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.
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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!
When are the Highland Games
The Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival take place on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Victoria Day Long Weekend. In 2020 they were going to be on May 16 and 17 (but in the end they got cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic).
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.
Hours and Admission
In years when it isn’t cancelled, the Celtic Festival is open from 8 am to 8 pm on the Saturday and 8 am to 7 pm on the Sunday of the event. The Opening Ceremonies usually start at noon on the Saturday. See the Event Website for 2020 details.
Early Bird Tickets
Early bird prices only apply to tickets bought before April 30th. Below are want the prices were going to be in 2020 (before the festival got cancelled). 2021 prices will likely be similar.
- Adult – $15
- Senior (65+) – $12
- Youth (13-18) – $12
- Adult – $25
- Senior (65+) – $20
- Youth (13-18) – $20
Tickets Bought After May 1st
- Adult – $20
- Senior (65+) – $15
- Youth (13-18) – $15
- 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.
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.
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.
At the festival there is also a grassy field for the opening ceremonies’ marching bands, a couple of stages for live performances and a sports field for the heavy competitions. At the event there’s an area set up for dog agility and sheep herding competitions. There is also a children’s zone with bouncy castles, an area for food trucks and, of course, a beer garden.
Celtic Festival Activities
A wide range of activities take place at the Victoria Highland Games event. There are 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.
For a schedule of activities see the Festival’s Events Page.
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.
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 primarily 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.
Below are some additional 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.