If you are the parent of a pre-teen, then most likely you have heard of the online game, Clash of Clans. For the uninitiated, the premise of this game is to build a village, join a clan and then smash another player’s village for its resources so your village grows larger and stronger.
For our son, the village has the honor of being the first thing he checks in on the morning, right after school and again after he’s done with his homework. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, I would recommend incorporating this theme with the unique history and fun of the Highland Games into your next family summer vacation.
The Highland Games originated in Scotland centuries ago. As the story goes, the clans (i.e. Hamilton, Lamont, MacAlister, MacDonald) were constantly at war with each other. However, during certain times of relative peace, the clan leader wanted to keep his men in top physical condition. So, the leader created his own set of games that pitted one clansman against another in feats of strength, speed and agility.
The concept eventually grew into what is known as the Highland Games that today feature dancing competitions, musical performances, bicycling and running races and of course, and feats of strength matches. The Games are held each August throughout Scotland and we had the chance to see them in Stirling last summer.
This was an excellent day out for us! The Games were informal in their approach including onsite ticket purchasing, reasonable (i.e. town fair) prices for food, lawn seating (we brought a blanket and had a perfect viewing spot for all the events), and a general timeline for events.
We watched as children, men and women competed against each other in relays and the long jump among other events. But, what stood out for my son was the sheer size of the men that competed in the feats of strength match ups including the caber toss and the Scottish hammer throw.
They were HUGE and the setting (which overlooked the William Wallace Memorial (a.k.a. main character in Braveheart) allowed us imagine what it would have been like back in the day to have a real Clash of Clans battle. Nothing like bringing history alive for the kids!
If You Go – Travel Tips for the Highland Games
- Though it is possible to purchase a ticket online before the event, it is not necessary since ticket tables are available onsite and lines are not long,
- Throughout Scotland, it is quite easy to use public transportation to get to the event grounds. For example, we arrived by train, stored our bags at the Stirling bus station, and took a bus straight to the entrance,
- If you would like to compete in the Highland Games (in Scotland), all you have to do is register, as there are no prerequisite requirements,
- If you cannot make it to Scotland, the two largest gatherings in the United States are in North Carolina (Grandfather Mountain in July) and California (Pleasanton in September) as well as others throughout the United States.