LINVILLE, N.C. — The long and storied tradition that is the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games returns to MacRae Meadows beginning Thursday, July 7 and lasts through Sunday, July 10.
This year’s iteration of the beloved and historic celebration of Scottish ancestry and heritage marks the 66th anniversary of the popular festival that brings a “wee bit o’ Scotland” to the High Country.
Throughout the weekend of events, guests can bear witness to the awe-inspiring spectacle of traditional Scottish athletic competitions, which includes a 5-mile footrace up Grandfather Mountain, Scottish heavy athletics, track and field competitions, Highland wrestling, the Grandfather Mountain Marathon and more.
Additionally, guests can enjoy signature Scottish cuisine, cultural enrichments, traditional and contemporary Scottish music, dancing competitions, the parade of tartans and the fan-favorite sheep dog herding demonstration. The Highland Games offer a unique experience for the whole family that guests will enjoy whether or not they have any direct Scottish ancestry.
Grandfather Mountain offers a distinct backdrop to these games that is not so different from the original Braemar Gathering that inspired the founders of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games years ago.
Operated and organized by Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Inc., the Highland Games begin Thursday afternoon, July 7, with border collie sheepherding demonstrations, Celtic entertainment and the running of “The Bear,” a 5-mile footrace up Grandfather Mountain that kicks off the weekend of events.
Shortly thereafter, the games officially get underway with the torchlight ceremony on Thursday evening, where representatives of more than 100 clans — many of whom travel from across the country and world to attend the games each year — announce their families’ participation in the gathering. Truly, a sight to behold, the “raising of the clans” proclaims that they have once again convened to celebrate their heritage.
Friday offers a full day of activities with Highland dance competitions, musical entertainment, a children’s caber toss clinic, heavy athletics and the Celtic Rock Concert in the evening.
Saturday begins with another test of extreme endurance as the Grandfather Mountain Marathon winds from Appalachian State University in Boone to the site of the games in Linville. Moreover, Scottish heavy athletics take place throughout the day and include such feats of strength as the caber toss, the sheaf toss, the hammer throw and more.
During the weekend, cultural experiences can be found in the Scottish Cultural Village Tent and musical acts perform, with a culminating Celtic Jam Concert on Saturday night. This year’s musical talent features Jiggernaut, Glen Echo, Ed Miller, Brothers McLeod, Chambless and Muse and more, in addition to numerous piping and drumming bands.
Events are repeated Sunday for amateurs and athletes 40 and older, in addition to the Parade of Tartans, kilted running events, clan caber toss and clan tug-of-war. The weekend of festivities concludes Sunday afternoon with the closing ceremonies.
To learn more about admission to the 2022 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, including parking and shuttle bus information, call 828-733-1333 or visit www.gmhg.org. For lodging and travel information, contact the High Country Host visitor center at 800-438-7500 or visit www.highcountryhost.com.