In late June the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston, near Edinburgh Airport, throws open its gates for the Royal Highland Show. The Show is run by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. Founded in 1784, the Society aims to promote the regeneration of rural Scotland by showcasing the best that Scotland has to offer. 2022 marked the 200th anniversary of the Royal Highland Show, which saw it re-open its doors after a two year cessation due to Covid restrictions. Over 194,000 visitors flocked to the showground over the 4 day event, with tickets for the Friday and Saturday both selling out.
Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the show doesn't just feature the animal and craft competitions that have made its name over the years. Boutique designers from Scotland and across the UK showcase high quality clothing and accessories not seen on the high street. There is also a vast selection of specialist clothing and equipment for a variety of country pursuits, as well as agricultural equipment of every shape, colour and function, and in sizes that range from the impressive to the extremely impressive.
Members of the Royal family are regular visitors to the Royal Highland Show. Her Majesty The Queen, HRH Princess Royal and HRH Princess Alexandra all visited in 2009, the year of Homecoming, and HRH Princess Royal was back again in 2013 and in 2015. Whilst there were no Royal attendees in 2022, a number of political figures did attend, including the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. (Continues below images...)
Whilst it can be said the Royal Highland Show offers something for everyone, the animal competitions and judging are, for many, the highlight. Equestrian and livestock events take place from dawn to dusk over the duration of the show and visitors are able to observe the preparation and judging of the magnificent animals proudly put forward by their breeders.
In 2022 there were more than 6,500 animals including sheep, cattle, poultry and horses competing in over 900 competitions for monetary prizes and silverware worth more than £2,000,000. Having watched the judging and competitions, visitors are able to wander around and look at the prize winning livestock close up.
The 2022 total included over 2,000 livestock competitors. There are numerous competitions attracting entries, with the prestigious Royal Highland Show Championships and Interbreed awards being the most famous, and most coveted. The popular Highland cattle are housed in the Royal Highland Hall, where the hairy competitors are made to look their best before being paraded before the judges and the public.
It's not just the best livestock that are judged at the Royal Highland Show. The finest foods, traditional skills and show jumping are also assessed with the winners receiving highly coveted prizes. The craftspeople and food producers are able to enter various competitions. As well as the "best" honey, butter and cheese prizes (amongst others), there is judging of traditional crafts such as knitting, needlepoint, shepherds' crooks and walking sticks.
Following closely behind the livestock in terms of popularity are the unique shopping opportunities on offer at the Royal Highland Show. These include an array of luxury retailers, fine furniture and furnishings, jewellery and art, and the Show's food offering, Scotland's Larder, re-designed for 2022 and housed in The Lowland Hall. Featuring a whole host of the finest food and drink exhibitors from across Scotland and the UK, Scotland's Larder is a lively, stimulating, informative and interactive area full of smells, sights and samples. In the separate Food For Thought Conference & Cookery Theatre, some of Scotland's top chefs, food writers and producers are on hand to prepare delicious dishes and discuss all things gastro.
2022 saw the re-naming of the all-weather show jumping ring the 'Jubilee Ring', in honour of her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee Year and to mark the bicentenary of the Show. The new RHASS Members Pavillion was unveilled to members for the first time, and a big wheel was erected on site offering visitors a birds eye view of the action. Over 40,000 children were admitted to the Show for free as part of RHASS' charitable remit. And there was plenty for them to do! The RHET Discovery Centre offered an education programme for children of all ages, including interactive workshops, live demonstrations, food tastings and lots more. More than anything, the 2022 Show fulfilled its role as a gathering place for Scotland's rural and agri communities, allowing them to come together and reconnect after three long years.
Meanwhile, back in the main ring, the show jumping classes attract many famous names in the sport from across the UK. Equestrian events take place in both the main ring and in other areas of the showground, with visitors able to claim a grandstand seat or rail-side view at no extra cost. Competition is fierce.
The Royal Highland Show is marketed as "The Greatest Show On Earth"; and as the annual showcase of all that's best in farming, food and countryside, it cannot fail to impress. There is a huge display of the latest farm machinery - who doesn't want to squeeze themselves in the largest tractor tyre they can find for the annual RHS selfie? - a countryside area with its own loch and some stunning landscaping, plus trade stands, demonstrations and events reflecting a wide range of country sports, activities and rural skills and much, much more....