Victoria’s Highland Games promise a variety of entertainment options

Annual competition growing into world-class cultural, as well as athletic event

For top-ranking, heavy-event athletes, the Victoria Highlands Games is already on the international map – but it’s not all about the strongmen at this weekend’s festival.

The annual event is growing a strong reputation for its Scottish and Celtic cultural events as well.

“What we’re trying to do is create a very high quality Highland Games with world-class entertainment,” said Jim Maxwell, president of the Victoria Highlands Games Association.

There are several firsts this year, including a drum major challenge.

“That’s brand new for us,” Maxwell said. “They don’t it much in Canada.”

World champ Jason Paguio of Simon Fraser University will compete by leading a band up and down the field twirling and tossing his baton, keeping the beat for the musicians.

“These guys make an art form of it,” said Maxwell, adding that next year he plans to hold a competition between the 10 best drum majors in the world.

Dancers, pipers and drummers will also compete on Sunday (May 20).

Many of the Celtic events evolved from Scotland’s strong military culture, explained Maxwell. Strong-men events were used to select warriors, roughly 1,000 years ago. Similarly, pipers historically led the regiments into battle. “The bagpipes are the only registered instrument of war.”

The same was true of highland dancing.

“It was only in the mid-1900s that women were doing it. Up until then, it was training for all the Scottish regiments. If you watch the highland dancers, it takes dexterity and strength to do it.”

Also new this year is the first sanctioned sheep-herding competition. Other crowd-pleasing competitions include sheep shearing, duck herding and tug-of-war. Add to the list two beer gardens, haggis tasting, history presentations, falconry and sword fighting demonstrations, whiskey school and a Celtic music festival.

“It just goes on and on,” Maxwell said.

He expects 15,000 to 20,000 people to attend the events Saturday and Sunday. It hasn’t always been that way.

“It wasn’t that long ago, it was a one day fairly small event and now it’s quite a large event and it’s getting bigger and bigger every year.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Mark your calendar:

The Victoria Highland Games take place May 19 and 20 at Topaz Park. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and youth, free for children under 12. For more information, visit www.victoriahighlandgames.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island riders conquering new heights

With no races, cyclists tackle Everest challenge to lift community

Saanich police search for suspect accused of using stolen credit, debit cards

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers says suspect made numerous fraudulent purchases

Homeless woman sentenced to 18 months in jail for selling drugs to Victoria police officer

Officer paid $20 for a substance consisting of heroin, fentanyl and caffeine

Family restaurant to hold Saturday fundraiser for Beirut blast

Wrap and Roll will donate all sales to victims of blast

Police looking for witnesses of alleged assault in Burnside Gorge’s Cecila Ravine

Concerned woman pushed to the ground, had phone broken while taking a photo of a dog

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read