Known locally simply as The Lonach, The Lonach Gathering is a highland games event traditionally held annually on the fourth Saturday in August in the parish of Strathdon in Gordon District, Scotland. It is organised by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, which was founded in 1823 by Sir Charles Forbes, the First Baronet of Newe & Edinglassie, to commemorate the majority (coming of age) of his son. The games themselves are thought to have begun in 1836, making local claims that The Lonach is older than the much more famous Braemar Gathering somewhat suspect.

The Lonach includes the march of the Lonach Men, a unique element which distinguishes it from other highland games events. The 300 or so men of the Lonach society, arrayed in full highland dress, undertake a six mile march which ends with a parade around the Lonach field (the site of the games). During the course of the march they make a half dozen stops at various houses, at each of which they each receive a dram (a generous measure of whisky). By the time the march reaches the field a few of the younger Lonach men can usually be seen to sway slightly.

After a couple of hours or so pibrochs (traditional Scottish tunes performed on bagpipes) the games themselves finally begin at noon. Presumably this gives the Lonach men a chance to sober up, though in the best Scottish tradition everybody is likely to get drunk again at the end of the evening. All the traditional highland games events are included, along with a few unique events, such as the "best dressed highlander" contest.

The gathering has attracted somewhat more publicity in recent years due to the regular attendance of the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Celebrities or no celebrities, the Lonach is known for it's warm welcome to visitors and I’d thoroughly recommend it as a good day out for anybody who happens to be in the area at the right time.


Sources: “The Land O’ Lonach” by Ron Winram, http://www.lonach.org, and my personal experience.

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