The fifth Kirkcaldy Beach Highland Games are back this Saturday – weather permitting – and this year the event looks to be bigger and better than ever.
After last year’s waterfront spectacular, drawing around 3000 to the town, organisers are looking to build on that success.
This weekend’s event kicks off at 10.30am and will once again see the annual Scottish Highland Games staged on the beach opposite the town’s leisure centre – believed to be one of only two such events staged anywhere in the world.
And it is expected to feature all the traditional favourites including heavyweights, athletes, cyclists and Highland dancers, as well as a pipe band parade.
This year will also be the second year that bike race demonstrations will be held on the sand, sponsored by Leslie Bike Shop.
Organised by Kirkcaldy4All, the BID company set up to promote the town centre, the games will also feature many stalls for locals to browse along the waterfront. The event is free to watch.
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The day is scheduled to kick off with a parade led by Fife Provost Jim Leishman, who will officially open the event, and Leven and District Pipe Band along the storm road from opposite Volunteers Green, followed by the official opening at 10.45am.
There will then be a full programme of professional Highland dancing, races, and traditional heavy events down on the beach. Children will be invited to participate in kids’ races on the sands.
With the obvious tide restrictions in mind, the games are expected to finish at around 1.30pm.
Christine May, of Kirkcaldy4All, said: “The number of stalls has grown – we now have 30 booked which is significantly more than in previous years. We have very good entries for the athletics and the heavies.
“The beach bikes, which did a demonstration last year, are coming to race this year with the prize money.
“In this year’s parade we will be joined by local Scouts, dancers, dignitaries and the public – who are also invited.
“The parade will leave at the memorial plaque at the seawall opposite Volunteers Green at 10.20am.”
She added: “We’re watching the forecast carefully, and if it’s wet, dancers will perform in The Mercat. Events on beach and stalls on Prom as normal.”
The first Beach Highland Games took place on Kirkcaldy’s waterfront on Saturday, August 15, 2015.
The idea of Kirkcaldy as the location for the first Beach Highland Games has its origins as far back as 30 years ago; when at that time, training partners Don Campbell from Lochgelly and Andrew Bowie from Kirkcaldy discussed the possibility during many training sessions on the beach.
Then, in 2011, when the pair met up again, the topic of the games came up and by this time Andrew had established a thriving business in Kirkcaldy and Don had moved into the administration side of the Highland and Border games which covers over 30 games every summer from Braemar to Tobermory via central Scotland/Fife and the Borders.
During their initial conversation, Andrew was able to advise that Kirkcaldy ‘Prom and Beach’ were shortly undergoing a massive upgrade and after that would be the time to highlight the new waterfront complex at its finest. Both the guys spoke early with Kirkcaldy4All members, who fully embraced the concept.
Speaking at the time, Don Campbell said: “Kirkcaldy is the perfect location for a Beach Highland Games with its long sandy waterfront and natural viewing area from the promenade. “The only other Highland Games in the world held on a beach are in Australia, so this will be an exciting unique event.”
Bill Harvey, manager at Kirkcaldy4All, added: “This event has been putting Kirkcaldy on the map over the last few years as Europe’s one-and-only Beach Highland Games.
“Events like these rely on the support of local residents so I’d encourage everyone to come on down to the beach on Saturday and enjoy the fun, set against the backdrop of the Firth of Forth.
“It will be an action-packed day but we ask spectators to bear in mind the day’s schedule is dependent on tide times and the weather, so please keep an eye on our social media for the most up-to-date information.”
>> Kirkcaldy Beach Highland Games takes place on Saturday starting at 10.30am and finishing at 1.30pm.