2021 International Clan Gathering and Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

North Carolina, USA

Visit the new USA Branch website for more information: click here for the latest information

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An update message from The Chief

[Quoted extract from his email 26 April 2020] "This is to let you all know that the Board of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games met yesterday and decided to cancel the 2020 Games because of the Coronavirus.  They have offered us the chance to slip our presence as Honoured Clan to the 2021 Games instead and I have accepted.  The dates will be Thursday 8 July - Sunday 11 July 2021.  Our next International Clan Gathering will also move to those dates so that it coincides with Grandfather Mountain.

Please get in touch if you are intending to go.

Thanks for submitting!

An update will be published to reflect that the 2020 Clan Gathering is postponed to 2021

Clan Matheson Society

Working Agenda for 2020 International Clan Gathering

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games – North Carolina, USA

Thursday, July 9 – Sunday, July 12, 2020


This Working Agenda is intended to help Mathesons/Mathiesons/Mathisons and other derivations of the name and supporters from around the world make plans to join the Chief, his family, and our Matheson Clan Society leaders and kinsmen for our first formal gathering and parliament since the 2014 Clan Gathering in The Scottish Highlands. As such, Chief Sir Alexander Matheson of Matheson invites all Matheson’s to join us in “The North Carolina Highlands” at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, North Carolina (USA).


The North Carolina Highlands will likely remind you of the Scottish Highlands, though more forested. Season 4 of “Outlander” may provide some flavor.  The area will provide a wonderful family holiday location for you to experience the natural beauty of The Carolinas with abundant outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, whitewater rafting, mountain stream and lake fishing, golf, historic sightseeing—and our main attraction, the preeminent Scottish Games in the USA – The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG).  With a 5-6 hour drive, you could also visit the beautiful Carolina Coast and plenty of other tourist destinations!


Our Chief will serve as the Honorary Chief for the 2020 Games, therefore profiling our Clan Matheson for the 65th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. We were 80+ strong marching into Edinburgh Castle for the 2017 Tattoo and we are hoping to overwhelm the field at Grandfather Mountain in 2020!  So, come meet your Chief and his family and connect with your Scottish heritage as well as introduce your children and grandchildren to their cultural heritage and far flung kinsmen. There will be plenty of activities for all ages!   Also…we need volunteers, especially from the USA to help with logistics.


The web site for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is now open for individual/family entry ticket purchase and scheduling.  Visit www.gmhg.org for more information about the games and location, as well as links to familiarize yourself with places to stay that fit your travel plans and budget. We recommend planning early!  Also, please let your Branch Lieutenants know of your plans so they can coordinate your Branch attendance and information flow back to our planning committee.


Registration and Games Logistics:


The GFMG website is where you MUST go to pre-register for entry to the games and their events. 2020 Games registration and advance tickets are now available.    http://www.gmhg.org/ticketinfo.htm


The Games are held at MacRae Meadows, Grandfather Mountain. There is insufficient on-site parking for the thousands that attend the games, so off-site parking in Linville (3 miles down the mountain) is provided with regular and convenient shuttle buses. If you want the convenience of on-site parking you have to pre-register for the more expensive ($$) Patron level tickets https://www.ktti.com/patronsecureorderform2020.htm, which also provides access to other events such as the highland dress formal Sponsor’s Dinner on Friday evening in Banner Elk (where Chief Alexander and Katharine will be guests of honor) and the patron hospitality tent.  Patron level tickets do sell out (rates of $200; $300; $575), so be prepared, especially if you would like to join us Friday night at the formal attire Sponsors and Patrons Dinner in Banner Elk.  If you have physical constraints and desire the convenience of on-site parking, please consider a Patron level pass.


Air Travel and Distances:


International/National Flights: Closest international airport is Charlotte, North Carolina (NC) (call sign “CLT”), which is 91 miles south of Blowing Rock, NC.  A short, scenic, easy drive.  Washington, DC (Dulles International- “IAD”) is 400 miles north.


Regional Flights: Raleigh-Durham Airport (“RDU”) is 189 miles due east of Blowing Rock, NC.  and Knoxville, TN  airport (“TYS”) is about 170 miles to the west.


Driving distances from main centers and some other possible holiday destinations for you to extend your stay:


Atlanta, Georgia – 280 miles

Charlotte, NC – 91 miles

Washington, DC – 420 miles

New York City – 622 miles

Nashville, Tennessee – 170 miles

Chicago, Illinois – 662 miles

Orlando, Florida (Disney) – 609 miles

Charleston, SC – 294 miles

Denver, CO – 1,478 miles (21.5 hrs drive)

Williamsburg, VA – 350 miles

The Outer Banks, NC – 394 miles

Ashville, NC – 82 miles


Recommended Lodging:


There are abundant places to stay and types of facilitates.  You will want to have your lodging booked early, but we found no problem finding suitable lodging in 2018 just 30-days prior to the Games.  We are planning to center our Matheson Clan activities in Blowing Rock, which we felt provides the best alternatives for us to host an offsite Matheson Clan Parliament and Gathering, with a Southern/Appalachia Barbeque dinner on Saturday afternoon/evening.  The Green Park Inn will provide a room block of up to 40 rooms at discounted rates for Clan Matheson Guests. The web site is www.greenparkinn.com  However, you must call their USA reservations number (+1 828.414.9230) directly in order to book through our room block.  We recommend this location for its convenience and pricing.


Camping: Grandfather Mountain has camping and RV sites, but they book very early and you will have to act fast.  Ed Matheson and his family have established “Matheson Corner” at the Grandfather Mountain Campground (see Google Maps).  There are other nearby camp grounds, some with cabins, as well. Most can be found by doing a web search.


Hotels, Motels, Inns, B&B’s: Wide choices available depending on your budget and desire to be close to the Games. We recommend looking at the towns of Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, and Boone which would allow 15-40 minute drives to/from Grandfather Mountain.  However, we are hoping our group will center itself in Blowing Rock to maximize our time together outside the Games and to reduce driving. See town of Blowing Rock visitors center web site:   https://blowingrock.com/


Home and Condo Rentals:  Airbnb and VRBO home rentals are plentiful and again for any budget.  Please focus your search along NC Route 221 (and its parallel scenic Blue Ridge Parkway) between Grandfather Mountain and Blowing Rock to ensure easiest possible access and reduced mountain road driving.  It is 16.5 miles from Blowing Rock to Grandfather Mountain, MacRae Meadows.

What to Bring:


It goes without saying that we would like to be well turned out in Matheson Tartan at the Games, especially: The Thursday evening Torchlight Ceremony and Calling of Clans;  our hospitality tents at the Games; and the Clan Parliament and Gathering evening event Saturday; And, Sunday’s closing Parade of Tartans.  If you decide on a Patron ticket and wish to attend Friday night’s sponsor dinner, this is formal highland dress.  The Clan Matheson UK website has an article by David Mathieson on proper highland dress. It takes time to order and make kilts if needed, so plan accordingly.


July in the North Carolina Highlands can be variable and unpredictable. Generally warm during the day (think 80+ degrees Fahrenheit) and can be cool in evenings (55-70 degrees F). It is the mountains, and summer storms can roll through as well. Grandfather Mountain stands tall at 5,945’ feet, with MacRae Meadows at about 4,000’-- so prepare accordingly.


More information will be made available regarding Clan Matheson merchandise that we are ordering.  Stay tuned.



Preliminary Schedule (http://www.gmhg.org/events.htm):


Thursday, July 9, 2020


7:00 PM  “The Bear” – For those interested, the first 800 hearty souls to register (separately) will run a 5-mile footrace with 1,568 feet of elevation to assault Grandfather Mountain. Register separately and in December 2019!  https://thebearrace.com/


9:00 PM  “Torchlight Ceremony” – This is a moving, well attended Opening Ceremony as clans are called and each clan lights its torch. This would be our first official event that you would want to attend. We will have two Clan Matheson tents and will provide our own Clan Matheson registration.  We would expect a few wee drams to be poured as part of that welcome.  Food vendors will be open and we are planning a welcome reception with The Chief and his family.  Arrive by 7:30 PM to enjoy fellowship and greet each other.


Friday, July 10, 2020


9:00 AM – 4:00 PM –  Games officially open with opening ceremonies including our Chief, highland competitions, and festivities.  Matheson Tents will be our central meeting point. Clan Society registration check in available.


We note that you are free to spend as much time as you like at the Games. Consider sightseeing or enjoy other activities. 


6:00 PM –  Patron/Sponsor’s Dinner.  Requires formal highland dress and registration cost with GMHG is additional.  Patron tickets sell out early and are limited.  The Chief and his family will be honored guests. We expect Clan leadership may also attend and then we can regroup in Blowing Rock.


6:30 – 11:00 PM –  Celtic Rock Concert at MacRae Meadows. A wonderful evening family event (register separately).


Saturday, July 11, 2020


6:30 AM – Mountain Marathon – one of the toughest in the country!  Register early if interested.


7:30 AM – 12 Noon – Games open and we expect a ceremony with Chief Alexander


4:30 PM – 10:00 PM –  Clan Matheson Parliament & Gathering in Blowing Rock at The Green Park Inn. This will include a Clan Parliament for official business followed by Clan Gathering and BBQ Dinner.  Advance Registration at $75/adult and $30/child under 14.


6:30 – 10:30 PM – Celtic Jam at MacRae Meadows for those interested (register separately).


Sunday, July 12, 2020


8:00 AM to 1:00 PM Games open and Parade of Tartans where Matheson’s assemble and march behind the massed pipe bands with the Chief.  We will want as many Matheson’s as possible at this closing ceremony dressed for occasion. Farewells & Dismiss.  Closing ceremonies are 4:00 PM for those that last.


Please complete the attached RSVP and Registration Form and return to planning committee at gathering2020@clanmatheson.org



We hope you will join us.


Colvin Matheson, Chief’s Lieutenant, USA


Mobile: +1 (703) 517-2540