Inverness Highland Games venue to host outdoor music festival

The Northern Meeting Park in Inverness city centre will play host to The Gathering. Picture: Don Cload

A new annual outdoor music festival is to be staged on the site of the world’s first Highland Games event.

The Northern Meeting Park in Inverness city centre will play host to The Gathering, which organisers say will showcase the best music, food and drink from across the Highlands.

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It will be launched as a one-day festival at the beginning of June but is already intended to expand into a two-day event the following year if there is enough demand.

The “family friendly” event will be held in the 8,000-capacity arena, close to the River Ness and Inverness Cathedral, which dates back to 1864.

The Gathering is being masterminded by the same organisers behind the long-running Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, near Beauly. Traditional music festival favourites Tide Lines, The Vatersay Boys, Elephant Sessions. Torridon, Hò-rò and Siobhan Miller are lined up for next year’s event.

The Black Isle Brewery, Tomatin Distillery, Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka have all been confirmed as official partners for the inaugural event on 1 June. The Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, which was first staged in 2004, has grown to become the biggest annual outdoor event in the Highlands, with a capacity of 18,500. There are two spin-off events, Groove Cairngorm in the winter and Groove Loch Ness in the summer.

The Northern Meeting Park has hosted Inverness’s Hogmanay celebration in recent years, while Simple Minds, The Pretenders and KT Tunstall played there last month.

Promoter Dougie Brown said: “We hope The Gathering becomes a permanent fixture in the Scottish event calendar. We have a wealth of musical talent and incredible food and drink producers across the Highlands and Scotland and through The Gathering we aim to bring everyone together and celebrate the very best our region has to offer.”

Chris Taylor, regional leadership director at VisitScotland, said: “The arrival of a new festival onto Scotland’s already legendary music scene would further enhance the country’s reputation as one of the world’s premier destinations for events and provide a significant boost to the Inverness economy, with the ripple effect felt in hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses in and around the city.

“Music tourism is an incredibly valuable industry sector, worth around £295 million annually.”