Scotland Returns to the 62nd Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games pipers.

The 62nd annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be held Thursday, July 6, to Sunday July 9 at Grandfather Mountain in Linville, North Carolina.

Begun in 1956 by Agnes MacRae Morton, known as “Miz M”, the games were introduced, “…to help preserve Scottish heritage and introduce Scottish culture to countless thousands.”

Attendees at the 62nd games will able to enjoy traditional bagpipe music, athletic events including the Grandfather Mountain Marathon and the Scottish heptathlon, contemporary Celtic rock, traditional foods, border collie shepherding, highland dance, and a Scottish Cultural Village with demonstrations, wares for sale, and Clan history and genealogy.

“Boasting bagpipes, Scottish athletics, Highland melodies, Celtic cuisine, crafts aplenty and tons of tartans, the Games hearken back to the rich cultural traditions of Scotland in a setting not so different from the mountains and glens some 3,600 miles away,” said Frank Ruggiero Director of Marketing & Communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

“Friday, Saturday and Sunday are filled with competitions in traditional heavyweight Scottish athletic events, highland dancing competitions, bagpipe band parades, piping, drumming and harp competitions, sheepherding demonstrations by Scottish border collies and concerts, featuring a colorful tapestry of Celtic music,” said Ruggiero.

The games kickoff Thursday afternoon with activities including border collie sheepherding demonstrations, Celtic entertainment, the running of “The Bear” (a race that pits 7000 participants against the steep switchbacks of Grandfather Mountain in a five-mile run that climbs 1568 feet), and will conclude with the opening torchlight ceremonies.

On Saturday and Sunday, top Scottish athletes, dancers, musicians, and clans will celebrate the games with everything from caber tossing (flipping telephone pole-sized log end over end) to highland wrestling, the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, dance competitions, and multiple music performances, educational workshops, and vendors.

“Throughout the weekend, visitors can learn about their own Scottish ancestry and genealogy at clan tents or browse the open-air market for Gaelic and tartan gift items,” said Ruggiero, “Guests can take a taste of tradition with a variety of concessions, including Scottish meat pies and the Scottish Cultural Village will also return, hosting experts to discuss or demonstrate numerous aspects of Scottish culture, including blacksmithing, weaving, spinning, athletics, piping and drumming, dancing and more. Presentations will take place every 30 minutes throughout the weekend.”

Adult admission to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is $15 Thursday, $20 Friday, $30 Saturday and $15 Sunday. Tickets are $5 each day for children ages 5-12, and are free for children younger than 5.

Tickets for the Friday night Celtic rock concert only (no Friday Games activities) are $15 for adults or $5 for children (ages 5-12) – the show will feature sets from Seven Nations, Nic Hudson, Rathkeltair, Blue Ridge Bass and Piper Jones Band. The Saturday night concert is also $15 for adults and $5 for children (ages 5-12) and includes music from Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, Elias Alexander, Eamon Sefton, Maura Shawn Scanlin, Ed Miller, Chambless & Muse, John Taylor and Rathkeltair. Tickets for the evening concerts are not included in admission to the day Highland Games activities.

Tickets purchased on site must be paid with cash – credit cards will only be accepted at the Games’ main entrance gate.

Four-day passes are also available. Adult passes are $75 (including shuttle), and children’s passes are $20 (also including shuttle).

Parking is available at the Games on Thursday and Friday on a first come, first served basis, with overflow parking at shuttle lots in Linville Friday only (no shuttle buses run on Thursday). Public parking is not available at the Games on Saturday and Sunday.

Shuttle service is provided for a fee between MacRae Meadows and satellite parking areas in Linville, Newland and Boone. Shuttle fees vary depending on the distance between the lots and MacRae Meadows, costing $5 for Linville and Newland and $10 for Boone.

For more information about the Games, visit www.gmhg.org, or call 828-733-1333. For lodging and travel information, contact the High Country Host visitor center at 800-438-7500 or highcountryhost.com.