Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (July 11-14, 2013)
High in the Mountains of Western North Carolina, the ancient Celtic spirit beckons. Answering the call, as hundreds of tartan banners unfurl, are the songs of bagpipes echoing through the valley and once again thousands of kilt-clad Scots make their way to MacRae Meadow for their annual gathering and game.
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans brings the color of 160 tartan plaids and the clamor of half a dozen bagpipe bands to the North Carolina Highlands on the second full weekend in July
The Grandfather Games are considered Americas grandest Games because of the spectacular mountain setting that is so reminiscent of Scotland. The deep blue peaks of 6,000-foot Grandfather Mountain tower above a grassy green meadow ringed by 172 red, blue, yellow and green striped tents. The color is augmented by thousands of Scots luxuriously costumed in tartan plaids, and the energy is amplified by the sounds of bagpipes and kettle drums echoing across the moor.
The Highland Games begin Thursday afternoon with a picnic, piping concert, sheep herding exhibition, the running of The Bear and the opening ceremonies.
The opening ceremonies begin at dusk with a torchlight ceremony where representatives of each of the 160 clans announce their familys participation in the gathering. This raising of the clans proclaims that they have once again come together to celebrate their heritage.
The Bear, The Grizzly & The Marathon
Look for news on The Grizzly next year. Event cancelled this year.
Highland Athletic Competition
At the center of the activity, the nations top Scottish athletes clash in traditional heavyweight events such as Turning the Caber and Tossing the Sheaf. The first requires an athlete to flip a telephone pole-sized tree trunk end-over-end and the second challenges athletes to loft a 16-pound sack of hay over a cross bar more than 20 feet above the ground. Other ancient tests of strength awaiting the brawny professionals are highland wrestling, putting the stone, the hammer throw and various weight throws.
Celtic Night Life
On Friday night, the Celtic Jam highlights traditional and contemporary Celtic music at MacRae Meadows and on Saturday night the Celtic Rock Concert serves up encore performances from some of the higher energy bands.
Other evening activities include a Scottish Country Dance Gala at Lees-McRae College.
Among the many sights and sounds of Scotland to be found on MacRae Meadows throughout the weekend is the popular bazaar set up adjacent to the parade grounds. Merchants sell Gaelic and tartan gift items while concessionaires sell Scottish meat pies to give visitors a taste of the highlands. There is also a tent set up to help guests trace their Scottish roots and learn more about their heritage.
|Grandfather Mountain Highland Games|
The public can park on site at the Games field Thursday and Friday, but public parking is not available at the field on Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle service is provided between MacRae Meadows and satellite parking areas in Linville, Newland and Boone. Shuttle fees vary depend on the distance between the shuttle lots and MacRae Meadows.
Tickets to the off-mountain evening events vary by event. For more information call 828-733-1333 or visit online at www.gmhg.org. For lodging and other travel information, contact The Avery County Chamber of Commerce at 800-972-2183 or www.balconyoftheblueridge.com.