I have been attending the Seaside Highland Games for several years now. Hosted in Ventura California in October, the setting is a wonderful and comfortable place to jump in and explore this cultural gathering over a 3-day weekend. Alas, the name would imply that this is only a sporting event. It is far more than that, and it illustrates a wide swath of Scottish and Irish culture.
Early in the day, there are several competitions and demonstrations revolving on many stages throughout the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, we arrived quite late this year and missed the majority of them. Piping, drumming, fiddling, drum majoring, dancing, and other traditional activities are all present.
There are a couple of parades of bagpipe bands competing and demonstrating each day. The drums and bagpipes fill the air to capacity. Be prepared; it’s quite a loud experience.
If you have Irish or Scottish heritage, you can’t miss looking for your Clans booth along the parade route. All native clans have an origin in Ireland and Scotland and plaid colorways associated with them. So if you know what plaid they are, you can spot someone from your clan by the colors in their kilts. Don’t fret if you’re new to your roots. A Clan member is on hand to help you sort out some of your heritage.
Some great things to see at the Highland Games:
In the afternoon you can take your pick of fun stuff to do. We opted for some herding dog exhibitions, some of the Highland Games competitions, some punk rock music and some traditional music and tap. There is plenty to check out, and we still feel like we missed out on a few things. I was impressed this year by the female athletes competing; they were awesome. We closed out our day by watching the Woods Family tear up the Celtic Spring stage indoors.