Grandfather Mountain Highland Games? Kilts, pipers and more

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be July 11-14 at the famed peak/park 2 miles north of Linville, near Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305.

The games are a nonprofit entity separate from Grandfather Mountain. The purpose of the event, now in its 58th year, is to celebrate Gaelic culture, especially Scottish music, dance, athletics and heritage.

It’s one of the most popular Scottish heritage events in the world, attracting roughly 30,000 to MacRae Meadows and a satellite site at Lees-McRae College in nearby Banner Elk.

Here’s some of what’s offered:


Famed Scots folksinger Ed Miller will perform Friday through Sunday. Other acts include Barleyjuice, Rathkeltair, Chelsea House Orchestra, Colin Grant Adams and Cutthroat Shamrocks.

Celtic and Celtic-inspired music - stage and tent concerts, competitions and workshops – will be offered daily. Major events include the Friday night Celtic Jam (exploring Celtic-Appalachian links) and the Saturday night Celtic Rock concert. In addition to the games’ individual performers and small groups, bagpipe and drum outfits will compete Saturday.

The formal processions that open and close the games are awe-inspiring. At dusk Thursday is the Torchlight Ceremony, where about 120 clans assemble and announce their participation. At the Parade of Tartans closing on Sunday, the clans march behind massed bagpipe bands.


There are two mass-participation endurance competitions. At 7 p.m. Thursday is The Bear, a 5-mile uphill run from Linville up Grandfather Mountain that attracts about 800 participants. On Saturday is the 45rd running of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon.

Other competitions over the weekend involve throwing heavy objects (16-pound stone, 22-pound hammer, a 28- and 56-pound weight toss, and an enormous log) and wrestling. The big event Sunday is a clan vs. clan tug-of-war.

Other activities

There are daily demonstrations by border collies of sheep herding (formal competition is Sunday).

There will be about 170 tents at the event. Various clans have their own; others offer music, history and/or culture.