Counting down to the Highland Show - Bill Gray

After what feels like a lifetime of waiting, the countdown is well and truly on to welcome visitors through the gates this Thursday to celebrate the bicentenary year of the Royal Highland Show.

It’s been a challenging three years for everyone but I, and the rest of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) team who organise the show, are over the moon to once again be showcasing the best of Scottish rural life – especially since 2022 marks 200 years since the first ever show took place!

The best livestock are returning to the judging rings, while we have over 800 trade stands offering a premium mix of food, shopping, and gifts. Plus, a full programme of music, demonstrations and exhibitions will keep you and the family entertained all day long.

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Shopping sprees aside, the thing I and Scotland’s farming community have missed most is simply the chance to come together for a quick catch up, a ringside chat or a shared laugh in the stock lines.

This year marks the Royal Highland Show’s 200th anniversary and the first full show at Ingliston since 2019, pictured above.

Never before has the show been so badly needed as a space for connection. Ask any farmer what they like best about it and chances are they’ll say the opportunity to reunite with old friends they only see once a year at the showground. Since a full show hasn’t taken place since 2019, it’s clear to see why everyone is looking forward to getting back!

But of course, you don’t need to be a farmer to enjoy the Highland Show – every year countless new visitors are amazed at what they can get up to. And with accompanied kids aged 15 and under going free, there’s no better opportunity for curious young minds to engage with where their food comes from.

Thinking in business terms, the value of the Highland Show to the economy cannot be underestimated – it delivered £65 million to the Scottish economy in 2017, but today that figure is expected to be closer to £80m. Add this to the £8m spent on shopping over the four days and it’s clear to see the show is a vital platform for businesses, who travel from across the UK to attend.

Whether it’s getting up close and personal with a Highland cow, finding a new favourite delicacy in the food hall or entertaining the wee ones at the Discovery Centre, there truly is something for everyone. Watch meticulous show prep taking place, with competitors washing, blow drying (yep, that’s right!), brushing and preening their sheep, cattle, goats or horses.

Exciting things are planned to celebrate the bicentenary, like a fantastic Big Wheel, new interactive Kids Zone, revamped Scotland’s Larder food and drink hall, and a special edition bicentenary gin on sale.

In short, there’s no better place to get to know the people who make up the fabric of our country and re-connect with the rural sector which has shaped it. So, chat to artisan producers about how they make their cheese, or farmers about how they polish up their animals for show day – I guarantee they’ll be happy to tell you all about it.

Bittersweetly, this will be my last show as Chairman, but despite the incredibly challenging circumstances I am proud to see that we have come back stronger than ever for 2022 and beyond. And if you’ve never visited the show before, join us next week as the countryside comes to the city and the country’s best is put on show – trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

On behalf of the society and everyone working behind the scenes of the show, it’s so great to have you back – we wish you a fantastic experience and look forward to seeing you again in many more years to come.

Head to royalhighlandshow.org to book tickets, which must be bought in advance, and find out more.

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