The Scottish Highland Games: Evolution, development and role as a community event

M. Brewster, J. Connell, S.J. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides an in-depth review of the Highland Games as an event that has achieved worldwide recognition, staged not just in Scotland but across the globe where Scottish Diasporas exist, although the focus here is on Scotland. Highland Games events are complex to categorise and conceptualise considering their multilayered nature and scope, encompassing a multitude of activities each based on diverse local histories and traditions. The article commences with a detailed historical analysis of the Highland Games in Scotland to illustrate the distinctiveness and uniqueness of this type of event. A review of the event literature follows to illustrate the complexities and problems that conventional event typologies pose for seeking to classify or categorise the Highland Games, emphasising the community basis of such events as a starting point for understanding this phenomenon. The article reports the results of an empirical study of Highland Games events in Scotland and addresses a number of the current concerns and debates associated with the staging of Highland Games, including the challenges that non-profit Games organisations face in continuing the community tradition of event hosting. One particular issue that features is an acknowledgement of the dangers posed by the more commercial priorities of contemporary event management to the rich cultural heritage that underpins the Highland Games which could easily become neglected or even eradicated through more professional organisation. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-293
Number of pages23
JournalCurrent Issues in Tourism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2009


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