Summer visitors to the popular Highlands towns of Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk and even many of the locals who enjoy hikes near Asheville NC are probably not aware that in the 18th century the state was the most popular destination for thousands of Scottish Highlanders migrating to the American colonies in search of a better life.
The first of them arrived in 1729, escaping laws enacted by the British aimed at destroying their culture. The clan system was already in decline, and disruptions of the agricultural system they had relied upon led to poverty and unrest. Ten years later, Gabriel Johnston, the Royal Governor of North Carolina (and a native Scotsman himself) began taking steps to encourage more immigration – and a heritage was established.
Donald MacDonald and Hugh Morton held the first Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain in 1955. Now, over thirty-five thousand people attend the event each July, often taking time for a visit to the picturesque and historic village nestled at the exhilarating 4000-foot Blowing Rock elevation.
This year’s Highland Games, at MacRae Meadows near Linville, begin on July 11th and run through the 14th. They provide a great opportunity to see why those who enjoy their summers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Highlands towns and the foothills think it’s the best place to retire in North Carolina.
The area’s year-round mild weather is a bonus for anyone who enjoys outside activities. Enthusiasts consider hikes near Asheville NC some of the best in the country, and the waterways offer world-class fishing. Boating, swimming, biking and golf are even more enjoyable in this uniquely beautiful natural environment.
On your way to the Highland Games – maybe about the time you reach Blowing Rock elevation – you’ll start noticing how just breathing the fresh mountain air invigorates your body, mind and soul.
Plan to arrive early on Thursday for the whiskey tasting at Best Western Mountain Lodge in Banner Elk. Other activities on the first day include a picnic, sheep herding demonstrations and the torchlight Opening Ceremony. You’ll hear traditional Celtic music performances, and over 800 runners will start up the Old Yonahlossee Road in the five-mile Assault on Grandfather footrace.
Friday brings a wealth of cultural events and entertainment for all ages, ending with a Celtic rock concert at MacRae Meadows and a Scottish Country Dance gala at Lees-McRae College. Saturday and Sunday are packed with competitions, demonstrations and traditional music and dance. You won’t want to miss the impressive and moving Parade of Tartans, where all members of the sponsoring clans are invited to march behind the massed pipe bands.
To make sure you don’t miss any Highland Games activities and presentations, be sure to check the detailed schedule at the event’s website for dates, times and parking information.
Anyone looking for the best place to retire in North Carolina needs to spend a few days exploring the Lenoir area. It’s the ideal location for easy access to everything wonderful this part of the state offers its residents. Grandfather Mountain State Park is just one example, with its incredible scenery and breathtaking ecological diversity.
Living at The Coves Mountain River Club means having a long menu of summer and winter sports, cultural celebrations and leisure activities to fill your time. It’s all right there for the taking, with no long drives or traffic hassles to mar the experience.
This is the lifestyle you’ve dreamed of. This is your reward for a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. Bring us your ideas for the home you’ve always wanted, and we’ll work with you to make it happen.
The design team at The Coves Mountain River Club is used to bringing dreams to life. Take a tour and see examples of how our innovative designs both reflect and respect their surroundings.
Then, at the end of the day, kick back at our Pisgah Mountain Lodge with a glass of wine and watch the sun set over the mountains.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax.
You’re at home!
Bullet point key events, what and when, Give tips on parking etc.
The connect the story to The Coves. Tell readers why The Coves location is excellent being so close to a broad variety of winter sports and summer mountain events.
Saturday, July 13th
6:30 AM Mountain Marathon begins in Boone, NC. Runners will arrive at Games track around 9:30 AM. Among the most strenuous marathons in the nation.
7:30 AM MacRae Meadows Opens
Amateur Heavy Athletic Qualifying Begins
Competition begins for Highland Dancing Atlantic International Championship, piping, drumming, Scottish athletic events, track & field events, Scottish country dancing and Scottish harp.
- Scottish Fiddling Competition at Marathon Tent
- Scottish Cultural Village
- Children’s Highland Wrestling Competition
- Sheep Herding
- Massed Bands on track
- Opening Ceremonies
- History & Genealogy Studies at Clan Tents
- Children’s Tent Activities
- Celtic Grove Music
- Highland Wrestling
- Harp Competitions
- Pre-Premier Highland Dance Competition
- NC Provincial Gaelic Mod
4:00 Days events end. Preparation for Celtic Jam
6:30 – 10:30 PM Celtic Jam at MacRae Meadows.
$15 Adults / $5 Children age 5-12
Sunday July 14th
AM MacRae Meadows Opens
- Scottish Heavy Athletic Demonstration and Clinic
- Prelude Music for Worship Service Begins
- Scottish Worship Service Outside main gate, bring a folding chair. Includes Kirkin ‘O’ the Tartans.
- Scottish Cultural Village
- Children’s Border Collie Demonstration on the main field.
- Celtic Grove
- Scottish Fiddling Workshop at the Harp Tent followed by a Jam session for fiddle and other instruments
- Atlantic International Highland Dance Championship Competition
Competition takes place throughout the day for Scottish athletic events, sheep herding, kilted miles, children’s events, Scottish country dancing, Scottish harps, Clan Tugs-of-War. Celtic Grove entertainment continues.
History & Genealogy Studies at Clan Tents
Sheep Herding Demonstration
4:00 PM Closing Ceremonies
If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.