They say it’s like visiting Scotland, without the airfare. We think they’re right. So pack your bags, your kilts and your Scottish pride (hey, you can even borrow it – be a Scots for a day!) and come to one of the best festivals in the province.
The Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games is a true celebration of Scottish culture, in the spirit of promoting and preserving the cultural heritage, from the arts and ancestry to the traditional competitions of sport. For the town of Fergus, rooted in Scottish history, this event is a source of great pride for the community, volunteers and organizers.
And it’s party to be had! With a full line-up of music performances, dance and pipe band competitions, the traditional Tattoo and even some celebrity guests, we like to think of it as “Scotland without the jet lag.”
Sure, it helps, but trust us, if you love to celebrate culture, history, food, music, dance, Highland sporting events that you’ll never see at your local soccer field, than do not miss this opportunity to tilt yer kilt! Besides, when else can you say, “Yer bun’s oot the windae,” and not even raise an eyebrow? (translation: You’re talking nonsense.).
Well, we’re not talking nonsense – we know you’ll have the best experience when the town of Fergus rolls out the plaid and celebrates its Scottish roots in a way that will make you feel like you’ve stepped out of Ontario and into Scotland for one big party.
Our friend Scott sums it up best: “I am a sucker for the Scottish Festival. I hear the pipes and my chest hair starts growing.” (He isn’t exaggerating, we’ve stood next to him at the Pipes, Plaid and Pageantry Parade).
Want to have a wee bit of fun? Tartan up, dress up your bairn and gather your clan!
The Pipes Plaid and Pageantry Parade is the ultimate greeting of friends from far and wide, welcoming them to Fergus and to the games. It brings everyone together in the heart of downtown Fergus. It’s a grand welcoming fit for a festival that draws people from around the world.
Outlander fan? Oh yeah, you are! Did you know the author of the Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon– loves the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games? True fact. So this year, the organizers are bringing actor Graham McTavish, the Scottish actor who brilliantly portrays Dougal MacKenzie to the screen as War Chieftain of Clan MacKenzie. And if you’ve not caught up on that series (you seriously should), you’ll know Graham from The Hobbit, where he portrays Dwalin.
Let’s go out on the skite! The Highland Pub is the place where friends new and old gather for some amazing music, a few pints and a whole lot of dancing. The acts this year are stellar, but we’re just going to tip you off one of our favourites. Be sure to catch a show with Albannach. They will leave an impression. Enjoy!
We love to shop the well-sourced Vendor Alley. All the Scottish treasures, from unique wares and souvenirs, are perfect for collectors and those who are looking for momentos of the best weekend of summer. But we loosen our kilt button to enjoy the amazing food and there’s loads of it, so feast up and you’ll find the well tidy scran (food tastes delicious) from the Scottish fare to the classic eats of festival goers.
Get to the Friday Night Tattoo. It’s a must. It’s an incredible spectacle of culture, ancestry, music and tradition. It’s a highlight of the weekend, with a moving atmosphere that sets the tone for the festival weekend. It is a grand event for the whole family.
If you’ve never been to the Heavies Competition, plan plenty of time to catch as many events as possible. Until you’ve seen an athlete toss a caber, throw a hammer, or pitch a sheaf toss, you cannot appreciate the strength and skill. But the best part? The competition and heartfelt camaraderie is like no other sporting event you will ever attend. We spend hours each day watching as many events as we can pack in. There is nothing like it.
The Highland Dance competitions are serious business, but so much fun to watch. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the endurance and tradition of these dancers who come from far and away to compete at one of the most successful Scottish festivals in North America.
Get out and explore downtown Fergus, where the shops, pubs and all points in between are set to make your experience here top notch, with everything from the fun of a true Ceilidh, to roving pipes and drummers through the streets, psychic fairs and Ghost Walks, to pubs showcasing awesome live music – and of course, the restaurants will be serving up delicious menu items to get into the momentum too. Fergus honours its Scottish heritage all year ‘round, but there is no finer time to feel it in the air than the weekend of the Fergus Scottish Festival.
Don’t just watch it all, take part. The Heritage Village is a great interactive area and a place to learn about everything you’re seeing firsthand. Take time and take it all in.
Do not miss the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Friday night. Main Field. Big stage. Big show. HUGE sound. You will understand why they call it “bagrock.” Worth it. Trust us.
Whether you come for a day or come for the entire weekend, you’ll enjoy the hospitality when an entire town gets behind the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games to celebrate Scottish culture and history and culture. You’ll feel like, for a time, you were in Scotland – without the jet lag!. (Note: Some of us will experience post-pub lag, which is a totally different thing).