I went to the Royal Highland Show for the first time - and it's like Glastonbury for farmers

The 2024 Royal Highland Show ran from 20-23 June at Ingliston near Edinburgh.

It’s mid-June and I find myself in a field, wondering if it’s going to rain and pondering whether now is the time to join a queue for a (hopefully) decent toilet. But I’m not at one of the many summer music festivals, I’m at my first ever Royal Highland Show. Running for over 200 years, the Royal Highland Show is a staple in the farming calendar but it’s also enjoyed by everyone, regardless of a rural background. The first Royal Highland Show was held in 1822 on a site that is now home to the Scottish Parliament. Today, it is Scotland's biggest outdoor event attended by 200,000 people per year. Run by the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), it is regarded as one of Europe's best agribusiness shows.

Before going for the first time, all I’d heard was good things from people I mentioned to. It’s a great day out for all the family, there’s so much to do and you’ll never believe the size of it were just a few things said before I made my way to the site in Ingliston early on the morning of Thursday 20 June.

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First off, it is massive, and despite having attended Connect Festival a couple of times, it takes me a while to get my bearings after getting off the shuttle bus at the East Gate. There’s over 1,000 exhibitors, about 6,000 livestock and up to 217,000 visitors. It’s like Glastonbury for farmers.

Over the course of the weekend 327 prestigious trophies were awarded to the likes of exceptional contributions to the world of livestock breeding, sheep shearing and horse showing; over 6,000 livestock were welcomed, including 2,500 competitors from across the UK, and visitors from as far afield as Australia and Argentina; and over 800 exhibitors, stretching across food, drink, clothing, artisanal crafts and agri-trade were in attendance. There was also live music, including the Royal Highland Hoolie after the Show on Friday and Saturday. Presented by legendary country music promoters, Farmers Bash, the event brought together eight live folk and country music acts, including Tide Lines, Derek Ryan and Nathan Evans.

Scran Live podcast at the Royal Highland Show 2024Scran Live podcast at the Royal Highland Show 2024
Scran Live podcast at the Royal Highland Show 2024 | National World

From seeing cows, sheep and goats up close (something I’ve not done since I was a child living in Fife) to meeting and chatting to many of Scotland’s food and drink producers, as well as taking part in our first Scran Live podcast, my first Royal Highland Show was a great success that I thoroughly enjoyed. You might not be able to rely on the weather, which given it’s summer in Scotland  can be changeable - but you can rely on good food, plenty to keep you entertained and really nice toilets.

Having run successfully for over two centuries, the Royal Highland Show remains the biggest fundraising event for RHASS, Scotland’s leading agricultural charity. Super early-bird tickets for the 2025 Show are now on-sale. You can buy tickets online now.

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