Community spirit is strong in Scotland and, when summer arrives, the country comes alive with a string of galas and Highland games. Tain and other towns and villages in the northern Highlands are no exception, taking great pride in the events they host in celebration of friendship and true Scottish traditions.
The first Scottish gala was in 1871, when the miners of Kirkcaldy celebrated the introduction of an eight-hour working day. Back then, tens of thousands of miners and their families would march to the gala fields in villages across Scotland — ending every year with the mighty miners’ gala in Edinburgh, where crowds could reach six figures. Today’s galas are more modest affairs, but are still key events in local social calendars. Tain's gala is held annually at the end of June/beginning of July featuring a week-long programme of events, culminating in a ceilidh. Other local communities staging galas include Portmahomack, Balintore, Golspie and Brora.
Held throughout the country, Highland games are synonymous with such Scottish traditions as the bagpipes, the wearing of the kilt, and heavy events such as the caber toss. While centred on competitions in piping and drumming, dancing, and Scottish heavy athletics, many games also include entertainment and exhibits related to other aspects of Scottish and Celtic culture and heritage. The Tain Highland Gathering is held in August each year in the grounds of the Glenmorangie Distillery and there are numerous others for visitors to enjoy in the surrounding area - not to mention events such as the Black Isle, Caithness and Sutherland county shows.