The call of the pipers

by Andy Bryenton

The spectacle, the feats of strength and skill, the colours and the sounds — a traditional Highland games is a cultural experience to rival any folk festival or sporting event in the world. Thanks to the rich Scots heritage brought to our shores by some of our ancestors, we here in New Zealand don’t have to travel halfway around the globe to enjoy one!

The Hororata Highland Games is as fine an example of this time-honoured tradition as you’ll find anywhere on earth — a combination of a cultural celebration and a series of sporting challenges, which emphasise strength and skill. Alongside, of course, you’ll enjoy the stirring music of the old Scottish clans played by drummers and pipers in full regalia, tuck into some hearty good food, including, of course, the noble haggis.

There will be Highland dancing, a ‘kilted mile’ footrace in the traditional tartan garb, stalls selling crafts and delicacies, a chance to explore your Scots heritage, and of course the famous ‘heavy events’ — including the stone putt and the caber toss. Some say that these sports, which require amazing strength, were developed when the invading English forbade the Scottish clans from training warriors.

Others insist that the tradition goes back even further, and reflects the fact that no Scot will ever back down from a challenge, even if it is as tough as lofting an entire log into the air!

It all makes for a day of colourful and traditional fun, where you might learn a lot about your own family’s heritage — you’ll certainly be entertained, well-fed and astounded! Come along and get involved on November 10 at the Hororata domain, from the unique opening ceremony through to the spine-tingling spectacle of the massed pipe bands parade at the end of the day.