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Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games

Oh ye Scots! Dust off your kilts and head to the Smoky Mountains for a celebration of all things Scottish! Held in May at Maryville College, the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games pays tribute to the rich culture and history of Scotland, as well as the traditions of the Scottish and Scots-Irish settlers through music, dance, food, and arts. Of course, you don’t have to be Scottish to enjoy this fantastic event. Everyone is welcome!

Founded in 1981 as the Gatlinburg Scottish Festival and Games, the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival has grown over the years. Today, it holds the title of one of the oldest Scottish festivals in the country. The sound of bagpipes will resonate through the mountains as kilted athletes compete in the traditional Highland Games – a show of strength and stamina.

The festival also features traditional and modern Scottish, Celtic, and Irish music, Highland Dance, sheepdog demonstrations, and plenty of kids’ activities! The festival kicks off with a formal Gala on Friday night, featuring a haggis ceremony, dinner, and Scottish ballads.

The Highland Games

Musicians, dancers, athletes, and dogs will compete for top honors as spectators cheer on their favorites. In expert shows of athleticism, “warriors” will compete in traditional heavy events, including:

  • Caber Toss
  • Stone Put
  • Scottish Hammer Throw
  • Weight Throw
  • Sheaf Toss
  • Wrestling

When thinking of Scotland, most people’s first thought is of bagpipes. So, what would the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games be without the music of the Highlands? Along with the bagpipe competitions, musical competitions include bands and drums. Spectators are always more than welcome! Bagpipers play marches and piobaireachd tunes (simple melodies building to complex musical movements), Strathspeys and Reels (dance tunes). Drummers show their skills through march sets, while bands compete with march medleys, Strathspeys, and Reels.

A highlight of the event, the Clan Challenge is a blend of athletic competition and fun events. Any member of the Clan society can participate, and the winning clan receives a trophy! The Clan Challenge consists of the Kilted Mile Run, the Battle Axe Throw, the Bonniest Knees competition, the Ladies Haggis Hurl, and the Clan Triathlon Relay.

Another important part of Scottish and Irish culture is the dance. With skills taught from generation to generation, Highland dancing tells the story of the Scottish and Irish people, while allowing dancers to show great strength, stamina, and technical skill. The festival also offers a chance at a dance scholarship and a dance workshop for those who register and compete.

Family Fun

The Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games are exciting for competitors, but they are also for the spectators! Even if you’re not competing, there is plenty to do, see, hear, and taste. Spectators can listen to the bagpipes, drums, and bands, watch the athletes compete in traditional Highland Games, cheer on their favorite clan in the Clan Challenge, or watch Irish step dancers! A sheepdog show demonstrates the herding skills of the Border Collie, and a dog show and parade allows festival-goers to show off their furry friends’ (there's a small entrance fee – all proceeds will benefit the Blount County Humane Society) talents!

At the festival and games, held not too far from Gatlinburg, there are events for every age. For the adults (21 and over), the Scotch seminars will feature tastings of a variety of Scotches, along with information about each. Don’t worry about the kids – there’s plenty for them to enjoy as well. Kids under 14 get in free, and there is a supervised play area for the youngest kids. Kids’ activities will include kids’ Highland games, face painting, and parent-child activities.

Musical Entertainment

In addition to the bagpipes, drums, and bands in competition, the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games will offer tons of Celtic music for entertainment. Past performers, performing everything from traditional to contemporary Scottish, Irish, and Celtic music, included Seven Nations, Four Leaf Peat, Maidens IV, Colin Grant-Adams, Lachlan, and Good Thymes Ceilidh Band

Food & Drink

From sausage rolls and meat pies to bridies and haggis, the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games will boast tons of delicious Scottish and Celtic foods from area vendors. To satisfy a sweet tooth, attendees can try kettle corn, shaved ice, funnel cakes, and Scottish baked goods. And of course, there will be plenty of ale and Scotch! The event also features vendors selling their Scottish and Celtic wares, including kilts, jewelry, and art.

Tickets & More Info

Parking at the event is free, and there are ticket packages for every need. Guests can purchase one or two day tickets, or they can add on tickets to the Gala or the Scotch Tasting Seminars. Package deals are available at great prices! Event hours are 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The Friday Night Gala will open at 5:45 p.m. on Friday night.

After a day of dancing, Scotch tasting, eating, and merrymaking, you’ll want to rest your feet in the comfort of your own cabin. Our cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a quiet place to rest in the peace of the Smoky Mountains. Call one of our reservation specialists to find just the right cabin for your Smoky Mountain vacation!