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Another event borrowed from the Gael is the ceilidh, pronounced “kay-lay”. Literally meaning a visit, the word has come to mean not just a gathering in a house for the purposes of song and storytelling, but now any Scottish musical entertainment.

During the Summer months several hotels arrange Scottish evenings which allow the visitor to taste Scottish fare and enjoy the national music and dance. At weddings and gatherings, it is still tradition to wear the kilt and to include a ceilidh band and Scottish country dancing.

Scots culture also includes a strong tradition of poetry and folk music which includes both farming songs, often called bothy ballads and work songs relating to spinning, whaling, fishing and other trades.

The Border ballads, of impressive power and dramatic imagery, are yet another traditional music (or literary) category, stemming from the centuries of warfare and raiding along the Scottish-English border.

Today Scotland continues to have a major influence in both classical and popular music and its own national ballet, opera and orchestra. Traditional folk, fiddle and jazz music can often be heard in pubs and wine bars - check locally for listings.


Between May and September, a programme of Highland Games and Gatherings is held across Scotland. It is said these Games owe their origins to tests of strength and skill set by Highland chiefs recruiting for their personal entourage. The Games were later promoted and updated by various "Caledonian Societies" which were founded in the 19th century. Today they provide a unique mix of athletic skills, in such events as tossing the caber (pronounced kay-ber meaning, literally a pole) and throwing the hammer, together with displays of pipe bands and Highland dancing.

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