2001 Inverness Highland Games Review - Source: Inverness Highland Courier, July 24th 2001

The Highland Council, the Royal Air Force and the citizens of Inverness ensured that the 2001 (newly named) "CITY OF Inverness Highland Games" were a wonderful celebration of the granting of City Status to the Highland Capital. The biggest party the Highlands has ever seen started with the Trooping of the New Colours of the 1st Battallion The Highlanders through Inverness High Street and outside the Town House on the Eve of the Games, Thursday 19th July 2001. It really was a magnificent sight to see the Highlanders marching proudly through their home City and a crowd of around 2000 roared their approval.

After 180 years of being a one day event, Friday July 20th saw the first ever Children's Day and the opening of the huge Royal Air Force Exhibition that was sited at Bught Park. An estimated 12,000 spectators attended the Children's Day which featured spectacular flying Displays by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Tucano Display Team, RAF Falcon's Parachute Display Team and Aerobatics Pilot Jim McTaggart (one of Scotland's top civilian pilots).

For many folk the highlight of the opening day was the sight of the veteran Lancaster Bomber flying over Inverness. One of only two remaining airworthy Lancasters in the World, it was a moving and memorable experience to see her and thousands of folk stopped whatever they were doing for miles around to watch her pass with more than a few with a tear in their eyes. The Highland Council, the Royal Air Force and the citizens of Inverness ensured that the 2001 (newly named) "CITY OF Inverness Highland Games" were a wonderful celebration of the granting of City Status to the Highland Capital.

The biggest party the Highlands has ever seen started with the Trooping of the New Colours of the 1st Battallion The Highlanders through Inverness High Street and outside the Town House on the Eve of the Games, Thursday 19th July 2001. It really was a magnificent sight to see the Highlanders marching proudly through their home City and a crowd of around 2000 roared their approval.

After 180 years of being a one day event, Friday July 20th saw the first ever Children's Day and the opening of the huge Royal Air Force Exhibition that was sited at Bught Park. An estimated 12,000 spectators attended the Children's Day which featured spectacular flying Displays by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Tucano Display Team, RAF Falcon's Parachute Display Team and Aerobatics Pilot Jim McTaggart (one of Scotland's top civilian pilots).

For many folk the highlight of the opening day was the sight of the veteran Lancaster Bomber flying over Inverness. One of only two remaining airworthy Lancasters in the World, it was a moving and memorable experience to see her and thousands of folk stopped whatever they were doing for miles around to watch her pass with more than a few with a tear in their eyes.

Tradition normally dictates that a Highland Games must have a Chieftain, but the first Inverness Children's Games decided to have a Queen instead and 15 year old Hannah McLaughlan who did her City proud. The RAF Falcon's Parachute Display Team were presented to Hannah after their display and were delighted to receive a kiss instead of the handshake they received the following day.

The next morning, Saturday July 21 saw an estimated 5000 attend spectacular displays by the RAF Red Arrows and RAF Tucano Display Teams at Inverness Airport. Tucano Pilot Steve Simpson Flight Lieutenant Steve Simpson served up an exciting display of solo aerobatics to start the Show at the Airport much to the delight of the crowd. Then the 9 man Red Arrows Team took to the skies and delighted the crowd with a spectacular 20 minutes display of heart stopping formation flying. Flying at 400 miles per hour a mere 8 feet apart, the team produced a faultless display that did the Royal Air Force proud. They were quite simply magnificent men in their flying machines. 40 minutes later, the attention had switched to Bught Park Stadium as the Opening Ceremony got underway with the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team flying into the Stadium proudly flying the flags of the Inverness Games and our Sister Games, the Triad Games, in North Carolina U.S..A.

After the flags were presented to our Games Chieftain, Provost William Smith, the Falcons rushed off to fly off to their next display in Switzerland later that day. The Royal British Legion Pipes and Drums Band then led the Highland Dancers into the arena for the Opening Ceremony and after the playing of the Inverness Gathering a packed crowd settled down to enjoy a magnificent afternoon's entertainment in the company of Guest of Honour Tom Mackenzie.

86 year old Tom was retiring after over 50 years service to the Inverness Games as both judge and Clerk of the Course and there was thunderous applause as he was presented to the crowd by commentator Colin Baillie. In the Heavy Events David Horne had a memorable day in the field and there were so many exciting battles going on all over the field in the track and field events that the afternoon simply sped by and a good time was had by all.

Large crowds gathered to enjoy the Highland Dancing and Piping Competitions throughout the day and the new Traditional Music Marquee was a huge success with Moray Firth Radio's Andy Ross recording the show for the enjoyment of his listeners the following day. With sunny weather and free admission to all the attractions in Bught Park making this a perfect day for locals, nobody will ever really know how many folk attended the City of Inverness Highland Games in 2001.

However those folk who estimate that between 25-30,000 turned out in the sunshine to enjoy the show wont be far wrong. The 2001 Games were quite simply the biggest, the most spectacular and at times the most moving Highland Games ever staged in the Highlands and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life to simply be there.

Roll on 2002 !