TRAVEL & ADVENTURE: Scot or Not, Experience the 31st Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games

Experience the best of Scotland June 16 & June 17

In Itasca just 49 minutes from Waukegan and 1 hr. from Kenosha


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The largest Scottish cultural organization in North America, the Chicago Scots, is back for the 31st year to provide entertainment and Scottish culture with a modern twist with their annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

The beloved summer celebration takes place Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17 at Hamilton Lakes, 1 Pierce Place in Itasca.

The event is the largest festival of its kind in the Midwest featuring an extravaganza of activities and attractions from the Caber Toss to the Highland Dance to the Dogs of Scotland.

Proceeds benefit Chicago Scots’ two principal charities: the Scottish Home – a haven of expert elder care deeply informed by a century of experience and our new Caledonian House – a unique model of person-centered memory care. This family-friendly event is a chance to explore Scottish culture without having to buy a plane ticket. Enjoy good music, good food and help a great cause.

“Each year we invite participants, whether Scottish by birth, by heritage, or simply by inclination to join us, and each year we are overwhelmed by the response to our festival,” said Gus Noble, president of the Chicago Scots. “We are excited to continue this event in 2017, highlighting 31 years of Scottish arts and entertainment, athletics, and culinary specialties.”

The event attracts more than 10,000 people who experience Scotland’s rich heritage and unique traditions.

Be a part of the action this year as the festival launches Friday with exhibits and vendors open from 1 p.m. – 10 p.m. Highlights include the ever-popular Heavy Athletics Exhibition, the return of the band, Enter the Haggis as the Friday night headliner, Whisky VIP Master Class, Solo Pipe Band Competition, an action-packed kid’s area with mini-golf, balloons, tattoos and mini athletics, and the Heather Queen competition, crowning the 2017 Queen and Court.

The fun continues on Saturday from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Guests will be able to enjoy the thrilling Heavy Athletics including the Caber Toss (with participants flipping 20-foot, 140-pound tree trunk), the 22-pound Hammer Throw, the Sheaf Toss (where athletes launch a bale of hay over a high bar) and the Clachnert (flinging a 16-pound river stone); lively Mid-West Pipe Band Championship competition, the largest pipe band competition in the Midwest with over 20 pipe bands and 300 solo performances of pipers and drummers; Highland Dance competition; an intense Rugby Sevens Highland Challenge; and a Coerver Cup 3v3 youth soccer tournament. The Dogs of Scotland, Highland Cattle, and Clydesdale Horses offer a chance to greet some of Scotland’s cutest furry exports. Genealogy and cultural exhibits provide insight into ancestry to kick start research on the family tree. A Parade of Clan Tartans and attendee competitions British Car Show featuring vintage automobiles, Haggis Hurling Contest for women, Men in Kilts contest, Haggis Eating Contest and Shortbread Contest are also perennial favorites. Little ones may continue to enjoy mini-golf, balloons, tattoos and try mini heavy athletics. Sample Whisky and Spirts tastings will be available for adults to indulge in from various vendors. Dine on traditional Scottish or American cuisine and peruse the Celtic Marketplace. The festivities conclude with the Closing Ceremonies and Massed Bands Show, an exhilarating concert featuring 1,000 bagpipers and drummers performing traditional musical selections including Amazing Grace.

Celtic Rock Stage entertainment for this year includes high energy American Rogues, John Ballantyne’s Crazy Heart, Jon Langford & Robbie Fulks, and Winning Pipe Band.

Ticket Prices:

  • Friday-Children 12 and under are FREE; Adults are $12; Seniors (60+) are $10
  • Saturday– Children under 3 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $8; Adults are $20; Seniors (60+) are $15
  • Two Day Pass – Children under 3 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $5; Adults are $30; Seniors (60+) are $22.50
  • Patron Weekend Pass (Family Friendly)– $200 This two-day pass includes entry into the festival (for 2 adults & 2 children), premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, 16 drink tickets (beer included), and parking passes for both days.
  • Patron Weekend Pass (21 & Over)– $130 This two-day pass includes entry for one individual into the festival, premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, 8 drink tickets (beer included), and parking passes for both days.

The festival is held at Hamilton Lakes, Itasca located at I-290 and Thorndale Avenue. Parking will be available on pavement in parking garages. Parking will be $5 per vehicle for parking on both Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 or guests may purchase a two-day parking pass for $8.For more information, event schedules, competition registration forms or to purchase tickets, visit or call 708.426.7149.


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