While the weather raged terribly in Scotland, we found the Scots Festival at the Queen Mary to be a warm sunny beautiful weekend. The 23rd annual International Highland Games was a burst of color (mostly kilts), sounds (mostly bag pipes), food, games, dancing and lots of fun! Over the weekend guests had the opportunity to learn about everything classic Scotland has to offer. Scots from all over the world came to compete in the International Highland Games and some guests were just officially a Scot for the day. Over 25 different Scottish clans were represented and most of the competitions looked like pretty darn hard work.
In the Athletics Arena there were some seriously strong competitors (all wearing kilts, by the way) throwing around traditional heavy weight items for a chance to win prizes. The hammer throw, putting the stone, weights for distance, heights event and caber throws all represented a job that could have been (or might still be) a regular workday thing on a farm in Scotland. On the Highland Stage hundreds of colorfully dressed young ladies competed in the Highland Dancing Competition, their feet moving faster than the dogs herding sheep. Over the weekend there was a competition for just about anything Scottish: dancing, drumming, marching bands, archery, dart throwing, piping and of course strength.
If you came to learn about all things Scottish, you were at the right place. If you love the history of Scotland then Reenactment Row was the place for you. Set up in tents with participants in costume, you could learn about traditional iron forging, weaving, wood working and cooking. The homemade butter was amazing! If you wanted to learn about today’s Scotland then all you had to do was walk around and learn at the many demos. The dogs put on an awesome show, showing us their skills in herding sheep. Just about every type of Scottish dancing was demonstrated and well as the music. Scottish food was demoed at the Celtic Culinary Corner. And if you needed to buy a kilt or anything Scottish there was an amazing variety of beautiful items for sale.
Even though there was no place that you didn’t hear at least a little bit of bag pipes playing, there was lots of other music over the weekend. From harp players to acapella singers, music was everywhere. On Saturday there was a huge concert in the evening called Rock Yer Kilt. Some of the most popular Scottish/Celtic music groups were in attendance including one of my favorites, the Belles of Bedlam.
If Scottish food and drink are your thing, then this was a perfect place to try some old favorites and maybe some new things too. There was haggis which is a traditional Scottish sausage dish made from sheep’s pluck minced with onions, oatmeal, suet, spices simmered in a stomach casing (sorry, that I could not bring myself to try) meat pies, scones of all sorts, and of course beer and whiskey, just to name a few.
Being a family event, there were lots of fun activities for the kids at the Laddie and Lassie Lowlands area. They could try archery, caber toss, tug o’ war, potato sack racing, lawn bowling and lots of other games. If they finished their “quest” they could be knighted. It was great seeing whole families dressed in their kilts and having a wonderful Scottish afternoon! If Scotland is your heritage, a place you want to travel to or just experiencing Scotland sounds like a fun time, then the Scots Festival at the Queen Mary was the best place to be a Scot for the day!
For St. Patrick’s The Queen Mary will be hosting “Shamrock n’ Roll” a 21 and older concert event on March 18th, 2016 featuring performances from Hoist the Colors, California Celts, Craic Haus, Radio Domingo and the Belles of Bedlam. For tickets to this event and any of the other great things to see and do at the Queen Mary go to there website. Click Here