IT is the spot where some of Scotland’s most important decisions are made.
But in 1822, the site now occupied by the Scottish Parliament played host to a vastly different kind of bartering as farmers gathered with their livestock at the first ever Royal Highland Show.
A far cry from its humble roots in a field at the bottom of the Canongate, organisers of the agricultural show are now celebrating the 175th event – and the 55th at its permanent home at the Royal Highland Centre.
Starting next Thursday and running through to the Sunday, the show will provide a weekend of top-class exhibitors, entertainment, stalls and activities for the whole family.
From farmers to foodies and show jumping fans to shopaholics, the show promises to have something for everyone – and last year more than 178,000 visitors could testify to that.
So, here are some of the highlights on offer this year so you don’t miss out on anything you want to see.
This year sees the launch of Scotland’s Larder Live! Showcasing the diverse range of quality Scottish farmed produce, it will be a live, experiential food show. The Cookery Theatre will have a theatrical element, with chefs being challenged to whip up a dish against the clock. There will be hundreds of products on sale, from Orkney artisan cheese to botanical infused gin from Angus.
The show’s big attraction is without doubt the livestock, with more than 5000 of the finest cattle, sheep, goats, horses and poultry heading for the showground over the four-day event. Other furry friends entertaining and enticing show-goers include Elite Falconry, the Sealpin Gundogs and Fife Foxhounds.
All the forestry industry action in one specialised location – chainsaw carving, axe throwing, timber shifting, handsaw skills, horse-logging and pole climbing.
It’s the largest equestrian show in Scotland with almost 3000 horses and ponies competing in classes for light and heavy horses, private driving, heavy horse turnouts, harness and grooming plus top-class show jumping. It offers 38 categories of equine sections and classes. More than 2200 riders are expected to compete over the four days and there’s a top prize fund of £45,000.
This year, more than 30,000 children are expected to visit to take part in the free interactive activities for school groups and the public at the Education Centre. The centre will be split into two sections – one focusing on food with cooking, cheese tasting and seafood sampling on the menu; the other focusing on farming where children can learn about livestock, cereals and can take part in two soil-based activities.
The show offers a unique “high street” experience for all visitors, offering everything from luxury fashions, arts and crafts to home and garden accessories. Visitors will have the chance to pick up the latest country styles or take home a piece of rural life.
ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY
With its own loch and some stunning landscaping, The Countryside Area features trade stands, demonstrations and events reflecting a wide range of country sports, activities and rural skills.
Plenty of sheep shearing action in the purpose-built MacRobert Theatre facility, which has previously hosted the “Golden Shears” World Championships.
From ceilidh to country, traditional pipes and drums to traditional jazz, there is a full programme of entertainment at various locations across the showground.
• For tickets, visit www.royalhighlandshow.org.uk.