Not least will be Scotland’s largest outdoor event, the Royal Highland Show, which will celebrate its 200th anniversary next year. We know from ticket sales for all our events that there is a palpable demand for a return to big events – but of course, we can’t simply go back to the way things were pre-pandemic.
Changes have been thoughtfully designed, planned and tested to ease any worries that people may have around attending events of this scale, and of course the safety of attendees and staff is the priority for us and event organisers.
For example, we are focusing on key safety elements for the RHS next year – including the creation of safe seating areas and set capacities on attendance, which will reduce queuing, pinch points and crowded areas. We are confident that those heading to the Showground next year will feel safe and happy doing so, with Ingliston’s picturesque and expansive outdoor space providing plenty of room.
Livestreaming has developed hugely over the last year, and while it does go some way towards reuniting audiences, it cannot compare with the coming together experienced at in-person events. We held our own livestreamed event, the Royal Highland Showcase, last June, successfully attracting over 400,000 viewers from over 100 countries to watch 252 hours of livestreamed footage over the week-long event. It beamed the Show experience into homes around the world, and only added to the appetite for the return of the full Show in 2022.
What we have missed most about live events is undoubtedly the feeling of coming together for a shared experience – there truly is nothing like singing along to your favourite song alongside hundreds of other people, or standing ringside as a procession of mighty Clydesdale horses canters past. It is these kinds of tangible experiences that bring people together – indeed, one of the main things the RHS is known for its positive impact of mental health, allowing people to catch up with friends they might only see once a year.
When attending an event, you’re not just supporting the event itself – every large event has an army of people behind it working their hardest to create an incredible experience for attendees. There’s an entire supply chain, employee livelihoods, not to mention the small and local businesses that depend on these events to survive.
So, as you think about what may lie ahead in 2022, be sure it is not only visitors that are missing events - organisers miss hosting them, too! There is nothing like the satisfaction we experience come the end of June, reflecting on another successful Show and tens of thousands of happy visitors.
If you’re thinking about attending the 2022 Royal Highland Show, early bird tickets are being released via royalhighlandshow.org from Friday 3rd December. Giving the gift of an experience this Christmas will be all the more special as we come together to share the excitement of a live event - but be quick, we’re anticipating a sell-out Show!
Mark Currie, Operations Director, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland