Inverness Highland Games & Gala Weekend Preview
A bumper crowd is expected to attend this weekend’s festivities at Bught Park which will see the popular TruckNess event relocated from Dores in order to join the Inverness Highland Games and Inverness Gala for the first time.
A record 70 trucks will line up alongside the Games and Gala Showfield on Saturday and the vehicles will form a free exhibition that will stretch over 700 metres along the banks of the River Ness. The vehicles will be on display until noon on Sunday when they will depart to enable the first ever Inverness Wheelbarrow Grand Prix to take place along Bught Road. Organised by Inverness Culloden Rotary Club; the Wheelbarrow Grand Prix is one of a number of additional attractions which have been added to this year’s programme.
Games Chairman Angus Dick said “We are really looking forward to this year’s Gathering which will feature everything that you might expect at a traditional Highland Games plus a variety of other attractions that we know spectators of all ages are really going to enjoy. This year’s Games Day programme is scheduled to last for a record 10 hours and we think our new free Games Night Party hosted by Moray Firth Radio and featuring the Highland Swing Band, the Trucker of The Year Presentation, a Boxing Tournament, Funfair and the Full Tilt Ceilidh Band is going to be really popular.”
The festivities will start at 11:00 on Saturday and the Opening Ceremony is set to feature the biggest Mass Highland Fling the Games has ever seen thanks to the record number of pre-entries to the Highland Dancing Competitions that have been received for dancing organiser Elizabeth Fraser. The Ceremony will also feature performances by the Inverness Military Wives Choir and the University Choir of Leuven, Belgium; as well as a ceremony to welcome the latest inductees to the Inverness Highland Games Hall of Fame.
This year’s pipe band programme will feature the debut of the City of Inverness Pipe Band, who will be joined by the Northern Constabulary, Inverness RBL, Strathisla and Dingwall RBL Pipe Bands. The Games Committee is hopefully of introducing a pipe band competition in 2017; and the increased number of bands performing is certain to add to the atmosphere on the day.
The Heavy Events will commence at 12.30 and reigning champion Sinclair Patience will be making a special trip from his honeymoon in Norway to defend his title. Brad Goldsmith from North Carolina, USA and Ray Siochowicz from British Columbia, Canada will be amongst the overseas competitors taking part.
Also travelling some distance to participate will be sailors from HMS Blyth which will be visiting the city at the weekend in order to give its crew the opportunity of participating in the first Veterans Parade at 14:00.
Solo Piping fans will be able to enjoy competitions organised by the Inverness Piping Society for the Donnie Manson Memorial Trophy (Overall Junior Champion), the Waterside Hotel Trophy (Overall Senior Champion) and The Presidents Cup (donated by Mrs Rona Lightfoot) for the winner of the Senior Piobaireachd competition.
As usual the track and field events in Bught Stadium are expected to be fiercely contested with another large turn entry expected from Inverness Harriers who have been great supporters of the Games since their formation in the 1940’s. This year’s events will also feature competitors from the Royal Regiment of Scotland who will be competing in their own championships throughout the day.
The addition of a third giant marquee has significantly helped the Games Committee to increase what’s on offer and the new Gathering Tent will be used as a Traditional Music Café, Highland Multicultural Friends Activity Centre; Blazing Needles Knitting Session and host Saturday night’s Boxing Tournament. The arrival of the boxing in the Games programme is believed to be a first for the Inverness Games and is being organised by Lawrie Redfern as part of the celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of Inverness City Amateur Boxing Club. Boxing was regularly staged in Northern Meeting Park in the 1920’s and 1930’s but this year’s show is believed to be a first for the Gathering.
The Games Committee have booked over 150 stands and exhibitions to appear at the Bught; with Exclusively Highlands bringing a wide range of arts, crafts and specialty foods to the Craft Marquee; the Association of Highland Clans and Societies hosting Scotland’s biggest inter-clan Gathering in the Clan Village on the Saturday; and the Traders Village stretching for almost 300 metres.
Amongst the larger exhibitions this year will be those mounted by H.M. Coastguard, Sutherland Radio Cars, Highland 4 x 4 Response, and Inverness Kart Raceway
On Sunday the second Inverness Gala Day will provide an opportunity for families to have a last look at the Trucks before they depart at 12:00. It is expected that the mass departure might take slightly longer than expected because the first hundred metres is going to travelled using muscle power. Scotland’s Strongest Brothers Luke and Tom Stoltman have both volunteered to help get the trucks underway; and if that wasn’t enough they are bringing one of the heaviest wheelbarrows ever seen to the Inverness Wheelbarrow Grand Prix which will take place on Bught Road once the trucks are on their way.
Sunday’s Gala will see the Bught transformed overnight as the main stadium is repaired overnight in order to stage the Inverness Shinty Sixes Tournament which will commence at 10:00 and the Armed Forces Village is converted into an arena for the first Highlands Strongest Man and Highland Strongest Women double header. Previously staged in Northern Meeting Park and organised by the Forge Gym; strength events in Inverness are attracting impressive crowds these days and the Atlas Stone lifting events for both sets of competitors on Sunday are guaranteed to one of the highlights of the weekend.
Musically the Gala will feature a full programme of Music with the Highland Swing Band, Tin Pan Alley, NTS Folk featuring Jeff Maclean, Inverness Trad Experience, Fiddle Forte and Nick Firth & Friends scheduled to appear. With Highland Dancing Displays, Pipe Band performances and Scottish Country Dancing planned throughout the day; the Gala proved very popular with visitors and locals alike last year. The decision to make admission free this year has been well received; and the addition of new events and attractions should ensure that the Gala continues to establish itself as a welcome addition to the Highland Council’s Events and Festivals programme.
Games Chieftain Provost Helen Carmichael said “The Inverness Highland Games and Gala Weekend is one of the highlights of the summer here in Inverness and thanks to the number of international visitors it attracts each year it provides a welcome annual boost to both the local and regional economy. This year’s Gathering is one of the most ambitious ever staged and it is wonderful to see so many community groups coming together to help the Highland Council stage an event we can all be proud off.”
Tickets cost £5 Adults and £3 for Seniors and Under 18’s on Saturday. Under 5s are admitted free. Admission on Saturday Night and Sunday is Free.
Tickets go on sale at Inverness Town House between 6pm and 8pm on Friday evening where there will be a Highland Games Eve Highland Dancing Show in Inverness High Street. Tickets will be on sale at Bught Park from 10:30 on Saturday.