The Harpenden Highland Gathering – a ‘fun day out with a Scottish flavour for the whole family’ – is Harpenden Lions Club’s most important fundraising event of the year which raises thousands of pounds annually for local charities. But how did it first get started and why? St. Albans and Mid-Herts Caledonian Society organised the first of the local Highland Games which took place on June 22, 1946 at Beech Hyde Farm, Wheathampstead. It is believed that it was held as a fundraising event to assist Scottish engineers who had been working in aircraft factories including De Havilland in Hatfield during the Second World War.
From 1950 onwards the games were held in Rothamsted Park, Harpenden, where they flourished until their demise in the late 50s. The first of the modern games, organised by Harpenden Lions Club, took place on June 22, 1996 at Harpenden Rugby Club. The following year they relocated back to their traditional home in Rothamsted Park. It is now one of the largest Gatherings outside Scotland, raising tens of thousands for charity every year.
What makes the Harpenden Highland Gathering such a special occasion? Spectacular pipe band displays, dance, traditional games and the sound of the bagpipes set the scene for the day, but there is much more. In recent years visitors have enjoyed thrilling gymnastic displays, falconry demonstrations, battlefield re-enactments and the entertaining sight of experienced sheepdogs herding geese and ducklings. Every year there are plenty of events for children, including novelty track events, a climbing wall and a funfair. There is a wide selection of stalls offering refreshments, and many others selling craft and novelty items. Many charities set up stalls and displays to raise awareness of their work and attract donations.