Highland Games & Competitions

At the 27th annual ScotsFestival, the competitions will be better than ever! We invite you to witness the very best push themselves to the limit in several categories of Highland Games Athletics, Dancing, Piping, Drumming, Marching, and Darts. The Queen Mary is proud to add two new elements to our Highland Games Athletics in 2020: we will be hosting the North American Light Weight Women's Championships, and also adding the Stones of Strength series to our men's competition schedule. 

North American Professional Male Championship

Returning to the Queen Mary for the second year, the North American Professional Male Championship will be a can’t-miss happening of the weekend. New to the competition schedule in 2020 is the Stones of Strength series. Guests can also look forward to the crowd-pleasing favorites such as the caber toss, throwing the weight, hammer throw, and putting the shot competitions.

North American Lightweight Women’s Championship

On Sunday, February 16, the top lightweight women in United States will be competing in all nine Scottish heavy events to crown the 2020 Champion. This year’s roster includes several current World Record holders, so spectators may even be able to witness these talented women break more records during ScotsFestival!


9:00am Hammer Throw
10:00am Putting the Stone
11:00am Weights for Distance
12:30pm Stones of Strength
1:00pm Weights for Distance
2:00pm Height Events
3:00pm Heavy Events
4:00pm Caber Toss

The athletes are required to lift a number of natural stone boulders onto platforms of varying heights. The competitor who manages to lift all the stones in the fastest time wins – if they fail to lift all the stones, the number of stones and the time taken to load them is recorded.

Perhaps the most recognizable event at any Highland Games is the caber toss. In Gaelic, caber simply means pole, and the objective of the caber toss isn’t about distance, but style and accuracy. The athlete rests the caber against their shoulder while clasping their arms around it. Then they try to lift if off the ground while keeping it perfectly balanced. Once the caber is lifted the athlete begins to run, building momentum, before tossing the caber. Caber toss is judged with the aid of an imaginary clock face on the ground, with the thrower facing the 12 o’clock position. Points are deducted according to the number of degrees that the caber is off from the perfect 12 o’clock mark.

Throwing the weight is divided into two separate categories: throwing for distance (with a 28-pound weight) and throwing for height (with a 56-pound weight). Throwing for distance involves the thrower to grasp the weight in one hand, spin around three times and toss. Tossing for height involves a high jump-style bar, which is raised after each successful attempt. Strength, speed, and coordination are key to successfully compete in throwing the weight.

Originating in the granite mining quarries in Scotland, workers would compete by tossing actual sledgehammers. Although athletes no longer toss hammers, today they use an iron sphere attached to a chain, the goal of the competition remains the same – toss the hammer as far as you can! In the event, the thrower stands with his back to the mark, swings the hammer around his head to gain momentum and then releases it over his shoulder.

Derived from the “stone of strength,” which saw clansmen compete in tossing stones for distance, putting the shot is an excellent test of strength. With weights weighing anywhere from 16-to-22-pounds, athletes would lift the stone in one hand in front of their shoulders, run to gain momentum and release.


Similar to the weight toss, the sheaf toss consists of competitors using a pitchfork to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar. Each competitor has three chances to toss the sheaf cleanly over the bar without touching it and the bar is raised after each round.