Inverness Gala bumper crowd expected
A bumper crowd is expected to attend The Highland Council’s biggest event of the summer the Inverness Gala which will take place at Bught Park this weekend. (Saturday 18 and 19 July).
The revival of the Gala, which was one of the highlights of the Highland Capital’s calendar back in the 1950’s, has generated considerable interest with numerous community groups working in partnership with the Council’s Events Team in order to ensure that the new event captures all the excitement of previous traditions while adding its own modern twist with the inclusion of new additional events.
On Saturday (18 July) the Gala will be headlined by the Inverness Highland Games which returns to Bught Park after a four year stay in Northern Meeting Park where the Games Committee relocated in order to stage last year’s celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the world’s oldest Highland Games stadium.
Saturday’s Games will be a memorable occasion as new Provost and Leader Helen Carmichael steps forward to make history for the second time by becoming the first female Chieftain of the Inverness Gathering since Highland Games were first officially staged in the Inverness in 1822.
As usual the event will include everything that can be expected at a traditional Inverness Highland Games plus the unique challenge offered by the Stonemason’s Stone which will see the competitors attempting to launch a 252 pound boulder over a 5 foot bar. Also in attendance will be a film crew from Canada’s Discovery Channel who will be filming the current Inverness Games Champion Sinclair Patience for a ground breaking documentary which will examine the science behind Scotland’s original extreme sport.
The Games will commence at noon with the Massed Pipe Bands and will end with the Mass Highland Fling organised by the Fraser School of Highland Dancing. Once again spectators will be invited on to the field to join the dancers and attempt the Fling; and get the Games off to the finest possible start.
As well as the full programme of Heavy events; the Games will feature Solo Piping, Highland Dancing, Scottish Country Dancing and Track and Field Athletics. There is also a lot happening around Bught Stadium in the Gala Showfield on Saturday with exhibitions in the Exclusively Highlands Craft Marquee featuring more than 40 local craftspeople and producers; and 30 Clans in the Clan Village.
With Horne’s Funfair and have a go activities organised by the Army, Mascot Madness, Inverness Orienteering Club, Moray Firth Radio, Children 1st, the MS Therapy Centre’s Bubble Football Team and the Traders Village, the Gala Showfield is packed with things to entertain and interest all ages.
On Sunday (19 July) Bught Park will be transformed from being a Highland Games Arena into the home for the Highland’s Strongest Woman Competition and the Inverness Harriers 10K Road Race which will see athletes attempting the brand new course made possible by the recent flood defence improvements along the banks of the River Ness.
The Road Race, which will commence at 2pm, is being staged essentially as a dress rehearsal or full scale test in order to enable the Inverness Harriers, Scottish Athletics and The Highland Council to test the course’s suitability as for consideration to host a major Scottish championship. In order to limit the impact caused by the road closures that will be in place on the day; entry has been restricted to athletes who can complete the course in ninety minutes; and arrangements have been made to reopen roads as soon as it is safe to do so on the day.
In addition to cheering on contestants participating in the Highland’s Strongest Women’s event on Sunday; spectators will have the chance to enjoy a new team strength event called "The Highlander Challenge" which will see teams of two men and two women compete in a mixture of traditional strength challenges and strongman events designed to test their strength, power to the maximum.
Sunday will also feature a special Tug of War Tournament, Ultimate Frisbee and Mixed Martial Arts. The Combat Tent will be the venue for the first Highlander Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament feature the best blue and purple belt grapplers in Scotland in a 16-man tournament; and The Scottish Wrestling Bond will also host Backhold Wrestling matches in the Combat Tent.
Other Sunday Highlights include a motorbike show organised to raise funds for Highland Hospice with classic, vintage and modern models on display; a Shinty Showcase and Courage the Cat will lead a sponsored family walk around Ness Islands to raise money for the new MFR Cash for Kids’ Bed Appeal.
Councillor Glynis Sinclair, Chair of the Inverness Events and Festivals Working Group which organises the Inverness Gala, said: “There’s so much going on throughout the weekend and there’s a definite buzz and feel-good factor about the whole event. With so many volunteers, competitors, performers and spectators providing us with such enthusiastic support we have tried to stage something that will appeal to all sections of our community.”
Tickets for the Inverness Gala are available from Inverness Town House on Friday evening between 6pm and 8pm. The gates at Bught Park open at 10.30am. Tickets cost £5 for adults and £3 for seniors and under 18s. All under-fives are admitted free.
Inverness Gala at a Glance - All times are approximate
Saturday 18 July
- 10.30am Gates open for the Inverness Highland games
- 11am Traders’ village, craft marquee, Clan Village, funfair and exhibitions open
- 11am Bubble Football begins
- 11am Solo piping competitions begin with separate march, strathspey and reel and piobaireachd for both junior and senior pipers. This year there will also be a new hornpipe and jig event for senior competitors.
- 11am Highland dancing competitions begin in a special dancing arena constructed in the outer field. From the Sword Dance to the Seann Truibhas, dancers of all ages will be put through their paces.
- 11.30am Junior field events begin
- Noon - Opening Ceremony featuring Massed Pipes and Drums, the playing of The Inverness Gathering, Chieftain’s Address and Massed Highland Fling
- 12.30pm Senior heavies events begin
- 1.30pm Senior athletics track and field events begin
- 2.30pm Junior track events begin
- 4.15pm Massed Pipes and Drums
- 5pm Heavy events – Tossing the Caber and Stonemason’s Stone.
Sunday 19 July
- 10.30am Bught Park gates open
- 11am Displays, Exclusively Highlands craft marquee and funfair opens
- 11am Shinty Showcase
- 11am Bubble Football begins
- Noon - The Highlander Challenge – heavies, strongmen and women get together in mixed teams for a new competition
- Noon - MFR Walk of Courage around Ness Islands
- Noon - Caledonian Combat Tent – with tournaments and demonstrations.
- Noon - Highlands Strongest Woman
- 1pm Ultimate Frisbee
- 2pm Tug of War
- 2pm Inverness Harriers 10K Road Race
- 6pm Gala ends