Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

The tartans of hundreds of families are donned for the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Every year, the Scots in both the Scottish Highlands and around the world come together for an historic celebration of athleticism, music, dance, and Celtic culture. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games take place in July, drawing crowds from around the world, both Scottish and not. Time your stay at Sugar Mountain vacation rentals around this exciting summer event for one of the best family vacations in North Carolina.

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is a historic celebration of Celtic culture

About the Highland Games

The Grandfather Games are one of America’s best-loved editions of the celebration. The games take place in the foothills of the summer-green Grandfather Mountain – a mirror image of the Scottish Highlands. While the games started in the Highlands, they are held all around the world in rural areas – a testament to the Scottish diaspora – or perhaps it’s the widespread love for haggis.

The Highland Games emit an incomparable energy. Bagpipe melodies fill the air and the steady beat of kettledrums create momentum for athletes, dancers, and beer tent-goers alike. The Grandfather Games include heavy-weight events, such as the caber toss, which involves lifting and throwing a tall wooden pole. Wrestling and hammer throw are other exciting athletic events. Bagpipe parades, border collie sheep herding demonstrations, and highland dance competitions will also take place.

If you like Celtic music, don’t miss out on this four-day event. As well as traditional drumming and piping, there will be Celtic music concerts of the course of the weekend for all to enjoy. So, grab a pint from the tent and get ready to stomp your feet.

Take advantage of the designated Scottish heritage tent, staffed by experts that can help you trace your lineage to Scotland. Once you have an idea of your tartan color and pattern, pick yourself up a kilt or other souvenir at the on-site, open-air market.

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

This popular summer event draws thousands to the mountain’s MacRae Meadows for a lively celebration of sport, culture, food and drink, and, importantly, family.

Tickets for adults are range between $15 and $30 per day, depending on which day you attend. Children ages five to 12 cost just $5, and those under five get in free. Weekend passes are available for $75 (adults) and $20 (children). Most events take place on MacRae Meadows, though some evening events may take place off-site.

On Thursday and Friday, parking is available on-site on the field. On Saturday and Sunday, however, parking is available in the nearby towns of Linville, Newland, and Boone, with shuttle service to the mountain.

This year marks the 64th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. For more information on this not-to-miss event, visit their website at

Where to Stay

We can help you get the most out of your Grandfather Games experience here at Stay Sugar. Book your Sugar Mountain vacation rentals early, to avoid missing out on top rental properties in the area. The warm weather and local events bring thousands of visitors to the area during the summer months. Be sure to book early so you don’t miss out.

To get to MacRae Meadows from Sugar Mountain, drive out to NC-105 and head south following the Linville River. When you get to the town of Linville, hop on Blowing Rock Highway, which takes you into Grandfather Mountain State Park. MacRae Meadows is located just off the highway, before you get to the Grandfather Mountain Entrance. If you’re taking a shuttle from Linville or another town, ne sure to check the shuttle schedules to avoid delays.

The Grandfather Games isn’t the only festival in the region that draws a crowd. Head to Sugar Mountain in October for the Woolly Worm Festival, an annual caterpillar race. While you’re there, enjoy the quintessential fall event: Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest. Whenever you choose to visit, we have the perfect Sugar Mountain vacation rentals for you and your family. Stay with us during the sunny summer months or the colorful fall season for some great festivals and events.

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