The North Carolina Visitor Center







Tens of thousands Scots will pour onto MacRae Meadows at Grandfather Mountain July 9-12 for the 54rd year in a row of the Grandfather Mountain highland Games.  The tradition of the games dates back to the 11th century some say.


Founded on Grandfather in 1956 by former reporter Donald MacDonald and Agnes MacRae Morton, mountain founder Hugh Morton’s mother, the celebration of Scottish dance, music and athletics attracts more than 130 Scottish clans and societies to this gathering.  The estimated annual attendance is 30,000 and Grandfather’s gathering, while not the highest attended overall, has the largest gathering of Scottish clans in the world.  General Manager Frank Vance has often said, “this is a ten horse event in a one horse town.” 


Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Inc. sponsors the yearly event.  Its mission “to carry and promote the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans, to foster and restore interest in traditional dancing, piping, drumming, athletic achievement, music and Gaelic culture, and to establish scholarship funds to assist students from Avery County high School to study at American colleges and universities.”


The games will begin at 4:30 p.m.  July 10 and the day will include a picnic, sheep herding, a five-mile footrace called the Bear: Assault on Grandfather, Scottish music, and the opening torchlight ceremony at dusk, during which each participating clans; arrival will be announced.


Activities throughout the weekend include highland dancing exhibitions, sheep herding, Celtic music, the Grizzly Bike Race, [a 65 mile trek from Grandfather to Beech Mountain and back] the Mountain Marathon beginning in Boone, piping, athletic and track and field events, Scottish instruments playing, children’s activities, the Parade of Tartans and more.


“The whole idea is to celebrate Scottish culture,” said Catherine Morton, PR director at Grandfather Mountain, “They have dance and music and athletic competitions.  They have bagpipe bands and sheep herding exhibitions.  Then on Friday night and Saturday night there are concerts up on the field with Celtic rock bands.


Music  will feature groups like Albannach, The Ric Blair Band and the Kildares.


Advance tickets to the Highland Games can b e purchased prior to June 15 by mail, by phone using a credit card, or by using the secure online order form found on the organization’s web site at  Tickets also may be purchased with cash at the gate upon arrival or by cash, debit or credit at the GMHG office in Linville.  Tickets for concerts not held at MacRae Meadows are available at their location before the shows.


A four-day advance pass is $55. For adults and $25. For children.  Children under 5 are not charged admission.  If not purchasing a four-day pass before June 15th, individual events each have  separate admission  prices.


Parking is available until filled Thursday and Friday at MacRae Meadows on a first-come-first-serve.  Only Patrons or Sponsors have special parking privileges on these two days. Shuttles will be provided for a fee from Watauga High School in Boone, the Linville Parking lot off of N.C. 105 behind the post office, Avery County High School in Newland, and Camp Yonanoka on N.C. 221 bypass in Linville. Shuttle bus fees go to help Crossnore Fire Department and Appal Cart Busing.


Grandfather Mountain is located on U.S. 221, two miles north of Linville and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 305.  For more information on the Highland Games, visit


Source:  Mountain Times (Summer Times)