Everything You Need to Know About Highland Game Festivals

This is perhaps the most underrated festival that has ever been. Most people don’t even know about it!

Since Scotland and Ireland fascinate me – the vast greenlands, the food, the magical music, the skirts and kelts, the accent, not to mention the Irish fairytales – when the chance comes to catch a small glimpse of their heritage, off to the festival I go!

The festival is made up into nine portions:

  • The musical celtic bands
  • The food
  • Irish fairytale tellings
  • Highland dancers and clogging
  • Celtic clothing stands
  • Clan tables, to get to know your clan better
  • Celtic history
  • Highland Games
  • Bagpipes

The main attractions to the festival are the highland games. The games consist of muscularly huge men and women lifting heavy things, as to prepare themselves for war back in the day. I’ve witnessed four out of seven techniques used for the games.

Caber toss:


For caber tossing, the man must lift the pole, throw it so it hopefully lands on its yellow end, and tips over straight across from the man. This was used for the warriors to scale the walls of the enemies. So once the caber is tossed, rightened and steady against the stone wall, they could climb up and invade.

Hammer throw:


The hammer weighs between 16-22 lbs. They whip it around to pick up momentum, then throw it as far as they can across the field. Whoever threw it the farthest wins! Their shoes have metal rods in them to keep the men grounded in place, so the heavy hammer doesn’t whip them around.

Weight over the bar:


The goal is to throw the weighted ball up and over the bar. The ball can weigh up to 50 pounds! As they advance in the competition, the bar raises higher.


It’s just a sneak peak of it all!

I was fortunate enough to see the World Finals of the highland games in Alaska, and it was the most impressive games I’ve seen so far.

Playing tug-o-war!


The food…. Oh my goodness. It’s hot, simple food, but it’s enough to make you love it. My favorites are bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes and gravy) and hot pies, like shepards pie, lamb pie, etc. Yum! Most of the time, there will also be a tea tent where everyone can sit down and enjoy some hot tea.

Some of the tea pots and kettles

All throughout the festivals, you’ll hear bagpipes. The storyful tunes will have you striving over to the sound. There are masses of marching bagpiping bands at least twice a day, and there are also bagpiping competitions, where the song can go on for ten minutes.



Sometimes some cloggers will spring on their toes and dance to the sound of the bagpipes.


I would highly recommend go to a Celtic festival for your next festival! I’ve been to four and haven’t been let down. Find your clan and enjoy the jolly time! You won’t be disappointed! But be warned, once you get a glimpse, you’ll want to visit the Highlands! 😉




One of the fantastic thing about the bands at these festivals is that they it is in a personal setting. The bands are close, and often march down into the audience.  And if you dance to their music, they will come and play beside you.


There are celtic festivals all throughout the world; many in the United States. I highly suggest looking into the festival in St. Augustine, FL , small, but the best!  I’ve also gone to the festivals in St. Louis, MO , Flagstaff, AZ , and Palmer, AK.

*The bands featured are Albannach, The Wicked Tinkers, and Cleghorn.


My clan symbol; Clan Rose. 



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