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Highland Games

The CHICAGO SCOTS hosts the Midwest’s Largest Scottish Event, the 29th ANNUAL SCOTTISH FESTIVAL & HIGHLAND GAMES, from June 19-20, 2015

 Featuring an extravaganza of activities & attractions—from the Caber Toss to the Highland Dance to the Dogs of Scotland—the family-friendly event is a chance to explore Scottish culture without buying a plane ticket

 Chicago— Lovers of Scottish culture unite! It’s time to iron the kilt and perfect the family shortbread recipe. The CHICAGO SCOTS presents the 29th Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games—the largest of its kind in the Midwest—from June 19-20, 2015 at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca, Illinois. The summer celebration, a beloved tradition for many families, offers the opportunity to experience Scotland’s rich heritage and unique traditions along with some quirky customs. The festivities kick off on Friday, June 19 from 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. and continue Saturday, June 20 from 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

“Whether you’re of Scottish descent or simply intrigued by Scottish culture, we invite you to join us. This year’s event promises to be our most exciting celebration of Scottish arts and entertainment, athletics, and culinary specialties yet,” said Gus Noble, President of the CHICAGO SCOTS.  

The festival launches on Friday, June 19 with exhibits and vendors open from 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Highlights include the ever-popular Heavy Athletics Exhibition, a Rugby Exhibition, the Friday Night Fling, and crowning of the Heather Queen and Court. The evening concludes with a Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee), a rousing Celtic music concert featuring contemporary and time-honored favorites, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. on the Celtic rock stage.

The fun continues on Saturday, June 20 from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Guests will be able to enjoy the thrilling Heavy Athletics U.S. Open Championship including the Caber Toss (with participants flipping 20-foot, 140-pound tree trunk), the 22-pound Hammer Throw, the Sheaf Toss (where athletes launch a bale of hay over a high bar) and the Clachnert (flinging a 16-pound river stone) and participating this year is Matt Vincent current World Champion; lively Mid-West Pipe Band Championship competition, Largest pipe band competition in the Mid-West with over 20 pipe bands and 300 solo performances of pipers and drummers; Highland Dance competition; an intense Rugby Sevens Highland Challenge; and a Coerver Cup 3v3 youth soccer tournament. The Dogs of Scotland, Highland Cattle, and Clydesdale Horses offer a chance to greet some of Scotland’s cutest furry exports. Genealogy and cultural exhibits provide insight into ancestry to kick start research on the family tree. A Parade of Clan Tartans and attendee competitions British Car Show featuring vintage automobiles, Haggis Hurling Contest for women, Knobbly Knees contest for men, Haggis Eating Contest and Shortbread Contest are also perennial favorites. Little ones may play mini golf, create crafts and try mini heavy athletics. Sample Whisky tastings from various vendors. Indulge in traditional Scottish or American cuisine and peruse the Celtic Marketplace, as well as enjoy more live music on the Celtic Rock Stage. The festivities conclude with the Closing Ceremonies and Massed Bands Show, an exhilarating concert featuring 1,000 bagpipers and drummers performing traditional musical selections including Amazing Grace

Entertainment for this year includes: Tim MacDonald – Chicago’s very own Scottish fiddler and Reigning National Champion, Cleghorn – A brand of “Celtic rock” mixes their original songwriting with high energy fiddle and bagpipe tunes, Skerryvore – From across the pond, Scotland’s raw but contemporary band, creating a unique fusion of traditional music and songs with the sounds of rock, pop and funk.

Ticket prices for the 29th Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games are as follows:

Friday-Children 12 and under are FREE; Adults are $12.00

Saturday- Children under 2 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $5.00; Adults are $20.00

Two Day Pass - Children under 2 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $5.00; Adults are $30.00

Patron Weekend Pass (Family Friendly)- $150 This two-day pass includes entry into the festival (for 2 adults & 2 children), premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, and a private access VIP Parking Pass.

Patron Weekend Pass (21 & Over)- $125 This two-day pass includes entry for one individual into the festival, premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages (including beer - not unlimited), and a private access VIP Parking Pass.

The festival is held at Hamilton Lakes, Itasca, Illinois, located at I-290 and Thorndale Avenue. Parking will be available on pavement in parking garages. Parking will be $5 per vehicle for parking on both Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20 or guests may purchase a two-day parking pass for $8.  

The CHICAGO SCOTS would like to thank the following corporate sponsors and in-kind donors:   Belhaven Ale, Hamilton Partners, Village of Itasca, Highland Titles, Westin Hotel of Itasca, and Hyatt Place Itasca.

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For more information visit these links!

Schedule of Events



Directions & Map


Registration Forms

Vendor Forms and Information

Village of Itasca