The Livonia Highland Games: A tradition 169 years in the making

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Livonia, Michigan on a hot August day may seem like a far cry from the rolling Highlands of Scotland, but if you find yourself there, you’ll be in for the time of your life— Celtic style. This year marks the 169th annual Livonia Highland Games, hosted by the St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit in Greenmead Historical Park in Livonia, Michigan.

The traditional Highland Games are held all over Scotland, with the biggest and most infamous being held in Dunoon, Scotland. The origin of these games predates recorded history but evidence has shown them occurring as early as the 11th century. They were originally intended as a show and competition of strength amongst the different clans of Scotland, but since their inception the Highland Games have grown and spread around the world.

The Livonia Highland Games kick off on August 4 with a traditional Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), which includes a kick off party and concert. There’s food and plenty of beverages to announce the beginning of the games. The actual games start the next day, Saturday, August 5. The games include tug-o-war, Highland dancing, the stone put (which resembles the modern day shot put), the infamous caber toss and many more. They begin at 8:30 am and end at 4:30 pm, followed by the closing ceremonies.

Morgan Weber, a Michigan State alumni, was a patron of the games last year. “It’s a very positive, upbeat experience. Everyone is very proud of their heritage and enjoys celebrating it with others. I’ve never been to a place where everyone represented a different clan, but acted together as one family. Also there was always something to do, whether it be for adults or kids. I didn’t spend a single second bored. It’s truly a wonderful place and experience!”

So, if you’re looking for a taste of another culture this summer without leaving the Mitten, check out the 169th Annual Livonia Highland Games!

In order to attend the games and other events, tickets must be purchased in advance, as very few will be available at the gate on the day of. For more event information, visit:


Em McCullough is a senior studying professional writing and environmental studies and sustainability. She’s a member of the MSU Women’s Water Polo team and works for the Journal for the Study of Radicalism. On a normal day, you can find her with a book in hand, cat on her lap, drinking a cup of tea. You can follow her cat on Instagram @bennetthecat.


Tags: em mccullough, fun, highland games, livonia, Summer