Revered and respected around the world with many offshoots in a surprising amount of locations, the Scottish Highland Games is one of the first things that people think of when they imagine Scotland. Although, what the games entail may still be elusive to some, so in our latest article we are going to go through the happenings and goings-on at the Highland Games to ensure that you can enjoy and understand it all for the future.
What are the Highland Games?
The Highland Games are seen as a celebration of Scottish culture and history and contains the following proceedings.
The most well-known aspect would be the athletic aspect of the games which displays feats of strength using ‘traditional’ means.
The most well-known of these feats of strength is the Caber Toss – where the participant carries a tree trunk that is normally around 19 feet high and weighs about 175 pounds which they then toss in the air. The objective is for the caber/tree trunk to be tossed end over end away from the person and should fall in the 12 o’ clock position.
Another event you may recognise, since it’s incredibly similar to the shot put event in the Olympic Games, is the Stone Put event. The idea is that you see how far you can throw a very heavy stone, ranging from 16 – 22 lbs to 20 - 26 lbs dependant on technique allowed for the event. Participants can either toss the stone without a run up or they can do any throwing style as long as the stone is cradled on the neck until it’s time to throw.
The Hammer Throw is another event that can test the strength and athleticism of the competitor. They will whirl a weighted ball (between 16 and 22 lb) attached to a handle that’s 4 feet in length, usually made from wood over their head whilst they stand in a fixed position. Once they have reached a sufficient momentum they will launch over the shoulder for distance.
There are loads of other events too such as the weight throw, weight over the bar and maide leisg, in order to ascertain a winner of proceedings. It’s quite the spectacle and tends to be a large reason for why people attend the games.
The music feature of the games comprises a large gathering of pipe bands, for the uninitiated that would be the bagpipes. The bands will predominantly play together at the start and the end of the ceremony, with favourites such as Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave played. The pipe bands will also compete against each other as well as solo pipers and smaller ensembles in competition.
The dance competitions are similar to the piping in that there are events for both groups and individuals, with their displays of Scottish dancing such as the Highland Fling. The outfits tend to be as eye catching as the dances themselves and can feature tropes from not only Scotland but around the world.
Alongside all the events are traditional food stalls, Clan gatherings, various vendors of Scottish products and some will have trials and exhibitions of livestock, such as Highland Coos.
If you aren’t going to be in Scotland anytime soon and this blog has wetted your appetite to see the games, then you’ll be pleased to know that Highland Games take place all over the world with some of the biggest gatherings the world over are hold in America and Canada. Still, there’s not substitute for coming to Scotland and seeing the real thing is there!