For all those lovers of highlands, bagpipes, and kilts, what could be better than a total immersion of all things Scottish? Take heart because your dream has become a reality. Long ago in Scotland, the Highland Games were created to honor and celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture. At this festive event, you can participate in music, dance, and athletic competitions. Over time, the Highland Games have grown to huge popularity and have spread all across the United States, as well as other countries.
Before checking out the Highland Games, it is a good idea to know what exactly you are getting into. First, do not mistake this event as a “tourist attraction”. These games are local events run by and for local people. However, in the event you are on vacation and happen to come across these gatherings, you can be assured that you will be welcomed with open arms!
When you think of Scotland, I am sure one of the first things that come to mind is the swelling music of bagpipes. Therefore, what would any Highland Games be without music? Have no fear; music plays a big part in the games. One of the crowd favorites is the marching pipe bands, which normally participate in the opening and closing ceremonies. As many as 20 pipe bands may be seen marching and playing Scottish favorites, creating a remarkable mass sound. There are also several events that display musicians dressed to the nines in Scottish style, with a variety of instruments. Some of the competitions include piping, pipe band, massed band, drumming, drum major, and Scottish fiddle. In addition, keep an open ear for harp circles, Celtic bands, and a few other surprises that may turn up.
With all the wonderful music, the Highland Games would not be complete without a little dancing…or maybe a lot of it! Highland dancing is said to have originated in Scotland in the 11th century and was performed by primarily men. Because Highland dancing takes a great deal of stamina, it is no easy feat. Like the music events, there are a fair number of dance competitions including the Highland Fling, the Sword Dance, Strathspey and Highland Reel, Strathspey and Half Tulloch, and Sailor’s Hornpipe. The participants are judged on their accuracy and timing of steps, required arm and leg movements, and their ease and control.
In addition to the artistic events, the Highland Games also offers sporting events, known as “Heavy Events”. These events are the main attraction for the athletic side of things and test an athlete’s skill, strength, and endurance. Events with the word “toss” refer to height competitions while events with the word “throw” refer to distance. Heavy events include weight toss, weight throw, stone throw, Braemar stone, hammer throw, farmer’s walk, kilted mile, tug-of-war, bonnie knees contest, and throe the wellie. In the Highland Games in Scotland, many competitors are former high school and college track and field athletes desiring to continue their competitive career. In the United States, the Heavy events have begun to attract women and master class athletes.
In modern day Highland Games, clan tents and vendors set up shop selling Scottish related goods. Some of the items you can purchase are swords, armor, Celtic and Scottish art, and of course, food. As you can see, the Highland Games offer a unique Scottish experience for people of all ages. As you prepare to get into the games, be sure to check out our Highland clothing and other Scottish stuff at: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/