I have a deeply felt love for my Scottish heritage. My recent obsession with Ancestry.com has confirmed what my Grandfather always told me, I am about 150% Scottish. Much debate has raged in my family over tartans and family names, but all of it is born out of love for our thistle-covered homeland. A few years ago, I discovered that I was not alone in this love. An entire festival exists for the anglophile in all of us.
The annual ScotsFestival and International Highland Games XXIII arrives at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California just in time for Valentine's Day. The perfect start to a romantic weekend, enjoy the festivities February 13-14, 9am-6pm. Make sure to get there in time for the Grand Parade of Clans and Bands and the traditional address to the Haggis. For those unfamiliar with haggis, it's not for the faint of heart, and well worth an official ceremony.
Buy your sweetheart a token of your love from the many vendors. You'll have your choice of handmade Celtic jewelry, clothing, instruments and arts. Not your style? Visit the weapons shop and peruse a wide array of swords, battle-axes, and claymores. Both decorative and weapon grade models are available. Nothing says love like a weapons grade dirk.
Is it time to introduce your love to the family? ScotsFestival provides a host of clan and tartan experts that will help you trace your family names and lineage. Discover your tartan and talk about your family history with the many knowledgeable guides. You can walk right out and buy a tartan skirt, scarf or other adornment from the festival vendors.
Finally, settle back and enjoy an ale and meat pie from the food tent while watching the hammer throw or caber toss. The sheepherding demonstrations will remind you of exactly how poorly trained your own dog is. Performances by the Royal Scottish Dance Society and Celtic Harp and Wren Iniquity Ensemble are just a few of the artists to set the mood for the day.
Whatever your preference, ceremony, shopping, battle, or music, you'll find it at ScotsFestival. Stay overnight at the Queen Mary; packages are available at http://queenmary.com/events/scotsfestival/. Don't skip the ship's ghost tour, well worth your time for any amateur ghost hunters. Overall, the festival offers a celebration of all things Celtic, and the special events such as whiskey and beer tastings make an excellent addition to the day.
Tickets to ScotsFestival are on sale now. Tickets start at $10 online for ages 4-11 and $19 online for guests 12 and over. VIP tickets and hotel packages are also available. Visit http://queenmary.com/events/scotsfestival/ for more details and to purchase tickets online.