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Clans gather at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN ó As twilight takes over MacRae Meadows July 10-13, visitors of the 53rd Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans will hear the sounds of traditional and modern Celtic music.
Visitors are welcome to come spread blankets and lawn chairs on the grassy hillside of MacRae Meadows, overlooking the outdoor stage, for a taste of the highland sounds.
The celebration begins with a spiritual tone Thursday night during the opening ceremonies. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. spectators are welcome to bring or buy a picnic at MacRae Meadows. During the early evening there will be bagpipe band performances as well as a demonstration of sheepherding skill by Scottish border collies.
Thursday night’s admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.
As darkness falls over MacRae Meadows and Grandfather Mountain begins to fade into night, representatives of the 160 sponsoring clans proudly carry their torches, to let it be known that they are represented at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.
The torchlight ceremony is held to invoke the “Spirit of the Clans” upon the gathering. The ceremony hearkens back to the days when Celts banned together on the fields of battle to defend the Highlands from invaders.
Beginning with a concert and sing-a-long called a Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee) that celebrates Scottish folk music, dance, and folklore, Friday’s nightlife promises to be a night full of music, dancing and singing.
The Ceilidh begins at 8 p.m. at Lees-McRae College Auditorium in Banner Elk on both Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets for adults are $10 while children 12 years and younger are $5. Tickets are sold on a first-come basis at the door.
The Scottish Country Dance Gala, held 8 p.m. to midnight at Lees-McRae Williams Gymnasium, is a colorful display of the old-time Scottish dance passed down through generations. Those that wish to participate and take lessons in the traditional ballroom dances of the highland farm country pay $20. Admission for spectators is $3.
The Celtic Jam held at MacRae Meadows Friday night gives light to the connection between the traditional music of the British Isles and the bluegrass music of Southern Appalachia.
Some of the traditional Celtic performers at the Celtic Jam are folksinger Ed Miller and The Blessed Blend, a duo that blends Native American and Celtic music, which creates a harmony of tribal sounds from two indigenous cultures.
Jim Malcolm, originally from Perthshire and Angus, Scotland, began his career when he hosted the open stage at the Edinburgh Folk Festival. Today after his seventh solo album, Malcolm continues entertaining fans and has been dubbed the “new male voice of Scotland.”
Coyote Run from Williamsburg, Va., has been described as having “the take no prisoners approach to Celtic music.” This will be the third Grandfather Games for the group that performs new music inspired by the rich heritages of Celtic, Appalachian, folk and maritime traditions.
The Killdares call Dallas, Texas, home, but their music belongs just as much in the highlands of Scotland. The blend of driving beat, raw vocals, excellent fiddling and unique instruments give The Killdares an unforgettable sound and a sensational live show.
Also returning to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is Winchester, England’s Colin Grant-Adams, now of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Admissions to the Celtic Jam is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12 with free parking available at the field on a first come basis. If satellite parking is necessary, a shuttle service will be provided free of charge.
Saturday’s night-life offers a variety of diversions from relaxed to radical beginning with Scotland’s premier entertainer, Alex Beaton & Friends at 8:30 p.m. at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center in Boone. Tickets for Alex Beaton and friends are $10 per person.
Held Saturday night at MacRae Meadows is the Celtic Rock Concert. As the energy flows from the stage, spectators become an honorary member of a group of Game-goers who call themselves Clan McRowdy.
Known for having endless personality and musical expertise, Barleyjuice from Philadelphia, Pa., is making waves throughout the Celtic community, and will return to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games once again, to wow spectators.
Mother Grove, all the way from Noblesville, Ind., entertains its audience with high energy kilt rock. Their music ranges from soaring ballads to raucous pub tunes to “rocked-up” traditional songs. Mother Grove’s lyrics are witty, insightful and downright fun.
Glasgow, Scotland’s Albannach, sporting medieval armor, tattoos and animal skins, encourages audiences to “Keep it Tribal!” The Pictish drumming and energetic piping calls to anyone with the soul of a Scot.
Tickets to the Celtic Rock Concert are $10 for adults and $5 for children with free parking available at the field on a first come basis. If satellite parking becomes necessary, a shuttle service will be provided free of charge.
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For more information phone 828-733-1333 or visit online www.gmhg.org.

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