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Highland Games in Scotland

May 2016

Scotland’s events calendar is brimming with Highland games across the summer months. See traditions come to life and watch as strength and stamina are put to the test in great heavy and track competitions.

It’s a feast for the senses; flashes of tartan, the blast of the pipes, determined grunts of competitors, thuds of cabers as they hit the field and the excited gasps of the crowd.

Alongside the competitive events, Highland games also make for a great family day out. There’s plenty to browse in-between competitions, including charity, retail and craft stalls, as well as tasty offerings from local food vendors. You’ll find entertainment and fun challenges for the grandkids too.

Members of the Atholl Highlanders dancing.
Photo by VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

The main events
Burly, kilt-wearing men and women come from near and far to put their muscles and determination to the test at heavy events such as caber tossing, putting the shot, hammer throw, and weight over the bar. Athletes compete in track events and hill races, and often there are challenges held for juniors too.

Watch displays of Highland dancing, including flings, horn pipes, swords and jigs, and listen to solo pipers and pipe bands as they compete and perform. A number of games begin with a piped procession led by the chieftain and games officials.

A competitor in the Scottish Heavy Event, Open Hammer.
Photo by VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Sometimes Highland games will also be held in tandem with a clan gathering, so if you’ve got a Scottish link in your family, you could even attend your clan games!

When and where can I go to a Highland games?
Highland games run across the country in the spring and summer, with around 80 games taking place between May and September. The Atholl Gathering & Highland Games in May opens with a grand march from the Atholl Highlanders – the last private army in Europe. The Braemar Gathering in September is usually attended by members of the British Royal Family, and the Cowal Gathering in August is one of the biggest Highland games in the world.

Download VisitScotland’s Highland games eBook to find out dates and details of Highland games taking place in Scotland in 2016.

Members of the Atholl Highlanders compete in the Tug O' War.
Photo by VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

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