Highland Games History

The date of the first gathering on the banks of the River Ness by our ancestors has been lost in the mists of time and will forever remain a mystery. What we do know is that back in 1822 the Inverness Courier reported that fundraising was taking place in the town to revive those ancient Games and to give the Capital of the Highlands a Gathering that its townsfolk could be proud of. Thanks to the efforts of those early fundraisers, almost two centuries later, the Inverness Highland Games is firmly established as one of Scotland’s finest Highland Games.

In the early days (1822 – 1938) the Highland Games staged in Inverness were organised by the Northern Meeting. Such was the popularity of the Games during the Victorian era that in 1863 the committee decided to take action to accommodate the thousands of spectators that were arriving by building a purpose built Highland Games stadium, Northern Meeting Park, which opened in 1864.

Following the Second World War, responsibility for staging the event passed from the Northern Meeting to the local community with the Town Council and the newly formed Inverness Harriers taking up the challenge of organising the event.

Prominent amongst those involved with ensuring that the tradition of staging a Gathering continued was the late Tom Mackenzie (1913-2005) who officiated at our Games for over half a century. Known as Mr Inverness to many – Tom was a decorated war hero and former Deputy Provost who joined an illustrious list which included the Queen Mother, William Gladstone, Andrew Carnegie and David Lloyd George when he was awarded the freedom of Inverness. To commemorate his contribution to our Games, the arrival of our Games Chieftain is now heralded by the playing of “The Inverness Gathering” in memory of Tom Mackenzie.

From 1949 – 2009 our Games were held at Bught Park; before the Committee decided to move the event back home to Northern Meeting Park in 2010 as interest in the world’s oldest Highland Games stadium began to grown in the run up to the 150th anniversary of its opening began to grow. Following four successful years at Northern Meeting Park;  the Games Committee decided to move the event back to Bught Park in 2015 as the main attraction at the new Inverness Gala.


Nobody knows when the first Inverness Highland Games were held...