Hammer throw at highland games in Dunedin

Dunedin Highland Games WOW the Crowd

And Help Preserve City’s Scottish Heritage

Dunedin Highlander games steal the show with cuteness

Each spring, Dunedin’s Highlander Park transforms into an arena where competitors, spectators and Clans gather to partake in a piece of Scottish tradition. This year the transformation takes place Saturday, April 2, and everyone is invited!

The 54th Annual Dunedin Highland Games and Festival will be a family event unlike anything most of us have ever seen. It’s a day filled with bagpipe music, Highland dancing, authentic food and clothing, and male and female competitors challenging each other in some traditional contests to see who will walk away the winner.

This modern-day event keeps alive a centuries-old tradition that began in the Scottish Highlands when Scotland was run by a clan system. In those days, different clans would challenge one another in a series of athletic and musical events. As word of the events spread to other cities, their popularity grew and so did the number of Scottish cities hosting their own games.

From High School to Highlander Park

Enjoy the best food at Dunedin's Highland Games

Dunedin’s Highland Games started 54 years ago as a way to raise funds to support an earlier decision to go with the Scottish trend of wearing kilts and having bagpipes in the high school band. Coordinated by the band boosters and held at the local high school, the Dunedin Highland Games was an instant success. But with success came certain restrictions and after a few years, the event moved to Highlander Park to accommodate ever-growing crowds and ever-growing appetites for fish ‘n chips, Scottish meat pies and beer.

Dancers compete at the Highland Games

No matter where in the park you go, there’s always something going on! At one end of the park is the individual bagpipe competition. At another end is the Highland dancing competition. Taking place simultaneously in another area of the park is the drumming competition. Over in the park’s main area is everybody’s favorite, the athletic games competition. There’s also an area where vendors sell everything from Scottish kilts and jewelry to authentic food and drink.

Athletic Events Score High

Highland Games bring many Scottish traditions to Dunedin

Repeated surveying reveals that the athletic events are by far the most popular part of the Dunedin Highland Games. With names like Caber Toss, Hammer Throw, Sheaf Toss and Stone of Strength, the athletic portion of the day is an incredible display of physical strength and endurance. Contestants compete in one of several divisions including Amateur, Masters, and Women’s with each division announcing first, second and third place winners at day’s end.

Dating back to the 16th century, the Caber Toss is a heavy event favorite. Each contestant grabs onto what resembles a telephone pole with one end wider than the other. The Caber starts off weighing about 100 pounds and measuring about 20 feet long. Little by little, one end of the Caber is sawed off, making it progressively lighter and easier to toss.

The hammer throw is another crowd favorite and, although it sounds dangerous, it isn’t. Grabbing a wooden shaft, contestants swing the shaft around their heads while turning and then throw the hammer as far as they can. Judges score each throw.

Pipe Bands and Dancing Attract Attention

high school band blowing pipes at the Dunedin Highland Games

The individual pipe band competition is another big draw. About 15 individual pipe bands from all over the states and Canada compete for top honors. Individual bands are graded based on their caliber of playing. The Dunedin Highland Middle School Pipe Band is among the competitors. Consisting of mostly beginner players, the Middle School band, as well as the City of Dunedin Pipe Bands and the Dunedin High School Pipe Band, always impress.

Capturing the true essence of Scotland is the Highland Dancing competition, where bagpipe players and kilted dancers perform traditional Scottish favorites including The Sword Dance, The Sean Triubhas, The Reel O’Tulloch and The Highland Fling. Incredibly sophisticated and highly competitive, judging is based on timing, technique and artistic interpretation.

But that’s not all…Get your Tickets now!

Games continue in Dunedin

Popular band Seven Nations returns with a low-key acoustical performance in the food and beverage area. The 2022 Dunedin Highland Games are on the horizon. This year promises to be bigger and better with Pipe Bands, Highland Dancers, and Athletes from around the world. Come on out and enjoy a day filled with music, dance, food and drink imported from Bonnie Scotland directly to Dunedin.

General Admission – $15 in advance, $20 at the gate

Kids 12 and under are FREE with a paying adult (General Admission).

VIP Packages Available:

VIP – $100 In advance ( these tickets usually sell out so there will not be any available at the gate. VIP – kids 5 – 12 years old are $25 with an adult VIP ticket. VIP – kids 13 – 20 are $50 with an adult VIP ticket. The $25/$50 per child will be collected at VIP check in (adult with VIP ticket required to be present).

Scottish Arts Patron – $200 **Includes all privilege’s of VIP PLUS additional benefits of special sponsor onsite parking (the only onsite parking available), and elite seating areas in the main fields and extra beer/wine tokens for anywhere in the park.

Oh Dunedin, the pipes the pipes are calling ye.

Participation in these bands helps instill Scottish culture in the City’s youth. And that helps ensure that Dunedin’s Scottish heritage, which is a huge part of what makes Dunedin unique, is kept alive for future generations to enjoy.

For more information on the Dunedin Highland Games, visit www.DunedinHighlandGames.com or contact the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce (727) 733-3107.

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