For the past 64 years, Grandfather Mountain Highland Games has served as the grandest of tartan reunions and one of the largest single gatherings of Scottish clans in America. This year, the tradition is perhaps more steeped than ever.
Each second weekend in July (this year from Thursday to Sunday, July 11 to 14), GMHG inundates and educates festivalgoers from far and wide in traditional Scottish culture, from pipes and drums to haggis and shepherd’s pie. The four-day festival that is the Games has been a destination for competition, entertainment, reunion and celebration of Scottish heritage by thousands who return each year to “America’s Braemar.”
This year’s GMHG is no different. Whether it’s the opportunity to try Scottish staple food haggis, or competing in events such as the tossing of the sheaf or The Bear, enjoying the dulcet tones of Celtic music from bands from around the world in one of the two groves at MacRae Meadows, observing Scottish traditions and customs or simply stopping by a clan tent to learn one’s family history or pick up a souvenir for a family member or loved one, Grandfather Mountain Highland Games leaves an indelible impression as a unique and fun-filled weekend.
GMHG is a captivating event where thousands of visitors enjoy a wide range of activities. The musical competitions — fiddles, pipes, drums, harps and more — are a buffet for the ears, while the Games features dancing events that will have the most novice of dancers tapping their feet to the rhythm. Each year, the athletic competitions at GMHG rival any Scottish games in the world.
The foot races such as The Bear, in addition to traditional competitions such as caber throwing, hammer, sheaf and weight tossing, not to mention the popular tug of war, attracts fans and clans of all sizes who cheer the competitors to victory and honor the spirit of friendly competition.
For many attending the Games, the weekend serves as a family reunion of sorts. The largest single gathering of Scottish clans anywhere in the world, more than 100 in all gather on MacRae Meadows annually for GMHG, as those visiting the Games comprise a population on between 30,000 and 40,000 people.
Tickets for GMHG are available upon arrival at the Games, or visitors may purchase them at the GMHG office in downtown Linville.
Parking is available at MacRae Meadows for pass-displaying patrons and sponsors only on the mountain during the weekend (a change from previous festivals). Games officials urge patrons to take advantage of the bus shuttle system, where attendees for a small fee can park in areas including Newland, Linville or the Boone area and be chauffeured to the Games entrance on an individual trip or weekend ticket pass to ride for the entire weekend for a one-time fee.
From the torchlight ceremony on Thursday night to the closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon, GMHG is chock full of events to entertain the entire family.
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is located off Highway 221, two miles north of Linville and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
For more information on GMHG, click to www.gmhg.org.