Highland Games in 2012

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to watch Highland Games. Scotland has many descendants living across the globe.

Making Arbroath smokies
Lassies being judged on their Highland Fling

Consider that 4.8 million Americans, 4.7 million Canadians, 800 000 people in England and even 250 000 people living in Russia consider themselves of Scottish heritage. And as many as 20% of all New Zealanders and Australians have links back to Scotland. Read more here.

There are Caledonian Societies and pipe bands all over the world keeping the traditions and customs of Scotland alive. Since I’m in Scotland for a while it made sense to go see what Scots get up to in their motherland. There are Highland games events all over Scotland – Highland Games. They have been happening for over 1000 years. Clan chiefs would rival each other with the fastest and strongest men. The dancers and pipers provided entertainment.

The most famous games are at Braemar, which Queen Elizabeth apparently always attends, and everyone flocks to see her – Queen Elizabeth and Braemar.

King Malcolm began the royal association with the games but Queen Victoria made them famous when she and Prince Albert first came to Balmoral in 1848 and started attending the games.

We went to our local Aberdeen Highland Games this last weekend Sunday 17th June 2012. The UK has had a cool wet summer so far this year. However as Scotland located in the north it’s almost always cooler than it is in the in the south. Add to that a fog that builds up at sea in the north east of Scotland called – “The Haar”.  This means Aberdeen has it’s very own micro climate. What I’m saying is – this is one time you should wear a raincoat and Wellington boots. 

Hammer throwers

So what happens? We arrived at Hazelhead Park and paid £6 each to go in. We were given a program with the events of the day which included bagpipe music events for various age groups, Highland Fling dancing for various age groups and athletic activities. Heavy athletics include events like stone throwing, hammer throwing and caber tossing. Light athletics are 100m, high jump and that sort of thing. And of course the tug o’war.

Tossing the caber

We went walk-about first. They had an amusement fair as well as various stalls selling food and crafts. We had been to the Outsider Music Festival some years ago and had an idea of what Scottish food stalls have on offer at public events. Sadly hot oats with cream and berries was not available nor were Stovies, not that a vegetarian like myself can eat Stovies, but it is nice when local food is on offer. What they did have were – Arbroath smokies – which are local smoked fish.

My husband decided to try a steak roll with Aberdeen Angus steak. We approached the vendor but no – the signage was designed to fool us – they didn’t actually sell – Aberdeen Angus. So we ended up having hot chips and a cup of tea.

Part 2 and the final of this piece is out next week – on this link.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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