With massive crowds expected at the biggest country event of the year, Ilona Amos has the low-down on the Royal Highland Show, which opens this week
Around 200,000 visitors and 6,000 animals will flock to Edinburgh from across the UK and beyond to attend this year’s Royal Highland Show.
Now celebrating its 178th outing, it’s the place to see and be seen for anyone with an interest the countryside. The annual extravaganza generates around £65 million a year for the Scottish economy.
With more than 1,000 trade exhibitors displaying everything from the latest hi-tech tractors to outdoor clothing and luxury goods, it showcases the best of farming, food and rural life.
More than 6,000 animals will be on site for a massive array of classes and demonstrations. All will be vying for the ultimate prize – to be crowned 2018’s show champion.
Whether it’s mat-weaving, helping construct an Iron Age roundhouse or learning wilderness survival skills, there are plenty of opportunities for spectators to get their hands dirty. Visitors can also enjoy demonstrations of arts such as sheep-shearing, fly fishing, falconry and ferret-handling, and can watch craftsmen build a boat from scratch.
This year’s event sees a major focus on Scottish food and drink, with appearances from some of the country’s leading chefs and producers.
The show is also marking Scotland’s Year of Young People, featuring the youngest judge ever selected to take part – 21-year-old cattle farmer Laura Green. Two students from East Lothian have been chosen for the task of deciding the best ice-cream in show.
Ministers and officials from Holyrood and Westminster will also be in attendance, giving members of the public an opportunity to find out in person what is being done for Scotland’s rural sector.
There will also be a chance to meet a true celebrity – a Scottish Blackface sheep named Emily, chosen as ‘the face’ of 2018’s show.
SCOTLAND’S LARDER LIVE
This is ‘the’ destination for all foodies, offering a great opportunity to sample some of the best food and drink being created around the country. Discover artisan producers and enjoy tasty treats from hundreds of exhibitors celebrating food provenance and seasonality.
The Cookery Theatre offers live demonstrations, tastings and talks, with appearances from award-winning chefs including Neil Forbes of Edinburgh’s Cafe St Honore, Tom Lewis of Monachyle Mhor in Balquhidder and Paul Newman of Errichel House in Aberfeldy.
Producers will also go head to head in the hope of scooping gold in the cheese, butter, ice-cream and bread categories.
Thousands of animals will be competing in all manner of classes over the four-day event.
Organisers are expecting an exceptional display of livestock, with more than 6,000 entries across all sections. Almost 1,200 cattle, more than 2,000 sheep and 2,000 horses and ponies will be there, along with goats and poultry.
A packed programme of music and entertainment features everything from pop to pipes, ceilidhs to choirs and a well-known voice or two.
Highlights include: Marty Mone, Opera Bohemia, West Lothian Schools Pipe Band, North Sea Gas, Revival Blues Band, Erskine Stewart Melville Pipe Band, City of Edinburgh Music School, Artie Trezise Kids Show, Vardo Gypsy Swing, Duncan Black Ceilidh Band, Broxburn & Livingston Brass Band, Uddingston & Strathclyde Pipe Band, National Youth Choir of Scotland and the Farmers and Farmers Wives Choir.
13TH AVENUE ARCADE
This is the shopaholic’s paradise, with everything from fashion, art, jewellery, garden accessories and homeware to choose from.
This popular event offers a display of the country’s finest cattle. If you can’t tell a Belted Galloway from a Belgian Blue this is your chance to learn.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Visitors can get up close to the animals and handlers and watch as they prepare for their big moment in the ring.
HEAVY HORSE TURNOUTS
The sound of thundering hooves is all part of the experience as Clydesdales and other work horses are driven around the main ring.
Watch as things hot up in the battle to be crowned the country’s top horse-shoer as competitors go head to head in the Scottish Open Farriery Championships.
Move over Andy Murray, and make way for a sport with a difference – here you can witness attempts to break records in the Scottish Pole Climbing and Utility Pole Climbing Championships.
Set by its very own loch and surrounded by stunning landscaping, the Countryside Area showcases a wide range of sports, activities and rural skills. Check out some of the country’s finest woodcutters as they demonstrate their prowess with a chainsaw.
The Discovery Centre offers an education programme for children of all ages, including cooking workshops, live demonstrations and lots more. Highlights include the Tram Trail Bingo Challenge, with an iPad up for grabs for the luck winner. School groups can sign up to take part.
The showground is open from 7.30am to 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from 7.30am to 6pm on Sunday.
A full-price adult day ticket costs £24 in advance or £29 at the gate. Parking costs £8 in advance or £10 on the day. Children aged up to 15 get in free when accompanied by a paying adult, and group discounts are available.
Book online at https://royal highlandshow.ticketsrv.co.uk.
Details of how to get to the show are available on the Royal Highland Show website, with information on buses, trains, trams – see www.royalhighlandshow.org.
The showground is at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh, EH28 8NB. For other enquiries phone 0131 335 6200 or email ShowDept@rhass.org.uk.s