Grandfather Mountain Highland Games 2024

Jul 2, 2024

The long and storied tradition that is the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games returns to MacRae Meadows on Thursday, July 11, continuing through Sunday, July 14. (See our Highland Games newsfeed for 2024 winners.)

This marks the 68th year for the beloved and historic celebration of Scottish ancestry and heritage, with the popular festival once again bringing a “wee bit o’ Scotland” to the High Country of North Carolina.

Throughout the weekend of events, guests can take in the awe-inspiring spectacle of traditional Scottish athletic competitions, which includes Scottish heavy athletics, track and field competitions, Highland wrestling and more.

Additionally, guests can enjoy signature Scottish cuisine, cultural enrichments, traditional and contemporary Scottish music, dancing competitions, the Parade of Tartans and the ever-popular 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 lineage.

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 decades ago.

Operated and organized by Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Inc., the festivities begin Thursday, July 11, with border collie sheepherding demonstrations and Celtic entertainment.

Shortly thereafter, the games officially get underway with the Torch Light Ceremony on Thursday evening, where representatives from all of the 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 convened to celebrate their heritage.

This year, 108 clans will be represented on the field, including Clan MacLeod as “Honored Clan.” John Macleod, based in Tasmania, will be serving as the Chieftain of the Games.

The “Distinguished Clan” is Clan Hunter. Their chief, Madame Pauline Hunter, is visiting from Scotland.

“This year, we have 24 societies holding their annual general meetings at Grandfather,” said Stephen Quillin, president of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. “That is a fantastically high number, and great for the Games and the North Carolina High Country.”

Friday offers a full day of activities with Highland dance competitions, Celtic Grove music performances, a children’s caber toss clinic, amateur heavy athletics and the Celtic Rock Concert that night.

Saturday sees the start of both the “Elite” Women Heavy Athletics Qualifying and the “Professional” Class Heavy Athletics, including such feats of strength as the caber toss, the sheaf toss, the hammer throw and others. During the day, piping, harp and fiddling competitions will take place, as well as additional musical entertainment, culminating in the much-anticipated nighttime Celtic Jam Concert.

This year’s musical talent features Seven Nations, Voices of Valverda, The Reel Sisters, Ed Miller, Mari Black, Seán Heely Band, Piper Jones Band, Strathspan, Colin Shoemaker and more among the 2024 lineup.

Cultural experiences will be offered in the Scottish Cultural Village Tent over the course of the weekend.

Athletic events are repeated Sunday for amateurs and athletes 40 and older, in addition to the Parade of Tartans, kilted running events, children’s events and the Clan Tug of War. The weekend’s programming concludes Sunday afternoon with the closing ceremonies.

To learn more about admission to the 2024 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 N.C. High Country Host Regional Visitor Center at 800-438-7500 or visit www.highcountryhost.com.

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646
1-800-468-7325

Owned & operated by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Go here for Grandfather Mountain State Park information.
Member of Southern Highlands Attractions