FX Excursions

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Conquering the Highland Games of Scotland

by Angelique Platas

Sep 1, 2016

Tug of War, Braemar Highland Games, Scotland © Bobbrooky | Dreamstime

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

The Scottish Highland Games are a long-standing tradition in most major cities of Scotland. The most famous of the games take place in Braemar, attended by the English Royal Family.


Beginning in the 11th century as a foot race, the Scottish Highland Gamescertainly evolved from their humble beginnings. The games became more modernized in the 19th century, expressing more competitive interest in strength, endurance and speed.


Scottish Highland Games © Jamie Roach | Dreamstime 32626253

© Jamie Roach | Dreamstime


Now an annual tradition, the Braemar games test athletes in three major categories: heavyweight games, traditional dance and musical competitions. Serious competitors train year-round for the Highland Games, especially the heavyweight competition.


The caber toss is the signature game, when competitors carry logs more than 12 feet long. The stone-put, much like shot-put, is another popular competition along with the Maide Leisg, meaning “lazy stick”. All of the games have remained mostly the same for hundreds of years, never modernizing with technology.


Scottish Highland Games © Jamie Roach | Dreamstime 32625933

© Jamie Roach | Dreamstime


The dances too remain rooted in tradition with the Sword Dance of Gille Calum, dating to year 1054. Bagpipe bands and solo pipe competitions make up another vital part of this Celtic tradition, where onlookers can dance, listen and enjoy the hauntingly beautiful competition.


With a competitive tone close to the Olympics and added cultural flare of tradition, the games are quite a spectacle in Scotland.



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