Generally scheduled in August annually, the Ballater Highland Games are an event that local residents and people from beyond the region look forward to it each year. The games are held in Monaltrie Park and have been a big part of the region since the mid 1800’s. There is a deep history involved in the event and have only taken a break through the years that the country was at war.
The games have attracted athletes and musicians from everywhere and many of these participants travel from one competition to another doing the circuit that is sponsored heavily by Glenfiddich and includes the Grampian Games as well. Younger athletes are encouraged to sign up and get involved in the heavy events as well as in the contests on field.
The event takes great pride in offering a bit of something for all ages and those attending will always find many like-minded people with which to engage. Not only does in encompass the great spirit of competition but it employs a theme of community and sociability that harken back to the roots of highland games. There is a fun fair for the kids, plenty of food and drink and often, some famous faces that have graced the record volumes for the heavy events across the world.
At the end of the day, the pipers come out to play and wind the day down with the familiar refrain of the drums and pipes on the church green. The games were initially established in 1864 on that very same green on a hot day in July. A. Grant of Birkhall was named the champion of the day, copping many firsts in the heavy competitions and in the jumping and racing events as well. It was only a matter of time before the event began to lure participants from near and far and the festivities have been the scene for setting numerous records over the years.
The popularity of the event continued to grow and soon a new location had to be selected, bringing it to the park where it is now held every year. The beauty of the area is spectacular with Craigendarroch and Craig Coillich flanking the park either other side across from the River Dee. In 1946, there was a particularly demanding race held on Craig Coillich that rolled over the hills and into the streets, punishing those that dared to compete. The race is still run today and is considered one of the toughest in the competition.
The strength events have also featured heavily at the event and Bob Shaw of the area was crowned the champion shot putter at the event. Many records have been set at Ballater Games by known contenders such as Bill Anderson and Geoff Capes.
The continuation of the event is possible primarily due to the support of the many sponsors that contribute year after year. In addition, the event draws participants from all over the world and is anticipated by the athletes as one of the big events to attend in the circuit.