Queen Mary’s ScotsFestival and Highland Games

Kilts, Kilts, Kilts, Lads and Ladies!

Travel is a great way to get a feel for other cultures, but there are options closer to home, like the Queen Mary’s ScotsFestival & International Highland Games. For one weekend a year Long Beach California becomes home to a boisterous celebration of Scottish food, dance, and athletics.

Queen Mary's Scotsfestival Dance CompetitionFashion, history, and accents are just the start of all the fun to be had. There were so many competitions to watch it was hard to know where to go next. The Queen Mary is a destination not to be missed on any visit to Southern California, being inside this magnificent ship to watch dancing competitions with live bagpipe accompaniment is epic. Outside in the sunshine men and women put themselves to the test in the Highland Games and I was equally captivated. These Scots have developed some sports you likely have never heard of, but man are they fun to watch!Highland games at the Queen Mary

Yes, the competitors are wearing kilts while they take part in nine feats of strength in these different events. Nine! Talk about endurance. They throw a number of different heavy items at varied weights, a stone, a Scottish hammer, a caber (the caber is a timber like a telephone pole at 15 to 23 feet long and weighing in at somewhere between 70 and 130 pounds), a sheaf toss (straw in a burlap sack tossed over a high bar with a pitchfork), and weights tossed for height and distance. They are wild to watch as men and women take their turns at each contest.

Highland Games at the Queen Mary weight throw

Seeing a 56lbs. weight hefted 12 feet in the air is addicting. Watching as round by round the bar goes higher and the crowd cheers the contestants was a highlight of the Highland Games. I honestly was surprised how addicting the games were as a spectator. I am not usually a fan of live sporting events, but this is one I will be looking forward to again next year. I will be better prepared though and carry an umbrella to keep off the sun so I can plan to spend more time watching the action.Sheep herding at ScotsFestival on the Queen Mary

The whole day was filled with fiddles, harps, drums, and bagpipes. If dancing and other human athletics are not your cup of tea there were animal displays to entertain you. Birds of prey, war horses, and a display of sheepherding were all options. As a dog lover and sheep enthusiast I had to see what goes into training a sheepherder. The intensity and concentration of these canines when they are working is clear. The information at all of the animal shows was great!

ScotsFestival Reenactment

Reenactors give the history a new dimension. They’re also interactive, and another opportunity for visitors to learn in a fun Q&A or through their demonstrations of crafting and daily life. All of the costumes and kilts running around brings to mind the Renaissance Faire. Modern items are available in the venders stalls and shoppers will enjoy the wares. The t-shirt “Sassy Lassie” caught my eye, but if you want to gear up to dress up this is the place.

What really stands out? Not the haggis, though like the Scottish sports it is an interesting invention. No, it is the people I met who came from all over the country, some from Scotland, their warmth, their love of the Scottish culture, and the enthusiasm they have for sharing it. You will want to add the Queen Mary’s ScotsFestival and Highland Games to your yearly calendar just like I am adding it to mine.

Find out about this event and others going on at the Queen Mary on their website –  Queenmary.com
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ScotsFestival at the Queen Mary Giveaway!

Kilts are not required, but are encouraged… Comment and Enter Below

The 25th ScotsFestival is taking place at the Queen Mary in Long Beach California this February 17-18 from 9am-6pm and we are giving away 4 General Admission Passes for opening day! Food, fun, and family activities are all on the agenda with live music, dancers, and the Scottish Highland Games. If your only connection to Scotland is Braveheart than this is the perfect opportunity to get an authentic feel for the culture and the history.

So what are the Scottish Highland Games? They consist of some activities you might be familiar with and others that might sound strange. Putting the Shot is similar to what we do in track and field today, but then the Scotts start throwing the interesting stuff. The Caber Toss – a large pole, The Hammer Throw – an actual sledgehammer, The Sheaf Toss – throwing a burlap bag of straw with a pitchfork. Who doesn’t want to check that out?

After watching the athletics you might want to put yourself to the test. ScotsFestival comes complete with a sixty-foot obstacle course FEAT OF STRENGTH. No joke. You can see where you stand after competing against your peers and rising to the challenge. I am for sure going to give it a try! For the little ones there is a whole section of kids activities to enjoy so everyone can get involved in the games.

There is plenty to see and hear with piping competitions, drums, dancing, and at night the Greyfriar’s Pub for live entertainment and a few cold pints. The athletic displays are more than just those involving pitchforks and sledgehammers. The dancers are there to compete as well with the Highland Fling, the Sword Dance, and the Scottish Lilt.

Food and other venders fill the rows of the Scottish Market offering traditional wares and tasty treats for visitors. You can take home your very own kilt or other authentic garb so when you come back again next year you are ready to rock it. Find out more at the Queen Mary site – Queenmary.com or on Social Media – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

So one more time – Enter here to win 4 General Admission Tickets for Saturday February 17th to the Queen Mary’s ScotsFestival in Long Beach California. Be sure you are close enough to travel to the Queen Mary before you enter!  Giveaway ends February 13th.

Leave a comment on the post and enter below!
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