What could be more Scottish than the iconic Highland Games?
From the era of Queen Victoria onwards Highland Games have been a permanent fixture on the summer holiday calendar of events from Oban in the south to Caithness in the far north of the Scottish Highlands. But Highland Games heritage goes much further back than that; their roots stretch back over a thousand years to the time when clan chieftains would host games as a means of identifying the best warriors.
Today, Highland Game are as popular as they have ever been and make for a cracking day out for the whole family, with something for everything from the tiniest of tots to their grandparents.
But what are Highland Games and what can you expect to see when you get there?
Traditionally, Highland Games have been the natural home of heavy events. These include the deceptively difficult art of tossing the caber and a range of other heavy events such as tug o’ war, bale tossing and hammer throwing to feat of strength challenges with tractor tyres. The traditional games have diversified over the years and now embrace cycle races as well as a host of track and field events, Highland dancing and bagpipe competitions. There is also a wide range of food and drink available and a host of entertainment laid on to ensure there are plenty of things to do and see.
While there is an established circuit for male and female Highland Games athletes, nearly all Games allow visitors to enter into the spirit of the day and work up a sweat so long as they register in advance.
The Scottish Highland Games Association – the elected governing body – officially recognises a total of 60 Highland Games in Scotland; the vast majority being in the Highlands.
Games run from May to September and self catering Gael Holiday Homes accommodation is all within easy reach of a Highland Games. See the Scottish Highland Games Association map for locations and dates. Other smaller non-member games are also held across the Highlands.
But the best known, and biggest, is the world famous Braemar Highland Games which takes place in the heart of the Cairngorms as do the Ballater Highland Games, Tomintoul Highland Games, Grantown on Spey Highland Games and Newtonmore Highland Games. Gael Holiday Homes accommodation in Aviemore and the Cairngorms, or neighbouring Speyside, make for ideal bases from which to see and enjoy the spectacle and grandeur of the games and their stunning scenery.
These Highland Games, however, are just some examples, there are plenty of others, large and small, all with their own unique character and mix of events and entertainments. Entry fees apply.
So don’t miss out on an authentic Scottish summer experience that will stay with you for a long time. It may even inspire you to try on a kilt! Or look into your own ancestry in search of Scottish clan warrior blood coursing through your veins.