Highland Games – dates for your diary this summer
The summer months see a succession of Highland Games staged throughout Scotland. These colourful festivals are a showcase for some very traditional events, which play an important role in the life of the Highlands and whose origins are rooted in the history of Clan folklore and culture.
The Games offer a unique opportunity to witness the skill of the dancers and ‘ heavies ‘ on the one hand or to hear piping of the highest order. These three aspects all of course share one thing in common from the earliest times; they are about demonstrating the prowess of the individual and indeed their Clan who was put forward by their Clan chief to compete against the champion dancers, pipers and athletes of a rival, neighbouring clan.
The ‘Heavies’ – the strong men of the games who participate in the field athletics – certainly draw the crowds, keen to watch those ready to compete in the ‘prize event’ of Tossing the Caber (a length of larch measuring just over 19 ft and weighing some 175 lb) !
The dancing and piping also evolved as a strong part of the traditional life in the Highland Regiments. The Marching tunes being an obvious example, a rallying cry leading men off to battle. At one time teams of dancers from many Highland Regiments were regular competitors at the major Games but this particular tradition is no longer a core part of regimental training and nowadays the ladies have firmly taken over in the dancing events. The athletic precision of those dancing the Sword Dance, for instance, is remarkable.
Of course most of the Highland Games offer plenty of opportunity for amateurs and visitors of all ages to have a go at running a race or competing in a variety of novelty events…… entering a team for the tug-of-war perhaps ?
Dates for your diary :
TAYNUILT HIGHLAND GAMES SAT 18TH JULY
INVERARAY HIGHLAND GAMES TUES 21ST JULY
LOCHEARNHEAD HIGHLAND GAMES SAT 25TH JULY
MULL HIGHLAND GAMES THURS 23RD JULY
ISLE OF SKYE WED 5TH AUGUST
PERTH HIGHLAND GAMES SUN 9TH AUGUST
THE ARGYLLSHIRE GATHERING (OBAN) THURS 27TH AUGUST
And rounding off the whole season is the famous Braemar Gathering, usually on the first Saturday in September, which since the Victorian period has always seen members of the Royal Family in attendance, toward the end of their summer break in residence at Balmoral on Royal Deeside.