It’s Not Just About Kilts: Fast Facts for the Highland Games Newbie

If you're in the market for sports and/or utility kilts, there's a good chance you're gearing up for an upcoming Highland Games. You could also the newbie spectator wanting to look the part. By now you've heard that kilts are mandatory - for everyone but audience members - and curiosity has led you to read more on the traditional Scottish dress. (You could also be introducing friends to their first Games experience and want to make sure you mentor them correctly in the ways of manly kilt wearing practice.)

Getting into kilts in a great starting point, but there are a few more things you should know about the Highland Games. The following facts could help you better familiarize yourself with the event.

Kilts are for women too

Contrary to what popular images may suggest, the Highland Games aren't just for big, burly, bearded men. As early as 2007, nearly half the competitors were women. You could say that if men can wear skirts, women can wear kilts too!

The games are only for Scottish

The Games aren't only for Scots in Scotland, either. There are at least 40 tournaments held in the United States every year - 10 in California alone.

In fact, one of the games, the sheaf toss, isn't even a purely Scottish event. Here, players use a pitchfork to throw a bale of hay toward a cart without touching a bar. Some people say this game originated in the American Midwest.

They're not just throwing things around

Once you get to the festival, you'll likely recognize the Games' most iconic event. The caber toss, where participants take turns throwing a thin but giant tree trunk.

Get your facts straight, though - players don't try to throw it the farthest, like a javelin. Imagine that the caber is a clock hand. Players try to toss it in such a way that it lands as close to the 12 o'clock position as possible. Accuracy wins.

With events like this, plus the sheaf toss, hammer put, and stone throw, you can imagine how wearing a kilt aids mobility and comfort.

You could play, too

You could actually play, too; generally, amateurs are welcome to try the sport. But not all the competitions are athletic. The pipe band contests can get pretty intense, as much like a good battle of the bands. Highland dancers also compete for world-recognized titles.

In the end, if you see yourself in any of these competitions, then you should really start shopping for a good utility kilt.


5 Things You Need to Know About the Highland Games,

It's Not a Skirt, It's a Kilt! Highland Athletics 101,

What to Wear: Your Game Face and a Kilt, New York Times.