July 11-14, 2024
Be a Scot for a weekend at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games & Gathering of Scottish Clans near Sugar Mountain (just 7 miles away). Watch or compete in a variety of traditional Scottish games. Browse hundreds of booths with crafts, art, Scottish clothing including tartan kilts and family clan information to research your heritage. Enjoy multiple stages of entertainment, with live music ranging from traditional bagpipe music to Celtic rock. Don’t forget the food, including meat pies! Looking for a place to stay? Find many vacation rentals on Sugar Mountain.
New Sugar Mountain Parking & Shuttle!
Parking is available in four remote parking lots, including one conveniently in Sugar Mountain at the ski resort (1009 Sugar Mountain Drive). Shuttle bus tickets are per person (roundtrip, cash only, $10 ages 13+, $5 ages 5-12). The bus drops you off at the Games and runs on a regular basis for the return trip: Thursday 3:30 pm to 10:30 pm, plus Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 7:00 am – 5:00 pm.
America’s grandest and highest Scottish Games fill the MacRae Meadows at the foot of Grandfather Mountain. The 4-day festival begins Thursday afternoon with opening day ceremonies and the torchlight ceremony.
Watch brawny professionals, both male and female, compete in ancient tests of strength – including highland wrestling, putting the stone, hammer throw, turning the caber and tossing the sheaf. Other competitions and demonstrations include highland dancing, bagpipes, drumming, piping and sheep herding by border collies.
Tips for Your Visit
Bring cash since some craft and merchandise vendors cannot process credit cards. No dogs or other pets allowed. You are welcome to bring chairs, picnic baskets, blankets, coolers etc. No tents. Saturday is the busiest day, so get there early and bring patience. Friday and Sunday are much better options for less crowds!
The games officially get underway with the Torch Light Ceremony on Thursday evening, where representatives from all of the clans — many of whom travel from across the country and world to attend the games each year — announce their families’ participation in the gathering. Truly a sight to behold, the “raising of the clans” proclaims that they have convened to celebrate their heritage. More than 100 clans will be represented on the field.
Friday offers a full day of activities with Highland dance competitions, Celtic Grove music performances, a children’s caber toss clinic, amateur heavy athletics and the Celtic Rock Concert that night.
Saturday sees the start of both the “Elite” Women Heavy Athletics Qualifying and the “Professional” Class Heavy Athletics, including such feats of strength as the caber toss, the sheaf toss, the hammer throw and others. During the day, piping, harp and fiddling competitions will take place, as well as additional musical entertainment, culminating in the much-anticipated nighttime Celtic Jam Concert.
Cultural experiences will be offered in the Scottish Cultural Village Tent over the course of the weekend.
Athletic events are repeated Sunday for amateurs and athletes 40 and older, in addition to the Parade of Tartans, kilted running events, children’s events and the Clan Tug of War. The weekend’s programming concludes Sunday afternoon with the closing ceremonies.
There are a wide variety of ticket options. Adult day tickets (ages 13+) are $15/Thursday, $25/Friday, $35/Saturday, $20/Sunday. Adult 4-day passes are $75. Buy tickets at the field or online at gmhg.org. If you buy tickets at field, CASH ONLY. For credit card day-of tickets, stop at the Highland Games Office at 4210 Mitchell Avenue, Linville, NC 28646.
Directions from Sugar Mountain
From the main entrance of Sugar Mountain, it’s an easy 7-mile drive to the Highland Games. From the mountain, turn right onto NC 184. At the stoplight, turn right on NC 105. Near the intersection with US 221, look for the parking lot and shuttle. There is no parking adjacent to games except after 5 PM on Fri & Sat.
Parking & Shuttle
Parking is free in four remote parking lots, including one conveniently in Sugar Mountain at the ski resort (1009 Sugar Mountain Drive). Shuttle bus tickets are per person (roundtrip, cash only, $10 ages 13+, $5 ages 5-12). The bus drops you off at the Games and runs on a regular basis for the return trip: Thursday 3:30 pm to 10:30 pm, plus Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 7:00 am – 5:00 pm. Get the latest parking and shuttles info.
Kids have fun learning to toss the caber!
Places to Stay
Sugar Mountain has a variety of vacation rental condos and homes near the Grandfather Highland Games. See our lodging options.
For more information, ticket sales and full schedule, go to the Highland Games website.
Looking for more things to do during your festival visit: See our Sugar Mtn Summer Guide.