A new battle of the pipes marks the 2014 Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival this weekend at Topaz Park.
This year marks the 151st year of the games which take place May 17 and 18.
New this year is the Canada vs. U.S. Grade 1 Pipe Band Competition which will pit the top Grade 1 pipe band from Canada (the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band) against the top U.S. pipe band (the LA Scots Pipe Band) as they prepare to head to world championships in Scotland later this year.
The Victoria Highland Games Association also added an elite women’s category in the heavy events this year, something Carl Jensen, a member and competitor at the games for the last 10 years, says adds to the experience.
“We’re seeing more and more female competitors and now that we’ve added the elite women category, spectators will be able to see both male and female world-class athletes at the Games representing the professional side of the sport,” he said.
Aside from the sporting events, the weekend will feature more cultural endeavours like Whisky School, sheep shearing demonstrations, sheepdog herding trials, Highland dance competitions, music and more.
“It’s an event that offers something for everyone and it really brings the community together,” Jensen said.
The Games, which according to the association are the longest-running cultural event in the region, moved to Topaz Park in 2008. The association has run the Games since 1937 to preserve the cultural aspect while making sure to offer different events and entertainment.
“What’s amazing is how much the Games have evolved and changed over the years,” said Jensen.
“The Games have grown into an all encompassing event that celebrate Scotland’s culture and heritage. There aren’t too many other family events out there that allow people to immerse themselves in the culture for the day.”
Gates are open for the games from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Advance tickets ($12 for single day adult admission, $10 for seniors and youth) for the games are available at The Strath Liquor Store, Hotel Grand Pacific and Liquor Planet. Children under 12 get in free. Full price tickets will be available at the gates on the day of, cash only.
For more information visit victoriahighlandgames.com.