A traditional Scottish gathering comes to Fochabers later this year with the 2018 Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair.
Taking place on Sunday, 20 May, from caber tossing to parkour athletes, highland dancing to Indian runner ducks, the event will have it all.
Taking place at Gordon Castle in Fochabers, and entering its eighth year, the annual family event looks to welcome 10,000 national and international visitors to the one day event in the north east of Scotland.
Highland Games have taken place at Gordon Castle since Edwardian times and the tradition was ambitiously revived in 2011 along with the addition of the Country Fair.
By the early 20th century, the Gordon Castle Highland Games had become a hugely popular annual event regularly attracting crowds of over 30,000. By the late 1920s the Gordon Castle Highland Games had become synonymous with world record breaking escapades in the heavy events and was an unmissable fixture in the Highland Games calendar.
In keeping with the fate of many of Scotland’s ancestral estates, by the 1930s crippling death duties had forced the sale of Gordon Castle and the Games seemed destined to become nothing more than a long lost memory.
Salvation came after the Second World War when Lieutenant General Sir George Gordon Lennox, grandson of the 7th Duke of Richmond, brought back the Castle and began its renaissance from crumbling mansion into the more modest, if equally beautiful, family home that can be seen today.
In 1976, to celebrate the bicentenary of the local village of Fochabers, Sir George and his wife staged a special one-off highland games in the grounds of Gordon Castle.
A good 30 years later, one of the participants of that event, the legendary heavy eventer Hamish Davidson, approached the current laird with a proposal to resurrect the annual games. Angus Gordon Lennox was taken by the romance of the idea and in 2011 the first Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair took place.
Heavy Events at the 2018 Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair will be held in front lawn in the well established and enlarged Highland Games arena.
With plenty of comfortable seats and an uninterrupted view this is just the venue to enjoy watching Bruce Robb, Lorne Coulthard, Lucasz Wenta and many of the other great Highland Games competitors doing battle in the Tossing the Caber, Shot Put and Hammer.
The Arena also hosts the ever popular ‘Tug of War’ and participants and spectators alike will appreciate the extra space in which to ‘battle for the line’.
In between these titanic battles the Arena will reverberate to the skirling pipes and booming drums of the ever-popular massed bands, without which no highland games would be complete, and there will be some of the best lined up for the 2018 Games including the Scottish 28lb Weight for Distance championships!
The 2018 Gordon Castle Highland Games will be jammed packed with local and national talent, entertaining visitors all day long with the very best in traditional Highland music and dance. We will also be showcasing the finest local talent in our Performance Corner with Elephant Sessions joining us straight from their award-winning Celtic Connections success in 2017.
Highland Dancing is one of the oldest forms of dance and dates back to the 11th Century. During the 19th Century Highlanders began holding competitions and the tradition has continued ever since. And the 2016 Gordon Castle Highland Games Highland Dancing Competition will be a ‘competition’ in every sense of the word.
The dancers will have began their training at a young age and will have practiced rigorously for the event. Great care and attention will have been taken over the dancer’s costumes, which, like the dances themselves, are steeped in Highland folk lore and tradition.
This year the competition returns to the Rose Garden with the board right in front of the large Rhododendrons – perfect back drop for the superb competitive dancing that takes place. The competition is once again being ably organised by Alison Milne and her team under SOBHD rules and we can expect to enjoy old staples such as the Fling, Flora Lilt, the Swords and many more popular favourites.
The Highland Games Arena provides the ideal venue in which to fully enjoy the spectacle of a Massed Band in all its pomp and grandeur. The extra space made available this year adjacent on the Tower Lawn also allowed individual bands to put-on longer in-situ performances. It was acclaimed by one and all as a must-see event.
Taking part will be Dufftown & District Pipe Band, Banff Castle Pipe Band, Huntly & District Pipe Band, Strathisla Pipe Band Pipe Band and Portsoy Pipe Band.
The Gordon Castle Highland Games Solo Pipe Competition continues to grow in popularity and worganisers are very keen to encourage younger pipers to participate.
As one of the only Highland Games and Country Sports Games, Gordon Castle pride themselves on their varied and exciting programme of events. After fire breathers, stunt riders and dancers, 2018 will be no different.
For 2018 they welcome: Pedal Power Vs Parkour; Drakes of Hazzard; Ore Country Terriers; Whizoo Falconry; Mordor Gun Dogs with Charlie Thorburn; 10km run; Children’s Races; Archery and Target Shooting; and Laser Clay.
In addition to these we will have an exhibition of vintage cars, a hands-on ‘have a go’ highland games that the kids will love, displays of local woodcarvings, pottery and other crafts and a gallery showcasing the work of some of the best local artists and photographers. There will also be a number of local associations and community charities on hand throughout the day providing details of their important work in the Moray region.
There’s fun for children all weekend. In previous years the Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair has provided a great family friendly day-out for visitors coming to the Highlands of Scotland and 2018 will be even better, with: Face Painting; Children’s Races; Tam O’ Shunter small train; Lots of ‘Have a Go’ activities such as ‘Wellie Throwing’; Icing Competition sponsored by Walkers Shortbread in the Food Court; and plenty of stalls selling sweets, cakes and all the goodies children love.
The event will also showcase a wealth of local, handmade and artisan gifts.
Tickets for the 2018 Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair are now on sale. Gold tickets also available for the ultimate VIP day out. The gold ticket is £48.00 and includes: VIP parking close to the entrance; Entry Ticket; All day access to the Members Hospitality Tent with priority views of Country Sports Arena; Access to members area Priority viewing of Highland Games arena; A free Gordon Castle Gin and tonic; Complimentary programme; Complimentary light refreshments and soft drinks.
To book tickets, click HERE.