Scots are internationally renowned for knowing how to throw a spectacularly good party. Where else in the world would you experience a New Year’s Eve like Scotland’s Hogmanay hoolie? We offer an especially warm welcome whenever there’s a large sporting event too, from the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014 to the European Championships in Glasgow this year.
But, where did this warm celebratory spirit, sense of occasion and friendly competitive edge come from? If you think about it, we’ve actually been hosting ‘gatherings’ in one form or another for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Our world-famous highland gatherings were our early celebrations of our culture and, like many Scottish traditions, are still adhered to and celebrated annually across the country. Crieff is no different and the Crieff Highland Gathering, often referred to as Scotland’s premier highland games, is steeped in tradition dating back to its first gathering in 1870.
It’s taking place this Sunday, August 19, 2018, so make sure you don’t miss it. If you need more convincing, here’s 5 reasons you should head to Crieff on Sunday to experience the Crieff Highland Gathering…
1. Witness super human strength
It’s an understatement to say that Highland Games are a unique experience. The events are so unusual that they are well worth a trip for the spectacle alone. At the Crieff Highland Gathering there’s traditional sports galore with some seriously strong competitors.
Tossing The Caber is always massively popular. Most people think that the aim of this is for competitors to throw the caber as far as they can, but it is actually judged more on the throwing style. Competitors visualise an imaginary clock with caber heaved up at the six o’clock position so that the heavy end lands on the 12 o’clock position. Those closest to the 12 o’clock position are doing the best. Precision is key, but strength is vital.
Each of the heavyweight events, from Throwing The Hammer to Putting The Shot require seemingly super human strength. Watch in awe as these strongmen take on feats which are beyond the ability of most able bodied people. A truly once-in-a-lifetime spectacle only seen at a highland gathering, like the one right here in Crieff.
2. There’s atmospheric live music
Take a break from the sporting entertainment and explore the musical options throughout the day at Crieff Highland Gathering. If you’re never experienced the bagpipes before you’re in for a treat. Firstly, check out the enchanting highland dancing competitions. The beautiful, precise routines and vibrant costumes offer a visual feast, but they are also accompanied usually by a lone piper to help the dancers keep their rhythm. For a full pipe band experience, there’s the customary Massed Pipe Bands finale to close the games.
For something a little different, Crieff Highland Gathering has developed what feels like a mini music festival to run throughout the day alongside the various games in the town’s Market Park. For music lovers, the Glenturret Music Tent is a must, showcasing an array of Scottish folk music acts from Skerryvore to Clanadonia. This year, look out for The American Rogues who are friends of the Crieff’s sister games in Ohio and have travelled from the States to perform.
3. See hundreds of kilts
For the majority of the planet, most people probably very rarely see a person wearing a kilt. It is inherently a Scottish tradition. If you’ve never seen one before or even if you just love kilts, make sure you go to the Crieff Highland Gathering.
Of course, you’ll see plenty of pipe bands, the Chieftain and others wearing their kilts, but the absolute kilted highlight of the day has to be the Kilt Run. Also called The Tartan Dash, this race sees participants don their tartan finery and run for one mile from the edge of Crieff, through the town and into the Market Park, finishing in front of the Chieftain himself. Everyone is welcome to take part, both fun runners and serious competitors – as long as they’re wearing a kilt!
4. Sample fresh local produce
As well as the highland games, live music and kilt runs, there are plenty of delicious food and drink to sample – all from the local area. The Taste of Tartan Food and Drink Marquee will showcase high quality, tasty fresh food from local businesses in the Crieff and Strathearn area. It really will be a taste of Perthshire and will offer people the chance to ‘try before you buy’.
From locally distilled gins to homemade jams made with Perthshire fruit, this marquee offers visitors the opportunity to go on a journey through Scotland’s incredible larder and take some of those treats home.
5. You’re right in the heart of the town
It perhaps seems a little obvious, but if you come along to the Crieff Highland Gathering, you can explore the rest of the town as the centre is just a five minute walk from Market Park.
If you are planning to make a weekend of your visit, you could explore the rest of the town on the Saturday before immersing yourself in the Highland Gathering on the Sunday. If you’re looking for a change of pace why not explore MacRosty Park and take a walk along the river. There’s an amazing playpark for the kids here too. There’s also a vibrant mixture of local cafes and restaurants for you to find something to eat or drink.