The Ligonier Highland Games

img_1041If you own a kilt or have a Scottish background then you should take part in the annual Ligonier Highland Games scheduled for Saturday, September 24, 2016 at Idlewild and Soakzone located in Ligonier, PA.  This day-long celebration brings Scottish people together to celebrate their heritage, learn dances, play instruments, eat food, and have lots of fun.  One things is for sure – Eeveryone gets a big Scottish welcome!

The festivities begin as early as 8 a.m. with registration and workshops.  The Welcoming Ceremonies begin at noon with a parade of nearly 40 clans in addition to massed bands.

“Everyone has their own favorite part of the event, but the massed bands on the field, where we have hundreds of bagpipes and drums playing usually draws the biggest crowd,” said Richard Wonderly, executive director of the Ligonier Highland Games.

Throughout the day there will be non-stop entertainment and music.  Celtic bands that will perform at the Main Stage Hillside theater include:  Celtic Martins, Full Kilt, and Cathasaigh.  Other musical performances that will take place at the Thomas the Tank Engine Stage in the family area include:  Steel Clover, Celtic Shores, Matt Hughes, and Druidsong.

Participants have the opportunity to do a wide variety of activities such as piping, drumming, and Celtic harp competitions as well as fiddling workshops, Highland Dancing competitions, heavy athletics, and Gaelic Mod singing competitions.  There are children’s games, scheduled performances by the Pittsburgh Scottish Country Dancers, and a Scottish Breed dog exhibit.

Families can also look up their genealogy!  Children also have a special treat of hearing Celtic storyteller Barra the Bard telling stories in an ancient manner – aloud and from memory and the heart.  She will be located near the new clan area tent and children’s area.

Perhaps the most competitive parts of the day are the sporting events, especially the tree-tossing and the tug-of-war events.  The tug-of-war event is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on the main field.  Following it at 3:30 is a rugby game.

img_1042What also helps make the Highland Games special are the vendors, who are located along the river side of the main field.  Each tent has something special to offer.  There are collectibles and decorative items that are Celtic inspired.  There is also jewelry, gift items, dog accessories and costume attire including kilts.  There are also many food vendors that contribute to the Scottish experience such as fresh lamb, pastries, and cookies.

T-shirts can be purchased in advance for $10.00 and picked up at the St. Andrew’s Society booth near the vendor area the day of the games. Go to to order.

Tickets for the Highland Games are $20 per person for adults, $18.00 for seniors (+55), Youth is $10 (13-17), and 12 and under is free.  Parking is also free and the gates open at 8 a.m.  There are no rides or attractions open from the park.

In addition, there will be a Scottish church service at 10:45 AM at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Ligonier, on Sunday, September 25th followed by a free concert on the Diamond downtown Ligonier at 1:00 PM in the Gazebo with the Seton Hill University Pipe Band.

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