This year’s Inverness Highland Games and Gala weekend is being expanded with a number of new events being added to the city’s summer season.
The festivities will commence on Friday, 19 July, with performances in Northern Meeting Park Arena featuring the City of Inverness Pipe Band; the Elizabeth Fraser School of Highland Dancing and members of the Inverness Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance; before the 2019 Highlands Strongest Man and Strongest Woman Championships takes place.
For many spectators, the Heavy events at the Inverness Highland Games are one of the highlights of their trip to Scotland; and another day of fierce competition is expected on July 20th with Champion Jamie Gunn scheduled to return to defend his title against a top class field of Heavies.
As usual the day will end with the Heavies attempting a unique event which can trace its roots back to ‘The True Highland Games’ staged in 1822. The Inverness Stonemason’s Stone weighs 252 pounds and always generates the biggest cheer if any of the Heavies have enough strength left at the end of an exhausting day of competition to lift it cleanly over a bar suspended five feet in the air.
Less than a dozen athletes have been able to complete the task to date; although many have travelled to Inverness to try.
The Games Committee has announced that following the Opening Ceremony’s Mass Highland Fling; they will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Inverness Royal British Legion Pipe Band by inducting the entire band into the Games’ Hall of Fame.
Making a welcome return to event will be the “Show and Shine Inverness” car show organised by 2K Custom which made its debut in 2018. Over 100 cars have already signed up for this year’s show; which is just one of the attractions in a show field that contains Scotland’s Biggest Inter Clan Gathering, Highland Dancing, the Exclusively Highlands Craft Fair, Horne’s Fun Fair, the Games Day Traders Village, a Sports Zone, Armed Forces displays and the prestigious Solo Piping competitions organised by the Inverness Piping Society.
At the suggestion of the Inverness Youth Forum, and certain to prove very popular with young families, the Games Committee have announced that all under 12’s will be admitted free of charge to this year’s Games; and that a new multi-event competition for junior athletes will be introduced.
Sunday will see the return of the Inverness Gala to its traditional Sunday afternoon slot with a number of events being staged simultaneously at Bught Park.
Following October’s inaugural Proud Ness, The Highland Council and the Highland LGBT Forum volunteers have been working behind the scenes on developing a format which would enable Proud Ness to accommodate the thousands of participants who are expected to take part.
Proud Ness 2019 will feature a parade to Bught Park that will start around 1pm in order to enable participants from across the Highlands and further afield to participate. It is expected that the Proud Ness marchers will be joined along the way by marchers taking part in a sponsored walk for Mikeysline and by competitors in a brand new event especially for dogs and their owners.
Ruff Ness is scheduled to take place in the main stadium at Bught Park at 2pm on Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the Gala Day Junior Shinty Festival organised by Inverness Shinty Club. Ruff Ness will feature a number of fun competitions which are currently being tested with varying degrees of success and laughter. Also making its debut on Gala Sunday in the Clan Village will be the pilot Well Ness Show which will feature a wide range of exhibitors and the opportunity for folk to discover a number of ways to relax and feel better.
Music fans are asked to note that the Inverness Gigs musical showcase featuring four of the top young emerging bands in the Highlands is moving from its Saturday night slot to Gala Sunday afternoon. Organiser Chris Lemon has once again been given the task of ensuring that musically the showcase has something to suit all tastes. Details of the bands that will be performing will be announced on www.invernessgigs.co.uk next month.
Games Chieftain Provost Helen Carmichael said: ‘Our expanded Games and Gala Weekend programme is filled with activities and events for everybody to enjoy; and is the result of many months of work behind the scenes to create something very special indeed. I would like to thank the many local competitors, performers and volunteers for their tremendous efforts over many months in helping our Games Committee and our city’s Events and Festivals Working Group to pull this all together.
‘The weekend will provide a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the very best that we have to offer here in Inverness to locals and visitors alike while delivering a much appreciated boost to both our city’s profile and economy.’