Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tis the Season for HIGHLAND GAMES

Spring is upon us and the season is already underway...for Scottish Highland Games, that is. Many American and Canadian citizens can trace their roots back to Scotland. Some of these people celebrate these relationships by organizing, volunteering at, and attending Highland games. Doing so helped me come up with the idea for several books. To be surrounded by people dressed in Highland attire, ancient plaids, and weaponry gave me fodder for my historical paranormal, DRAGONS CURSE, and for several other books in the works.

When I first met the man I was destined to marry, his grandfather and father had already researched their Scottish ancestry. Both a grandfather and grandmother hailed from Scottish clans, in this case Gunn and MacBean. We have attended the New Hampshire Highland Games from the time they started back in 1975. In the early 1980s, my husband began his long stint volunteering. I stayed home with the boys until the youngest showed an interest in his Scottish lineage, then also volunteered. Marching bands, odd looking food, and colorful kilts amid the spectacular fall foliage of the New Hampshire’s White Mountains made for memorable days.

The New Hampshire games has turned into an annual three day event, now visited by over 40,000 people! We volunteer as a family and, even though my husband and I moved to the south, we still travel to New England to offer our service under the information tent. Our sons join us to help us sell official programs, hand out maps and schedules of events, and sell raffle tickets, the proceeds of which fund scholarships for area students interested in pursuing the Scottish arts such as dancing, bagpipes, harp, and more.

This annual celebration has turned into a major undertaking and the Board of Directors and office staff work tirelessly to coordinate the many entertainment venues, clan representatives, venders of food and goods, vocal groups, and hundreds of volunteers in order to bring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Scotland to New England.

Volunteering every hour of the three days is too much to ask of anyone, since there is so much to do and see, so my husband and I gather several hardy individuals to share the load. This affords everyone with time to either go watch the sheep dog trials, taste the shortbread, scones, bridies and meat pies, shop the venders, or listen to rock bands. No one wants to miss the athletes as they toss the caber, a tree length wooden pole.

Many states, communities, and organizations host their own Highland games and these games welcome everyone…a Scottish lineage or kilt are not required! If you enjoy harps, bagpipes, Highland dance, wonderful food and a sea of brightly colored wool (and is there anything more sexy than a man in a kilt?) please visit a Highland games or Scottish festival soon.

Here are a few links to scheduled games that will help you on your way:

May 20-22 Smokey Mountain Highland Games
June 10-11 Kansas City Scottish Highland Games
June 25-26 San Diego Scottish Highland Games
July 7-10 The Grandfather Mountain Games in NC
July 30-31 Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games in WA
August 5-7 Celtic Roots Festival in Ontario
August 20 The Maine Highland Games in ME
August 28 The Vermont Highland Games in VT
Sept. 16-18 The New Hampshire Highland Games in NH
October 14-16 Stone Mountain Highland Games

These are only a few of the 2011 festivals available in the United States and Canada. For a complete list, visit the website of The Association of Scottish Games & Festivals
For a little more on the historical aspect of the games, read my article

Nancy Lee Badger writes fulltime and lives with her husband in Raleigh, NC. She loves everything Scottish. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Visit her website, and her blog

DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing, Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Nobel for Nook.


  1. The first ever Higland games I went to are held less than 5 mins. drive from my house and last summer was the first time we went.(Cambridge, Ontario) Right at the entrance was a tent with Highland dances. We pretty much parked ourselves there and watched little girls in thier cute dresses and wetwrapped hairs. Eventually, we wondered of to sheep hurding and kids spoted the bouning castle and that was the end of it. Until everyone got chaised under a beer tent by heavy rain. The band there played and they only had two brews on tap. But the burly guys continued tossing whatever is it that they threw over their heads, and some of them were women. Which was debateble. All in all we had a good time and my ears rang of pipe music for a week. Looking forward to the this year's HG.

  2. I really would love to go to the one in North Carolina! I heard that one is as close to the Highland games in Scotland.

    Since I won't be going to the convention as planned maybe I can funnel this into a real trip.

    Great post! Thanks!

  3. Tell your husband he and I may be distantly related through the MacBean clan. That ought to scare him! Thanks for a great post. This looks like so much fun.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I do love a man in a kilt. :)

  5. Nice post, Nancy. I do so enjoy a man in a kilt. Gotta love the games where so many men strut their stuff.

  6. Thanks for the great comments. There are so many games in NC and hubby is trying to hit them all! The games, in every state, in USA or Canada, have something different. Our 1st event was one we stumbled on in Pugwash, Nova Scotia!I still have the heart-shaped necklace he won for me at their street fair!

  7. Good article, Nancy. On a recent cruise there were several men dressed in kilts on the formal nights. They received many admiring glances from the ladies.