The distinctive sound of bagpipes could be heard on the breeze Saturday and Sunday as the 159th annual Victoria Highland Games returned to Topaz Park.
Over the last two pandemic years, the event, significantly scaled back size, took place at Craigflower Manor in View Royal. Good weather helped the festival see record numbers of attendants on Saturday, according to Jim Maxwell, president of the Victoria Highland Games Association. Usually, the festival attracts anywhere from 25,000 to 35,000 people.
“When I started, it was quite a small one-day event and because of the interest of the public and various groups plans, pipe bands (and so), we decided to expand it and make it a world-class event,” he said. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve grown it into one of the top quality smaller games in the world.”
Topaz Park is undergoing construction, which compressed the layout of the festival slightly. But Maxwell said their “wee bit hill and glen” improved the experience for attendants, although it wasn’t without its challenges.
“The big issue is sound conflicts, but we think we’ve got the pipes spaced out from the heavy events, from the dancers and it seems to be working fine.”
The event featured heavy events – like caber toss and hammer throw – as well as bagpipe playing, Highland dancing, as well as sunset performances from the University of Washington Huskies Marching Band on Saturday and a closing performance by the Strathcona Mounted Troop performance on Sunday.
Events continue at Topaz Park till 7 p.m. on Sunday.