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All roads lead to the Highland Gathering

Highland Gathering festivities start at McLachlan Park on Friday night at 7-15pm, when the spot lights shine on the Scottish Ceilidh (concert) in the park – a night of Scottish entertainment down by the river. File pic: Lynne Mowbray

The Maclean showground will come alive with pipers, drummers, dancers and the battle of Highland sport competitors on Easter Saturday, April 15.
Easter means many things to many different people, but to Maclean it means the Highland gathering when competitors and tourists hit all roads that lead to the Clarence Valley to celebrate the annual Maclean Scottish event.
Did you know that Maclean can trace its traditional Highland gathering back to 1893 and that the first event was held on the picturesque Maclean showground in 1894? This old festival experienced some stops and starts during the first and second world wars, but following 1948 the event has taken place annually.
For many, one of the most memorable sights of this Scottish event would have to be the massed bands at the close of the day, when hundreds of pipers and drummers from different groups, come together to play and march in unison.
No other town can showcase this spectacular sight better than Maclean as viewed from the hilltop grandstand at the showground. The sight, sound and panoramic view set cameras clicking, as some 600 kilted competitors come together in one massive display, as the afternoon sun sets over the ground.
Highland dancers also give dazzling displays of fancy footwork in Scottish dances, such as the sword dance and the famous Highland fling. The Maclean Highland Gathering is renowned for the quality of its Highland dancing, drawing in the best performers from around Australia and beyond.
The event also attracts top solo pipers and drummers who compete in a range of levels, all reaching for top titles; but only the best of the best pipers can claim the McSwan gold, silver and bronze medals.
These highly sought after titles will climax at the piping centre on Friday night at the Maclean civic hall. The battle of the big men with their infectious energy will leave you in high spirits and wanting more, as they compete in a range of Highland sports on Saturday at the showground.
Over the years more and more women are taking up the challenge in Highland sport and the programme offers women most of the big boys’ events.
The gathering starts on Friday afternoon at the showground, when competitors do battle in solo piping and drummers compete in a range of grades, from beginners to complex Piobaireachd, which is considered to be the classical music of the bagpipes. The senior solo contest moves into the civic hall on Friday night when the doors will open at 6pm.
McLachlan Park is another venue on Friday night at 7-15pm, when the spot lights are turned on for a Scottish Ceilidh (concert) in the park. This is a night of entertainment offering a range of Scottish activities down by the river.
On Easter Saturday morning at 8.30am, the action moves into the Maclean CBD centre, to start the day with bands on parade. Thousands of spectators line the street to witness this moving sight of colour and sound as the bands parade in band formation.
The gates at the showground swing open at 7.30am to prepare for a full day of activities following the street parade.
Maclean over this Easter weekend is a place not to miss, as the town celebrates its 113th Scottish festival.