Royal Highland Show ends with a bang

The Royal Highland Show – Scotland’s largest outdoor event – which last week celebrated not only the return of its four day run following two years of Covid cancellations but also the 200th anniversary of the first show - fell only a thousand short of its record attendance set in 2019.

Young handlers take part in the Royal Highland Show at the Royal Highland Centre on June 26, 2022
Young handlers take part in the Royal Highland Show at the Royal Highland Centre on June 26, 2022

With a reported 194,000 through the gates The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) which organises the show, said it had been a “barnstorming event” with chair, Bill Gray stating:

“It has been phenomenal to finally celebrate the return of the Royal Highland Show, and the attendance figures this year prove that the public felt the same way.

“The success of this very special bicentenary Highland Show is a testament to the hard work of the hundreds of staff and RHASS Directors who work tirelessly to put on this incredible event – one that’s loved equally by the farming community and urban audiences.”

The attendance figure came following the changeover to a new ticketing service which required entry to be purchased on-line and in advance of the event, with no tickets on sale at the gate. This also allowed the show organisers to set an upper limit of 50,000 attendees per day as a safety precaution in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

Giving his full backing to the new system - which had not been without some controversy when it was first introduced - Gray stated: “This is the system now, it’s here to stay.”

And while RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw admitted that more tickets could have been sold for the two most popular days of the show –Friday and Saturday –he said that as well as safety, setting an attendance ceiling was also important to ensure that those attending had a good experience:

“Frankly it is much better if we have 50,000 people attending each day and them all having a good time than having 60,000 complaining that the site is overcrowded.”

And he added that with over 200,000 viewers of the livestreamed online content on RHS TV which offered those who couldn’t make it to the show a strong flavour of the event, the reach of the Royal Highland Show had never been greater.

The show organisers also revealed that they will name their recently created all-weather equestrian ring in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee year.

The ‘Jubilee Ring’ is best known for showjumping events in the showground which every year attracts some of the country’s top horse riders to compete at the show and over the next year a number of native and ornamental trees will be planted around the arena as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative.

Early bird tickets for next year’s show – which will also host the world “Golden Shear” sheep shearing championships - have already gone one sale.

*Those showing cattle and sheep at the Highland show breathed a sigh of relief on Friday night when tests on a suspected case of the highly contagious Foot and Mouth disease in a farm in Norfolk were negative for the disease.