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Tuatha Dea will be among those performing during the Highland Games. Photo by Skip Sickler

Originally published: 2013-07-06 16:58:25
Last modified: 2013-07-06 17:00:43

Highland Games after Dark begins Thursday

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games offers visitors the opportunity to experience the Highlands of Scotland firsthand though traditional music, food and activities.
But what some might not realize is that when the sun goes down, the fun is only beginning.

The Highland Games After Dark begins on the evening of Thursday, July 11, with the "Gathering."

Here, the masses flock to MacRae Meadows, enjoying bagpipe music and sheep herding demonstrations, while awaiting twilight and the dramatic opening ceremonies.

As the sun sinks behind Grandfather Mountain's mile-high peaks, the clan leaders convene to announce the presence of their family's line. Some bang their chest and yell as the enthusiastically primitive ceremony progresses, all in an effort to invoke the "Spirit of the Clans" upon the weekend's traditional Scottish experience.

The Celtic Jam takes place Friday night and features performers that blend the traditional Celtic sounds of the Isles with the traditional bluegrass sounds of the Southern Appalachians. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children.

The lineup for the Celtic Jam includes Tuatha Dea, Cutthroat Shamrock, Ed Miller, Barleyjuice, Rathkeltair, Thistledown Tinkers, Colin Grant Adams, Chelsea House Orchestra, Lisa Lynn & George Tortorelli and Celtica Pipers Rock.

Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Ed Miller's acoustic sounds offer a unique spin on traditional Scottish folklore. Thistledown Tinkers is another acoustic performance, mixing the Appalachian sound of the banjo with the sounds of Scotland. Colin Grant Adams delivers high-energy and enthusiastic performances.

Chelsea House Orchestra, a large group made up mostly of school-aged children, provides a varied and colorful performance for Highland Games visitors. Lisa Lynn & George Tortorelli's soothing flute and harp sounds are another easy-listening feature.

Cutthroat Shamrock, Baryleyjuice, Celtica Pipers Rock and Rathkeltair's contemporary tunes mesh modern rock with traditional Celtic undertones. According to a GMHG organizer, "For those into a modern, rock twist to the sounds of yore, these four bands will be a major highlight."

Self-described as "pure primal energy with a Celtic twist," Tuatha Dea's eclectic sound blends the tribal vibe of primitive drums with conventional and unconventional instruments, such as guitar, bass, modern and Native American flutes, as well as myriad vocal styles to create a unique sound.

Saturday night's Celtic Rock Concert returns the five headliners: Tuatha Dea, Rathkeltair, Barleyjuice, Celtica Pipers Rock and Cutthroat Shamrock.
The cost of the Saturday night concert is also $15 for adults and $5 for children.

For more information on the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, call (828) 733-1333 or visit