The Braemar Gathering
The Braemar Gathering
4.5
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Al Macrae
3 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023 • Friends
The Gathering is one of many such events (Highland Games) which take place all over Scotland in the summer months. The Braemar version is the most famous, largely because the King/Queen normally attends, so it is an opportunity to see the “royals” close up. Aside from that, and the resultant large crowd (more of which below), the Braemar games are not much different from other such games, so if you are not a royalist then you might find events elsewhere a bit more informal and fun. WARNING : parking is an absolute nightmare. There is one public carpark, in a field with only one entrance/exit, and it took us 3 hours to get out of the carpark yesterday. So, as I say, unless you are an ardent monarchist, you might be better off visiting another Highland Games elsewhere with smaller crowds and better organised parking.
Written 3 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

cannicUk
UK303 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2014 • Couples
This 'Gathering' is many years old, and clearly never updated in its organisation. Don't pay the advance fee (unless you want a grandstand/stand seat) or the £10 entry fee for the day of the games, because we watched everyone walk into the site with tickets unchecked yesterday. If you pay in advance for a seat - note that space per person is minimal, and take a cushion - comfortable on the narrow bench, keeps you off the muck on the seat (you have to climb up over every seat as only access is at one end & too many people to squash past and/or bird poo everywhere), and also keeps your space if leave for while.
There are lots of events going on all at once in the arena, so wherever you are there will be lots you can't see. From the grandstand you can hardly see the heavy weight throwing or caber tossing, and only part of the tug of war. From opposite you can't see the some of the athletic events or the Highland Dancing (which went on for HOURS). Our advice is go in the pm and just watch the final heats and the caber tossing. You can't hear the tannoy in the grandstand.
The bottom tier of grandstand seats were broken and filthy but clearly none of the huge income from the games is put back into maintaining them. Ask for tier 2 upwards - or you won't see past any umbrellas thoughtless lower and ground based seat users put up in the rain.
The are minimal eateries - only two burger vans and one strawberry selling van, plus a coffee and cake van this year - way, way too few for the numbers there this year., longest queues I have seen anywhere for a long time - even longer than Bannockburn Live!
Toilets are appalling and again, way too few. To save money the organisers leave you to use the ancient ones in the park, or the couple of portaloos. We got there only one hour after the event opened and the portaloos were already disgusting; no loo roll/towels left and not cleaned nor refreshed for the rest of the day. One only for disabled visitors- behind the grandstand which they can't use!.
Access around the site involved climbing up and around the back of the admin tents and royal box and past tents of freezing cold dancers changing in the awful outdoor conditions yesterday - again - appalling planning and disinterest for those who are less mobile. We felt so sorry for the dancers as well - so unprofessional - would it really bankrupt the event to offer a tent for them?!
It is a long walk from the public park, but don't pay for the 'Games Field' parking - its a real rip off! This year was £15 - and the stewards, in an attempt to increase the income to its max, push the cars in frantically close. We got a yellow ticket for the windscreen, but as the organisers won't pay for any advance map on where the car parks are, you try to work out where to go in the closed off, chaotic road arrangements, We saw some signs saying 'coloured labels' and presumed that meant our yellow car park sticker. But why not just put 'Games Field Parking' signs? Once parked you can't get your car out again until not only the games have finished but all the car owners behind you have had the grace to return to their cars and move them. We watched as an idiotic car set up a wee picnic table (with flower vase) - as the event finished - and pretended they were at Glyndbourne: steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the vehicles they were blocking in! No stewards in sight at the end to help with the mud bath the car park was becoming after torrential rain - no front wheel or four wheel drive, you would not be getting out!
You will NOT be able to leave the car park early in an emergency under any circumstances at all. Also no fire brigade access if a car on fire for instance - we would all lose our cars! No ability to get ambulance crew to/from a car either. Money talks here - not health and safety!
Have asked three times over three years about arrangements for disabled visitors - no replies. Answer is - minimal. There is one disabled portaloo for the whole site. No boarding nor ramping for w/chair access anywhere. They refuse to provide a blue badge parking area as presumably that would reduce their revenue from car parking. You need to be very alert to parking arrangements if you need space around your car for access/wheelchair etc - it will be a fight. No discounts for disabled visitors, no free parking. No space in front of the grandstand for wheelchairs- just a supposed wee area on the bank around the site that in practice was not only full of able bodied spectators but this year was a mud bath and would have been unusable. Also, lots of statements everywhere "no dogs" and nowhere clarified OK to bring a guide/hearing dog.
This just seems to smack of a set up run for maximum profit and minimum reinvestment by tweed wearing old school/ex army types who love that the royal family come along and think that there is no need to move with the times and improve facilities nor ensure inclusivity for all. Never mind access for disabled nor mobility impaired - you couldn't push a kiddies chair along in the mud either yesterday! It was interesting to see some of the events, but there was too much we could not see and the few bits we could did not justify the cost of the poor quality grandstand seating and appalling car parking.
Written 7 September 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PriscillaCPL
Singapore, Singapore102 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2014 • Friends
This is more community games than traditional Highland games. The traditional events were the highland fling dances, tug-of-war, the cable toss and backward kettle bell toss. For the latter two events, the men participated in their kilts. Other events were the short races (eg. 100-yard dash, the mile run, etc.), hillside cross-country run, the long jump and high jump for men and sack races for children. There were not many participants, with some participants participating in more than one event. Participants of all ages took part together, with handicaps given for the different age groups. You can tell that they really want to encourage anyone to participate. They even have a race for audience members to sign up on the spot. There was also a bagpipe competition, where bands from various districts in the region competed in the full Scottish regalia and colors. They also had a few combined bands performances where they marched around the sporting field within touching distance of the audiences in the ringside seats.
The Games were organized and presided by the elderly Scotsmen of the district in their colorful Scots dress. I did not see a single female official, except for 1 judge for the highland fling dances. There was a very packed schedule, with heats, semi-finals and finals for some events, but they ran like clockwork.
We sat at the Block A Ringside seats. These, including the Ringside B, C and D seats, were not sheltered and we ended up sitting in our raincoats and under umbrellas under a heavy drizzle for close to 4 hrs as the events proceeded without stopping. Only the grandstand seats were sheltered. The ground got flooded quite quickly and we had to hug our backpacks on our laps throughout. So, bring as few things/bags with you as possible.
View-wise, the ringside B, C and D seats are better for some events, while ringside A seats had a better view of the finishing line for the races and the high and long jump events, as well as the Queen and Princes Philip and Charles who arrived only about 3 pm (games ended about 4:30pm), after the rain had completely stopped. It also seemed to me that the Ringside B, C and D seats are colder, probably because they did not have the sheltered grandstand seats behind them to block off the wind (as with ringside A seats).
It is possible to buy tickets to the Games at the ticket counter there on the day itself. Besides the grandstand and ringside seats, they also sell tickets for standing in the field behind the ringside seats B, C and D (£10). We also saw some people on the higher grounds surrounding the Games arena, but we are not sure if you have to pay admission fees from these locations.
We were there at 9 am when the games started, but people were arriving and leaving throughout the day. There were hot food and beverage for sale on the grounds outside the sporting field and you can leave and re-enter the sporting ground with your ticket. Toilet facilities are also available.
No parking facilities are available in the games grounds. Most people leave their cars where they are lodging and walk to the games grounds, so you feel excitement in the air as everybody walks towards the sporting ground. For those who stay outside of Braemar (eg., Ballater which is just a short drive away), there is a small parking lot in the town centre of Braemar. Some roadside parking is allowed, but these are also limited.
Despite the weather, it was a thoroughly enjoyable outing for us.
Written 24 October 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MikeBramble
Aberdeen, UK4 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2017 • Friends
The Braemar games might have the fame, the history, the crowds and the occasion, but compared to other local games, it is quite poor Unless you pay the fortune to be stuck in the stands all day and watch the games, you never get a good view of the arena, and never get to go close to it. There are very limited stands and entertainment on offer, and it's more of a tourist trap than anything. Three local games, no more than 20 miles away, are far better. The Ballater, Aboyne and Lonach games. Royals regularly visit the Ballater games, and the Aboyne and Lonach games are huge, often drawing huge crowds in excess of 5,000. All these games let you get much closer to the action than in Braemar. In Aboyne and Lonach you can sit just inches away from the action, in a stand, for free, as well as there being plenty of standing options as well. Aboyne and Lonach also have much better stalls, food options and entertainment options for everyone, and the atmosphere is much more local and excitable than it is at Braemar. If you want something completely and staunchly traditional, the Braemar games are the way to go. But if you want somewhere with more to see and do, get closer to the action and feel the atmosphere more, I'd recommend going to other local games such as the three I mentioned, probably in the order; Aboyne, Lonach (Strathdon), Ballater.
Written 29 August 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Clive F
Bristol, UK1,283 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2016 • Couples
To paraphrase Dr Johnson, 'If a man's tired of Highland Games', he's tired of life'. Many towns and villages throughout Scotland hold games or a gathering on an annual basis, which are almost invariably great fun, regardless of the weather. Usually there will be a number of events going on simultaneously in and around the arena: large men in kilts throwing improbable objects into the air, wee scrappets dancing beautifully in an under-9 category, with others running, jumping, piping or competing in tug-of-war.

Braemar has this on steroids, in part, I'm sure, because the family who come down from London to the nearby big hoos attend the gathering every year. If that weren't the case I doubt if the massed pipes and drums would attract quite so many players, or the Inter-Services tug-of-war would attract entries from units scattered throughout the UK and Germany.

For all this it's still very local, with a cheer going up when someone from Braemar, or at a push even Ballater, wins an event. Some prizes are presented by the Queen, who can take great trouble over doing so. On our last visit before this year a Regiment about to disband (40th Regiment Royal Artillery) won the Braemar Shield for tug-of-war (having done so more often than any other unit); the Queen talked to the Lance-Bombardier receiving the Shield for a very long time.

Those attending come from all over the world, with Americans (usually) gushing about seeing the 'Queen of England', apparently oblivious to the fact that Braemar is in Scotland, that the arms above the royal pavilion are the Scottish royal arms, and that there hasn't been a Queen of England since Queen Anne changed her title after the Act of Union, 1707.

But it's all great fun and well worth the effort to get there.
Written 6 September 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daydream758634
Sunshine Coast, Australia27 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2019
Pipes and Drums, Tossing the Caber, Highland Dancing and so much more purely Scottish experiences to be had at this wonderful event. Highly recommended. The location is spectacular up in the Cairngorms, so much to see and do.
Written 21 October 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

itchyfeet2014
Glasgow, UK2,300 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2019
The sun was shining this year. All our travel plans went well. We were ushered in to car park 5 and a five minute walk through some woods took us to The Braemar Gathering. What a stunning location, what an amazing day of fantastic events. It was all go for hours. A visual spectacle that had us on the edge of our seats with tug of war, hammer throwing, caber tossing, fell running, relay races, fantastic Highland dancing, wonderful pipe bands and lots more.
The highlight was the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen and the royal party. The Queen looked wonderful. Clearly the royals enjoy the day- they looked like they were!
The whole day was so relaxed. The time just flew in. It was great to have a seat in area C but a bit of a squeeze to get in and out. This area was opposite the Royal Pavillion so we got a lovely view of Her Majesty.
There are lots of stalls selling drinks, burgers and lots more. Plenty of toilets and ticket upgrades are available once inside the arena.
Quite simply the loveliest of days out. We followed the pipe bands from the centre of Braemar at 12 am into the arena. We had wonderful views of the pipers and it was a brilliant atmosphere. Scotland at its very best. Buy your tickets early on line, but there are tickets available on the day.
Written 10 September 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thanks for your comments, glad you had a great day.
Written 11 September 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

adrianloader
London, UK495 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2018 • Friends
It's been 32 years since we last attended a Braemar Gathering and relatively little has changed in the interim, which is delightful and heart warming. OK, we were blessed by a perfect day - decent temperature, quite a lot of cloud cover (it can get too hot) and no rain - but the atmosphere is so relaxed and the activity so continuous that the Gathering makes for a great day out. Some find the events a little repetitive but that means you can rock up pretty much anytime and still see some action except, of course, if you wish to be there for the Queen's arrival at 3pm (she wore green this year). She hasn't missed a Gathering yet. Sure, there's a little more security than in days of yore but it's low key, the pomp and ceremony is minimal and you can really be rather close to members of the Royal family. One point to bear in mind if you're planning a prompt get away is to leave before the Queen not only because her departing party takes precedence but also because there then tends to be a scramble to get to and out of the car parks. Prices have risen since our previous visit but are very reasonable - GBP 25 will get you a seat in an uncovered stand if you book early enough (beginning of the year) - and, whilst the food and drink selection is rather limited and things can run out, again costs are far from excessive and the venison burgers were acclaimed as a triumph by my party. At peak times you will probably have to queue, maybe for up to half an hour. If you do go, as you should, be prepared for any weather - you can have three seasons in one day in that part of Scotland. Believe me - we have experienced such conditions.
Written 11 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Irene L
9 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2018 • Friends
The Braemar gathering is a wondrous, vibrant, exciting day of events that showcase Scottish athletes and musicians. The massed bands of pipes and drums are a sight and sound to behold. The athletes from the very young in the morning to the very muscular later in the day are an inspiration and the Highland dancers set your feet tapping and your hands clapping. It's a wonderful event which is topped by the entrance of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and members of the Royal family in the afternoon.
There are food vendors selling high quality Scottish fare, various lovely Scottish craft stalls, and thousands of people from all over the world milling around and who for one day wish they were Scottish! A great event.
Written 3 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Blue Boy
Preston, UK272 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2016 • Friends
Such a lovely Scottish setting and well signposted and marshalled. We arrived 10am and enjoyed watching the various events which are all taking place in one major arena at the same time, it's hard to know where to look. The highland bands were fab, tossing the Caber, throwing weights, Scottish dancing, running events and tug of war just to mention a few. Great family atmosphere. There are couple of food and drink tents and sufficient toilet facilities. The cherry on the cake is the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen and Price Phillip and Prince Charles who have their own Royal Pavilion. Definitely one for your bucket list and not expensive we paid £17 for seats but access only was just £12 great value for money.
Written 11 September 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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THE BRAEMAR GATHERING (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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