The Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival is set for this weekend at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Gulfport.
For over 30 years, this festival has brought all things Celtic to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help visitors learn, appreciate, and celebrate Scottish and Celtic traditions. And it doesn’t even matter if you’re not Celtic. All are invited to enjoy the weekend festivities.
Some say the Highland Games originated in Ireland in 2000 BC, eventually making their way to Scotland in the 4th and 5th centuries. The first historical reference to them was in the 11th century during the reign of King Malcolm III who wanted to find the fastest runner to be his royal messenger. The games were also held as a means of selecting the most able-bodied men to become soldiers. The games stopped briefly in the 18th century after the Jacobite Rebellion, but in 1822, under the rule of King George IV, they were revived and have continued into the modern day as a show of Scottish pride.
As a tribute to those first games, visitors can watch men and women compete in athletic competitions throwing heavy things, including the stone put, caber toss, hammer throw, and weight throws.
There will be a full slate of musical entertainment on both days, Saturday and Sunday, including rock and folk music groups and traveling pipe and drum groups. These groups are from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and a few others from around the country.
Traditional Celtic activities will be on display such as Irish dancers, the Parade of Clans and Tartans, and a Veteran’s Salute & Kirkin’ of the Tartans (that means the presentation of the tartans for blessing). If you’re Celtic, wear or bring your tartan or banner and proudly show them during these events.
Other demonstrative activities include watching knights in armor jousting, sheepdog herding, and Skål axe throwing. A children’s area will be set up with storytelling, face painting, and “unicorn” rides.
For the full Celtic experience, traditional food will be available for purchase from various vendors, but if you’re not into meat pies or scotch eggs, non-Celtic food will be available. There will also be a marketplace set up with vendors displaying their wares, such as forged ironworks, leather goods, jewelry, kilts, along with other items.
If you want to experience what life was like in medieval times, come check out the Renaissance Village, which is set up courtesy of the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Watch weavers work the loom and see some sword-fighting. More information on the Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival can be found here.
Location: Harrison County Fairgrounds
Time: Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tickets: Tickets are only available at the ticket booth. General admission is $10, kids 12 and under get in free, while military and senior tickets are $8. Weekend passes can be purchased for $15.