Come be a Scot for a day or a weekend at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans.

Come experiecne tartan plaids, athletic competitions, food, music and the clamor of bagpipe bands in the mountains.

The Highland Games begin Thursday, July 11 with a border collie sheepherding demonstration, Celtic entertainment, the running of “The Bear” and the opening ceremonies. 

The opening ceremonies begin at dusk with a torchlight ceremony where representatives of each of the 100 clans and 16 societies announce their family’s participation in the gathering.

This “raising of the clans” proclaims that they have once again come together to celebrate their heritage. Prior to the torchlight ceremony, 800 people run a 5-mile footrace called “The Bear” that climbs 1,568 ft. in elevation from the town of Linville to the summit of Grandfather Mountain.

On uly 13-16, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are filled with competition in 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.

In addition, the nation’s top Scottish athletes clash in traditional heavyweight events such as “Turning the Caber” and “Tossing the Sheaf.”

Other ancient tests of strength awaiting the brawny professionals are highland wrestling, putting the stone, the hammer throw and various weight throws. A test of extreme endurance is the running of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon on Saturday.

Among the many sights and sounds of Scotland to be found on MacRae Meadows throughout the weekend is the popular open-air market set up adjacent to the parade grounds. Merchants sell Gaelic and tartan gift items while concessionaires sell Scottish meat pies to give visitors a taste of the highlands.

Adult tickets are $15 Thursday, $20 Friday, $30 Saturday and $15 Sunday. The tickets cover all activities in the meadows, which on Friday and Saturday last from early morning to midnight. Tickets are $5 each day for children ages 5-12, with children under 5 are free. Tickets are available at the field on the day of the event. Four-day tickets are also available online at gmhg.org. Adult 4-day passes are $75 and children’s passes are $20.

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