Highland Games Press Room

The 65th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games return to Western North Carolina July 8-11, 2021. Please visit us in the Press Tent during the Highland Games for more information and to pick up your complimentary copy of the Highland Games program, featuring extensive information on the individual events, music, honored guests and history. For more information, please contact frank@grandfather.com or the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games office at (828) 733-1333 or gmhginfo@yahoo.com.

Founded Sponsoring Organizations Mission
Event Dates Location Special in 2021
Number of Clans Participating Number of Clan Tents Attendance
Distinguished Guests Staff Featured bagpipe bands
Featured Entertainers Participating Nonprofit Organizations GMHG Scholars

Founded:
1956 by Agnes MacRae Morton and former Charlotte News reporter Donald MacDonald.

Top

Sponsoring Organization:
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Inc.

Top

Mission:
GMHG is a nonprofit, non-stock corporation licensed under the laws of North Carolina to carry on and promote the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans, to foster and restore interest in traditional dancing, piping, athletic achievement and Gaelic culture, and to create and establish scholarship funds to assist students from Avery County High School to study at American colleges and universities.

Top

Event Dates: July 8-11, 2021
Always held on the second full weekend in July. The earliest the Games will occur is July 6-9 (in years when the first of July falls on a Saturday), and the latest it occurs is July 9-12 (in years when the first of July falls on a Sunday).

Top

Location:
MacRae Meadows, U.S. Highway 221, two miles north of Linville, N.C., and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 305.

Top

Special in 2021: The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games once again will begin with Thursday night’s Torchlight Ceremony, where the clans officially come together to celebrate their Scottish heritage. Friday and Saturday are filled with highland dancing competition, border collie demonstrations, Scottish fiddle and harp competitions, Gaelic singing, Scottish country dancing, piping and drumming competitions, Scottish spinning and weaving, track and field events including the popular kilted mile, and Scottish athletic events including the caber toss. Other popular features include the Grandfather Mountain Marathon and “The Bear,” a five-mile race that begins at the foot of Grandfather Mountain and climbs up to a height of 1,568 feet.

Top

Number of Scottish Clans and Societies Participating: More than 100

Top

Number of Clan Tents Ringing the Field: Approximately 150

Top

Estimated Annual Attendance: 30,000-40,000

Top

2021 Honored and Distinguished Guest: Sir Alexander Matheson of Matheson (Chieftain of the Games)

Sir Alexander was born on Aug. 26, 1954. He joined the Army in 1973, serving in the Coldstream Guards for 28 years until 2001. His postings included Adjutant of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, Chief of Staff of British Forces Belize, Brigade Major of the Household Division and Commanding Officer of the Oxford University Officers Training Corps.

Top

Staffing:
4 full-time employees on GMHG payroll
100 seasonal employees on GMHG payroll
8 nonprofit organizations providing support services

Top

Participating Nonprofit Organizations:

  • Crossnore Volunteer Fire Department
  • Caldwell Community College
  • Avery County High School
  • Rotary Club and the Hunger Coalition of Watauga County
  • Avery Baptist Association
  • Kiwanis of Banner Elk
  • Linville Volunteer Fire Department

Top

Featured Highland Bagpipe Bands in 2021: The Grandfather Mountain Highlanders (GMH) celebrates 47 years as the host band for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Founded in 1974 by Harvey Ritch and Agnes MacRae Morton, GMH wears the MacRae tartan in honor of its co-founder and continues a close association with Clan MacRae.

Additional pipe bands for 2021 include The Harvey E. Ritch Memorial Pipe Band, Jamestown Pipes and Drums, Loch Norman Pipe Band, Montreat Scottish Pipes and Drums, North Carolina State University Pipes and Drums and Blue Ridge Brass Pipes and Drums.

Top

Featured Musical Performers in 2021: The Brothers McLeod, Chambless and Muse, Ed Miller, Emerald Rae, Jennifer Licko, Jiggernaut, Marybeth McQueen, Piper Jones Band, The Reel Sisters, Seven Nations, StrathSpan, The Tune Shpherds, Will MacMorran, Wolf Loescher and more.

Top

Highland Games Scholars:

  • Ashley Clark
  • Emma Kitchin
  • Emmalee Carver
  • Lilly Markland
  • Cyle Hicks
  • Jaime Bautista
  • Tatum Hall
  • Mikaela Johnson
  • Laci Powell
  • Jonah Hayes
  • Katie Calhoun

Top