Your Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Hawaiian Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Grab your kilt and get your canned haggis fix at the 40th annual event on March 28 and 29.
Update as of March 16, 2020: Organizers have canceled the festival due to concerns over COVID-19. For a running list of other canceled events in the Islands, click here.
Photos: Courtesy of Hawaiian Scottish Association
Am I the only one who’s never had canned haggis? If you’re in the same boat and want to learn more about Scottish history and heritage, head to the Hawaiian Scottish Festival & Highland Games. Hopefully by the end of the event, you’ll have tried the traditional dish and learned a whole lot more about the merging of the Scottish and Hawaiian cultures in the Islands.
What It Is
The festival, organized by the nonprofit Hawaiian Scottish Association, brings together all sectors of the Scottish community in the Islands and even from the Mainland and abroad. Festival organizers say the event celebrates the relationship between Hawai‘i and Scotland forged many decades ago when Scottish businessman Archibald Scott Cleghorn married Princess Miriam Likelike. Their daughter, Princess Victoria Ka‘iulani, was born in 1875.
Catch live entertainment, including sports, song and dance, along with swordplay, weaving and fencing demonstrations, and traditional food and crafts. Learn more about each clan’s heritage by visiting their booths.
When and Where
Head to Jefferson Elementary School, 324 Kapahulu Ave., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29.
How Much It Costs
Entrance to the festival is free and open to the public.
Where to Park
There will be no public parking on the school grounds. Find street parking around the school (Ala Wai Boulevard and Kapahulu Avenue are options). Or park at the Honolulu Zoo for $1.50 per hour for a maximum of four hours.
What to Eat and Buy
Get your shopping on by visiting vendors selling Scottish wear, Celtic clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, housewares, canned haggis (pudding made with the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep or other animal, mixed with beef and other seasonings) and more.
The opening ceremony and parade begin at noon on both days, followed by live entertainment and other cultural demonstrations from local and international groups.
A popular part of the festival is the Highland Games competition, featuring sports such as the caber toss, a complicated event that involves throwing an upright long log; the stone put, similar to the shot put; and hammer throw, in which participants fling a 16- to 22-pound metal ball attached to a shaft. Athletes from around the world, including Canada, the Mainland, Europe and Japan, are expected to complete in the games. For a list of the games, click here. If you’d like to participate, register here. Applications submitted after Feb. 15 will be accepted if there is space available.
Organizers also put on a separate solo bagpiping competition honoring the late Aggie Wallace, a renowned local piper and teacher. The competition will be held on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5 at Bellows Air Force Station in Waimānalo. If you’d like to enter the competition, go here.
For the entertainment schedule, click here. A complete lineup should be posted by the first week of March.
Bring cash just in case your favorite vendors don’t accept cards.
Dress comfortably and bring water.
Bathrooms are located on the school grounds.
Plan your day. The festival typically draws about 5,000 people over two days. Peak times include during the opening ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit hawaiianscottishassociation.org.