Having spent the past two years studying and living in central Scotland, It had always been a desire of mine to explore and experience a variety of Scottish culture and traditions. After all there’s more to Scottish culture than Irn-bru and Haggis!
Last weekend, I visited one of Scotland’s most popular traditional events. I was hoping to find some authentic cultural experience and what better way to do that than attending the highland games?
The Stirling Highland Games is a major summer event in Stirling as with many cities and towns across Scotland, showcasing the best in Scottish traditional sports, food and dance. This year, I was one of over 5,000 visitors who visited Stirling Highland games. The wide range of languages I heard being spoken at the grounds also highlighted how popular the games were around the world, I knew I was in for a treat!
The games main site was situated in Stirling’s Sports Village, which was also within a short distance from Stirling’s town centre. The views surrounding the games were spectacular, overlooking the Wallace Monument, Cambuskenneth Abbey and Stirling Castle. It was a beautiful setting for what was going to be an enjoyable day.The site was easily navigable and you were never far from anything, this made wandering about a lot more pleasant with plenty to see, buy and eat.
I enjoyed roaming about the trader’s village as I got to see various Scottish traditional items on offer as well as some amazing local businesses. The food and drinks section smelled delicious, with plenty of traditional Scottish delicacies on offer, a particular highlight was Aberdeen Angus Burgers.
The day kicked off brilliantly with speech coming from a Stirling native, now living in America as a professional athlete in California. The host really helped set the tone for the rest of the day with his spectacular Scottish humour, which I really enjoyed.
The pipe band added to the day’s entertainment as they marched throughout the grounds, commanding onlooker’s attention as they went. The combination of bag pipes and drums provided an amazing sound and definitely had everyone watching on with delight including myself.
Various competitions took place throughout the day so you never had to wait very long for some action. The competitions included highland dancing, cycling, shot putt and running. However, the highlight of my visit was the track and field event, with athletes from all over Scotland taking to the track. I was surprised as to how competitive the athletes were and the standards to which they performed. Although it was far from what I would’ve seen at this summer’s Olympic Games, it definitely made for an enjoyable viewing.
I had a terrific time despite the rain. Scotland is definitely the perfect stage and I look forward to experiencing more of Scottish culture and heritage this year especially with SYHA as the team here always have brilliant recommendations. Next week I’ll be visiting one of Scotland’s most unique locations, adding to my Scottish itinerary.
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