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New Highland Games Centre in Braemar nears completion


A new, purpose-built Highland Games Centre at Braemar in the Highlands will open to the public in Spring 2019, exploring the history of Highland Games around the world.

Prince Charles, who is known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, has given his name to the new Highland Games Heritage Centre, which will be known as The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion.

Completion of the new £2.2 million project was marked when Her Majesty The Queen unveiled a plaque during her annual visit - along with The Duke of Rothesay and The Princess Royal -  to the Braemar Gathering at the start of September. 

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Michael Harris, an architectural designer at The Prince’s Foundation, said: “It has been an honour to design a building for the Braemar Royal Highland Society, whose rich history is reflected by the annual Braemar Gathering. We hope for The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion to become a landmark venue for locals and visitors alike to understand and feel the culture of the Highland Games for generations to come.”

Exploring 200 years of Highland Games

Alongside the main exhibition hall, the new centre incorporates:

  • a gallery
  • archive rooms 
  • offices for the Society
  • a café and gift shop

The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavillion will not only tell the story of Royal links to Braemar but of Highland Games across the world. The project has been generously supported by a number of donors including Iwan and Manuela Wirth, Irene Kauffman, James Milne of The Balmoral Group, and Baxters of Speyside. Recruitment of staff has already begun and Louise Kelly has been appointed as the visitor centre manager.

Robert Lovie of The Prince's Foundation said: "The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion will offer visitors to Braemar from around the world the opportunity throughout the year to immerse themselves in Highland Games history. The collection of artefacts and items is really impressive and is sure to prove a big draw for those with an interest in Highland Games as well as act as an informative resource for those who are not as familiar with traditional highland sports."

Highland Games exhibits

Exhibits will include paraphernalia from Highland Games and Gatherings, such as medals and trophies, and partner The Scottish Tartans Authority will also contribute to the collection. It is hoped that the building will represent a valuable resource for organisers of Highland Games across the world.

David Geddes, President of Braemar Royal Highland Society, said “For the last seven years, we have worked towards developing The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion. HRH The Prince of Wales became interested in the project and had a vision of how he wanted the building to look and, through Michael Harris, we have a fantastic new design that I love.

“The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion includes a new office for the society to call home. I’ve been president for the past five years and it’s been my ambition to see this through and I’m delighted it’s happening during my spell as president. I think it’s great for the future of the Highland Games. We have 200 years of history on paper and in photographs, and an archive accessible by the public will house all that. The new pavilion will allow us to tell the world the story of the Braemar Highland Gathering and the wider Highland Games circuit.

“I feel The Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion will be a major boost to tourism in Deeside. It is the type of attraction that is sadly lacking around here and will hopefully attract more people, including coach trips touring the area.”

The centre, which has gained favour from villagers and the backing of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, will also provide a new headquarters for the Braemar Royal Highland Society. It has been built in the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park, home to the Braemar Gathering since the early 1900s, with the design influenced by the setting of the venue in the Cairngorms National Park and the traditional architecture found around the venue and the village of Braemar itself.

Construction of the first purpose-built centre of its kind has been supported by The Duke of Rothesay, who has driven the project through his newly-established charity The Prince's Foundation.

For more information, visit the Braemar Gathering website.

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