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So You Want To Try the Highland Games?

We’ve received a range of questions from what the Highland Games are, to more technical questions from novices and those that haven’t competed in a while regarding competing in the Highland Games of Harpers Ferry. Here are some FAQ about the Games themself and some to help potential participants.


So what are the Highland Games?

The Highland Games date back hundreds of years to Scotland. Back in the day, the English were jerks and took away the Scots’ weapons. As a result, the Highland Games were a way to train, compete, and stay ready for battle without creating suspicion amongst the English. Today, they’re a good excuse to show up to a field put on a kilt, throw heavy stuff with friends, and have a good time. In the US, Highland Games occur all over the country from February to November.

Can I bring my furry friend to cheer me on?

Since we are no longer in a confined venue, we welcome your best friend to spend the Highland Games of Harpers Ferry with you. Hammers, stones and cabers flying through the air, create a dangerous situation for both our competitors and our furry friends, so please keep them clear of the event field. Our venue at Sam Michaels Park sits adjacent to a vast on site dog park open to “Fidos” everywhere. Leashes will be required while spectating at the Athletics field.


Do I have to be strong?

The Highland Games is a niche strength sport. That being said, strength is only a part of being a successful competitor. Technique and timing trump overall brute strength. The heaviest implement you’ll likely throw is a 90 –150 pound lb caber. In our short time in the Games we’ve seen all levels of strength succeed. You don’t have to dead lift “x amount” before you’re ready. You’re ready now!


What do I need to compete?

A Kilt and Kilt hose are required by the HPHG to maintain the traditional look of the athletes. Naturally, we require all athletes competing to be wearing a kilt, kilt hose, and to have a good attitude!

Okay, I found the Highland Games of Harpers Ferry…now what?

Most athletes start with homemade implements, and you can find DIY implements on YouTube as well. Or just show up and figure it out the day of. Will you win? Probably not, but you’ll have a blast. Just keep in mind that in the interest of safety, the judge has the right to disqualify any competitors who in their opinion do not have the ability to complete a throw without injuring themselves, other competitors, or spectators.   


What can I expect the day of?

Participants are asked to arrive an hour before the event starts to complete registration including your release and personal information sheets, receive your shirt, and to help set the field up if needed. If there are still open spots to compete, you may be permitted to enter the morning of (but pre-registration is strongly recommended if you are serious about competing).  There will be a meeting for participants during the hour before the Opening Ceremony that will go into further detail on things like rules, fouls, etiquette and also introduce you to the other competitors.


The following events will be included:  Open/Braemar Stones, Weights for Distance, Scottish Hammers, Sheaf Toss, Weight for Height, and Caber Toss.  See specifics about each event at


Whoa, whoa, whoa…etiquette?

Yeah, there are some unspoken (Sometimes spoken) rules in this community. Rule #1: Don’t be mean and don't be nasty. The athletics judges have the right to disqualify any competitors who display poor sportsmanship. We put this event on with our own money, obtaining vendors and licenses and insurance on our own time so that other people (You) can show up, have fun, meet new friends, and put on a show.


Put on a show?

Yeah! That’s one of the most fun parts…the Highland Games of Harpers Ferry are an opportunity to compete and be a showman for a crowd. Our Games are part of a festival where attendees came to have fun…you can provide them with that! If people watching ask questions, take some time to interact and explain. If the crowd explodes because you just hit a big throw, take the time to wave to the crowd and thank them for their applause. You’re a competitor but you also represent your entire community when you put the kilt on.

Ready to participate?

Sign-ups for the actual athletic events are done through the Mid-Atlantic Scottish Athletics website. Sign-up for the Highland Games of Harpers Ferry at the MASA webpage.  Click on the Message Board, then look at the “General Discussion” tab.  A new ‘Topic” will start around noon on 9/1/22 - this will be where you get sign-up information from the manager of the website. Click here to sign up on 9/1/22.  To contact the Highland Games of Harpers Ferry Athletics Liaison with answer any questions regarding the games 

click here.

Boy Scouts/Cub scouts in uniform receive free admission to the games.(age under 18 only)

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