A tradition so deeply embedded in the Scottish way of life that their origins pre-date written records, traditional Highland Games are a rich and colourful part of our history, heritage, and culture here in Scotland.
The events, which take place the length and breadth of the land, are a highlight of the summer social calendar, offering guests here at the five-star Dunalastair Hotel Suites a rare opportunity to enjoy a truly authentic Highland experience.
Combining traditional heavy events like caber tossing and hammer throwing with music, dancing and entertainment, Highland Games are a deeply ingrained part of Scottish culture and a unique chance for guests to enjoy an authentic Highland experience.
Whether you’re a fan of the traditional Scottish music and dancing, the pageantry of the Pipe Band competitions, or the spectacle of seeing Scotland’s finest compete in the famous strong man events, each Highland Games offers plenty of entertainment and excitement for the whole family.
Now, with the summer season firmly upon us, the team at our Perthshire hotel offer up our pick of the top five Highland Games events taking place this summer.
1: Pitlochry Highland Games
The closest Highland Games to Dunalastair Hotel Suites, the Pitlochry Highland Games is one of the oldest events of its type and has remained a highlight of Perthshire’s summer calendar for decades.
- Where: Recreation Ground, Ferry Rd, Pitlochry, PH16 5DZ
- When: Saturday, 14th September 2019 from 10.30 AM.
- Visit: pitlochryhighlandgames.co.uk
A short drive from our luxury hotel in Pitlochry, the local recreation ground plays host to the annual Pitlochry Highland Games, an event steeped in prestige.
The late-summer event was first established back in 1852, making it one of the oldest surviving events of its kind. Today, it retains many of the traditional events that have made it such a hit with locals and visitors alike.
As you might expect, you’ll be able to watch all of those well-known Scottish heavy events including hammer throwing, caber tossing and shot put before cheering on the athletes as they race for glory in a series of track and field events.
Of course, you don’t have to do anything so strenuous.
As you take in the beautiful surroundings of Highland Perthshire, you can choose to sit back and enjoy all the action, buy unique gifts and souvenirs from one of the many local businesses on hand at the event,
Or dig into a delicious array of foods, with everything from burgers and bacon rolls to doughnuts and coffee available throughout the day.
Pitlochry Highland Games admission:
- Adults – £8
- Children (5 – 16 years) – £2
- Car Parking – £2
No pre-booking required. Entry is on the day only.
Dogs are welcome, providing they are kept on a lead.
2: The Braemar Gathering
Members of the Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth II herself, regularly attend the Braemar Gathering, adding an extra touch of prestige to proceedings.
- When: Saturday, September 7th, 2019 from 9.30 AM
- Where: Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park, Braemar
- Visit: braemargathering.org
One of Scotland’s biggest and best-attended games, the Braemar Gathering is a favourite of the British Royal Family, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and Prince Charles regularly attending.
Though we can’t guarantee you’ll receive the royal treatment, we can be sure that you’ll receive a warm welcome from the Braemar locals when you attend a fun-filled day out, packed with all the usual heavy events, running and other competitive events.
A range of children’s activities will be on hand to keep your young ones entertained right throughout the day.
Meanwhile, those interested in exploring the history of events such as the Braemar Gathering should head over to the Braemar Highland Games Centre, a fascinating museum and exhibition recounting several hundred years of Scottish heritage.
Braemar Gathering admission:
- Adult admission – £12
- Child admission – £2
- Highland Games Centre Tour – £5
- Arena parking – £15
- Free parking is available on entry to the village.
- Dogs are not allowed within the games park. For more information, see the Braemar Gathering website.
3: Atholl Highlanders Parade and Gathering
Enjoy the pageantry and spectacle as Europe’s only remaining private army head out on parade before experiencing the excitement of a traditional Highland Games at the historic Blair Castle.
- When: Saturday, May 25th to Sunday, May 26th, 2019
- Where: Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH18 5TL
- Visit: blair-castle.co.uk
Another popular event based close to our luxury hotel in Pitlochry, the Atholl Highlanders Parade and Gathering gets the Highland Games season off to a fantastic start with two days of enjoyable activities and illustrious events.
Starting at 11 am on Saturday, May 25th, you’ll have a chance to hear all about the incredible history of the Atholl Highlanders, the last remaining private army in Europe.
From 2.30PM onwards, watch as the Highlanders parade on the Blair Castle forecourt to the majestic sounds of a traditional Scottish pipe band. It truly is a spectacle not to be missed.
The Atholl Highlanders return the following day to open Blair Castle’s annual Highland Games officially.
Some of the biggest and best strongmen from across Scotland converge on this historic venue to toss the caber, putting the shot and throw the hammer, while Scottish country dancers, pipe bands and children’s entertainment all add to the festivities.
Dining at Blair Castle
A selection of food will be available throughout the event, with hot and cold meals and an array of snacks served at Tullibardine Restaurant.
Atholl Gathering admission:
- Adults – £7
- Children (5-16) – £3
- Under 5s – Free
- Seniors – £5
- Parking – Free
The Atholl Gathering is a cash-only event with tickets only available for purchase on the day. Attendance at the Atholl Highlanders Parade requires Castle Gardens admission which costs £13 for adults and £8.30 for children.
4: Crieff Highland Games
HRH Prince William is the Royal Chieftain of Scotland’s premier highland games, an event which also includes its mini music festival.
- When: Sunday, August 18th 2019 from 10 AM
- Where: Market Park, King Street, Crieff, PH7 3HE
- Visit: crieffhighlandgathering.com
Braemar isn’t the only Highland Games with a royal connection. Using his Scottish title Earl of Strathearn, His Royal Highness Prince William is the Royal Chieftain of this most distinguished event, lending his Patronage what is regularly known as “Scotland’s Premier Highland Games.”
Along with all the traditional competitive events, the games also feature The Glenturret Music Tent where both local, national, and international talents perform as part of an all-day mini music festival.
Elsewhere, be sure to visit the Taste of Tartan Marquee where local businesses will be showcasing premium quality Scottish food and drink, perfect if you get hungry while at the event or are looking for an authentic taste of the Highlands to take back home with you.
A funfair, Scottish Country dancing and entertainment also make up the festivities.
Corporate Hospitality at Crieff Highland Gathering
For corporate away-days or groups looking to add an extra touch of luxury to their Highland Games experience, the event organisers also offer a corporate hospitality package including Highland Games admission, three-course lunch, cash bar and stunning views.
This costs £600.00 for a table of ten. However, please note that hospitality packages are currently sold out for 2019.
Crieff Highland Gathering admission:
- Adults – £10
- Children – £5
Given the popularity of this event, advanced booking is advised. Tickets can be purchased online here.
Please contact the event organisers for parking details and other information.
5: Perth Highland Games
When: Sunday, August 11th, 2019 from 9 AM
Where: Scone Palace, Perth PH2 6BD
Last but by no means least, we come to the annual Perth Highland Games, a regular favourite among guests at our luxury Perthshire Hotel.
Set in the magnificent grounds of Scone Palace overlooking the River Tay, the event boasts some of the most attractive scenery of any Highland Gathering.
That’s far from the only reason to make the journey to Scone Palace this August. The event features a packed programme of heavyweight events, highland dancing and music, culminating in the traditional Massed Pipe Bands performance and trophy presentations at the end of the day.
Feeling hungry? A mouthwatering array of street food, smokies, fish and chips and other delicious delicacies will be available, as will the chance to snap up some one-of-a-kind souvenirs from local traders.
Perth Highland Games admission:
- Adults – £8
- Children aged 12 and under / senior citizens – £4
- Under 5s – free
- Parking – £2
Tickets can be purchased online in advance, or at the entrance on the day.
Dogs are welcome, providing they are kept on a lead.
Enjoy an authentic Scottish experience in the heart of the highlands with the award-winning Dunalastair Hotel Suites
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