On our road trip through Scotland, one of the things we wanted to see was the Highland Games. They are very curious and different games that we are used to. These traditional games mix the party and display strength and skill with dance contests and pipers competitions.
A very interesting event to get to know the Scottish traditions and get in touch with the local culture and its people.
What to see and how to go to the Highland Games
What are Highland Games?
Highland Games are events held in different locations in Scotland, not just in the Highlands.
They mix traditional sports competitions, such as log throwing or tug-of-war with folk dance competitions and piper competitions, among others. Everyone is dressed in their traditional clothes, plus the attendance of relatives of competitors and visitors helps create a very good atmosphere where you can have a good time.
Highland games have been held for centuries, even by the Celtic peoples. In addition, not only are they held in Scotland, they can also be found in Canada or the United States. This is because when they lost the last Jacobite war with England, many had to leave their lands, but their customs went with them.
What are you going to find at the Highland Games?
In the Highland Games you will find different heavy athletic tests such as log throwing, hammer throwing, throwing weight in height, etc.
The Log throwing, I think, is the best known or most eye-catching of the games and it is officially called “Caber Toss”. Caber Toss consists of throwing a log and it has to take a turn before falling. The log measures a maximum of 7 meters and weighs about 80 kilos. This is usually the last test and is one of the most expected by visitors.
Hammer throw: This test is similar to that of the Olympic Games, but it changes the hammer a little bit. In this case it is a 10 kg metal ball with a handle of more than one meter. The participant has to throw the hammer as far as they can without moving their feet from the site. To do this, they turn it over their head and throw it.
Weight throwing. This test involves throwing with one hand, a weight of about 20 kilos. The one who pushes it further wins.
Weight throwing in height. It consists of throwing a weight of about 20kg as high as possible. To do this, there are two poles with a crossbar that are going up to increase the difficulty. The one who manages to throw the highest weight passing over the crossbar without knocking the bar to the ground is the one who wins the contest. (It is also pulled with one hand).
Traditional Scottish Dances
Traditional dance contests, like the sword dance and the famous Highland Fling, are where the dancers offer a spectacular demonstration of dexterity with their feet, as they compete both in individual and group categories, wearing their colorful costumes and spreading their awesome energy.
Piper competitions. Pipes are the national instrument and are present in all activities. At the Highland Games, pipers open and close the games. In addition, they have their own competition both solo and with the band. It’s very interesting.
When are the Scottish Highlands Games held?
Highland games start in May and end in September, but there are more events during the months of June, July, and August.
We were at the Highland games in early September, in Peebles. This town is quite close to Edinburgh, in the lowlands. When we started the road trip through Scotland in 15 days at the end of August we didn’t have many options and we arranged our itinerary so that it could coincide with somewhere that celebrated the games.
On the official Highland Games website, you can see the calendar for months and choose the one you like or suit your plans in Scotland. http://www.shga.co.uk/events.php
Definitely one of your must-visits if you go to Scotland in these months. It’s a nice experience, where you can stay in touch with its people and their traditions, have a beer, and chat for a while.
Would you like to watch the Highland Games?
Prepare your trip to Scotland
- Road trip through Scotland by car in 15 days
- What to see in Edinburgh, 50 ideas you’ll love
- 1 day on the Isle of Skye
- Road Trip the North Coast 500 in 5 days
- Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland
- The 20 most beautiful castle in Scotland
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