The Cowal Highland Gathering

From humble beginnings way back in 1894, the Cowal Highland Gathering has established itself as a major event in Scotland’s annual Highland Games calendar, attracting more than 3,500 competitors from within the country’s borders and far beyond, including Australia, South Africa, Canada and the United States. Featuring Highland music, dance and ancient traditions, the Cowal Highland Gathering, which is set to take place 27-29 August 2009, promises to be jam-packed with fun and excitement for competitors and spectators alike.

Each year the Cowal Highland Gathering welcomes more than 500 Highland dancers of all ages, and from all over the world, to compete in events in the three-day program. Thursday’s Scottish National Championship is reserved for Scottish residents only, while Friday sees dancers from a number of countries competing in the Official Scottish Highland Dancing Championships and the World Qualifying Rounds. Saturday’s highlights include the Official World Highland Dancing Championship Finals and the Argyllshire Championship. The dancing is of a high quality and much appreciated by a very enthusiastic audience.

The International Heavy Events contests sees athletes competing in traditional games including the Scottish Hammer Throw, Caber Toss and Putting the Weight, as well as the Shot for Height and for Distance. The Cowal Stone, which weighs in at 32 pounds as opposed to the required Championship weight of 16 pounds, provides athletes with a real challenge when it comes to breaking records.

The Cowal Highland Gathering aims to encourage budding young pipers to develop their skills by competing in a number of Solo Piping events, while top pipers from around the world compete in national and international Solo Piping championships. In 1906 a Pipe Band Competition was incorporated into the program and the Cowal Highland Gathering now hosts one of the five major competitions in Scotland’s Pipe Band Calendar. The natural amphitheater of Cowal provides a unique atmosphere which enhances the entire pipe band experience. The grand climax of the gathering includes a parade of 150 pipe bands, consisting of up to 3,000 pipes and drums, playing in unison during the March Past and Salute to the Chieftain – a fitting conclusion to an exciting event.