Linville, NC

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

Tree Langdon

‘Ceud mile failte’ (100,000 welcomes to you)

North Carolina welcomes you to The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 8–12, 2021.

With an opening Torch Light Ceremony, a call to Raise the Clans, this promises to be a weekend to remember.

Join us in celebrating the history of your Scottish ancestry as tartan banners unfurl and bagpipes echo through the valley. 

Torch Light Ceremony

The opening ceremony on Thursday evening is welcoming to all.

Raise The Clans

In a Raise the Clans ceremony, a member of each Clan comes forward and announces their presence, a torch is placed in a Saltire Cross formation. This living cross of light is used to cover all points of the compass where they have come from.

This ceremony has deep roots in rituals of the past where the Lords would call supporters to his side in times of great need. The Games have chosen to remember the ritual as part of calling the people to join the gathering.

The torches burn in the gathering darkness and the sound of pipes brings memories of times past, as the gathering begins.

Highland Athletics

These are highly competitive events and include traditional tests of endurance and strength. 

The Hammer Throw, Weight toss, and the Sheaf toss, which is a traditional Scottish agricultural sport event. A pitchfork is used to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar above the competitor’s head. 

Athletes are encouraged to bring their best performances to these friendly competitions.

Hammer Throw

Here’s a slow-motion video of a men’s hammer throw.

Arm over Arm

This is a competition where the athlete sits on the ground and pulls a vehicle or other heavy object toward them by pulling a rope. The athlete sits on a platform with a vertical surface to push their feet against. Fastest to pull the vehicle across the course wins.

Weight Over Bar

In this event, the athlete throws a weight with a handle up and over a raised bar using one hand. When the weight clears the bar, the bar moves up to the next height, in 1-foot increments.

The highest clearance with the fewest misses wins.

Caber Toss

This iconic event is very popular with spectators and is a challenging demonstration of strength. Some believe it came from the need to throw logs or trees across a ravine. 

The idea is to pick up a massive log, like a telephone pole, run with it, and then toss it so it flips end for end. 

Athletics Schedule


*All times are approximate and dependent upon weather.

9:00 am
“B” Class Amateur Competition, invitation only.
9:00 am
“A” Class Amateur Qualifying, open event.


8:30 a.m.
Elite Women’s Competition, invitation only
8:30 a.m.
Professional Competition, invitation only
9:30 a.m.
Cumberland Style Highland Wrestling for Adults


8:00 am
Scottish Heavy Athletics Demonstration and Clinic with Larry Satchwell
8:30 am
Over 40 Professional Masters Competition, by invitation only
1:00 pm
Intermediate and Junior Athletic Events
1:05 pm
Kilted Running Events
2:00 pm
Tug of War

Track and Field Events 

Saturday Schedule
The events will run in consecutive order after the opening ceremonies.

They include high jump, long jump, and triple jump, then a pole vaulting session, followed by short races and a 2-mile run.

The Races

Runners can register in advance to participate in races during the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Both races are hosted by Appalachian State University.

The Bear

The Bear Race is a 5-mile challenging run to the TOP of Grandfather Mountain. 

The race begins in Linville, NC at the corner of Hwy 105 and 221. Runners turn right off Highway 221 and wind up steep climbs to McRae Meadows, where the Games are held. Then it crosses 221 and goes up the back of the Highland Games Track where you run the final 2 miles, gaining 1000 feet of elevation.

Grandfather Mountain Marathon

One of America’s Toughest Marathons.

It’s a long race with a grueling elevation climb. This is a test of stamina and strength. At 26.2 miles long, the race begins at the thin air altitude of 3,333 feet. 

The runner then climbs to 4,279 feet, arriving at the finish line on Grandfather Mountain. They will find themselves smack dab in the middle of McRae Meadows during the 2nd largest Highland Games in the world.

The Kirkin (Sunday)

This is a celebration of Scottish roots and comes from Presbyterian practices during World War II. 

It’s a blessing and a gathering of friends and families in a holy space.

 ‘Kirking’ comes from the Scottish Gaelic word kirk, which means church, and in this usage means ‘blessing.’

Parade of Tartans and Clans

The Parade (Sunday)

It’s a sight to behold.

This is a ritualized, formal parade that honors the Clans who are serious about their heritage and respecting their roots. Those that are represented at the games with Clans tents are able to participate.

It’s a colorful event, not to be missed. At 11:30 AM on Sunday more than 1,000 marchers clad in full Scottish attire march around the track in the annual “Parade of Tartans.” 

Grandfather Mountain
2050 Blowing Rock Hwy, Linville, NC, United States

The Shuttle buses leave from our dedicated GMHG parking lots. Passes can be purchased at the shuttle lot.

Sources: Rove, The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

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I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

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