I hope you enjoyed Part I, now onto Part II
What to Wear
There is no better time to kilt up if you have it or try to incorporate a piece of your tartan into your ensemble. If you don’t have any tartan, pick some up from a vendor at the festival. The key to an enjoyable day is comfortable attire, especially footwear. Sneakers or boots are a great idea as there is usually a fair bit of walking, and if you went to any festivals this year, they can be muddy. There are often gravel paths or other unlevel surfaces to negotiate. Most festivals will provide golf carts for those that have difficulty getting around.
If you are new to kilt wearing, have a wee practice sitting in your kilt. Don’t give the other festival goers or performers a shock! Helpful Hint, your sporran is more than just a bag. When sitting most gents will push the sporran down to keep everything a mystery!
What to Bring
Here is our short list of items you may want with you. Some festivals are more equipped than others with bleachers, chairs tents etc. At least if you have these things in your vehicle, you will be covered if things are not available to you:
- Folding Chairs
- Picnic Blanket
- Wet Wipes/Hand Sanitizer
- Adult beverages (check with festival – some are dry and you need to bring your own, some don’t allow outside beverages)
- Umbrella for rain and/or sun shade
- Rain Coat
- Phone Charger (for car ride home)
Other Helpful Hints
Want your furry friend to come? Make sure to check and see if the festival is pet friendly.
In remote locations, it is necessary to book lodging very early – 9-12 months out sometimes. Some festivals will have a host hotel which may have a convenient shuttle bus to the event.
Parking is often at a premium at games. You may be required to park in a remote location and bus in. Pack accordingly if this might happen to you. Some buses are free and others have a small fee.
Toilets – The situation varies a lot but most of the time it’s a Port-a-Potty you will find. See above hand sanitizer/wet wipes in packing list.
Advanced purchase ticket discounts are usually available. If you know you are going, get them early.
Lots of food vendors will be there with traditional Scottish and regular American festival foods. Lines can get very long during lunch hours. It’s a good idea to pack a lunch if you can.
Cash is king especially at food vendors, an ATM is usually available
Cell Phone signals are not dependable at events either due to remote location or just a whole lot of people using the same towers. Have a contingency plan
The highland games are about family, you are highly encouraged to bring the little ones too.
Opportunities are available for you to become a sponsor. Amenities vary but you can find bonuses like Sponsor Tent access (which has anything from a good view to some snacks to full meals), receptions, golf cart service, priority parking, special mention in the program and the great feeling that you are contributing to the long lasting success of the games.
Accessability – Most times there is designated accessible parking and golf carts to get patrons to the grounds.
If you stick around for the event closing you may find one of two things at your games.
Massed Bands – if there is a pipe band competition, the event will close with all the bands marching onto the field and an awards ceremony. It is awe inspiring to see so many on the field at once.
Ault Lang Syne – The other closing you will see (more often at indoor events) is Auld Lang Syne. All remaining people at the event will make a large circle holding hands and sing (better practice the lyrics early!) At the part of the song where it says “And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!/and gie's a hand o' thine!” you will cross your arms in front of you body and rejoin hands with your neighbor. Then on “And we'll tak' a right gude-willie waught,/for auld lang syne.” Bounce arms up and down. After that you walk into and out of the circle a couple times and then it’s over.
*This is how I was taught by my Scottish mother, I realize it may have evolved into something else in different areas, but I quite like it this way 😊