The Ballater Highland Games are held annually on the second Thursday in August in Monaltrie Park, Ballater. There have been Games held in Ballater since 1864 with the first Gathering being held on Wednesday 27th July on the Church Green. In 1889, as the Games had grown in popularity, Monaltrie Park was chosen as a new venue – a spectacular setting between the crags of Craigendarroch on the one side and, across the River Dee, the pine covered Craig Coillich on the other side. Apart from the war years, the Games have continued uninterrupted until this year 2020, when cancellation became inevitable, due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing Government guidelines restricting the holding of large events, and Council restrictions on the use of Monaltrie Park.
The Lord Lyon King of Arms granted arms to the Games in 1990. The coat of arms includes the Games motto which was once borne by the Burgh of Ballater – Leal and Siccar, and a giant banner bearing the coat of arms is flown annually at the Games. We have been honoured to welcome our Chieftain, Captain Alwyne A.C. Farquharson M.C. each year since 1948. We marked his 70 years as Chieftain in 2018 with a celebration stone at the Park entrance, and gifts including specially commissioned pipe tunes, and celebrated his 100th birthday year in 2019. We also welcome our President, Sir Andrew Walker-Okeover, and in recent times we have been honoured by visits from His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.
The Games have been attracting crowds of around 6000, including visitors from many different countries, to enjoy Pipe Bands, Piping Competitions, Highland Dancing, Track Events, a Hill Race, both Light and Heavy Field Events, the latter including Tossing the Caber, a Tug o’ War Competition, and our unique event at the end of the day – the Tilt the Bucket Challenge (fine to get soaked on a warm day, but not so pleasant on a cold one). Various Best Dressed Highlander Competitions are run by our Chieftain’s Clan Farquharson. Interesting trade stands are always with us, together with a funfair for the children, and a beer tent for the adults, very welcome on a hot, sunny day. So, everyone can enjoy a great day in Ballater!