From May 17-19, Maryville College will host the Scottish festivities of the annual Smoky Mountain Highland Games.
For the third year, the weekend-long festival will bring thousands of attendees from all over the south to celebrate Scottish traditions and heritage on the Maryville College campus. Musical entertainment, authentic food and crafts, and displays of athleticism are all part of the celebration.
The events kick-off on Friday evening with a formal gala featuring a traditional Scottish meal and haggis ceremony in the Clayton Center for the Arts grand foyer. Tickets for this event are already sold out.
The outdoor festivities begin Saturday and continue into Sunday with most activities taking place on the soccer and softball fields.
The opening ceremonies kick off at noon on Saturday with a parade of Scottish pipe and drum bands and competition participants.
From there, the day will feature sporting competitions and feats of strength like the Scottish caber toss (in which participants strive to toss an entire tree trunk so that it flips end-over-end) as well as the Scottish hammer throw and the sheaf toss.
Competitors with these unique specialties travel from all over the United States in order to participate in the Highland Games.
In addition to the athletes, Highland dancers and pipe and drum bands will also be putting their best foot forward in competition. Amateur dancers also have the opportunity to attend a workshop class on Sunday morning.
Throughout both days, there will also be Border Collie and sheep herding demonstrations and a variety of children’s activities.
One of the highlights of the festival is the clan challenge, which pits clan families against one another in multiple competitions, including the kilted mile run, battle ax throw, bonniest knees, the ladies haggis hunt, triathlon relay and best clan tent. Points are earned for first through third place finishes with the clan challenge trophy going to the clan with the most points.
On Saturday there will also be two whisky tasting sessions in the Proffitt Dining Room, one at 1:30 p.m. and another at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available online for $15 for this seminar hosted by the Wine and Spirits Cellar. Attendees must be 21 or older for admission.
A traditional Scottish ceilidh will take place under the stars on the field on Saturday night. Beginning at 7 p.m., the event will include live music and energetic Highland dancing with a ticket price of $10.
At 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, there will be a worship service and Kirkin’ O’ the Tartans. Activities will continue throughout the day with the festival coming to a close at 3 p.m. with the playing of “Amazing Grace” by all of the pipe bands in attendance.
Throughout the weekend, different clans and food vendors will have booths setup all around the field. There will also be two different tents of Celtic bands offering entertainment.
Tickets are available to purchase online with a variety of price ranges depending on the events of interest. They can also be purchased at the gate on the day of the event. Student discounts are available.
See smokymountaingames.org to purchase tickets, find a full schedule of events, and more detailed information.