Highland Games In Moray Speyside

The Highland Games in Moray Speyside are a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. Moray Speyside hosts a number of well established games. They evolved from the clan system where the clan leaders would encourage their men to compete against each other and provide entertainment which kept them fit for battle. In the 1800’s they became more organised and now there are games all over the world including Canada, USA, Australia and Japan! You can go to the Highland games in:

  • Forres
  • Dufftown
  • Fochabers
  • Tomintoul
  • Aberlour

Highland Games vary in content from town to town however sport, music and dance lies at their heart with market stalls and beer tents adding to the fun. The sporting contests include tossing the caber, hammer throwing, running and tog o’ war. Most of the events have traditional roots. For example, tossing the caber probably originated deep in Speyside. Logs were thrown into the Spey to be floated down river to the shipbuilders further down. At the games you’ll see contestants running with a long tree trunk (caber) and tossing it tying to land it in the 12 o’ clock position.

The Highland Dancing contests are also popular. The Highland Fling may be a dance mimicking the dance of a Stag with the dancers arms and hands depicting the antlers.  The Sword Dance has more gruesome roots – said to have been invented by a clansman who danced over his dead opponent’s sword.

Music, in particular the bagpipes, is a feature of the games. Once a banned instrument in Scotland, due to their reputation as an instrument of war, the skirl of bagpipe music is a stirring sound at the games. The combination of sport, dance and music as well as the stallholders selling their wares from kilts to handmade jewellery to traditional woodcrafts makes a great family day out.

Where to see the Highland Games in Moray Speyside

Forres Highland Games takes place in July in the beautiful surroundings of Grant Park. As well as traditional Highland Games look out for the message bike race (old fashioned bikes).

Aberlour Strathspey Highland Games are held in Alice Little Park beside the River Spey.

Dufftown Highland Games are held on the last Saturday in July. The games date back to 1892. There are a variety of events including hill races. If your visiting the are you might want to participate in the overseas race!

Tomintoul Highland Games have a long history with its origins dating back to the early 1800’s. The games offer everything from pipe bands, to heavy games and some unusual events such as a barrel race. The Tomintoul Games are held in mid July.

Gordon Castle Highland Games has a more recent history but still has a very wide range of events  including bagpipers, tug o’ war and a Gordon Setter Gathering. The Games are earlier in the season May). Gordon Castle is on the outskirts of Fochabers.