Tuesday, 06 April 2021

Lonach Highland Gathering Cancelled For 2021

Lonach Highlanders marching through Bellabeg to the 178th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games in 2019

Organisers of the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games have confirmed that this August’s event will not take place.

The historic Aberdeenshire gathering, which features the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders, considered amongst Scotland’s most iconic traditional summer spectacles, is the latest Highland Games to announce its cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Held in the village of Bellabeg, in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, the gathering welcomes up to 10,000 visitors each year, providing a significant economic boost for the local area.  Alongside an array of traditional events in light and heavy athletics, piping, Highland dancing and tug o’ war, the event also boasts around 80 trade stands, offering a platform for small local businesses and craft people to showcase their produce.

The highlight of the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders.  Dressed in kilts and full Highland regalia, and armed with eight-foot-long pikes, the 220-strong body of men – led by the Lonach Pipe Band – provide a colourful and unique spectacle as they march six miles through the local area.  The procession continues a near 200-year-old tradition and is a draw for international visitors.

Having listened to the views of the local community, consulted competitors, reviewed government advice and its roadmap, and considered other factors, organisers felt there were too many potential limitations to feasibly hold the gathering in its traditional manner.

The 179th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will now take place on Saturday, 27 August 2022, while the 180th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games in 2023 will coincide with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “Cancelling the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games for a second consecutive year was not an easy decision.  We know that the fourth Saturday in August means so much to many people.  For some, it is a day they hold in higher regard than Christmas. 

“Organising a safe and enjoyable event to which people feel comfortable in attending, and which is not diluted due to restrictions or circumstances, is key.  The Lonach Gathering, like other Highland Games across Scotland, is arranged by a dedicated group of volunteers that have worked tirelessly to establish the event as a respected, popular annual gathering, so it is important that this is maintained.

“Although we will have been parted for longer than initially hoped, when the Lonach Gathering returns in August 2022, Strathdon will be ready with a hearty welcome for visitors from near and far.

“Tradition and culture will be continued as the Lonach Highlanders once again follow in the footsteps of their forefathers and solo pipers and pipe bands deliver the soundtrack as Highland dancers and athletes compete.  The strength of kinship and camaraderie that underpin Highland Games will also be very evident.”

The 179th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is scheduled for Saturday, 27 August 2022.

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