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The Atholl Gathering and Highland Games

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by Michaelie Clark (subscribe)
Pun-loving freelance writer based in Victoria.
Does your idea of a good time involve dancing, piping, wrestling, tugging, shotting, tossing and running? Then brush off your sporran and start refining your flinging for the Atholl Gathering and Highland Games on Sunday, 27th May 2012. This annual event will be held at Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, just under two hours north of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Blair Castle
Pipers marching with Blair Castle in the background.

Opened by John Murray, the 11th Duke of Atholl, with the customary beating of sword on shield, the gathering will commence with a range of time-honoured traditions such as the Atholl Highlanders march and competitions of skill and strength.

Blair Atholl Gathering
The hammer throw.

Throughout the day, athletes and amateurs alike will compete in contests such as dancing, piping, running races, tug o' war, shot putting, hammer throwing and caber tossing. The games are held at different places around the ground, so if you find that sweating kilted men wrestling each other isn't your pan of kippers (unthinkable though that is), you can always move around to a different perch and check out some flinging and jigging instead, or perhaps mingle with the lads decked out in full regalia.

Atholl Highland Games
The dancing contests.

With all the action on the field, plus several refreshment tents and vans, and a variety of stalls to browse through, there's no doubt this event has plenty to keep everyone amused and enthralled. The setting alone is something to see, with a picturesque backdrop of trees and mountains, as well as Blair Castle on the hill.

Castle Blair Highland Games
The caber toss.

Visitors can park for free in the field beside the grounds, with the gates opening at 10am. Entry costs will be confirmed closer to the event, but won't exceed £10 for adults (less for seniors and children), making it a remarkable and affordable day out.
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Why? Experience the spirit of Highland traditions.
When: Sunday, 27th May 2012
Where: Blair Castle, near Blair Atholl, UK
Cost: Inexpensive - check website closer to event for confirmed entry prices.
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