Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games & Festival

Friday, March 1, 2019

WARNING: Photo/video intensive blog
If you've followed me for any length of time, you know attending Scottish Games has been on my bucket list for quite some time. We originally planned to attend the games in Maryville, TN last spring but didn't make it. So when I saw two of my favorite Celtic Rock bands were going to be at the Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games & Festival in Green Cove Springs, FL...well, I cheered. About 90 minutes away from us and admission of only $12. It was a done deal!

Waiting in line to get in...

I have to say it exceeded our expectations. Turns out we shouldn't have been surprised. This was the 24th year of the festival and they have everything dialed in. Not too hot a day, good attendance but not so crowded you couldn't enjoy everything, and something for all ages. Heck, I didn't even make it to the far side where the held several competitions in addition to many activities (including a petting zoo) for the kids.

We watched novices throw battle axes, then on to the caber toss and sheaf toss (something new to us). There were many more games on the field and everyone was having a great time.

While there were kilts everywhere (made my heart proud), there were a few more unusual outfits as well...

I browsed through some of the vendor displays while Stu and his old work buddy, Bill, continued watching the competitions. Kilts, shirts, hats, jewelry, costumes, pottery, paintings, photographs and so much more!

There was even something for those of us with a wee bit 'o Irish blood...

The duo caught up to me and while Stu paid for a shirt I found for him, Bill and I watched the opening ceremonies. Fantastic!

When the ceremony was over, we headed out to find the MacNicol booth. We found it and spent some time chatting with the knowledgeable folks manning the table. And yes, Stu was finally convinced to join the MacNicol Society (once home I joined the MacQuarrie Society, much smaller group).

As we headed over to the beer tent, we ran across the re-enactors area.

The beer tent was well organized, we showed ID and got bands so we could purchase beer. No one was allowed to leave the tent with their beer - smart move! We stood at a table and chatted while looking over the heavy event field which was still full of activity. We saw the MacNicol folks enjoying as well...

An hour of standing and chatting with friends, I wandered off to see more of the vendor items. Along the way I stopped into several of the exhibit halls where I got to watch Scottish dancers, listen to fiddles and lots more.

Just before 3pm, I heard the announcement that Albannach would be on stage at three and I hurried to find a spot. Wanted to get some video, I ended up plopping myself down in the dirt - front row to the stage (well, except for the concrete sidewalk area where people were dancing off & on). It was well worth the pain when I got up an hour later. LOL!

There are a bunch more short videos in our SmugMug Album...

I visited more of the exhibit halls and since it had gotten much hotter, rested for a bit in the one with all the dogs (Scottish Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Gordon Setters, Border Collies and more). That's where Stu and Bill caught up with me again.

This little guy loved riding in his remote controlled setup...

We sat and chatted until around 5pm when we noticed things were closing up. Bill headed home and we headed to get food. All but one of the food vendors had packed up so we "settled" for the fish and chips. The fish was perfect! Stu opted for an ice cream afterward, I had already indulged when I had left the boys at the vendor tent.

The bands were scheduled to start at 6pm and we opted for the bleachers. (Next year we will bring bag chairs, after three hours our backs and butts were killing us!) There were four bands featured, the first two we hadn't heard of but Albannach and Seven Nations were the ones I really wanted to see.

I had followed Seven Nations since discovering them back in 2002 while living in  St Petersburg, Florida. My late husband and I planned to attend the highland games that were being held in the area so I could see them. He ended up being too ill to attend, so that went on the back burner. I fell in love with Albannach and their heavy percussion sound when I watched a video shared on Facebook.

The first band turned out to be talented but more heavy rock than Celtic, at least the songs they played. They were Tuatha Dea and are billed on their website as "Pure Appalachian Gypsy Rock".

They did a neat percussion set seen here...

The second group was Syr (pronounced Sire). Well, they were amazing and are now on our favorite Celtic rock group list. There are a bunch of short videos in our SmugMug Album...

Seven Nations was next and for some reason, they appeared to be having some sound issues. It was hard to hear the lead vocalist, who gives the group their unique sound, over the drums and fiddle. But I enjoyed them anyway.

Albannach closed the set and once again, rocked the house!

We had so much fun, we now plan on coming back to this area next year and attending the games again!

[There are more photos and videos in our SmugMug Album...]

Ciao for now!


  1. Glad you finally got to enjoy a Highland Games.
    We attended a Rodeo in southern Florida in 2014 and since we couldn't get the high seats in the bleachers ended up sitting next to a post so I could lean my back against it. We later found Bleacher Seats at K-Mart and have used them many times. They give you Back Support and Armrests to help you stand up. They fold nicely and are lightweight.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. We will definitely get something before the next one. I think the bag chair might be better, I had a had time getting up and down the bleachers - darn old hips!


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