A trip to the Highlands, and in particular the Cairngorms, is likely to be about as unforgettable as a holiday can be. There’s so much more to do than most people think, with plenty of outdoors activities as well as family-friendly attractions and historical landmarks. In addition to all that, however, there’s also a heavily packed out calender of events every summer and autumn in the region, so take a look to see what’s on while when you visit and see if you can catch one of these unique Scottish events.
Highland Games, various locations (summer-long)
The most famous sporting events in the region, these games take place over the whole summer at 60 different locations, so you can be sure to coincidence your trip with at least one event. A full schedule of the events that run until September can be found here. Events include a number of activities from Highland Dancing (best at the Cowal Games, August 26-28th) to sporting competitions such as Hammer Throwing, Hill Racing, and Tug-of-War.
Braemar Gathering (3rd September 2017)
Despite the Highland Games taking place in numerous venues over summer, the most special is arguably the Braemar Gathering which takes place on the first Saturday in September each year. This event is held at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park. This 180-year-old event is attended by royalty and is, for many, the quintessential Highland event. Some historians would argue that gatherings of this kinds are even older and have been taking place for the best part of 900 years in the region.
Heritage Action Days at the Highlands Folk Museum (3rd and 10th August 2017)
If watching traditional sport isn’t quite enough for you, then head to the Highlands Folk Museum in Newtonmore on either the 3rd or 10th August to try some out for yourself, as well as to learn some traditional skills. Workshops include basket making, spinning and weaving, fabric waulking as well as Highland heavyweights. These are guaranteed to be terrific days out for younger visitors to the Highlands.
Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Country Fair (24th-27th August 2017)
This is one of the most well-known equestrian events in the Scottish calendar and takes place on August Bank Holiday every year at the stunning Blair Castle, a 13th-century mansion. There are plenty of events for horsey-types including show jumping, pony shows and dressage, as well as a full country fair for the rest of the family. Blair Castle is found at the southern tip of the Cairngorms National Park.
Thunder in the Glens, Aviemore (25th-28th August 2017)
This massive Harley Davidson get-together is quite a vision, even for non-motorcyclists. A full programme of events for the rally can be viewed here. If you’re simply in the area, you may well spot the mass rally ride on the Saturday afternoon to Grantown.
Highland Military Tattoo, Inverness (8-10th September 2017)
This event takes place at Fort George in Inverness, the UK’s biggest historical military fort. During a weekend that celebrates Highland and military culture and tradition, expect to see bagpipes, drums, dancing, historical vignettes and fireworks. A wonderful event for families and military enthusiasts alike.
Cairngorm Adventure Triathlon (16th September 2017)
Whether you want to take part or simply stand by and watch this extraordinary triathlon, it’ll be a day to remember. This ultra-challenging event sees a canoe ride in place of a swim followed by a cycle and run through some of the most beautiful forest trails.
Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, Carrbridge (7th October)
Forget haggis and whisky, what Scotland is truly famous for is porridge; an essential foodstuff that is celebrated with fervour every year at the Golden Spurtle in Carrbridge village to the north of the Cairngorms. This is the biggest porridge-making championship in the world.
On top of this wonderful calendar of late summer and autumn events, the Cairngorms, including the Highlands at large, offer no end of things to do: from tasting excellent cuisine and going on whisky tours to walking, mountaineering, cycling, hiking and bird watching, as well as watersports and historical attractions. More information on events in the Cairngorms can be found here.