Let’s go for the Highland Games in Scotland this summer

After a three-year hiatus due to Covid, more than 60 towns and cities across Scotland are gearing up for the annual extravaganza, with the season as much a part of summer as a punnet of strawberries, a surprise sunburn or a rainy afternoon.

Covid has taught us a lot about what is important and what can also be quietly removed from our lives. The return of an annual event, which brings families and communities together in a traditional and familiar setting while generating phenomenal sums for the economy, is surely to be welcomed by most, even if the sound of pipes and drums is far from your thing.

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A history of the Scottish Highland Games

Of course Covid has affected how everything works and the Highland Games are no exception. In this largely cashless era, committees are experimenting with contactless technology so customers don’t need to change at the door to pay. For more rural communities where signals are a daily challenge, mobile satellite technology is being considered. Websites are being improved so tickets can be purchased online – and postponed once again if arrangements are sabotaged by the virus again.

Many suffered heavy losses as the Games disappeared from the calendar and large-scale event planning became possible. The prize pool for athletes is around £250,000 a year with sportsmen and women traveling from all over the world to compete. The pandemic has also brought another kind of pain for athletes, who have not been able to train normally. A few weeks ago, the Royal Scottish Highland Games Association held a training day at Crieff to ease the transition into the arena.

Above all, the supply chain that has supported the games – from chip vans to craftsmen and portable toilet suppliers – will soon be back in business.

Maintaining the morale of local organizers has been a key issue for the RSHGA as volunteer commitment can become fragile. But, with around 60 events scheduled for the summer, it’s time for the Highland Games this year. Maybe it’s just that a pipe band has never sounded so good.

The Highland Games circuit will be back in full force this summer after three years since the large-scale events were staged in cities and towns across the country. Smaller events have taken place to mark the games season, such as in Airth (pictured), where a piper and dancers gave a symbolic nod to the summer event PIC: Michael Gillen.


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Jennifer R. Strohm