The Hopscotch Festival is a week-long series of events including the Grand Tasting Hall which features whisky, beer, spirits and food sampling in Vancouver.
Hopscotch Festival of Whisky, Beer & Spirits
The Vancouver Hopscotch Festival is an annual festival that features nearly two dozen whisky and other beverage-sampling events at different venues around town. The festival includes the massive Grand Tasting Hall which showcases hundreds of whiskies, beers and spirits from BC and around the world.
Although the 2020 festival was cancelled due to COVID-19, the 2021 festival happened from November 21st to December 3rd, but without its popular Grand Tasting Hall event. In 2022 the festival ran from November 21st to the 27th.
Grand Tasting Hall
The Grand Tasting Hall is the main event during the Hopscotch Festival. After not happening in 2021, the main event returned in 2022. Last year the Grand Tasting Hall happened on the Friday and Saturday of November 25th and 26th at the PNE Forum at 2901 East Hastings Street. The sessions ran from 6:00 until 10:30 pm on both days.
NOTE: The Grand Tasting Hall sells out every year! Book your spot well in advance! Look out though for discounted tickets.
About the Grand Tasting Hall
At the Hopscotch Festival’s Grand Tasting Hall the PNE Forum is full of distillery representatives. They offer samples of Scotch, Irish, Canadian, American and other whiskies. There are various types of craft and premium beers, wines and other spirits from around the world. There is also a food exhibition and live music at the event throughout the evening.
The Grand Tasting Hall event has expanded over the past couple of decades. The Hall also experienced an especially large growth spurt since 2016. In 2022 there were over 250 different products at the event.
Grand Tasting Hall Cost
Ticket prices for the Grand Tasting Hall range between about $30 and $50 plus taxes and fees for one night depending on when you purchase them.
At the Grand Tasting Hall event participants buy Hopscotch Tokens in increments of 5 and 20 at the cost of around $1 plus tax per token. The Hopscotch Tokens are then used to purchase beverage and food samples from the various participating breweries, distilleries and food vendors.
Many of the beverage samples have cost only 1 or 2 tokens in the past, which is very reasonable for this kind of event. Most beers and ciders cost about 1 token, although occasionally more. Wines were typically 1 or 2 tokens and spirits ranged from 1 to around 9 tokens for the really fancy stuff. Food menu items ranged from around 2 to 10 tokens.
Grand Tasting Hall Participating Vendors
Typically the Grand Tasting Hall venue has been divided up into different sections. Categories from recent years are listed below.
- BC Craft Pavilion – featuring dozens of local craft beers from a variety of British Columbia breweries. Expect to see Bomber Brewing, Bridge Brewing, Central City Brewers, Foamers’ Folly, Granville Island, Hearthstone, Moody Ales, Parallel 49, Powell Brewery, Spinnakers Brewpub (from Victoria), Stanley Park and Yellow Dog.
- Beers From Around The World – as the name suggests, this area features premium international beers from all over the globe. Expect to find brands like Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic, Warsteiner, Erdinger and Pfungstädter from Germany, O’Hara’s Irish Stout, and a number of other distinguished international brews.
- Whisky Corner – the main attraction at the event, this zone features over 100 whiskies including Single Malts, Blends, Whiskey (with an “e”), Whisky (without an “e”), Rye, Bourbon and the like from a wide range of countries including Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the US, and Japan. In the Whisky Corner, there’s usually Canada’s Crown Royal, Glendalough Whiskey from Ireland, Glenfarclas Whisky from Scotland and Jack Daniels from Tennessee. Other famous whisky brands like Auchentoshan, Johnny Walker, Jameson, Glenfiddich and Wild Turkey are also featured.
- The Wine Garden – prefer wine to beer, whisky and other liquors? Then this is where you’ll find an assortment of fine reds, whites and rosés.
More Grand Tasting Hall Areas
- BC Craft Spirits – BC has a thriving craft spirits industry. This section is where you’ll find some of the best including, some years, award-winning Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery (from Vernon and Kelowna), among others. (Note: Okanagan Spirits is one of BC’s best, but they don’t always attend this event.)
- Spirits Of The Globe – includes samples most years of el Jimador (tequila), New Amsterdam Vodka, Cobees (from Korea), Grand Marnier, Nikka Whisky (from Japan) and other liquors from around the world.
- Restaurant Row – where you’ll find appetizers and other tasty treats by celebrity chefs and top Vancouver restaurants.
- The Music Lounge – popular local bands play all evening both nights.
Other Hopscotch Festival Events
In addition to the Grand Tasting Hall event at the PNE Forum, various other smaller events also take place at different venues around Vancouver during the Hopscotch Festival. Most focus on a particular brand or type of whisky.
Examples of some of the Hopscotch Festivals’ various smaller events include the Bunnahabhain Master Class, Boulder Spirits Master Class and the Spey Master Class.
There’s also the Masters of Whisky event, which typically sells out first. During the session, guests get to taste some of the best whisky in the world while also learning about local offerings.
For the full list of 2022 events visit the Hopscotch Festival website.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your Hopscotch Festival experience.
TIP #1: A number of events during the Hopscotch Festival sell out in advance, including the Grand Tasting Hall. Buy your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment!
TIP #2: Go to the Grand Tasting Hall with an appetite as the event features lots of food. Pace yourself though and don’t drink on an empty stomach!
TIP #3: Get in line for the food vendors early. There are only half a dozen or so to choose from. The most popular vendors usually sell out of menu items before the end of the night.
TIP #4: Don’t forget to plan ahead how you expect to get home.
TIP #5: There are bottles of whisky and other items for sale at the Grand Tasting Hall. If planning to do some Christmas shopping, consider making your purchases just before you leave. This way, you won’t risk putting your packages down somewhere and heading home without them. Conveniently, the event’s liquor store is located near the main exit.
TIP #6: Watch out for discounted tickets. Pretty much right up until the event in 2019 the organizers were offering 4 Packs of tickets for just over $100 (or $120 depending on the date). This was a great deal considering that full price for one full-priced ticket to the Grand Tasting Hall event was between about $42 and $46. That being said, the offer was only available through the festival’s “sponsored” Instagram and Facebook ads and not on any of their regular online channels or website.
For further details about the Grand Tasting Hall and other related whisky events in November, see the Hopscotch Festival website.
For a list of other beer, wine and liquor venues and special events, check out the following:
For a list of other festivals and events this time of year, check out the following:
- Vancouver’s November Calendar
- Festivals & Events
- Best Christmas Activities
- Shows & Entertainment
- Vancouver Christmas Concerts