The Scottish have a long history in mountain towns in NC and the North Carolina state at large. The first settlements began in 1746, after the end of Culloden battle that left most of the clans homeless and destitute. The local government attracted Scottish settlers through incentives such as land and tax holidays, making it the most famous destination of the time. Since then, their Scottish settlers kept their culture vibrant through numerous mountain festivals that highlighted their heritage.
Being part of the NC mountain communities celebrations, Grandfather Mountain Highland Games were founded by Agnes Morton and MacDonald in 1954. The two founded the games to replicate the Royal Braemar Gathering, which they had attended severally in Scotland. The 6000-foot Grandfather Mountain became the most favorite for the attendees as it resembled the highlands of Scotland where the gathering was held. The modern day celebrations aim at fostering the Scottish clan’s heritage through dances, drumming, music, Gaelic culture, and athletic contests all around the Blowing Rock real estate. Other than then highland games of Pleasanton, California, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games remains one of the largest in the United States of America, attracting more than 30,000 participants.
The 2016 four day event kicks off on 7th-10th July 2016, with numerous games and activities organized by the NC mountain communities. The stunning mountain peaks surrounded by 170 colorful tents augments the Scottish tartan plaids while the tunes of bagpipes and kettledrums magnify their enthusiasm.
On Thursday afternoon, the event kicks off with the sheep and dog concert, Celtic entertainment and the bear festivals. About 800 people participate in the 5-mile race known as the bear. A torch light ceremony allows representatives of 16 societies and 100 clans to highlight their participation in the games, which is a sign of unity among the tribes. Another test of resilience, the 45th Grandfather Mountain Marathon occurs on Sunday.
If you are planning to attend the whole event or perhaps part of it, you need to know the day that carries the game that suits you. Often, Friday, Saturdays, and Sunday comes with numerous events such as bagpipe and parades, harp contests, Highland dancing concerts and Scottish athletic events. As if not enough, the sheep herding shows by the collies and Celtic music concerts keep the mountain towns in NC blissful.
Central to the athletic ceremonies are the old heavyweight contests namely the “Tossing the Sheaf” and “Turning the Caber”. Also, you cannot miss other olden tests of strength such as the highland wrestling, hammer throw, putting the stone and other forms of weight throws. On Friday night, visitors are treated to the ancient and modern Celtic music with Saturday night playing the Celtic rock genre. Additionally, the Scottish country dance Gala conducted on Friday evening between 8 p.m. and 12. A.m. keeps you engaged for the better part of the night. Dancers have to part with $30 with spectators paying $10 for admission.
Other than the concerts and contests, the popular open-air market next to the parade grounds allows you to buy tartan items, Gaelic gifts, and meat pies among others. In case you need to know much about the Scottish heritage, you need to visit a tent that offers comprehensive coverage about the same. You may consider taking a four-day ticket pass that costs $75 for adults and $20 for kids, or subscribe to daily tickets costing $15 on Thursday, $20 on Friday, $30 on Saturday and $ 15 on Sunday.
A visit to Grandfather Mountain brings close to the intermittent blend and natural wonders. The state park in Blowing Rock is only 30 minutes from The Coves Mountain River Club, our 3,600 acre gated community bordering the Johns River connecting to Wilson Creek. Amenities at The Coves include 39 miles of hiking, biking and horse riding trails, four community parks, cascading waterfalls, an infinity-view saline swimming pool, fitness center and full service equestrian center. Folks searching for mountain property will find a diverse selection of property to chose from such as riverfront property, private wooded estates, equestrian land parcels or mountaintop homesites with stellar long range views. Approximately 100 homes are built to date to give you a variety of design ideas. HOA fees are low at less than $1,000 a year.
Make your way to The Coves Mountain River Club during the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and see why folks are choosing the foothills over Blowing Rock real estate.
If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which will provide more information about the foothills.