If kilts and bagpipes are your thing, you’re going to want to get up to the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, a celebration of Celtic music, dance, heritage crafts and heavy events. The three-day Ontario festival, which is one of the largest gatherings of clans in the world, also includes sheep shearing demonstrations, sword wielding competitions, opportunities to learn Highland dance, tartan and kilt making. Heavy events, which are traditional Scottish athletic competitions, will feature competitors from Canada, the U.S. and Europe participating in the caber toss, in which a log is hoisted into the air by a competitor and thrown to land on its opposite end, weight throw, Fergus stone and sheaf toss. Vendors will have Scottish products for sale, as well as books and gifts, and there is a beer tent to duck into for a cold one between events. If you are a Mac or even a Mc, you may find your Coat of Arms on display, along with your clan’s tartan at the festival’s Avenue of the Clans.
One of the festival’s highlights is the Friday evening Tattoo starting at 8 p.m. and featuring Canadian folk singer John McDermott and the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipes & Drum. The tattoo was originally a military drum performance and one used by British soldiers in the 17th century to signal to the town’s barmen to turn the taps off (“tap toe” in Dutch) so the soldiers could go home to bed. The tattoo will include bagpipe bands and Highland dancers and the evening will close with fireworks. Day passes are $25-$30 while weekend passes are $40-$50. Tickets for the Fergus Scottish Festival can be purchased online.
The Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games is located at the Centre Wellington Community Sportplex, 550 Belsyde Ave. E., 1-866-871-9942. Fergus is located 25 km north of Guelph, Ontario.