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The Braemar Gathering

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Published June 26th 2019
Get jiggy in the Scottish highlands
The Braemar Gathering is an event that is steeped in history, and gatherings have taken place here for over 900 years.

It takes place on the first Saturday in September each year and is the most famous of all the Highland games.

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Braemar Showgrounds

Back in 1832, it began to operate in its current format organised by the Braemar Highland Society. In 1866, Queen Victoria ordered that they should use the title "Royal" and since then it has been known as the Braemar Royal Highland Society.

From 1848, there has regularly been a member of the Royal family in attendance with the Queen being declared the Chieftain of the gathering. The Queen has attended almost every year since coming to the throne.

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Street parade

During the day, the Pipe Bands march through the streets of Braemar, making their way to the main showgrounds, where all the action happens.

No matter which Highland games you go to, you are always sure to see a similar line up of entertainment from the sounds of the bagpipes to Highland dancing. With each event hosting an array of sporting activities, these include the standard lineup of what is known as heavy events which consist of

Caber toss: A large tapered pole usually made from a larch tree, that athletes have to flip it end over end with the end the competitor initially held to land as close to a straight line in front of them.

Stone put: Competitors have to throw a large stone which weighs around 11kg as far as they can from a starting spot with no run-up but can spin on the spot to gain momentum.

Weight throw: Two separate events one 16lb and the other 28lb using metal weights attached to a handle via a chain, its throw with one hand and competitors can use any technique they like though most tend to spin and throw, furthest distance wins.

Scottish hammer throw: Just as it sounds competitors have to throw a hammer as far as they can from a standing position with the hammer weighing 16 or 22 lb for men or 12 or 16 lb for women.

Weight over the bar: Athletes try to toss a 56lb weight over a horizontal bar using one hand with three attempts allowed at each level and the bar being raised when they succeed, the highest toss with the fewest misses wins.

Sheaf toss: Competitors attempt to toss a straw bale over a bar using a pitchfork, the bundle weighs roughly 9kg for men and 4.5 for women and is judged similarly to the weight over bar event.

Other events on display include running, hop step and jump, hill race, tug-o-war and sac race.

Events are mixed with dancing displays and bagpipe marches, with something always going on all around the arena. Awards are given to the competitors by the Queen or other members of the Royal family.

There is lots of free parking available on the edge of town and only a ten-minute walk from the main arena, alternatively you can take a bus from Aberdeen.

You'll find many different food options in the showgrounds and around town, or you can bring a picnic.

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Entrance sign

Visiting here makes for a fun, interesting and entertaining day allowing you to see a part of Scottish history and enjoying a day in the countryside, though you should remember to be prepared for the Scottish weather as it can change every five minutes.
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Why? Immerse yourself in a Scottish tradition
When: First Saturday in September every year
Phone: 44(0)1339741527
Where: The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion, Broombank Terrace, Braemar, Ballater AB35 5YX
Cost: Adults from 12.00, Children from 2.00
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