Lonach Highland Gathering and Games and its iconic march were due to be held on Saturday, 22 August. Their cancellation is a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is the first time since 1945 that the gathering and the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a 220-strong body of men dressed in kilts and full Highland regalia, have not been held, writes Ian MacLaren.
Held in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg in Strathdon, the event attracts up to 10,000 visitors from around the world and provides a significant boost to the local economy. Organisers intend to mark the day of the Lonach Gathering and will announce plans for doing so in the coming weeks on social media.
The photographs show the Lonach Highlanders marching through Bellabeg on their way to last year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games. The unique march is considered amongst Scotland’s most iconic traditional summer spectacles.
Alongside a packed programme of traditional events in light and heavy athletics, piping, Highland dancing and tug o’ war, the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a 220-strong body of men dressed in kilts and full Highland regalia, is a colourful six-mile procession that’s roots can be traced back nearly 200 years to a march in December 1822, which led to the formation of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society the following year.
Organisers are discouraging people from travelling to Strathdon until current restrictions are lifted on what would have been the day of the gathering.
Ticket holders, sponsors and businesses and organisations that have booked trade stands are being contacted by the society and offered a refund or the opportunity to transfer the booking to 2021. Anyone with questions can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attention is now focused on the 2021 Lonach Highland Gathering and Games which will take place on Saturday, 28 August 2021.
Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: ‘We are very disappointed that this year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games and the Lonach march will not be able to take place. Both mean so much to so many, including our members, local residents, sponsors, supporters and the thousands of visitors who attend each year. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of Strathdon residents, all those associated with Lonach and the wider public is what is important.
‘Historically, Highland gatherings have been a place of kinship, where families and communities come together, something that is extremely evident at Lonach each year. We very much hope to still be able to do that from a distance in some shape or form this August. It has been a difficult year for Scotland’s traditional Highland Games and we will be thinking of each one as the summer progresses.’
Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Further information on the Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.