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High Spirits at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

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Clans marching to bands

The 60th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish clans conducted in Linville, North Carolina will be held between July 9-12 this year. Campers and RVers with a penchant for all things Gaelic can head to this beautiful mountain retreat, that is highly reminiscent of the Scottish landscape. The games are a riotous celebration of Highland culture with competitions in singing, dancing and athletics.

More than 30,000 people and 120 clans are drawn to the event, the driving force being to promote Gaelic culture and keep alive the rich Scottish tradition of piping, dancing and athletics.

MacRae Meadows, nestled at the foot of the magnificent Grandfather Mountain reverberates with the sounds of bagpipes, singing, dancing and the cheers of the applauding crowds. The festivities kick off with the Torchlight Ceremony, in which each clan comes forward and adds their torch to the bonfire to announce their presence. Multi-hued tartans add a dash of color at Parade of the Tartans, when the clans march to the tune of drums and bagpipes.

The ancient Celtic field sports played include the hammer throw, weight toss, turning the caber, turning the sheaf, highland wrestling, kilted mile run and the clan tug-o-war, with the caber-toss being the most popular one. There are separate events for amateurs and professionals, making the games all-inclusive. The track competitions form the opening events. The Marathon is a 26.2 mile long race beginning in Boone, NC and ending in MacRae Meadows, NC. The Bear is a heart pumping 1,500 foot hill run that takes its participants all the way to the top of the mountain.

Apart from grueling track and heavy athletics, there are games that feed the soul as well. The dancing competition attracts some of the world's best performers. Dancers are judged on four categories of dancing. The Celtic Jam and Celtic Rock Concert have modern and traditional music performers on stage. The Celtic Groves feature a variety of music all day. The Gaelic Mod has competitors singing traditional Gaelic songs.

Everyone attending needs to purchase a ticket, $75 for adults and $30 for kids aged 5-12. There are primitive camping spots available at MacRae Meadows as well as a few RV spots with electric and water. The rates range from $25 per night for a 2-man tent to $125 per night for larger Class A motorhomes. RVs need to report to gate 2 on MacRae Meadows and are placed according to size and space availability in the campground. You must pre-register due to the space limitations of their campground and this is available on a first-come first-served basis.

There are many campgrounds near Linville, North Carolina. If you stay at other campgrounds you cannot bring your RV to McRae Meadows campground. There is shuttle bus parking in Linville (about 2 miles from the games field). For more information please visit www.gmhg.org.

So don that tartan, blow the dust off those bagpipes and indulge in a good old Highland fling!

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