Last Updated on July 2, 2023 9:51 am
LINVILLE, N.C. – The long and storied tradition that is the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games returns to MacRae Meadows on Thursday, July 6, continuing through Sunday, July 9.
This marks the 67th year for the beloved and historic celebration of Scottish ancestry and heritage, with the popular festival once again bringing a “wee bit o’ Scotland” to the High Country of North Carolina.
Throughout the weekend of events, guests can take in the awe-inspiring spectacle of traditional Scottish athletic competitions, which includes Scottish heavy athletics, track and field competitions, Highland wrestling and more.
Additionally, guests can enjoy signature Scottish cuisine, cultural enrichments, traditional and contemporary Scottish music, dancing competitions, the Parade of Tartans and the ever-popular sheep dog herding demonstration. The Highland Games offer a unique experience for the whole family that guests will enjoy whether or not they have any direct Scottish lineage.
Grandfather Mountain offers a distinct backdrop to these games that is not so different from the original Braemar Gathering that inspired the founders of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games decades ago.
Operated and organized by Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Inc., the festivities begin Thursday, July 6, with border collie sheepherding demonstrations and Celtic entertainment.
Shortly thereafter, the games officially get underway with the Torch Light Ceremony on Thursday evening, where representatives from all of the clans — many of whom travel from across the country and world to attend the games each year — announce their families’ participation in the gathering. Truly a sight to behold, the “raising of the clans” proclaims that they have convened to celebrate their heritage.
This year, 103 clans will be represented on the field.
Friday offers a full day of activities with Highland dance competitions, Celtic Grove music performances, a children’s caber toss clinic, amateur heavy athletics and the Celtic Rock Concert that night.
Saturday sees the start of both the “Elite” Women Heavy Athletics Qualifying and the “Professional” Class Heavy Athletics, including such feats of strength as the caber toss, the sheaf toss, the hammer throw and others. During the day, piping, harp and fiddling competitions will take place, as well as additional musical entertainment, culminating in the much-anticipated nighttime Celtic Jam Concert.
This year’s musical talent features the return (after an 11-year absence) of fan-favorite pipes-and-drum band Albannach. Seven Nations, North of Argyll, The Reel Sisters, Ed Miller, Brothers McLeod, Seán Heely and Chambless and Muse are also among the 2023 lineup.
Cultural experiences will be offered in the Scottish Cultural Village Tent over the course of the weekend.
Athletic events are repeated Sunday for amateurs and athletes 40 and older, in addition to the Parade of Tartans, kilted running events, children’s events and the Clan Tug of War. The weekend’s programming concludes Sunday afternoon with the closing ceremonies.
To learn more about admission to the 2023 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, including parking and shuttle bus information, call 828-733-1333 or visit www.gmhg.org. For lodging and travel information, contact the N.C. High Country Host Regional Visitor Center at 800-438-7500 or visit www.highcountryhost.com.
The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, visit www.grandfather.com.