Experience Newtonmore Highland Games
This year’s Newtonmore Highland Games will take place on Saturday the 2nd of August, from 10.30am to 5pm. As ever, it promises to be a spectacular and fun day, featuring track, field and heavy events as well as Highland dancing and the annual gathering of the Clan MacPherson!
Highland Games through the ages...
Highland Games in the format that we now know them have been around since Victorian times but contests of strength or skill have been held in Scotland for centuries. For instance, there is a legendary tale of King Malcolm III summoning competitors for a race to the summit of Craig Choinnich to find the fastest person in the land to become his royal messenger. The Victorian version of the Highland Games may also have been part of the inspiration for the modern incarnation of the Olympics. The driving force behind the modern Olympic Games was Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who saw a Highland Games display at the 1889 Paris Exhibition.
How long have the Newtonmore Highland Games been in existence?
The first Newtonmore Highland Games event was held in 1945, to act as a ‘welcome home’ to the town’s servicemen after six years of war. 1947 saw the birth of the famous ‘hill race’, a 4.5 mile race up the 756m high Creag Dubh. That year was also the first year of the Clan MacPherson ‘March to the Games’, which is a sight not to be missed! This year the Games will take place on the first Saturday of August, as they have every year since 1965.
What kind of events can you see at a Highland Games?
- Caber tossing. The caber is a large wooden pole, traditionally made from the larch tree. The standard size for a caber is 19 ½ feet (5.94m) tall and weighing 175 lbs (79kg)! The origin of the term ‘caber’ lies in the Gaelic word cabar, which means wooden beam. The nature of the challenge isn’t in the distance which the caber can be tossed, it’s in having it turn end-over-end and finish at a ‘12 o’clock’ angle to the thrower. No mean feat!
- Shot putting. The origins of this event likely date back much further but the first records of competitive shot-putting in Scotland go back to the early 19th century. It’s been a staple of Highland Games from their earliest recognisable incarnations and has also been a part of the Olympic Games since 1896. Competitors make their throw from within a marked circle and the distance of their throw is measured as the distance from the centre of that circle to the point where the shot first lands.
- Hammer throwing. The origins of this event are believed to date as far back as the 13th and 14th century, when King Edward I of England prohibited Scotsmen from being in possession of weapons in case they used them against the English during the Wars of Scottish Independence. As such, Scots looking to take part in military training may have ended up doing so using tools as improvised weapons! As a formal event, hammer throwing has been part of Highland Games since the late 19th century and part of the Olympics since 1900.
What else can you see at the Newtonmore Highland Games this year?
As well as the traditional contests associated with the Games, you’ll also be able to enjoy Highland Dancing, 4 pipe bands and a whole variety of stalls!
Don’t forget the Highland Folk Museum!
This four-star Scottish Tourist Board attraction (which also holds a Gold Award for Green Tourism) offers a glimpse into the past of the Highland population and how they once lived. Fascinating collections give an insight into the everyday domestic and agricultural roles of ordinary people, with the jewel in the crown being the recreated traditional stone and turf ‘black house’. The Highland Folk Museum is one of Scotland’s most interesting and enjoyable tourist attractions and entry is free!
How can you enjoy the Newtonmore Highland Games as part of a relaxing break?
The Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore is only around a 25 minute drive from Newtonmore, making it a fantastic base for anyone looking to witness (or take part in!) this wonderful annual event. Our stunning location in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and great facilities for kids and adults alike means that you can enjoy the perfect Highland holiday.
Our discounted advance purchase rates mean that you can save by booking early. Don’t delay, please contact us now.