​​​​​​​Inverness Highland Games weekend preview

Inverness Highland Games (2018) Poster
Inverness Highland Games (2018) Poster

The Inverness Highland Games Committee has announced details of a number of exciting additions to the programme for this year’s Gathering which will take place on Saturday 21st July in Bught Park.

The celebrations will start with the city centre based Inverness Gala Evening; which will commence at 6pm and will feature the Inverness Wheelbarrow Grand Prix organised by Inverness Culloden Rotary Club; and performances in the High Street by the City of Inverness Pipe Band; the Elizabeth Fraser School of Highland Dancing and members of the Inverness Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Association. These will be followed at 7pm by a parade across Ness Bridge to Northern Meeting Park where the 2018 Highlands Strongest Man and Strongest Woman Championships organised by the Forge Gym will be taking place.

A big crowd is expected for the events in Northern Meeting Park as the Games Committee have also announced that spectators purchasing their Highland Games tickets on Friday evening at the show will be able to see the Strongest Man and Strongest Woman show for free. Friday night will also see the first of two International TV companies who will be in Inverness over the weekend commencing work; as top local Heavy Sinclair Patience gives some much needed advice to participants in the Italian Show “The Alternative Olympics” who will be trying their hand at some of the less dangerous Heavy events the following day.

For many spectators, the Heavy events at the Inverness Highland Games are one of the highlights of their trip to Scotland; and another day of fierce and exciting competition is expected with defending champion Dan Carlin scheduled to return to defend his title. As usual the day will end with the Heavies attempting an event which is unique to Inverness and can trace its roots back to The True Highland Games in 1822. The Inverness Stonemason’s Stone weighs 252 pounds and it will be interesting to see if any of the Heavies have enough strength left at the end of an exhausting day of competition to lift it cleanly over a bar suspended 5 foot in the air. Less than a dozen athletes have been able to complete the task; although many have travelled to Inverness to try.

Also headed to Bught Park on Games Day will be the team behind the US based number one television show on the Discovery Channel "Expedition Unknown". During the past four seasons, the show has visited over 60 countries where they have helped with some of the most exciting and recent archaeological discoveries; and their visit to Scotland to film this month has aligned perfectly with this year’s Highland Games. The show’s host Josh Gates is expected to join hundreds of spectators in the Opening Ceremony’s Mass Highland Fling; which looks likely to be the biggest ever stage as it will feature a number of locals who are taking part to raise funds for 3 year old Sam Douglas who requires specialist medical care.

The biggest addition to the 2018 programme will see the “Show and Shine Inverness” car show organised by 2K Custom making their debut in the show field. Over 100 cars have signed up for the event; which will ensure that there is plenty to explore in an area that already contains the Clan Village, Exclusively Highlands Craft Fair, Horne’s Fun Fair, the Games Day Traders Village, a Sports Zone, Armed Forces displays and the Solo Piping competitions organised by the Inverness Piping Society.

With the theme of 2018 being the Year of Young People; this year’s Highland Games will feature the introduction a series of races for the Under 5’s scheduled to take place at around 12:30; and the first “Inverness Gigs presents” musical showcase which will take place in the Clan Village commencing at 6pm. The show will feature four of the top young emerging bands in the Highlands and organiser Chris Lemon has ensured that musically the showcase has something to suit all tastes. Bad Actress are a five-piece hard rock blues band who have been building up a fan base at gigs across Scotland; and Table for Four, fronted by Sarah Williamson, play alt-rock from the heart with songs that don’t ignore the need for a great tune. Park Circus are a four-piece indie rock band who quote influences such as the Beatles, the Kinks, Davie Bowie, Joy Division, the Cure and Stone Roses; who were given a headline slot at the Ironworks for only their second gig. Completing the quartet will be Annakii is a three-piece rock band who have been building up quite a reputation on the local acoustic and open mic scene, and will arrive following a recent foray to London which saw them support Marco Mendoza.

To add to the musical offering at this year’s show; the Gathering Tent will host traditional folk music in the afternoon before becoming the venue for the first Games Day party organised by the Highland Capital’s Polish Community in the evening.

The Full Tilt Ceilidh Band will be performing from 1pm; with Irene Fraser and Gordon Ferguson, both on fiddles, joined by Gaelic singer Rachel Walker, Emma Donald on fiddle and keyboard, Jessica Bates on keyboard and vocals and Callum Brown on drums. The Anne Dickson Band bring a wide spectrum of music to the stage with everything from traditional Scottish to folk, pop, jazz, swing, blues, rock and country. Singer Anne Dickson, saxophonist Ali Mutch, guitarist Calum Beange and keyboard player Dougie Edwards have played together since 1992 and an energetic and highly entertaining set is expected.

Following the traditional show; The Gathering Tent will have an international flavour as Inverness based community group Polskie Wilki (Polish Wolves) will be hosting a special gathering to celebrate the links between Poland and the Highland community. The show will feature PaDa, a band formed by singers Pawel Wozniak and Dagmara Gruszczynska who have been playing and singing together since they came to Scotland nine years ago having previously worked on numerous music projects back in Poland. Their show will feature classic top hits from the Polish and English charts from the 60s onwards including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles and more; and they will be supported by DJ Damian Kurczyk.

Games Chieftain Provost Helen Carmichael said “Our expanded Games Weekend programme is filled with activities and events for everybody to enjoy; and is the result of many months of work behind the scenes to create something very special indeed. I would like to thank the many local competitors, performers and volunteers for their tremendous efforts over many months in helping our Games Committee and our Events and Festivals Working Group pull it all together. The Inverness Highland Games provides a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the very best that we have to offer, while delivering a much appreciated and significant boost to our city’s profile and economy.”

  • Tickets for the Inverness Highland Games Weekend go on sale at Northern Meeting Park on Friday 20th July at 6.30pm and cost £8 Adults - £3 Seniors and £2 Under 18’s. Under 5’s are admitted free.
  • Tickets for the Highland Strongman and Strongwoman Show cost £5 Adults and £3 Concessions with Under 5’s admitted free.
  • Highland Games Ticket Holders will be admitted to the Highland Strongest Man and Strongest Woman Show free of charge.
11 Jul 2018
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