Scotland Highland Games 2023 – All You Need To Know

Dating back to the earliest days of the Scottish clan system, Scotland’s Highland Games bring together some of the strongest athletes from across the country to take part in various traditional sporting events. 

Once used to train men for battle, the Scottish Highland Games sees teams of competitors go head to head during various heavyweight and lightweight events. Kilted athletes gather from all around to show off their speed, strength and endurance as they hurl timber logs and shot puts to the tuneful melodies of traditional Scottish pipers. 

Steeped in tradition and history, a visit to any of the games which are held right across Scotland is a must for any local or visitor to Scotland alike. 

Want to experience the action of the Scottish Highland Games in 2023? Here is an overview of how the games came to be, along with information about the upcoming events.  

What Are The Scottish Highland Games?

Legend has it that King Malcolm III who reigned between 1058 and 1093 hosted the first gathering of the Scottish Highland Games. Back then, clan chiefs would select their fiercest clansman to battle it out in a demonstration of brute strength and speed. The tradition continued for many centuries, until the Jacobean era (1603 to 1625) when there was a crackdown on traditional island culture. 

Thankfully, the Scottish Highland Games returned after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent their honeymoon in Scotland. Following the purchase of Balmoral Castle, Queen Victoria reintroduced The Braemar Gathering in 1832. Since then, The Scottish Highland Games have once again become a regular fixture in Scotland’s calendar attracting visitors from across the globe.

In terms of what actually happens at The Scottish Highland Games, the truth is that no two games are the same, which is all part of the mystique. Though, what you can typically expect is that the day will start a chieftain’s parade which sees a procession of pipe bands, athletes and highland dancers travel from the main square of the town or village to the arena where the games are being held. The amazing spectacle then gets underway with heavyweight events along with piping and highland dancing competitions. 

 

Events In The Highland Games

 

  • Caber toss
  • Cycling
  • Haggis hurling
  • Hammer throw
  • Highland Dance
  • Hill race
  • Junior heavyweights
  • Light Field Events
  • Pipe Band Contest
  • Running
  • Solo Piping
  • Stone Put
  • Tug of War
  • Weight for height
  • Wrestling
  • Youth Cycling

 

Where Are The Highland Games Held?

The Highland Games are held across the length and breadth of Scotland. This means it’s possible to find an event within a reasonable distance, wherever you happen to be staying, if you are looking for a guide to Highlands, you can read more about them here

In addition, the games are held in other countries of the world which have links to Scotland. 

When Are The Scottish Highland Games?

The Scottish Highland Games are mostly held between late spring and early autumn, bar the exception of the New Year Sprint which is held on New Year’s Day. 

Below is an overview of when the Scottish Highland Games will be held to help you plan your event schedule. 

January 2023

January 1st, 2023

New Year Sprint – Musselburgh Racecourse

May 2023

May 21st, 2023 

Gordon Castle Highland Games

May 27th, 2023

Blackford Highland Games

June 2023

June 3rd, 2023

Cornhill Highland Games

Helensburgh & Lomond Highland Games

June 4th, 2023

Markinch Highland Games

June 10th, 2023

Bearsden & Milngavie Highland Games

June 11th, 2023

Strathmore Highland Games

June 17th, 2023

Oldmeldrum Sports & Highland Games

June 18th, 2023

Aberdeen’s Highland Games

June 24th, 2023

Drumtochty Highland Games

July 2023

July 1st, 2023

Luss Highland Games

Thornton Highland Gathering

July 5th, 2023

Kenmore Highland Games

July 8th, 2023

Alva Games

July 15th, 2023

Lochcarron Highland Games

Tomintoul Highland Games

July 16th, 2023

Stonehaven Highland Games

July 17th, 2023

Burntisland Highland Games

July 18th, 2023

Inveraray Highland Games

July 20th, 2023

Mull Highland Games

July 22nd, 2023

Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Highland Games

July 29th, 2023

Dufftown Highland Games

Halkirk Highland Games

July 30th, 2023

St. Andrews Highland Games

August 2023

August 4th, 2023

Dornoch Highland Gathering

August 5th, 2023

Aboyne Highland Games

Inverkeithing Highland Games

Strathpeffer Highland Gathering

August 6th, 2023

Bridge Of Allan Highland Games

August 9th, 2023

Isle Of Skye Highland Games

August 10th, 2023

Ballater Highland Games

August 12th, 2023

Atholl & Breadalbane Highland Gathering

North Berwick Highland Games

Tain Highland Gathering

August 13th, 2023

Perth Highland Games

August 19th, 2023

Helmsdale Highland Games

Stirling Highland Games

August 20th, 2023

Crieff Highland Gathering

August 26th, 2023

Birnam Highland Games

Glenurquhart Highland Games

Lonach Highland Gathering & Games

Strathardle Highland Gathering and Agricultural Show

September 2023

September 2nd, 2023

Braemar Highland Gathering

September 9th, 2023

Pitlochry Highland Games

September 10th, 2023

Bowhill Highland Games

 

Where To Stay During The Highland Games

Given the unique history of the Scottish Highland Games, they remain an unmissable event for any visitor to Scotland. Whether you’re on holiday here or have Scottish ancestry, there’s no better way to discover the ancient cultures and traditions which have shaped the lives of residents for many centuries. Plus, there are some spectator events you might want to try also! 

For those planning on attending any of the Scottish Highland Games events in 2023, Best Scottish Cottages has holiday accommodation right across Scotland to ensure you have a wonderful stay.

Whether you are in search of a dreamy woodland retreat or a boutique hotel, you’ll find it all on our website. To see our current availability, head over to browse highland accommodation. As the Scottish Highland Games are held right across the country, you may also be interested in finding accommodation specific to a particular location in Scotland

While you’re here, be sure to give us a follow on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook where we post regular inspiration for your next break in Scotland. On our social media, we’ll also let you know about any late availability or deals to inspire your visit. 

 

Contact us

With our concierge service, you can sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that your Scottish holiday is in good hands. We’re passionate about helping you find the perfect cottage, and we’re dedicated to making your stay in Scotland as memorable as possible. Contact us today to start your journey.

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