37th Arkansas Scottish Festival
The Arkansas Scottish Festival is held every April on the picturesque campus of Lyon College. Established in 1981 as the Ozark Scottish Festival, the festival has grown significantly and evolved over the years but remains emblematic of the College, our Scottish heritage, and Presbyterian connection. The event is known as one of the premier Scottish festivals in the United States and was recently named a "Southern Travel Treasure” by Southern Traveler.
Over the years, the festival has grown from a small Scottish Fair to be one of the top competition venues in the south-central United States for pipers, bands, and dancers.
The festival kicks off on Friday evening with the Celtic Concert in historic Brown Chapel.
The gates open to the public early on Saturday morning, and events include amateur and professional solo piping competitions, solo drumming contests, highland dancing, and a British car show. Vendors sell Scottish and other Celtic goods and services, including traditional Scottish cuisine such as meat pies, bridies, Scotch eggs, and fish and chips. Performers play Celtic music in the entertainment tent throughout the festival.
Events specifically designed for children, as well as the Highland Adventure Games—in which teams compete in such events as Disc Golf, Orienteering, Kayaking, Sheaf Toss, and Highland Dancing—make the festival particularly family friendly.
On Saturday, the official opening ceremony features a clan and band march-past and the massed pipes and drums. The afternoon is punctuated by the pipe band competition and performance venues. Award ceremonies include the presentation of trophies for bands, piper of the day, drummer of the day, best clan, and other awards such as scholarships. A feast and ceilidh (a party with music and dancing) are held that evening.
Sunday morning’s events begin with a traditional Iona outdoor worship service. Pipe band demonstrations, Celtic music, and the Bonniest Knees Contest (which features blindfolded women hand-testing the knees of kilted men) are highlights of the day. The Arkansas Scottish Festival generally attracts 5,000 to 10,000 visitors, thus significantly increasing the population of Batesville for the weekend and providing a boon to local businesses.
Join us for a weekend full of piping competitions, delicious food, and unique handmade crafts.
Admission is free!
If you have a group that would like to attend the Arkansas Scottish Festival together, we would be happy to help make arrangements with you. Contact Mirranda Sprayberry at 870.307.7067. For more information on the festival, contact Jimmy Bell, director of the Scottish Heritage Program, at 870.307.PIPE.