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The Braemar Gathering

Huge men in tartan hurl tree trunks and rocks, massed bagpipe bands serenade an 18,000-strong crowd, and you might even see the Queen. It could only be the Braemar Gathering, at the Princess Royal & Duke of Fife Memorial Park.

The Braemar Gathering is the epitome of the traditional Scottish Highland Games, and the most famous on the annual calendar. Games were held here in the shadow of the Cairngorms more than 900 years ago, and the current games date back nearly 200 years. Patron Queen Elizabeth II, although not guaranteed to attend, can usually be found in the place of honour.

The 'heavy' events are always the most popular. Athletes sweat and strain as they hurl cabers, mighty stones and hammers as far as they can, delighting the massed crowds. You have to be tough to take part in the 'track' events too - the Hill Race involves climbing nearby Morrone (or 'big nose'), 859 metres high.

For many though it is the sight of the massed pipe bands and Scottish dancing that provide the true flavour and sound of a Highland gathering, a stirring reminder of the unique traditions that have survived throughout history to be revived every summer.

Drum Major Roland Stewart of Towie Pipe Band leads the massed bands at the Braemar Gathering for the first time. Courtesy of the Braemar Gathering Annual

The Braemar Gathering Information

When: Sep 2013 (annual)

Where: Braemar

Cost: Grandstand seats £30; uncovered stand £20; ringside seats £16
Field admission on the day £10; under 14s £2
Advance booking from 1 Feb

Opening Hours: 9.30am-5pm

Address: Braemar

Hotels near Princess Royal & Duke of Fife Memorial Park

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