Highland Games – Braemar, Highlands, Scotland

Tartans, Bagpipes, and Brute Strength

Blazing with brightly colored tartans and ringing with the sound of bagpipes and ancient clans dancing and celebrating all things Scottish, these unique summer sporting events have their roots in the Middle Ages. Begun as county fairs for the exchange of goods and news, they provided clan chiefs the chance to witness the physical prowess of the area’s most promising young lads. Of the nation’s forty-some annual gatherings, those at Braemar are the most renowned.

Queen Elizabeth usually pops in from nearby Balmoral Castle to cheer on the kilted Scotsmen. A breed of gigantic men called the “Heavies” engage in “throwing the hammer”, “putting the stone,” and the gathering’s prime event, “tossing the caber”—a 20-foot tree trunk weighing over 130 pounds. There are all kinds of Highlands dancing and traditional music, and a bit of whisky to help the celebrations along.

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