Posts Tagged ‘Bagpipes’

The 84th Annual Scottish Fest USA returned this past weekend to the OC Fair & Events Center in Costa Mesa. This Scottish cultural festival celebrated everything that makes Scotland so memorable today. From the bagpipes to the kilts to the haggis to the highland games, anyone who has not experienced Scottish culture surely needed to check out this festival. The mayor of Costa Mesa has Scottish ancestry, so naturally they get to host this festival. Largely remaining unchanged from previous years, visitors attending for the first time will enjoy everything this festival has to offer. Guests attending again following previous years will not see much in the way of new things, besides new people and new tangible goods. But how often can groups prance around wearing kilts and grunting in Scottish accents?

A Scottish Festival such as this one contains enough activities for you and your friends & family to enjoy a full day of fun. From the music competitions to the food to the various sports to all the vendors, enthusiasts will find something here for entertainment purposes. Any of the music features surely would have taken up much of the time here. As for sports, the festival provided visitors with the Highland Games, as well as a broadsword demo and an archery range. Food mainly revolved around the standard Scottish faire found at festivals like these, so we found a lot of haggis, meat pies, fish & chips, and potatoes. With the exception of the haggis, none of the food impressed me much, as many Scottish and Irish pubs exist in Southern California that serve that kind of food, only at a more affordable price and higher quality.

For a two-day fest, the OC Fair can pack a lot into Scottish Fest USA. Both days followed a very similar schedule, which happens to follow similar schedules of previous years. Sad to say, to anyone who has attended Scottish Fest USA in the past, you did not miss much. Everyone else who has not attended should consider attending next year. Consider donning a kilt and the rest of a Scottish outfit if attending. Getting into the Scottish spirit not only amps your enthusiasm up, but will likely make guests treat you more jovially.

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The 23rd Annual Queen Mary ScotsFest returned this past weekend to Long Beach. This Scottish cultural festival celebrated everything that makes Scotland so memorable today. From the bagpipes to the kilts to the haggis to the highland games, anyone who has not experienced Scottish culture surely needed to check out this festival. The Scots built the Queen Mary many decades ago, so naturally they get to host this festival. Largely remaining unchanged from previous years, visitors attending for the first time will enjoy everything this festival has to offer. Guests attending again following previous years will not see much in the way of new things, besides new people and new tangible goods. The shepherding demo moved to the front of the venue area, providing more room for the highland games to take place at. The vendor village also expanded, albeit the expansion only made more room for weapons. Those Scots sure do love their weapons. Within the Queen Mary, the main banquet room hosted piping contests and dancing contests. Eventually, all the piping moved outside to give room for the girls to dance in the competitions. Just below that, a dart tournament took place, allowing anyone who registered online to test their skill at this pub game.

The way the Queen Mary handles pricing irritated me the most, and represents one of the main reasons why I originally boycotted events at the Queen Mary for many years. Simply put, the Queen Mary will always try to nickel & dime you as hard as possible in any fashion. For example, take a gander at the admission fee. Presale tickets cost $19 plus $3.63 in service and transaction fees. The website also mentioned that tickets at the gate would cost $22. In this case, people would think to buy tickets at the gate to save money. Unfortunately, the Queen Mary decided to pull a fast one and raise ticket prices at the gate. Visitors buying tickets at the gate had to pay $23 per ticket plus a $2.74 service fee. I understand the online fee because of the third party ticketing broker (Flavorus), but why a service fee at the front gate? Why not incorporate that into the ticket fee? Once you get past the admission shenanigans, you have to deal with exorbitantly priced products inside the festival. Things like bottled waters cost at least $5 while Bud Lights cost $10 or more. The vendors did not relent either, charging $10 for something as simple as a hot dog or slice of pizza. Coming back to the ScotsFest after many years of purposely avoiding events at the Queen Mary (except for Bacon Fest, which I got into for free) reminded me of why I originally boycotted all events at the Queen Mary.

The Highland Games took center stage as the main event of the fest, drawing in the largest crowds. Something about burly men in kilts tends to attract many people, men and women, old and young. I suppose in ancient Scotland times, someone picked up a heavy object, threw it, and his comrades decided to turn that into a competition, thus giving birth to the highland games. Purely speculating, all games involved throwing some object, usually with no technology involved; thus, the Highland Games.

For a two-day fest, the Queen Mary can pack a lot into ScotsFest. Both days followed a very similar schedule, which happens to follow similar schedules of previous years. Sad to say, to anyone who has attended ScotsFest in the past, you did not miss much. Everyone else who has not attended should consider attending next year. Consider donning a kilt and the rest of a Scottish outfit if attending. Getting into the Scottish spirit not only amps your enthusiasm up, but will likely make guests treat you more jovially.

Craft beer has a huge market in Southern California that continually expands annually. This past weekend, MacLeod Ale Brewing Company opened their doors to the public with a grand opening complete with food trucks, bagpipe players, and of course, beer. Now you may think to yourself, “Oh great, another brewery.” Let me tell you that this brewery with a Scottish background sets themselves apart from the others by focusing on cask ales. Most breweries have their own niche with what they brew, and MacLeod chose cask beers. Out in the San Fernando Valley, breweries have not established themselves as part of the community, largely due to Anheuser Busch’s dominance in this territory. MacLeod hopes to break ground and start getting microbreweries out to this area.

At the grand opening this past Sunday, MacLeod celebrated it by hosting four two-hour tasting sessions starting at noon and running until 8pm. Each session cost $15 to attend, and included up to 50 ounces of beer in any combination of their four brews available. Guests wanting more beer could purchase more at $3 per 10oz. Hungry guests could munch on food from any of the available food trucks that rotated throughout the day. The four cask beers they had available:

  • Little Spree – 4.3% pale ale
  • King’s Taxes – 4.3% light Scottish ale
  • Session Gap – 3.5% ordinary bitter
  • Jackie Tar – 3.5% brown stout

MacLeod Ale plans to have seasonal brews throughout the year, so check them out in Van Nuys, or keep an eye out for them at your favorite beer store, restaurant, bar, or pub!

The Auld Dubliner Irish Pub in Downtown Long Beach has brought a taste of Ireland down to Long Beach, as they threw the first ever Long Beach Fleadh Irish Music & Oyster Festival. Pronounced ‘fla’ in its native language of gaelic, this traditional summer festival celebrates Irish culture with music, oysters, other Irish food, beer, whisky, and more. Now finding a place here in Long Beach, all visitors to this festival could sample a bit of Irish culture at this two-day all-ages festival that took place this past weekend at The Pike in Downtown Long Beach. A handful of activities awaited all visitors, such as a kids’ area, an Irish film tent, multiple music stages, and plenty of food & drinks.

In the main oyster tent, a handful of local restaurants catered fresh oysters from local sources. This tent also included champagne, beer, and whisky from Tullamore Dew along with acoustic music performances.

This festival featured three stages: a main stage, an acoustic stage, and a traditional/storytelling stage.

Visitors could find some of Southern California’s more prominent Celtic/Irish bands here at the Fleadh, such as The American Wake and the California Celts, shown below.

For as much as they marketed this festival, the organizers could have done a lot more to make this fest as grand as they made it sound. Take into consideration that it cost $20 for adults to enter this festival. Compare that with other Irish festivals that cost no more than $15 and comes with much more content. This Fleadh surely felt underwhelming, as it only featured exactly what they advertised and nothing more. We only ever saw the music, food, drinks, and film session that the website mentioned. They could have expanded this festival to contain more Irish culture and traditions, but then they started to dabble into Scottish culture with all the bagpipes. At that point, I could tell they did not obtain all the content they originally wanted for this festival. The organizers also left a lot of empty space around the festival that they could have filled but chose not to because they assumed a larger capacity of visitors. This festival has lots of room to grow, and plenty of potential to live up to the original Fleadh festival found in Ireland. Hopefully they can pull off a complete rework of this festival for next year, as Long Beach truly deserves its own Irish festival after housing so many Irish pubs for the longest time.

The 20th Annual Queen Mary ScotsFest returned this past weekend to Long Beach. This Scottish cultural festival celebrated everything that makes Scotland so memorable today. From the bagpipes to the kilts to the haggis to the highland games, anyone who has not experienced Scottish culture surely needed to check out this festival. The Scots built the Queen Mary many decades ago, so naturally they get to host this festival. Largely remaining unchanged from previous years, visitors attending for the first time will enjoy everything this festival has to offer. Guests attending again following previous years will not see much in the way of new things, besides new people and new tangible goods. But how often can groups prance around wearing kilts and grunting in Scottish accents?

The shepherding demo moved to the front of the venue area, providing more room for the highland games to take place at. The vendor village also expanded, albeit the expansion only made more room for weapons. Those Scots sure do love their weapons.

Within the Queen Mary, the main banquet room hosted piping contests and dancing contests. Eventually, all the piping moved outside to give room for the girls to dance in the competitions.

Just below that, a dart tournament took place, allowing anyone who registered online to test their skill at this pub game.

A nearby vendor sold imported European treats and other goods.

Speaking of food, you cannot attend a cultural fest without trying the food of that culture. Thus, I opted to order the Haggis, and I added a Pork Pie. Sadly, this year did not measure up to last year, as they did not provide brown sauce (such as HP Sauce), and they kept the pork pies in a cooler. I do not usually eat meat pies cold, and after I discovered that the filling resembled ground pork, I immediately thought of a pâté chaud, which I could buy hot for just a dollar at markets in Westminster. To anyone instantly turning away from the haggis, do not knock it until you have tried it. It does not taste as bad as many people believe, as it simply tastes and feels like salty meatloaf.

If you go to a Scottish festival, you will hear bagpipes guaranteed. Throughout the fest, numerous piping groups marched around the Queen Mary and competed to win best in show and other prizes.

The Highland Games took center stage as the main event of the fest, drawing in the largest crowds. Something about burly men in kilts tends to attract many people, men and women, old and young. I suppose in ancient Scotland times, someone picked up a heavy object, threw it, and his comrades decided to turn that into a competition, thus giving birth to the highland games. Purely speculating, all games involved throwing some object, usually with no technology involved; thus, the Highland Games.

Every year, ScotsFest hosts a single-malt scotch whisky tasting for the adult crowd. This year, they added a craft beer tasting class, hosted by Deschutes Brewery. A $10 entry ($11.75 after fees) provided any guest with five tasters of Deschutes beers. As each taster amounted to about one ounce each, each person received the equivalent of about half a can of beer. Paying $11.75 for this little beer sounds terrible, but it sure beats the $8 Bud Lights served throughout the fest.

For a two-day fest, the Queen Mary can pack a lot into ScotsFest. Both days followed a very similar schedule, which happens to follow similar schedules of previous years. Sad to say, to anyone who has attended ScotsFest in the past, you did not miss much. Everyone else who has not attended should consider attending next year. Consider donning a kilt and the rest of a Scottish outfit if attending. Getting into the Scottish spirit not only amps your enthusiasm up, but will likely make guests treat you more jovially.

This Saturday and Sunday, The Queen Mary in Long Beach gets immersed in a sea of Scottish culture at their 20th Annual ScotsFest. This cultural festival celebrates the Scottish heritage of the Queen Mary from the time of its construction in Clydebank, Scotland. Open to all ages, ScotsFest allows attendees to experience Scottish music, bagpipes, kilts, dancing, athletic competitions, food, drinks, single-malt scotch whiskey tastings, dart contests, and much more. Depending on the package, ticket prices will vary. A one-day ticket costs $18 for adults and $8 for children, and parking costs $15 per vehicle. Scottish clans from all over the world gather here for one weekend to proudly display their background and heritage as well.

Within the halls of the Queen Mary, a Dart Competition allows all guests to test their mettle in this glorified classic pub game. Anyone wishing to participate must fill out and submit an entry form found on their website, linked above.

When you think of Scotland, you cannot forget about the bagpipes. As Scotland’s most well-known symbol and sound, groups will play bagpipes throughout the fest, both as show and as competition. Multiple categories of piping will come into play, such as solo, ensemble, full band, and more.

Following the Celtic tradition, the Highland Games will test all participants’ strength and finesse. Both men and women can compete in competitions such as throwing stones, throwing hammers, weightlifting, and more.

For those who prefer not to get physical, plenty of other activities exist that will keep attendees occupied. Dozens of vendors will set up to sell various Scottish apparel, accessories, merchandise, treats, ingredients, and even weapons.

Any cultural festival will always serve the food of the respective culture, and ScotsFest delivers on the authentic Scottish food. Enjoy some meat pies, pastries, stews, and the elusive Haggis.

For the children, an entire kids’ zone will include bounce houses, face-painting, a petting zoo, and more. A sheepherding demo will take place regularly throughout the fest as well.

More activities include a parade at noon, and single-malt scotch whiskey tastings for the adult crowd, which requires an additional fee to partake in. Following the main fest on Saturday, the Queen Mary will extend the festivities with the Rock Yer Kilt Concert, featuring local Scottish, Gaelic, and Celtic bands. Guests that attended ScotsFest that day can receive $5 off admission to this concert. For a fest that lasts two days, a small group could experience everything in one full day. Consider that parking costs $15 per vehicle, so small groups may opt to take the FREE Passport bus that drives from downtown to the Queen Mary. This fest takes place mostly outdoors, so apply sunscreen and take some with you to the fest. Also have cash available, as many vendors only accept cash, and on-site ATM’s will charge ridiculous fees. Lastly, remember to have fun, keep an open mind, and participate in as many activities as possible to maximize your visit.