Colorado Scottish Festival turns 50

Haggis, whiskey, Nessie, bagpipes descend on Ranch

At the midday ceremonies that kick off the Colorado Scottish Festival all the clans march in prior to the air being filled with bagpipes. This year marks the 50th year of the festival.
Battles, games, whiskey, dogs and music all will highlight a weekend of fun at the 50th Annual Colorado Scottish Festival in Highlands Ranch.
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Grab your kilt and get ready for some bagpipes. The 50th annual Colorado Scottish Festival is just around the corner.

Slated for Aug. 10-11 in Highland Heritage Park in Highlands Ranch, this year’s festivities will feature Highlands Games, haggis tasting, drum, dance and Bonny Knees competitions, games for the kids, live music, and of course, Nessie.

Expecting to draw between 10,000 and 12,000 people over the two-day celebration, festival director John Thornton said each year the Celtic party gets a “wee bit better.”

“It’s pretty darn exciting,” he said. “This thing started as a family picnic with just a handful of people in a park up near Conifer, cooking some hot dogs and drinking some beer. It’s morphed into a festival that attracts people from all over the world.”

The festival outgrew its Conifer roots by the early 1980s, and made the move to the Colorado School of Mines’ athletic complex. It wasn’t long, Thornton said, before it outgrew the school grounds and in 1990, about the time he started running the show, the event moved to Highlands Ranch, where it’s stayed put ever since.

“It’s really a family event,” Thornton said. “Unlike a lot of festivals that center around a lot of beer drinking and things like that, we try to cater to all ages. After all, the kids of today are the Scottish enthusiasts of tomorrow.”

For those looking to cool off on a hot summer day with an adult beverage, no fretting is allowed, the dog-friendly festival will have adult beverages available on site. Celtic rock group Angus Mohr will also perform from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

Promising more events than ever before packed into two days, Thornton said the festival is a great opportunity to learn more about one’s own Celtic heritage, regardless of whether it is Scottish, Irish or British.

“People can come on down, have a taste of the ol’ Scottish soul food, haggis, and if you are an adult you can have a wee bit of whiskey to wash it down with,” he said.

For more information on the festival, including a complete schedule of events, visit www.scottishgames.org or call the festival hotline at 303-238-6524. The festival is from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 10 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 11 at 9651 S. Quebec Street in Highlands Ranch.

Single-day tickets, available on the site, range from $9 to $18 with multiple options available for seniors, kids, and adults who wish to spend an entire day on the grounds or just attend the Saturday concert. Children 6 and under receive free admission.

Volunteers are still being sought for the festival, and Thornton said for four hours of service, volunteers get in for free for the remainder of the day. If interested in volunteering, please call Thornton at 303-523-6469.