Grandfather Mountain will host its 53rd annual Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans from July 10-13. This event brings together over 160 tartan plaids and up to six different bagpipes bands to the North Carolina Highlands.
Because the Highland Games are set among this spectacular mountain setting they are considered to be some of America's grandest games. The peak of Grandfather Mountain reaching 6,000 feet and the show of red, yellow and green striped tents is reminiscent of Scotland. You will hear traditional bagpipes and kettle drums sounding over this incredible festival.
Open Ceremonies will begin on Thursday afternoon, July 10. A piping concert, sheep herding exhibition and the running of "The Bear" are among the celebrations’ opening events. Concessions are available at the Meadows for spectators to enjoy or some choose to bring a picnic dinner.
At dusk, a torchlight ceremony occurs in which a representative of each of the 160 clans present announce their families participation in the games. This "raising of the clans" shows their unity in celebrating their Scottish heritage.
"The Bear" is an annual tradition in which over 800 runners make the 5 mile footrace from Linville to the base of Grandfather Mountain. This race, which climbs 1,568 feet in elevation, will occur just prior to the torchlight ceremony.
The Grizzly Bike Ride, on July 11, will also be a returning event to the Games this year. This ride, which begins at Grandfather Mountain, has cyclers climb over 7,000 feet in 65 miles through Avery County. Bikers will also trek over a two mile section of dirt road on the backside of Beech Mountain.
On Saturday July 12 the running of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon will take place. This marathon is in its 41st year and special prizes will be awarded to any athlete that completes all three events.
Other festivities throughout the weekend will include heavy-weight Scottish athletic events; highland dancing competition; bagpipe band parades; piping, drumming and harp competitions; sheep herding demonstrations by Scottish border collies and concerts featuring a wide variety of Celtic music.
The Scottish heavy weight athletic events are comprised of competitions such as "Turning the Caber" and "Tossing the Sheaf." These require athletes to turn telephone pole sized tree trunks on end and toss 16 pound hay sacks over 20 foot bars. Other tests of strength traditional of ancient Scotland are highland wrestling, putting the stone, the hammer throw and various weight throws.
Celtic music is enjoyed Friday and Saturday nights during the games. The Celtic Jam performs traditional and contemporary Celtic music and can be heard on Friday evening. Saturday’s performances in the Celtic Rock Concert will be by various artists including Barleyjuice, The Killdares, Coyote Run, Mother Grove and many others. Each night and during the day in the Celtic Grove you can listen to Albannach, a drum and pipe group with tribal rhythm. More traditional Appalachian and Celtic folk musicians appearing at the Games include Ed Miller, Clay Lunsford, Jim Malcolm and Colin Grant Adams.
Other evening activities include a concert by Alex Beaton & Friends, and a piping concert, both held at the Broyhill Inn in Boone and a concert of Scottish folk music and dance called a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) held both Friday and Saturday nights at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk.
Merchants will be selling Gaelic and tartan gift items adjacent to the Meadows throughout the weekend. This bazaar will also offer traditional Scottish meat pies and other concessions. You can trace your Scottish roots and learn about your heritage at one of the more popular tents.
Adult tickets are $10 Thursday, $20 Friday, $25 Saturday and $15 Sunday. Tickets are $5 each day for children ages 5-12 with children under five free. Tickets are available at the field on the day of the event.
Parking near the Games field is open to the public Thursday and Friday, but public parking is not available at the field on Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle services are provided between MacRae Meadows and parking areas in Linville, Newland and Boone. Shuttle fees vary depending on the location of the satellite lot.
Tickets to the off-mountain evening events vary. For more information call 828-733-1333 or visit online at www.gmhg.org. For lodging and other travel information, contact North Carolina High Country Host at 800-438-7500 or www.mountainsofnc.com.
Amaze your friends at the Highland Games by sharing all of your knowledge of Grandfather Mountain!
Learn about the history of this famous landmark and destination from its beginning in prehistoric times to modern day. Written by award-winning journalist, Miles Tager, Grandfather Mountain: A Profile will enrich your experience at Grandfather Mountain for years to come.
Grandfather Mountain is just a short drive from beautiful Beech Mountain NC, come check out the other side of the mountain..