- Perhaps the games’ most iconic event, the caber toss is rumoured to have stemmed from the need to toss logs over chasms. Nowadays, however, it is judged on style rather than distance: competitors aim to flip a log weighing up to 11 st so that it falls away from them in the ‘12 o’clock position’. The length it travels is entirely unimportant.
- World Records are regularly broken at Highland games in Scotland and beyond. Last year a new Guinness World Record was set at the Masters World Championships in Inverness, when the most cabers were tossed at the same time. Over 160 kilted athletes took part, with 66 cabers being successfully tossed in the allotted time.
- For many, one of the most memorable sights of the Highland games is the massed bands, when hundreds of pipers from different groups come together to play and march in unison. Look out for the solo piping competitions, where competitors play in a range of styles, including the Pibroch, which is considered the classical music of the bagpipe. Pibrochs tend to be slow, stately and complex.
- Highland dancing at the games was originally an all-male event, and it wasn’t until the late 19th century that women started to enter. The Cowal 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.
- This year the World Championship Haggis Eating Competition takes place at Birnam Highland Games . A fun, yet fiercely competitive event, the winner is the competitor who finishes eating a pound of haggis in the quickest amount of time. The 2014 winner was Martin Bristow, from Murthly in Perthshire, who ate the haggis in 90 seconds, and finally clinched the title after coming second in three previous attempts.
- You never know quite what you’ll see at a Highland games. Often one of the highlights of the local community calendar, they usually include a range of side shows, such as livestock events, parades, pet shows and even bonny baby competitions. At Aberfeldy Show and Games in Perthshire, you can even watch the more unusual sports of terrier racing!
Our guide contains all of the dates, prices, locations and background to the games, plus more interesting facts and ancestry information.