In 2022 the 4th edition of the event took place on Sunday, March 13th. The live music for the day was with the band Black Angus which normally plays a mix of Bluegrass, Blues, Celtic, Country and Folk, but which played mostly Celtic at this event.
If you’re a whiskey fan, then this is an annual event that you don’t want to miss! At it you can sample over a dozen different drinks with snacks, costumes and music on hand.
Irish Whiskey Hooley Whiskey-Tasting Party in Victoria
The Irish Whiskey Hooley event is a St. Patrick’s Day celebration that combines whiskey tasting with a fun atmosphere and entertainment. It’s an ages 19+ event and there are a limited number of tickets sold.
Irish Whiskey Hooley began in 2018. The 2021 event was cancelled due to the pandemic, but it returned on March 13th in 2022. It’ll be back again in 2023. In addition to being a lot of fun, the party serves as a fundraiser for the Greater Victoria Festival Society’s St. Patrick’s Family Festival which is free and takes place on the same day.
The term “hooley” means an Irish party and one that normally includes music. Victoria’s Irish Whiskey Hooley isn’t a suit and tie formal whiskey tasting event. Rather, it’s meant to be a more casual and fun time! It’s a party! Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes, and there are prizes awarded to the best-dressed.
Location and Admission
Irish Whiskey Hooley takes place at the Irish Times Pub located at 1200 Government Street in Victoria. Named the best Irish Pub in North America by the Irish Pubs Global Awards in 2017, Irish Times is a fairly big place with two levels. It’s also home to plenty of live performances throughout the year.
The whiskey-tasting event took place on March 13th in 2022, from noon until 3:00 pm. In a typical year there are only 150 tickets available. In 2023 the plan is to have a maximum of 125 tickets and to close the restaurant to other guests. This will make it even more of a party, and even more exclusive!
Tickets cost $75 in 2022. They had to be purchased in advance online. Prices each year are the same for everyone, and, as already mentioned, it’s a 19+ event, so no minors are allowed in!
The St. Patrick’s Day Festival also happens on the same day, so on March 13th in 2022, which was the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. The family-friendly event takes place on Government Street between Yates Street and Fort Street (so pretty much right outside the Irish Times Pub). Everyone can attend the outdoor event, including children of all ages.
You have to pay to attend the adults-only Irish Whiskey Hooley event. The family-friendly activities that take place outside on Government Street, however, are free.
What to Expect at the Irish Whiskey Hooley
The centerpiece of the Irish Whiskey Hooley event is the whiskey tasting. Each person has the chance to sample a variety of different whiskeys and there are experts on hand to give information about them. There are also usually samples of gin. To complement the drinks there are light snacks served throughout the event as well.
Attendees receive 16 tokens which they can redeem for sample glasses of whiskey. Each sample is a quarter of an ounce, so in total people get 4 ounces. Additional tokens are also available for purchase. In 2022 you could try a selection of 8 different Jameson brand whiskeys.
Each attendee also receives a special souvenir tasting glass that they can keep, as well as a small notebook to take notes on the different samples. There is live music and other entertainment, and people are encouraged to get up and enjoy themselves over the course of the party. Performing at the event in 2022 was the band Black Angus.
Costumes are not required, but there are prizes for the best ones. Whether you want to dress up in green or something else to show your spirit, it’s highly encouraged!
St. Patrick’s Day Festival
As mentioned above, on top of being a fun event in its own right, the Whiskey Hooley serves as a fundraiser for the Greater Victoria Festival Society‘s other St. Patrick’s Day celebration which happens outside at around the same time on the street.
The St. Patrick’s Family Festival usually takes place either the day of or just before St. Patrick’s Day. The family-friendly event includes music, dance performances, food, vendor stalls, arts and crafts activities, and more. It’s free to attend as well.
The festival took place on Sunday, March 13th, in 2022. It ran from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm, so at roughly the same time as Irish Whiskey Hooley, but for one hour longer.
St. Patrick’s Day Festival Video
To give you an idea of what the St. Patrick’s Day Festival looks like outside on Government Street, check out the following video. The music you’ll hear in the video is by the BC Fiddle Orchestra with Daniel Lapp and the dancers you’ll see are from the O’Brien School of Irish Dance.
For more information about Irish Whiskey Hooley, visit the Greater Victoria Festival Society website.
To learn more about the pub, see our article about the Irish Times.
Some of the many other events hosted by the same organization include the following:
- St. Patrick’s Day Festival
- Victoria Day Celebrations
- Wicked Victoria (at Halloween)
- Santa Light Parade
- Light Up the City
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Victoria’s Events Calendar
- Top Attractions in Victoria
- The A to Z’s of Victoria
- St. Patrick’s Day in Vancouver (on the website Vancouversbestplaces.com)