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ScotFestBC — not just Highland Games in Coquitlam this year

The Scottish festival in Coquitlam's Town Centre Park is expanding with a free World Music Festival on Father's Day Sunday.

A Scottish festival that draws thousands of visitors from across the Pacific Northwest to Coquitlam returns for the Father's Day weekend.

But this year's 91st annual celebrations aren't just the Highland Games.

And Friday night's festivities are no longer free.

Instead, the United Scottish Cultural Society, which hosts ScotFestBC, is ticketing for two major Celtic music concerts on June 16, as well as expanding its event to three days to include an international music performance on June 18 — at no cost to the public.

"It's our way to give back to the community," Mike Chisholm, ScotFestBC’s executive director, told the Tri-City News during a visit to Town Centre Park, where the celebration takes place.

"We've been taking the city park for a day-and-a-half in the past... and we’ve always wanted to have a Sunday party because we have a hard time squeezing everything in. Now, we have our concerts on Friday, Highland Games on Saturday and world music shows on Sunday. It's going to be great."

Chisholm, a Coquitlam resident, said the Sunday event also makes sense as the society's infrastructure — tents, sound systems, volunteers and vendors — is already in place.

Like last year's fest, which attracted about 7,500 guests over two days, the area will be fenced off for the site-wide liquor license; however, this year, the city will keep the adjacent Lafarge Lake loop track open during the weekend.

Twa Dog Brewery will be serving its suds under the Big Tent while the Donnellan’s Irish Pub Group will have its brews in Parking Lot D, where the British car show and two dozen food trucks will also be parked.

Here’s what’s on tap:

Friday concerts

Entry is $20 for the Ceilidh in the Park general admission pass, which includes the official kick-off at 6 p.m. with the chieftain-of-the-day and a cannon firing by the 78th Fraser Highlanders.

On the Main Stage (Town Centre Park Community Stage), musicians with the Grade 1 SFU Pipe Band will give a teaser to their pre-Worlds concert in Glasgow while, under the Big Tent (beer garden), the Irish legend Sharon Shannon will bring the house down following the SFU show.

"We've got the best of Celtic music in one spot, for one night only," Chisholm said.

Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale for the Whisky and Oyster tasting hosted by Macaloney Distillery and Jon Merrill, a Nova Scotian oyster shucker and chef. The pairing runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m.


Saturday games

The pipers, drummers and dancers start their competitions on the Main and Heritage stages, under the Big Tent and in the Meadow at 8 a.m. — "the core of our Highland Games," Chisholm said, noting there are 30 per cent more entries than last year.

"It shows that we are running a good contest that people from western Canada and Washington State want to be a part of."

Competition will also be intense on the Lew Ross field where the heavy event athletes will try for top prizes and titles. The men's and women's amateur open competition begins at 8 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. with the master’s provincial championship at 11:30 a.m.

To soak in the Scottish heritage, cultural workshops will take place in tents while Scottish Country Dancing demos will be held at the main entrance (a try out a ceilidh dance at 3:30 p.m.).

And, for whisky lovers, there are four tastings at the "school" — from representatives of Macaloney Distillery, Revel Stoke, Tomatin and Maker's Mark — plus another round of Whisky and Oysters.

Festival entry (not including whisky school) is $25/$20 for the day; weekend passes are also available.


Sunday world beats

The Town Centre festival site will be filled with sounds for a third day with the inaugural World Music Festival, a free event that includes music, dancing, recreation and multicultural talks on three stages and in tents.

Jai Yoga will be in the Meadow at 11 a.m. to offer a stretch for participants; Ukrainian, Peruvian, Indian, First Nations, Chinese and Mexican performances are also on the menu for the day.

As well, Sharon Shannon is also back at 5 p.m. under the Big Tent.


ScotFestBC is sponsored in part by the Tri-City News.

For the full listings and for tickets, you can visit the event's website

Volunteers, especially those with a Serve It Right certificate, are needed, and those interested are encouraged to email Corporate sponsors are also sought.