Highland Games are held every spring and summer in Scotland and around the world as a way of celebrating the heritage of the Scottish Highlands. The Games are well known for such events as bagpipe competitions, Highland dancing and the massive caber pole toss.

The Games also include entertainment and exhibits honoring the Scottish culture including traditional food and beverages from seaside mussel dishes to drams of smoky whisky.

The Cowal Highland Gathering, held in Dunoon, Scotland, every August, has the largest number of participants at a  Highland Games in the world, attracting around 3,500 competitors and over23,000 spectators from around the globe.

It is exceeded in attendance, however, by two Games in the United States: the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina attended by an estimated 30,000 and the even larger Caledonian Club Games of San Francisco attended by over 50,000 cheering attendees since 1866!

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Yet no Game is complete without a stunning spread of traditional sweets and savories from trifle to salmon. Mussels prepared in the Highland style are always a favorite.



  • 4 1/4 l bs Taylor mussels
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 stick of celery
  • Olive oil
  • 8 oz smoked haddock, skin off and pin-boned
  • 6 shots of whisky (2 scant tbsp. each)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • Sourdough bread, to serve


  1. Quickly wash and de-beard all the mussels
  2. Trim and wash the leek and celery.
  3. Finely slice the leek and celery, reserving yellow celery leaves for sprinkling over later. 
  4. Put a really wide, deep pot on a medium heat.
  5. Add a lug of olive oil and a knob of butter.
  6. A sliced leek and celery.
  7. Cook and stir for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.
  8. Flak in the smoked haddock and pour in the whisky.
  9. Add the mussels and cream. 
  10. Stir and shake the pan, put the lid on and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until open.
  11. Use a slotted spoon to move them to a large serving platter or bowl. 
  12. Continue cooking the liquor until it thickens to a consistency you’re happy with. 
  13. While that’s happening, roughly chop the parsley, then add it to the pot and shake it about.  Taste and correct the seasoning.
  14. Pour all over the mussels.
  15. Scatter over any celery leaves.
  16. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  17. Serve Immediately with fresh or toasted bread for dipping.