ScotFestBC: the British Columbia Highland Games is a Metro Vancouver Scottish festival that takes place at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam in June.
Formerly called the “BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival”, it’s both a cultural festival and a sporting event.
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ScotFestBC: the British Columbia Highland Games
ScotFestBC is an annual event featuring athletic competitions, Celtic dancing, live music, whisky tasting and bagpiping! It’s a family-friendly event and lots of fun!
In past years the games and festival have taken place at Percy Perry Stadium at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park. In 2019 it took place at the same park, but near Lafarge Lake instead of by the stadium. In 2020 it was again scheduled to happen by Lafarge Lake on June 19th and 20th, until it got cancelled due to COVID-19. The festival in 2021 will likely also be at its new venue.
In past years, general admission to the BC Highland Games & Scottish Festival cost around $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $5 for children (ages 6-12). It’s usually free for kids ages 5 and under.
Whisky School Classes cost $30 to $40 (and usually sell out way in advance) plus gate admission.
Want to save a little money? Friday’s “Celtic Kick Off Ceilidh” from 5 pm to 9:30 pm is free in years that it happens.
For an idea of what to expect in future years, below is the Saturday schedule for the 2019 BC Highland Games & Scottish Festival. We divided the schedule up into General Events, Live Entertainment, Competitions, Workshops & Demonstrations, Kids Activities and Day-Long Events.
Some of the activities took place on the festival’s Main Stage, while others happened in the field and other locations.
(Note: The following event times, locations and other details were subject to change.)
General Events Schedule (from 2019)
- 8:00 am – Gates Open to the Public
- 11:00 am – Beer Garden Opens
- 12:00 pm – Parade of Dignitaries, Clans and VIPs
- 12:10 pm – Official Welcoming Ceremony
- 12:30 pm – 78th Fraser Highlanders Cannon Blast (from South Park)
- 3:15 pm – RCMP East Division Pipe Band Salute to Chieftain of the Day
- 5:40 pm – Recognition of Sponsors
- 5:45 pm – Massed Pipe Bands and Awards (on the Main Stage)
Sports, Music and Dance Competitions (from 2019)
Competitive events that generally last less than an hour were the following:
- 8:00 am – Solo Piping & Drumming Competitions (Piper’s Glen – Guildford Way)
- 8:30 am – Pre-Premier Highland Dancing (on the Highland Dance Stage)
- 11:45 am – Massed Scottish Country Dancing (on the Main Stage)
- 1:30 to 1:45 pm – Strictly Scottish Dance Team (on the Main Stage)
- 2:00 to 4:30 pm – West Coast Open Premiership Highland Dancing (on the Highland Dance Stage)
- 2:30 to 2:45 pm – Serbian/Highland Dance Fusion (on the Main Stage)
- 4:45 pm – Grade I & II Pipe Band Competitions (on the Meadow)
Competitive events that run for most of the day included the following:
- 8:30 am to 4:00 pm – City of Vancouver Championship & Open Highland Dancing (on the Highland Dance Stage)
- 9:00 am to 4:00 pm – BC Provincial Heavy Events Championships (in the Lew Ross Heavy Event Field)
- 1:30 to 4:30 pm – Pipe Band Competitions, Grades 3, 4 & 5 (on the Meadow)
Workshops and Demonstrations(from 2019)
A number of whisky-tasting and other cultural workshops and demonstrations took place in various locations including in the Highland Village and Whisky Tent (where you’ll find lots of father’s enjoying a pre-Father’s Day afternoon).
- 11:00 am to 1:45 pm – Cultural Talk with Rob MacDonald about “Scotland, Bagpipes & History” (on the Main Stage)
- 12:30 to 1:15 pm – Whisky School Class #1 Island Malts: Vic Caledonia (at the Whisky Knoll)
- 1:00 to 4:30 pm – Traditional Tent, with Michael Viens and Celtic musicians (on the Folk Alley Stage)
- 1:00 to 1:45 pm – Cultural Talk about “Scots & Democracy” (on the Main Stage)
- 1:30 to 2:15 pm – Whisky School Class #2 (at the Whisky Knoll)
- 2:30 to 3:15 pm – Whisky School Class #3 (at the Whisky Knoll)
- 2:30 to 3:15 pm – Cultural Talk with Rob MacDonald about the “Seaforth Highlanders Uniform 1909-2019” (on the Main Stage)
- 3:15 to 4:30 pm – Cultural Talk with Barry Shears about “Bagpiping: East vs West” (on the Main Stage)
- 3:30 to 4:15 pm – Whisky School Class #4 (at the Whisky Knoll)
Kids’ Activities Schedule (from 2019)
- 12:00 pm – Interactive Demo for Kids: Piping, Dancing & Drumming
- 10:00 am to 4:00 pm – Children’s Games, Rides and Other Activities (in the Main Entrance Parking Lot)
- 10:00 am to 4:00 pm – Haggis Hunting (in the Children’s Area)
On-going and Day-Long Activities Schedule (from 2019)
- 10:00 am to 5:00 pm – Food & Merchandise Vendors open (in the North Park)
- 10:00 am to 3:40 pm – Cultural Workshops, Demonstrations and Presentations (in the Highland Village on the Main Stage)
- 10:30 am to 3:00 pm – British Car Display (on the Northeast Parking Lot)
- 11:00 am to 3:00 pm – Martial Arts Demonstrations (on the Meadow)
Live Entertainment (Non-Competitive Schedule) (from 2019)
Below is the music and live entertainment schedule for 2019. (Note: times and performer details were subject to change.)
On the Main Stage
- 11:00 am – Kilbirnie Station
- 11:15 am – Massed Scottish Country Dancing with Kilbirnie
- 11:45 am – Duty Band March In
- 12:00 pm – Opening Ceremonies
- 12:30 pm – Bob Collins
- 1:00 pm – Gaelic Singing & Frolic
- 2:00 pm – Strictly Scottish Team
- 2:30 pm – Interactive Scottish Country Dancing
- 3:00 pm – JJ Lavelee
- 4:00 pm – Fiddling Frenzy
- 4:30 pm – Shot of Scotch/Serbian Fusion
- 5:00 pm – Recognition of Sponsors and Winners
- 5:30 pm – Massed Bands & Awards
On the Ceilidh Stage
- 12:30 pm – Cookeilidh
- 1:30 pm – The Paperboys
- 2:30 pm – Bob Collins
- 3:00 pm – Cookeilidh
- 4:00 pm – The Paperboys
- 6:00 pm – Beer Garden Jam session
In addition to bagpiping and dancing events, the BC Highland Games also involved Heavy Events competitions which were open to athletes ages 19+ (although competitors ages 16-18 could have registered with a parent’s permission).
(Note: Online registration to compete closed a couple of weeks prior to the games.)
There were three categories of Heavy Events: Distance Events, Height Events and the Caber Toss.
Distance competitions included the Stone Putt, Weight for Distance Throws and the Scottish Hammer Toss.
Height Events included the Weight Over Bar competition which involved throwing a 56-pound weight (for men) or a 28-pound weight (for women) over a bar. Similarly, the Sheaf Toss involved throwing a 10 to 20 lbs simulated bale of hay over a bar with a pitchfork.
The Caber Toss was the event where contestants throw giant poles as far as they can, with each pole weighing from 70 to 130 lbs and being between 15 and 23 feet in length.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your visit to the BC Highland Games.
TIP #1: Take public transit if you can. The Lafarge Lake – Douglas SkyTrain Station is just a short walk away.
TIP #2: If you can only stay for a short time, then go in the afternoon. That’s when things are most interesting.
TIP #3: If you want to attend one of the Whisky School Classes, register early as they usually sell out well in advance.
TIP #4: If you plan to compete in the Heavy Events, be sure to register at least two weeks prior to the day of the games. Also, if competing, be sure to prepare well and know what you’re doing! The weights are heavy and you don’t want to injure yourself!
TIP #5: Wear your tartan if you have some! You’ll fit right in!
For further details about the event see the ScotFest BC & the British Columbia Highland Games‘ website. And for information about a similar event on Vancouver Island, check out the Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival which takes place in May.
For information about the town and surrounding area, click Coquitlam.
For other events taking place in the Lower Mainland, check out the following:
- Vancouver’s June Calendar and July Calendar
- Festivals & Events Calendar
- Father’s Day Weekend Events
- Free June Events
- Free July Events