The Nashville area is rich with history. There are lots of festivals and events to explore, honor and celebrate the past. Having mostly Scottish and Irish ancestry, one that I have wanted to attend for sometime is a “Highland Games”. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Middle Tennessee Highland Games and Celtic Festival in Nashville. It was a great event with plenty of entertainment, education, and great eats. Most importantly, some of the proceeds from the event go to Operation Restored Warrior, a charitable organization that veterans with PTSD return to life at home. Please note: This post may contain affiliate links.
Middle Tennessee Highland Games
The Middle Tennessee Highland Games and Celtic festival was held on the grounds of the Hermitage. We arrived a little late, so we didn’t get the best parking spot. This really wasn’t a big problem though, even the spot we ended up with was an easy walk to the festival entrance. We purchased our tickets early online so there was almost no wait time to get our wristbands and start wandering around the grounds.
Our first stop was the tent set up by The Scottish Society of Middle Tennessee. This booth was staffed with some incredibly friendly and informative people. They even had a table set up so you could find your family Tartan and see a sample of it. We also stopped by the tent set up by the Highland Rim Scottish Society another wonderfully friendly and helpful group. Everyone we spoke to through the entire festival was actually really nice and eager to discuss our shared Scottish heritage.
As we continued around the field, we checked out all of the 30+ clan tents that we passed. These groups had put a lot of time and were competing for the Golden Haggis award for the best Clan tent.
After we made our rounds of the field to check out the Clan Tents, and the vendors we settled under an old maple tree at the corner of the field to watch the athletes compete. We missed the Stone Put because we were late. When we got there, they were just starting the hammer throw. This event involves spinning and throwing a 16lb (for men) or 8.82 lb (women) hammer as far as possible. The competitors put on an amazing show.
After the hammer throw was the Caber Toss. In this event, the athletes attempt to throw and flip a nearly 20 ft long wooden beam (tree) that weighs 175 lbs. There were some seasoned competitors and some athletes who were doing this event for the first time. Men and Women both competed in this event.
Caber toss and Hammer throw were just a small sample of the games that were going on. There was also a Sheaf Toss where competitors throw a 16 lb burlap bag over a bar that is raised each turn. There was similar weight throwing event that I didn’t get the name of that involved throwing a 40-50 lb weight over the same bar up to heights of over 20 ft.
From professionals, to amateurs, to absolute beginners, everyone that participated in these games put forth an impressive effort. I could have watched them all day, but there was still other entertainment I had to see.
There isn’t much music more cheerful than Celtic fiddling. From our location under the big Maple, we had the perfect listening area for the music. I didn’t get to see all of the acts, but I could hear them from just about everywhere on the grounds. I found it hard not to dance everywhere I was going. My favorite act was The Secret Commonwealth, but Nashville Pipes & Drum and The Get Reels were both great acts as well.
Most of the day was absolutely perfect for an outdoor festival like this. We lounged under the shade tree and enjoyed an afternoon breeze until the end of the day. Unfortunately, we had to bail on the festival a little early because there were some pretty nasty storms moving our direction. We left the Hermitage, grabbed a bite to eat and headed on to our next adventure.
I will 100% be going to the Middle Tennessee Highland Games again next year. Despite the weather cutting our day short, we had a great time and learned a little bit about my heritage! Have you ever been to a Highland Games? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comments. Consider subscribing to our blog so you don’t miss any new posts!