Guide to the Braemar Gathering: A Celebration of Scottish Culture and Heritage


The Braemar Gathering, a cherished annual event, takes place on the first Saturday of September at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar. This historical gathering, with a legacy spanning nine centuries, has evolved into a prominent celebration of Scottish traditions, sports, and culture. This guide provides an in-depth overview of the Braemar Gathering, its history, significance, and its role as a charitable event.

A Rich Heritage

While various gatherings have occurred at Braemar for centuries, the current form of the Gathering has been in place since 1832. Throughout this period, large crowds have gathered each year to honor their Monarch as the Chieftain of the Braemar Gathering. The organizers, originally known as the Braemar Highland Society, have a history that traces back to 1815, earning Royal status in 1866 from Queen Victoria. Remarkably, this society is the oldest surviving Friendly Society in the UK.

Royal Patronage

Since 1848, the reigning Monarch and members of the Royal Family have been regular attendees of the Braemar Gathering. This royal patronage has contributed to the Gathering’s status as a prestigious event on the Scottish calendar. Notably, the foot races at the Gathering hold the distinction of being the world’s oldest, with a consistent presence since 1832.

Charitable Endeavors

In 2002, the Braemar Highland Society established the Braemar Royal Highland Charity (BRHC), a subsidiary responsible for all charitable activities associated with the Gathering. The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion and Visitor Centre, inaugurated in 2019, house historical artifacts dating back to the inaugural games of 1832. The charitable objectives of the BRHC include fostering community development, promoting Scottish history and heritage, organizing the Braemar Gathering, and arranging sporting and recreational events for all.

Supporting the Cause

The BRHC relies on voluntary contributions from individuals, companies, and sponsors to sustain its charitable initiatives, which encompass the organization of the annual Braemar Gathering. The financial challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the cancellations of the 2020 and 2021 Gatherings have underscored the importance of community support. Individuals interested in making a difference in Scottish culture and heritage are encouraged to contribute to the BRHC’s mission.

Is the Braemar Gathering the oldest Highland games in the world?

Yes, the Braemar Highland Games hold the distinction of being one of the oldest Highland games in the world. The games have been organized in their modern form since 1832. The event's history, however, traces back even further, with gatherings of various kinds in the Braemar region dating back centuries. The Braemar Highland Games feature traditional Scottish competitions, such as caber tossing, hammer throwing, and foot races, and their continuity over nearly two centuries makes them a cherished and enduring testament to Scottish culture and sportsmanship.

The Braemar Gathering stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Scottish culture and heritage. Rooted in tradition and embraced by the Royal Family, this annual event encapsulates the spirit of Scotland. Through the efforts of the Braemar Royal Highland Charity, the Gathering not only upholds its historical significance but also strives to promote community development and cultural preservation. Your support contributes to the continuity of this cherished celebration and its charitable endeavors.

  • Event Date: The Braemar Gathering is held annually on the first Saturday of September.
  • Location: The event takes place at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar.
  • Royal Attendance: Members of the Royal Family frequently attend the event, adding a touch of prestige and tradition.
  • Activities: Enjoy traditional Scottish competitions including caber tossing, hammer throwing, tug-of-war, and foot races.
  • Highland Games Museum: Explore the Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion and Visitor Centre, showcasing historical artifacts and heritage items.
  • Community Spirit: Immerse yourself in the local culture and meet clans, bagpipers, and participants dressed in traditional attire.
  • Parking and Transportation: Plan your transportation and parking arrangements in advance, as the event’s popularity can impact local traffic and parking availability.
  • Weather: Be prepared for varying weather conditions in Scotland. Bring layers of clothing, umbrellas, and sunscreen.
  • Supporting Charity: Remember that the Braemar Royal Highland Charity organizes the event, with the aim of fostering community development and preserving Scottish heritage.

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