Watch unbelievably strong contenders battle traditional athletic events like the caber toss and tug-o-war, while dancers wow spectators at Highland dance competitions. Complete with bagpiping, other traditional events and local Scottish food, the Highland games are a unique event not to be missed!
Highland Games are an exciting Scottish cultural event that take place throughout the summer. There are over 80 Highland games in towns, villages and cities across the country from May to September.
History of the Highland Games
It is said the Highland games date back to the 11th century, when King Malcolm III had people run up to the summit of Craig Choinnich so he could find the fastest runner to be his own personal messenger. Over time, the games were used as entertainment for royalty and clan chiefs, where dazzling feats of strength were showcased alongside dance and music skills.
What to Expect at the Games
Heavy contests like the hammer throw and the shot put are a battle of strength and brawn, while field events such as cycling and the hill race are all about speed and stamina.
Traditional music displays are common at Highland games, with some of the most spectacular being massed bands and pipers coming together to march and play throughout the event.
Highland dance competitions see dancers from around the world compete in dance events during the Highland games. Be dazzled by dancers wearing colourful outfits and tartan, performing fast-paced footwork in the sword dance and the Highland fling, to name just a few.
See ancient clans compete against each other in the tug-o-war competition and other group events. Some Highland games are part of clan gatherings, where clans celebrate their heritage with music, dancing, feasts and parades.
Did you know?
- The Scottish Highland Games Association states that all competitors in heavy events must wear a kilt when competing.
- Haggis hurling started as a joke event in the 1970s, but is now a popular event in many Highland games. The current world record throw is 217 feet!
- When Baron Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, saw a Highland games display at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 he was so impressed by the skill and strength involved that he introduced the shot put, tug-o-war and hammer throw to his own competition. In fact, the shot put and hammer throw are still Olympic events to this very day.
- Celebrity Highland game chieftains have included Susan Boyle, Ewan McGregor and Dougray Scott.
Local Highland Games
Lesmahagow Highland Games
Where? The Glebe Park, Abbeygreen, Lesmahagow (approx. 1 hour drive from the hotel)
When? June 18th at 11.45am
Newburgh Highland Games
Where? Robbie’s Park, Newburgh, Fife (approx. 45 minutes’ drive from the hotel)
When? June 18th at 12.30pm
Thornton Highland Gathering
Where? Memorial Park, Thornton, Fife (approx. 1 hour drive from the hotel)
When? July 2nd between 12 – 6pm
Kenmore Highland Games
Where? Kenmore, Aberfeldy (approx. 1 hour 20 minutes’ drive from the hotel)
When? July 6th at 5.30pm
Stirling Highland Games
Where? Stirling Games Field, Royal Stuart Way, Stirling (approx. 20 minutes’ drive from the hotel)
When? August 20th between 10.30am – 5pm
Join us for a weekend break and take a trip to one (or a few!) of these Highland games in the local area.