This weekend the New Hampshire Highland Games take place at Loon Mountain in Lincoln. Want to feel like you’re in the Scottish Highlands in America? Go to Lincoln. The games seem to grow more popular every year, now a 3-day event peaking in popularity on Saturday. Saturdays bring a crush of people soaking up all that is Scottish culture, sampling whiskey, buying kilts and t-shirts, watching the games and the pipers, listening to lectures and traditional music, and of course eating; eating fish and chips, haggis, meat pies and the like.
Advice for anyone going: Friday and Sunday are less crowded and less expensive. Purchase tickets in advance and bring cash. Both help you avoid long lines for those using plastic to enter. Almost everything is cash only, so come with plenty. The ATM line was as long as the beer line, and three machines were down to one for a time as they struggled to keep with demand. And by all means get there early! The lines to get on a shuttle bus were extremely long. From parking my car Saturday morning (when admittedly I got a late start) to when I finally entered the games was just north of an hour. As with the ATM’s, the shuttle buses struggled to keep up with the hordes of people. Get there as early as possible!
The New Hampshire Highland Games are spectacular, and no surprise it grows in popularity every year. Blessed with good weather, I soaked as much as possible (lot happening this weekend and I only had the one day). Waiting in lines is a requirement, but simply staking a claim on the ski slope and watching the caber toss and stone press was easy enough, and wildly fun. The crowd roared when Steve Schmidt set a world record in the stone press, and was abuzz when the announcer pointed out a bear passing by further up the slope. The crowd was here for a good time and they found it. And so did I.
In just over a month I’ll be visiting Scotland for a week. Thats not nearly enough time to see everything, but it just means I’ll have to go back. The Highland Games were a good primer for that trip, but they certainly stand on their own as a must-do event. I’m already planning for a return next year.