What can I expect at a Scottish Highland games?
Heavy contests, including the hammer throw and weight for height, see competitors putting their muscles to the test, while field events such as the hill race and cycling competition test speed and stamina.
Did you know that Baron Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, was so impressed by a Highland display he saw at the 1889 Paris Exhibition that he introduced the hammer throw, shot put and the tug o' war to his competition? Talk about high praise! The former two are still included in the Olympics programme to this day - just one of the many fascinating facts of the Highland games.
Bagpipes and drums
For many, one of the most memorable sights of the Highland games is the massed bands, when hundreds of pipers and drummers from different groups come together to play and march in unison. Look out for the solo piping competitions too, where competitors play in a range of styles, including the slow, stately and complex Pibroch which is considered to be the classical music of the bagpipe.
Dancers give dazzling displays of fancy footwork in Scottish dances, such as the sword dance and the famous Highland fling. Competing for titles both solo and in groups, their colourful outfits and infectious energy will leave you in high spirits. The Cowal Highland Gathering is renowned for the quality of its Highland dancing, drawing in the best performers from around the globe as they compete in the Scottish and World Championships.
Highland games once saw clan members go head-to-head in fierce competition - and you'll still see this enthusiasm when clans muster all their might in a tug-war. These days, clan attendance at games is now more of a social and ceremonial affair. Some Highland games are part of a wider clan gathering - a celebratory get-together featuring parades, Scottish music and dancing, feasts, heritage events and much joviality.