Dunoon welcomed thousands of people today (27th) as the world’s most spectacular Highland Games finally kicked off.
Visitors have been pouring into the town over the last few days in the run-up to what is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the Scottish calendar.
Today they joined crowds of local people in flocking to Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) for the start of the action.
At 10am sharp the first event got underway - the Scottish National Highland Dancing Championships.
The Nationals, which continue tomorrow, is one of three dancing competitions being held during the Gathering. The others are the Scottish Championship and the World Highland Dancing Championship, the finals of which provides the most eagerly anticipated and biggest afternoon in the global dancing calendar on Saturday.
Today’s action saw top class entertainment from 192 dancers in 11 categories. Among the winners were:
• Hannah Butchart from Stonehaven in the 10 years category
• Rosey Watt from Macduff in the 11 years category
• Jessica Morrison from Fraserburgh in the 15 years category
• Kirstin Stewart from Leven in the 18 years and over category
CHG chair Ronnie Cairns said he was delighted by both the crowds and the entertainment they witnessed.
“It’s no exaggeration to say Dunoon is the centre of the Highland dancing world this weekend,” he added.
Highland dancing aficionados from all corners of the globe will be waiting with bated breath to see who comes out on top in the various competitions.
“If today’s action is anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat over the next couple of days.”
Ronnie added that the meticulous preparations for this year’s event seem to be paying off, with everything going without a hitch today.
“Even a bit of wet weather failed to dampen the spirits of competitors and spectators, most of whom come prepared for rain at some stage of the proceedings!,” he added.
“We’ve got a packed schedule for tomorrow and Saturday with something for everyone to enjoy, whether it be Highland Dancing, pipe bands, solo piping, heavy athletics, ceilidh music, running, stunt cycle teams, animal display teams, kids’ entertainment or any of the other many attractions the Gathering now boasts.
“I’m delighted with how the first day has gone, and we very much look forward to welcoming everyone back again tomorrow for another day of spectacular entertainment.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The Cowal Highland Gathering is an extremely important event for the local community and we are delighted to be able to offer our support to this historic event once again this year. It combines many of the most celebrated aspects of Scottish culture and heritage across a highly entertaining event programme and it is fantastic to see thousands of visitors from across Scotland and many from overseas descending on Dunoon to join in with the festivities.”
The day’s events are not yet over, with the 5K Cowal Run due to start from the Coal Pier on Dunoon’s Alexandra Parade at 7.15pm this evening.
This year’s Cowal Highland Gathering is part of EventScotland’s National Events programme - runs from Thursday 27 to Saturday 29 August.
For more information about the event or to buy tickets for either tomorrow or Saturday, please visit the Gathering’s website at www.cowalgathering.com or contact the event office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01369 703206.
A full list of today’s results will be posted on the website as soon as possible.