The Highland Games

Blaring bagpipes, Scottish sports, Highland tunes, Celtic food, crafts galore, and a stunning highland backdrop combine to make this colorful celebration of Scottish culture one of the country's most highly regarded games. Extra charge. Visit for additional details.


The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are hosted in MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, North Carolina, on the second full weekend in July. In 2004, National Geographic Traveler Magazine named the annual four-day Scottish festival one of the Top Ten Events in the Southeastern United States and one of the 20 must-see events in North America. With hundreds of different tartan plaids, outstanding athletic activities, wonderful cuisine, and Celtic music, the largest meeting of Scottish Clans is absolutely stunning. It's not every day that you can hear kettledrums and bagpipe ensembles in the mountains of North Carolina.

The Grandfather Games are hosted at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, which stands at 6,000 feet (1,828 meters) and is reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands. Around 200 colorful tents representing tribes blanket a lovely field. Their members are clad in tartan plaids and are ready to fight.

The festivities begin with a collie herding sheep display, followed by the running of "The Bear," a challenging 5-mile (8-kilometer) footrace to the peak with an elevation gain of almost 1,500 feet (457 m). Following that are events in heavyweight Scottish sports such as "Turning the Caber" and "Tossing the Sheaf," as well as highland dance and a piper band procession. Visitors may hear a lot of piping, drumming, and harp music every day.

Near the festival grounds, MacRae Meadows also offers an open-air market where visitors may try on traditional Scottish clothing, buy for Gaelic gift items, and sample Scottish meat pies and other goodies.

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