Highland Games After Dark
The passion and pomp of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
don’t stop when the sun sets.
When masses flock to MacRae Meadows in Linville for the games July 10 to 13, they’ll also be treated to three nights of entertainment, ranging from ancient Scottish traditions to contemporary Celtic rock jams.
The Highland Games After Dark begins the evening of Thursday, July 10, with the gathering of the Scottish clans and the Torchlight Ceremony.
As the sun sinks behind Grandfather Mountain’s mile-high peaks, the clan leaders convene to announce the presence of their family’s line. Some beat their chests and yell, as the primitive ceremony progresses in an effort to invoke the “spirit of the clans” on the weekend’s traditional Scottish experience.
Tickets for Thursday night’s opening ceremonies are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.
The Celtic Jam on Friday night is a highlight of the weekend and features international headliner Brian McNeill, who brings 43 years of experience as an acclaimed force in Scottish music. He has performed around the globe as a soloist and with some of the era’s most influential bands, including Battlefield Band, which he founded in 1969, and Clan Alba.
Boasting an arsenal of a dozen instruments, McNeill is also a gifted songwriter and author of three novels.
The weekend’s lineup also includes Seven Nations, Ed Miller, Chambless and Muse, The Freestylers of Piping, The Red Wellies, The Good Set and Jamie Laval.
“They’ve all been very carefully selected because they all work together,” said E.J. Jones, entertainment director for the 2014 Highland Games. “The whole of this lineup is more than the sum of its parts because they all know each other, they all love each other, they all respect each other. They all know each other’s music and can speak each other’s language.”
The Celtic Jam runs from approximately 7 to 11 p.m., and tickets for the jam only (no Friday games activities) are $15 for adults or $5 for children (ages 5 to 12).
An alternative for Friday night is the Scottish Country Dance Gala, from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Williams Gymnasium at Lees-McRae College in nearby Banner Elk. The gala preserves the ballroom dance traditions of Scotland with its winding patterns and intricate footwork. Tickets are $25 for dancers or $10 for spectators and are sold at the door.
The music continues at the Celtic Rock Concert on Saturday night, featuring headliner John Doyle.
Doyle went on the road at age 16 with the group he formed, Chanting House, and went on to form the highly acclaimed group, Solas.
Known for powerful rhythmic guitar stylings and innovative arrangements, Doyle performed to sold-out audiences internationally and received three NAIRD awards and a Grammy nomination for the band’s self-titled debut album.
His prominence has multiplied over the years, allowing him to perform among many other greats in the folk, Celtic and bluegrass worlds.
Doyle will be joined by Seven Nations, The Freestylers of Piping and more as they showcase all that Celtic music can be.
The Saturday night concert is also $15 for adults and $5 for children (ages 5 to 12). This does not include admission to the Saturday games activities.
For more information about the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, visit http://www.gmhg.org, or call (828) 733-1333.