“Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.” –Scottish proverb.
Cue the bagpipes, fiddlers, pipes, and harps. The 25th Annual Skagit Valley Highland Games is about to begin…
What to Expect?
Held July 13th-14th the Annual Skagit Valley Highland Games are organized by the Mount Vernon based Celtic Arts Foundation. The weekend event attracts visitors from around the country and British Columbia. With the breath-taking Cascade Mountains in the background and the Skagit River running through it, Edgewater Park, in Mount Vernon is a spectacular venue that will please and impress visitors and participants alike.
In a spirit of uniting generations, everyone in the family is invited to attend. From your littlest, most annoying brother to your old, wise grandfather, bring them all along for this weekend affair. This getaway could even be disguised as a family reunion.
There is so much joy in the shared beginning of something momentous. The weekend starts off with the “Gathering of the Clans Dinner” on 12th July. Featuring world-renowned pipe player, Stuart Liddell, this is an event not to be missed.
Who Will Be Attending?
The turnout in past years has been nothing short of incredible. With more than 10, 000 people attending each year’s festival, and anticipation for this year’s Games is no different. This event always delivers fun-filled, exciting program to suit the entire family.
This festival promises to deliver highly talented performances of bagpipes (both solo and band performances), drumming competitions, fiddlers, Sottish Highland dancing competitions and athletics-with a Scottish twist of course. Without a doubt, be assured that the performances will be show-stopper stuff as they form part of a set of annual Scottish competitions held in several parts of British Columbia. A few more items to keep you busy include:
- Sheepdog trials
- Beer and whiskey garden
- Clan and culture tents
- Entertainment for the kids
The best part? If you cannot bear to leave your furry friends at home, then grab a leash and bring them along! The Skagit Valley games is one of the few remaining highland games which spends more on insurance order to keep this offering available. After all, what is the festival without animals?
Since you may be wondering what your dogs will be able to get up to, allow us to resolve your confusion. Aside from companionship, the Games have also incorporated hunting and sheepdog herding into the activities on offer.
To hear it from the horse’s mouth itself, according to festival attendant Bruce McBanes, “It’s just a fun time, down by the river and a lot of really nice people.”
What to Pack?
- Comfy shoes
- Bug spray
- Leash for your four-legged friends
With tons of traditional Scottish-inspired food and drink around the fifty-acre expanse that is Edgewater Park, you can rest assured that taking bags of food is not necessary. This means less to carry and worry about. For those that prefer to travel with their own food, however, please feel free to do so.
Weekend family pass to the games: $50
Children younger than 5 and members of the Celtic Arts Foundation enter for free.
The Celtic Arts Foundation allows you to avoid the rush to get your ticket. If you purchase a once off family membership to the value of $50, you can get in for free. If you didn’t have time before the festival to register as a member then you can simply do it at the festival itself.
For further pricing details, have a look here.
Volunteer and you get to stay for free. Besides providing an additional exciting experience of its own as you get a sneak peek behind the scenes, volunteers also benefit from the Family Weekend Pass provided in return for just three hours of work.
Where Can I Park?
Parking is never a fun time, especially when there are so many festival goers. Fortunately, provision has been made for this very occasion. On the day of the event, there will be parking available with volunteers and flaggers milling around to assist attendees. While this may require some patience, be assured that you will find a spot.
You may also prefer to park in downtown Mount Vernon. From there, you can use the shuttle service which leaves every 15 minutes throughout the weekend.
Where to Stay?
There are numerous places available for you to stay but we encourage you to book early while there is still space.
Should you be a lover of keepsakes, the Littlefield Celtic Center has you covered. They will be selling coffee mugs, lapel pins, and Highland Games t-shirts.
See You There!
As can be seen, you wouldn’t want to miss out on these days of festivities. To end off, in the fashion of a Scottish send-off, we’d like to wish you “Lang may yer lum reek,” which translates into “May you live long and stay well.” Here’s hoping to see you there.