The Bught Park, Inverness, will stage the North of Scotland’s biggest Homecoming celebration on Saturday and Sunday (18/19 July) as the Masters World Championships returns with a record number of overseas competitors.
The Tulloch Homes sponsored Inverness Highland Games - part of the first Inverness Summer Festival - will feature 82 competitors from 10 countries, including the first competitors from Japan and France. The Games will also feature Scotland’s first opportunity to experience a full scale Basque Rural Games as the Nazioen Mundua Display Team from the Pyrenees introduce the Highlands to the delights of Aizkora proba (wood chopping) Harri jasotzea (stone lifting) Ingude altxatzea (anvil lifting) Lasto altxatzea (bale lifting) Sokatira (tug-of-war) Trontza (sawing) and Txinga eramatea (weight carrying).
The 65 strong Nazioen Mundua Party will include a number of traditional Basque dancers, singers and musician and a team of Basque Yoaldunak Marchers. The word yoalduna literally means, "he who has the bells" (yoaldunak is the plural) and each marcher has two giant metal bells attached to their sheepskin jacket and the sound of the bells rhythmically ringing in unison can be heard from some distance away.
The action will start at 11.30am on Saturday (18 July) with the Shinty World Cup Final featuring teams from Fort William and Portree before the opening ceremony involving more than 300 participants.
The opening ceremony will also see the first appearance of the new official Inverness Highland Games tartan. Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Inverness City Committee, will create a little bit of history by becoming the first wearer of the new Chieftain’s kilt which has been created by sponsors, Duncan Chisholm’s Kiltmakers, in the new Inverness Basque tartan design.
The heavy events will start at 1pm each day.
With an additional 80 Masters World Championship events to be accommodated over the weekend, three additional arenas will be built to cater for the weekend’s Caber Tossing, Weight for Distance and Stone Throwing event. The Hammer Throwing and the Weight Over the Bar events will take place in the Main Stadium which will also be used for a full track and field programme on Saturday.
The Games will feature one of the biggest Cabers on the Scottish circuit with competitors in the 40-44 years Class in the Masters World Championship facing a new 20 foot monster donated by the Forestry Commission.
The 80 metre long Tulloch’s Clan Village will be busy throughout the weekend and will be used at the venue for concerts at the close of action on both days.
On Saturday afternoon there will over 30 clans in attendance as well as the Games’ Guest of Honour American Author Diana Gabaldon, whose best selling Outlander series of books, which are based around Inverness, have been translated into 24 languages. Dr Gabaldon is the first overseas Guest of Honour at the Games and has been given the honour in recognition of the fact that her books have been responsible for hundreds of tourists travelling to the Highlands in recent years and have given millions of readers around the globe affection for the Highlands.
On Sunday afternoon the Clan Village tent will feature traditional music with performances by the Falcon Drummers, Jim Hunter, Monarch Isle and The Broch Inspectors.
Alongside the traditional show, the young bands in Inverness will get their chance to shine as “The ICA Emporium of Contemporary Musicaliciousness” makes its debut and features nine of the best young acts in the Highlands.
DJ Andi Candoo will host the evening parties in the Clan Village which spectators are invited join at the close of action on both days and will feature The Duplets and Scottish Pipes and Drums Band Albannach together with the Nazioen Mundua Band featuring Dani Oiharbide.
Inverness Highland Games Chairman Angus Dick said: “It is a great honour for our games to have been chosen to stage the Masters World Championships for a second time and we are delighted to welcome competitors from so many Highland Games around the world to their Scottish home. We are determined to stage a Homecoming Highland Games that will be talked about for years.”
Dani Oiharbide, Nazioen Mundua’s Manager, said: “We are very excited about performing in Inverness and the whole of the Basque Region is looking forward to seeing the TV programme that is being made about our visit. It is a wonderful honour for us to join in your famous celebrations and we are so excited about seeing the new Inverness Highland Games tartan in the colours of the Basque Country.”
Bill Scruggs Chief Executive of Scottish Masters International Inc., said: “My Board Members and I are delighted to bringing the MWC back to the Highlands. Inverness stages one of the best Highland Games in the world and we thrilled that Heavies from a record 10 countries will be in attendance. The Highland Council’s Events team led by Gerry Reynolds have done a fantastic job during the past year to look after us and I would like to thank The Highland Council for the warmth of the welcome we have received. Inverness is the home of Highland Games and we are so excited to be part of Scotland’s Homecoming Highland Games.”