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Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival

Victoria Highland Games

The Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival is an annual event that takes place at Victoria’s Topaz Park on the May Long Weekend each year.

 


Click these links to skip to specific information about the Victoria Highland Games:

When are the Games | Where are the Games | Hours and Admission | What Happens at the Celtic Festival | What to Expect | Tips and Advice | Other Information


 

Victoria Highland Games

An annual tradition in Victoria since the mid-1860s, the Highland Games and Celtic Festival is a long-running event. It features hundreds of drummers and bagpipers, all sorts of competitions, Celtic dancing, tartan everywhere and lots of great family-friendly fun. Even if you don’t have Scottish blood, it’s well worth checking out!

 

Victoria Highlander Silhouettes
Bagpipers at the Highland Games

 

When are the Highland Games

The Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival takes place on the Victoria Day Long Weekend. In 2022 they are set to take place on May 21st and 22nd. In past years the festival has sometimes taken place on the Monday as well but it’s a two-day event this year.

 

Where are the Highland Games

The venue for the Victoria Highland Games is Topaz Park which is bordered by Blanshard Street, Finlayson Street and Topaz Avenue. The park is also kitty-corner to Mayfair Shopping Centre which is located at 3147 Douglas Street.

Parking is available nearby at SJ Willis School at 923 Topaz Avenue and on some (but not all) streets in the neighbourhood.

 

Victoria's Victoria Day Parade

 


VICTORIA DAY PARADE AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

Taking place on the same weekend as the Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival is the Victoria Day Parade. The parade happens on the Holiday Monday in the morning. There is also free entertainment in the afternoon on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday too. See our article about the Victoria Day Weekend for more details.


 

Hours and Admission

In 2022 the Celtic Festival is open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm on the Saturday and 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on the Sunday. The Opening Ceremonies start at 12:30 pm on the Saturday.

 

Early Bird Tickets in 2022

Early bird prices only apply to tickets bought before April 20th. Below were the early bird prices for 2022, followed by the price of tickets bought after April 20th.

One-Day Passes

  • Adult – $15
  • Senior (65+) – $12
  • Youth (13-18) – $12

Two-Day Passes

  • Adult – $25
  • Senior (65+) – $20
  • Youth (13-18) – $20

 

Cannon Firing at Highland Games
Cannon Firing at the Opening Ceremonies

Tickets Bought After April 20th, 2022

One-Day Passes

  • Adult – $20
  • Senior (65+) – $15
  • Youth (13-18) – $15

Two-Day Passes

  • Adult – $30
  • Senior (65+) – $25
  • Youth (13-18) – $25

Children under 12 years old are able to get into this festival for free.

For more information or to purchase tickets, click Festival Tickets.

 

Highland Heavy Games
Highland Games Throwing Competitions

 

What Happens at the Celtic Festival

The Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival is a large event with activities and things to see and do all over Topaz Park.

 

Festival Venues

For the festival, Topaz Park is divided up into different areas. There is a Clans Area with booths offering information about local Celtic organizations and Celtic culture, and a Market Area with vendors selling everything from tartan clothing to fudge and all kinds of souvenirs.

For the different events themselves there is a large grassy field. This is the site of the opening ceremonies’ marching bands, a couple of stages for live performances and a sports field for the heavy competitions. There are animal events as well, with an area set up for dog agility and sheep herding competitions.

There are also a couple areas primarily for spectators. This includes a children’s zone with bouncy castles, an area for food trucks and (of course) a beer garden.

 

Sheep at Highland Games
Sheep herding at the Victoria Highland Games

 

Celtic Festival Activities Schedule

A wide range of activities take place at the Victoria Highland Games event. There are usually Celtic music and dance performances, demonstrations in medieval sword fighting and falconry, whisky tasting opportunities and competitions in dancing, bagpiping, drumming and athletic events like hurling and Gaelic football.

The tentative schedule for the 2022 festival is listed below.

 

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

  • 8:30 am – 12:00 pm: Amateur Heavy Events
  • 9:00 am – 5:00 pm: Irish Dance Feis
  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Solo Piping and Drumming
  • 10:00 am – 6:00 pm: Celtic Music Tent
  • 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm: Opening Ceremonies and Massed Bands
  • 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Professional Heavy Events
  • 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Pipe Band Competition and Massed Bands
  • 6:30 pm – 7:00 pm: Pre-Sunset Ceremony Entertainment
  • 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Sunset Ceremony

 

Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

  • 8:30 am – 12:00 pm: Amateur Heavy Events
  • 9:00 am – 5:00 pm: Highland Dance Competition
  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Solo Piping and Drumming
  • 10:00 am – 6:00 pm: Celtic Music Tent
  • 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm: Opening Ceremonies and Massed Bands
  • 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Professional Heavy Events
  • 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Pipe Band Competition and Massed Bands
  • 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Strathcona Mounted Horse Troop

 

For the most up-to-date schedule see the official Victoria Highland Games website.

 

Food Truck Venue at Highland Games
Food Truck Venue at the Highland Games

 

What to Expect at the Highland Games

At the Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival you can expect to see lots of dancing, tartan and men in kilts. You can also expect to hear lots of bagpiping and drumming, plus the occasional grunt as someone launches a projectile in one of the heavy events competitions.

In the food truck area you can experience all kinds of interesting smells. You can expect there to be French fries and Greek food, but also Haggis!

The Highland Games is an exceptional family-friendly event. Expect to learn about Scottish culture, listen to lots of Celtic music, and enjoy the experience along with about 25,000 other people over the course of the weekend!

 

Highland Games Haggis
Haggis cooking in the Food Truck Area

 

Tips and Advice

To help you make the most out of your experience at the Highland Games below are some tips and additional information.

TIP #1: Don’t forget to take your camera, especially if you have friends or family in any of the competitions.

TIP #2: If it’s hot and sunny don’t forget your hat and sunscreen as the event is primarily outdoors. There are trees and shaded areas, but it’s mostly out in the open.

TIP #3: Try to be there for the opening ceremonies. The scene of hundreds of marching band participants with their bagpipes and drums is impressive, as is the firing of the cannon at the start of the event.

TIP #4: Have some Haggis! It’s not every day you get the opportunity to try this traditional Scottish dish.

 

Highland Games Opening Ceremony
Opening Ceremony at the Victoria Highland Games

 

Other Information

Below are some more important things to know.

  • No Dogs: The festival is a dog free event (which is no doubt appreciated by the sheep).
  • No Smoking: Smoking is not permitted on the festival grounds.
  • Parking: Although there is a fair bit of parking in the area, there are also thousands of people at the event. Topaz Park has a parking lot off Finlayson Road, but access is usually limited. Parking is also available though nearby at SJ Willis School at 923 Topaz Avenue, as well as on some (but not all) nearby streets including Quadra. If you park on a side street, just look out for the “resident parking only” signs.

For more information on the festival see the Victoria Celtic Festival website.

For information on other festivals and events see Victoria’s Events Calendar.