Traditional Highland events occurred a time when the weather was fairer, light was long, and the chance for the crofting folk to get together after the hardship of winter and toil of Spring, to relax and enjoy some time together before harvests were taken in, and preparation for winter got underway again.
The first of these traditional events running each season is The Isle of Skye Pipe Band Festival attracting around 13 bands, with the Grand March in Portree Town Square, opening the weekend event. The sight and sound of massed pipes and drums, in full traditional highland dress, is truly spectacular. Their pride clear, in full marching regalia of swinging tartan kilts, military plaids, feathered bonnets, polished leather, shining buckles and buttons, is a truly rousing and magnificent sight. The pipe major and his mace command his band with dignity while the skirling pipes and the roll of the drums fills the air. It will stir the blood in your veins, emotion in your heart and makes any Scotsman proud of his heritage.
The Glamaig Hill Race is the next event and one that truly tests endurance with competitors running a punishing ascent from sea level to the 2400ft summit and back down again across bog, moor and mountain scree in an astonishing 50 minutes or so.
More down to earth are the agricultural shows, where crofters take pride showing the quality of their stock in friendly competition, and everyone has their eye on the coveted first prize. Of as much importance is the camaraderie, practical jokes, friendly wagers, and off course a wee dram or two!
And the final big public event of the summer is Games Day. Skye games has taken place at ‘The Lump’, a fantastic natural amphitheatre overlooking the pier and bay, every year, except those of the war since 1877. It draws from a worldwide circuit of dedicated amateur competitors returning to their homeland each year to enjoy the friendly rivalry, and camaraderie, while keeping tradition alive. Testing strength, skill and stamina, events are unique to the Highland game circuit and undertaken in kilts, vests and boots. Amazing strength is displayed in throwing the hammer, tossing the caber, putting the stone, and tug of war. The ‘highland lassies’ beautifully dressed in luxurious colour and swinging tartan, compete in Highland dancing, more graceful but no less enduring or athletic. With the skirl of the pipes and the roll of the drums, the whole day has a truly Highland and traditional flavour with ‘good humour and the crack’ most important.
Colourful and energetic, the tradition and warm friendliness of these events makes them unforgettable!