More than a quarter of a million people from all around the world watched a virtual highland games recorded in Aberdeenshire.
Due to the pandemic, mass outdoor gatherings like highland games were cancelled all across Scotland this summer – including the Braemar Highland Games, which was due to take place earlier this month.
To keep the spirit of the games alive, a series of track, dancing, piping and heavy events were recorded behind closed doors on the grounds of the Braemar Gathering on August 29.
The footage was combined with recordings of hill race and tug of war competitions to create a full day of online programming on September 12, and offer a “virtual audience from across the world a taste of a day out at a highland games”.
The event was opened by the Duke of Rothesay, who visited the Braemar arena to film on August 29.
And in the first 48 hours of going live, the virtual games attracted more than 250,000 views.
The project was put together through a partnership between Braemar Gathering organisers the Braemar Royal Highland Society, the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA), Aberdeenshire Council, Visit Aberdeenshire and Event Scotland.
David Geddes, the president of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, said: “This was a great team effort and I have to commend and thank those who came together at short notice to work towards Saturday’s event.
“Plans were only hatched in July when we came out of lockdown, and there were a number of times due to changes in local guidance and rules that we weren’t sure if we would be allowed to film at the end of August.
“However, our luck held out and we had a great day of filming. with everyone very conscious of being socially distanced.
“I must admit it was a very strange atmosphere in the grounds where normally we would expect over 16,000 people on a games day.
“The stands were empty and the silence very noticeable.
“We are extremely grateful for all the support we have had from the competitors and athletes involved and from our Kindred Gatherings of Aboyne, Ballater and Lonach.
“Along with the SHGA and the other partners, they have helped to push this event out across the country and world, helping to keep the focus on Highland Games and to let folk know we are still here, and that visitors should consider adding a visit to one or two of the games that go on across Scotland to their plans for 2021.
“We are also very grateful to his Royal Highness the Duke of Rothesay who attended the opening ceremony as Patron of the SHGA, lending his and the Royal Family’s support both on the day of filming and over the weekend to the virtual event.”