz, but we decided to switch up the music to a more upbeat ballet song. With over 300 performances to date, the ballet has been the subject of tens of thousands of holiday photos and featured in news articles, magazine stories, and TV shows from as far away as Australia.
Meet the Ballet Captains at the Causeway Marina (Empress Dock) following the performance. They’ll be wearing their red shirts!
In 2010, the Ballet was performed at the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, celebrated by the members of CFB Esquimalt and the City of Victoria.